The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is the world’s longest war memorial. The road was a dream since 19th century Australia to link towns and ports along the coast. Finally, after WWI, the dream was materialized. It was used as a reintegration scheme, giving returning soldiers a profession. During the Great Depression these jobs served even more important.
Today, the GOR, is one of Australia’s most visited sites. The road takes approximately 5 hours to drive, with breathtaking views, beautiful nature walks, and assorted outdoor entertainment (think tree top walks or wildlife reserves) along the way.
If you’re thinking this road sounds perfect for a beautiful summer day, you’d be right. Unfortunately, Ken and I have been struck with what seems to be the most unusual temperatures and weather for an Aussie summer : drizzle, wetness, and cold. And I don’t mean little spirts of rain. I mean rain so thick within fog that you really can’t see views.
Our first stop along the way was at Anglesea Golf Course where we were to do a lovely walk to see kangaroos.
We couldn’t do the walk and, when we asked what we could do along the GOR on a rainy day, were met with friendly laughter.
Insert praying now.
Our next stop, after an hour and a half of more very rainy views of a grey sky, we stopped at an information site. Again, chuckles and the opinion that, no, there was nothing to do when it was raining.
Not ready for defeat, Ken and I kept going. Any moment the weather let up, we ran out to get a picture, always saying to each other “I bet this is beautiful when it’s sunny.”
After lunch, we stopped at a lovely rainforest walk. That’s right, rainforest. We were in the perfect temperature for this feat. And it was beautiful.
After this walk, things started to get drier and drier. Still too cloudy for any real views, but when we arrived at an Eco-conservation wildlife centre around 4 pm, the rain had stopped.
Here’s the brilliant thing – the rain kept all the tourists away!!!
Which meant that instead of lining up behind dozens of tourists hoping that the kangaroo at the conservation’s feeding area would still be hungry when we finally got a turn, we had as long as we wanted!!!
With only 2 other people.
Visiting this conservation centre, we had the opportunity to pet, feed, and admire as many kangaroos, wallabeys, deer, dingos, sheep, horses, and alpacas as imaginable (well, except for the alpacas who were SO not into us!)
Our day continued in the same spirit. The 12 Apostles, probably the most popular attraction along the road, was fairly empty. We had the privilege of walking down steps to admire from the beach one of these lime stone cliff-like structures emerging from the water. We climbed up to enjoy the breathtaking views from sunset.
The next day, the weather had cleared. Since our original route was the way of most tourist traffic, we were able to admire all the missed views, without the swarms of crowds or annoyances of traffic jams.
And we had so much time we got to stop at the Apollo Seafood and Local Produce Festival – a typical laid back small town festival with – YES! – apple cider on tap … And bizarrely not too much seafood or produce. Top: me loving the on tap cider; Below: Ken having some fresh calamari (among the limited seafood options at the seafood festival)
In sum, the rain was a major blessing! Not only did we still get to see all the sites, but with way less traffic, tourists swarms…and a much deeper appreciation that YES we were finally able to see the coast.
Moral of the story: don’t let weather stop you! There’s may still be a silver lining to that cloud!