So this morning I woke up slightly rusty thanks to a few too many beers and rounds of cards at the YHA (thanks Anna, Francine, Peter and Nick!), but it was only a 5 minute ride down to the ferry at Sorrento, to head across Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff.
Note the stupid expression as the sun was in my eyes, and I had to grip the brake lever to stop the bike from falling over with the swell.
On arrival the signs for “The Great Ocean Road” immediately caught my eye, but first I had to find some breakfast – overlooking Surf Beach at Torquay, of course. Ahh bacon, is there no injury to spirit or body that you can’t fix?
The road wound its’ way down the coastline through a number of small hamlets, presumably full of summer houses for rich Melbournian socialites.
Then you hit the ceremonial gateway for the GOR itself. It was built after the First World War as an employment project for returned servicemen, so there are a number of memorials along the way.
It was from here that the coastline became more rugged, and the roads more interesting.
This went on for perhaps 50 or 60 kilometres of motorcycling heaven, endless sweeping corners and stunning coastal vistas. There was some slow traffic, particularly caravans, however most were polite enough to pull into one of the many turnouts to allow you past – all except one particularly slow bus driver who tried to block every effort to get past.
After a while the road bends away from the coast (well before reaching the scenery fatigue point) and travels through a combination of rolling farmland and dense forestry areas – both of which still provided amazing motorcycling and great views, albeit of a different kind.
But after another 40 km of inland routes, it was time for the big ticket items. Almost immediately upon the road returning to the coastline, you come to the 12 Apostles, one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. It’s hard to quantify just how large and spectacular these are without seeing them yourself – monumental monolithic sandstone pillars jutting out of the pounding surf, framed by vertical cliffs down to the beach.
Then further along the coast there are half a dozen less famous sights where there are just as amazing patterns of erosion in the limestone coast. This is the Loch Ard Gorge, named after a shipwreck nearby.
London Bridge (which was linked to the mainland until about 20 years ago when it collapsed, trapping two people on the outcrop).
And the Grotto.
But no matter where you were, the views along the coastline were spectacular and rugged, combining with the open sweeping corners to create a kind of two-wheeled nirvana.
Sadly once the Great Ocean Road ends it returns inland, but instead of glorious touring roads with plenty of corners, it’s back to the dead straight lines through endless pastures – pretty in its own way, but not compared to the rest of the day’s touring.
Today has honestly been one of the best days of motorcycling in my life, with great roads, great views, and now being far enough into the trip to be truly in the rhythm and at one with the bike. I’m pulled up at a free campsite half way between Port Fairy and Portsea, surrounded by backpackers’ vans and grey nomads. Tomorrow I should cross into South Australia to Mount Gambier and the surrounding areas.