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Reports

Friday, 9 August 2002
Port Fairy --> Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia (Waywardbus day 3)



The third day on the Waywardbus tour along the Great Ocean road from Adelaide to Melbourne started of with breakfast in the morning misty town Port Fairy.

Our first stop after leaving this town included a firm walk through the Tower Hill State Park. Suddenly I was eye-to-eye with lazy kangaroos and sleepy koalas.

We continued on and watched the whale Wilma and her two calves swimming around at Logan’s Beach. In the end of the winter and the beginning of the Australian spring, Wilma always returns to this stretch of beach, before heading up north in the ocean.

And from The Grotto, a tolkienesque kind of place where the washing waters have created this enormous cave in the rocks, we moved on to the the London Bridge, where (again) stacks of limestone rocks were the only left overs of something that used to be normal land.

The London Bridge collapsed a couple of years ago, so the ‘bridge’ isn’t really there and the left-over is now an abandoned island. When it actually fell down, two tourist were trapped on the new Australian island. They couldn’t get away anymore. Fortunately help was called and they were picked up by emergency helicopters, while a helicopter of Channel 9 Television was filming the entire rescue operation. Funny fact: The entire country suddenly knew the two had a love affair, because their actual partners did not know anything about their trip along the southern coast. Talking about a big Oops!

After a lunchbreak in the fishing village Port Campbell we had our third last stop for today at the Loch Ard Gorge. There is another interesting story behind this place.

On 2 March 1878 the clipper Loch Ard left England for Melbourne. The ship carried 36 crew, 18 passengers and a mixed cargo weighing 2275 tons. On the night of 31 May the passengers and crew held a party on board to celebrate the end of the three month (!) journey. Next day the ship would enter Port Phillip Heads, and the passengers were busy making preparations. Land was very near, but a thick mist obscured the horizon and the Cape Otway light could not be seen. Concerned for the ship’s safety, the captain stayed on deck throughout the night. At 4am the mist lifted, revealing high, pale cliffs. The lookout cried ‘breakers ahead!’… But it was too late. Only two people survived the crash and the wreckage of the boat is still out there. On top of the gorge is now a graveyard for the victims of this tragedy.

Our last stop before arriving at our destination for today was at the legendary Twelve Apostels, a bunch of “beautifully and stunning rock formations along the coastline” as every travel brochure is calling them. But for me, it was just another row of limestone stacks and if you have already seen twelve of them somewhere else along the road, it doesn’t make it any more attractive to see the “legendary” or most touristy ones.

Actually, the Twelve Apostels were originally called the Sow and Piglets, but were renamed in the 1950’s in the hope of luring more visitors. It seems to be working! A big concrete path leads to several lookout and along the highway is a big whale-like building with information and toilets. I almost got lost returning to the bus, there were só many coaches with tourists loading on and off.

We drove on again, along the Great Ocean Road towards Apollo Bay, our night stop. Just before sunset we arrived in this more hilly point, where also the atmosphere had changed. Here, however it was winter cold, there were rainforests! We had a walk through the Melba Gully rainforest, which I found rather fake, because the path was made with steal drainpipes along it and the fern trees were all planted with one metre in between, in the middle of 60 metres high gum trees. Of course, this was a tourist rain forest.

It was already dark when we arrived at Apollo Bay, where we settled in a real house, that the Waywardbus uses from an old lady. After loosing a game of pool against Japan, I got along with Bruce and a few others to have dinner in town. At a local restaurant I had to be nice to this great guy Bruce, because I just needed his financial support again. Waywardbus was sponsoring my evening meals and drinks during the day. Without anybody noticing it, Bruce stuck a 10 dollar note in my hand. “Here you go, your budget for today.” And with these ten dollars I had a huge plate with fries, one big half chicken and salad for dinner.

I decided to skip the nightlife of Apollo Bay and got back to the house, where others were cooking their own meals. I settled behind my laptop near the heating and did some comfortable writing about my latest adventures. Tonight I had to tell the Canadian Caryn about my ‘project’ thing on the web.

She was the first who asked me why I was taking so many different photographs and writing down notes in a little notebook whenever necessary. “I write for a website,” I had answered. But she then asked what “letmestayforaday.com” was as the website logo was printed on my winterjacket. "I'll reveal that info tonight," I had said and left it with that.

I let her sit behind my laptop and read the Cairns Post article from this month. “Don’t spread the word,” I told her. Caryn was amazed, like most people are. “Wow, I nearly can’t believe it.” But it’s true. And I told her how much of a difference there is when I stay with people who have invited me on forehand and when I am just Ramon from Holland on a tour like this. She understood the reasons for my low-profiling on the bus, because it would indeed take away any usual questions about my travels and adventures.

One person knows, the other fourteen are about to find out tomorrow. How? Keep on reading. ;-)

Good night Apollo Bay!

Ramon.