The Great Ocean Road was inspired by Route 1 in the US, and was a public works project starting in 1919 aimed at giving returned service men a job building what was also a memorial to their fallen comrades.
It’s a road that goes much of its length next to the ocean, with glorious views. We followed it for much of its scenic route, starting with the Memorial Arch:
Our next stop was Kennett River, where you could buy birdseed to feed the parrots and cockatoos. While I had nothing to feed them, the half-tame birds still landed on me!
I also saw my first koalas high up in the eucalyptus!
We then saw more gorgeous views, but also passed areas that had been devastated by bush fire last year as we headed onto Cape Otway. The cape has a temperate rainforest that we detoured through on our way to the light house and out lunch break. It’s beautiful, full of huge eucalyptus trees, but they are more fragile than we might think. We passed some areas of completely dead eucalyptus – the koala population had recently become much too high for the area to support, and they essentially ate those trees to death. Without predators, koalas would continue to overpopulate the area, so humans intervened to move them.
I took some time after lunch to go to the Aboriginal info center they have near the lighthouse. I learned about archeological remnants of villages that are over 6000 years old, and heard the Aboriginal guide lament the lack of understanding on the part of the government regarding what the various local peoples want. He waxed quite passionate, understandably. To give an indication of the history, it wasn’t till the 1960s that Australia held a referendum to decide that Aboriginal people should be numbered in the census and not as part of the flora and fauna.
We then headed to the best known and most dramatic rock formations of the Great Ocean Road (and up there in the entire world): the Twelve Apostles. It was incredibly beautiful, despite the crowds.
That was followed by Loch Are Gorge and the Razorback.
And lastly, as the sun started to lower, Gibson’s Steps.