Day 25 -25th April

We had a good night sleep with everyone being quiet; it was a cold night though. We had a nice sleep in and a leisurely morning before packing our lunch and heading off to the Cape Otway Lightstation. The light has been operating since 1848 and is on towering sea cliffs 80 meters above where Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean collide.

Before the lighthouse was built hundreds of lives were lost due to many shipwrecks on the rugged coast. At the Lightstation there is also a restored Telegraph Station and a World War Radar Bunker. The Telegraph Station was built to house Australia’s first Submarine telegraph cable, which linked Tasmanian and the mainland. When the cable failed the building became a Lloyds’ Single Station, signalling passing ships and telegraphing the details to Melbourne. Between 1882 and 1933 it was a school and accommodation for the Armed Services and Lightkeeper’s families.


The Lightstation is also home to the Head Lightkeeper’s house which was built in 1857 from green sandstone from a nearby quarry. Cape Otway is an important reference for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


The weather is recorded 24hrs a day 365 days a year with weathermen reporting observation to the Bureau twice a day. The Assistant Lightkeeper’s cottage built in 1858 and housed two assistants and their families. There is also another cottage used as a workshop built in 1850.


The Manager’s House was built in 1970. The Manager’s House is now used for accommodation. The Radar Bunker was built in 1942 after the US Steamship City of Rayville was sunk by a German mine off the Cape, in November 1940. The narrow gap between Cape Otway and King Island less than 90km was so hazardous at least 18 ships were wrecked there. In 1835 almost 250 lives were lost when the convict ship Neva was shipwrecked off King Island. In another major shipping disaster 399 immigrants perished when the Cataraqui was wrecked off King Island in 1845. This cause the people to demand a lighthouse was built in the area.


The Cape Otway Lighthouse was built in 1848, originally fuelled by whale oil, then kerosene and later electricity, in shone 48kms out to sea. The old light was decommissioned in 1994 and replaced with a close-by solar-powered automatic beacon. It costs $16.50 to go to the Lightstation, includes a climb up to the top of the lighthouse. It is well worth it, we spent several house there, it was very windy at the lighthouse, especially at the top.

Keeper Cape Otway Lighthouse

Coming out, along the road leading back to the Great Ocean Road we saw at least 5 Koala’s. People were stopping everywhere to take photos of them, we were fortunate to find one that wasn’t too high up the tree. We spent a nice relaxing afternoon back at the van before trying for some sunset shots but when the weather changes here it happens fast and all we got was a bit wet as it started to rain.

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Day 26 – 26th April

It was a cool night, but apparently not as cold as Port Campbell that got down to 5 degrees.

We left Johanna beach and made our way toward Port Campbell, stopping briefly at Princetown which is basically a 2 shop town. Does have a caravan park and a Camping Reserve down by the river, cost $15 for unpowered site. We had planned to stay here but the gas was running very low and we had to do a run into Port Campbell to get fuel so we thought we may as well just stay at Port Campbell.


We stopped at Gibson’s steps on the way. Apparently a guy called Hugh Gibson carved some steps into the cliff to get down to his favourite fishing spot; don’t think the steps there now are the original ones. The coast line is amazing, rock stacks sticking up out of the surf, such rugged beauty of the cliffs and the steps would have been a major feat. It was great to be down on the beach below the cliffs instead of viewing them from the top.

Great-Ocean-Rd2 Chris-on-rockA short distance further on we also stopped at the Twelve Apostles Centre where there is a huge parking area, even with parking attendants. Don’t know if they are always there or just due to the end of a long weekend. They have plenty of parking for caravans, trailers and motorhomes. All that is there is parking, toilets and a kiosk. From here you walk 500m through a tunnel under the road to the viewing platforms for the Twelve Apostles. The place was very busy.


Further on are Lock Ard Gorge, Razorback, Island Archway, Elephant Rock, Thunder Cave and the Blow Hole, which we didn’t stop at on the way to Port Campbell. All of these places including Gibson’s Steps and the Twelve Apostles are with 20km’s of Port Campbell.

We have booked into the Port Campbell Holiday Park, which is the only caravan park in town. It seems to be a nice park with plenty of grassy sites. The lady at check in was very friendly cost is $28 a night for a powered site; we have booked in for 2 at this stage. After setting up we went for a walk up the street, it is nice small town, there are 3 places that sell fish and chips, a pub, a supermarket come newsagent and post office and a couple of other shops, at least 2 servos in town.


We got ourselves ready to go back to the 12 Apostles viewing area for some sunset shots, briefly stopping at the Loach Ard Gorge area. Ha what a joke the place was packed to the ridicules and this was just the car park. We thought forget it, again it may be cause it’s the end of a long weekend or it could be like that all the time, we will try again another night.


We raced back to Loch Ard Gorge and took a few photos there but the sunset was a fizzer, so we just took some shots as the sky got dark and a wee bit cold.

We thought some nice hot fish and chips would be nice but a 6.30pm they were all closed. We planned to get up early and get some sunrise shots with hopefully not as many people at the 12 Apostles.


Day 27 – 27th April

Well we were willing and able to do our bit but the weather let us down once more. It started raining at 4am, got heavy at 4.40am and by 6am it was still drizzling. So no sunrise and we thought the day wasn’t going to be much chop but the weather changes quickly down here and it ended up being mostly fine. Cold and windy but mostly fine.


We spent the first half of the day exploring the Loch Ard Gorge going down to the beach, wow so amazing. Golden Sandstone Cliffs on either side with only a small gap at the opening of the gorge to let the sea water in to a lovely yellow sandy beach. If it was hot it would be a lovely place for a swim but it was quite cold and of course we had thongs on as it was sandy and my feet kept getting colder and colder until they were numb and I couldn’t feel them any more.


There are 2 caves back along the beach that are fenced off which are interesting to see. We spent many hours down at the beach before heading back to the van for lunch since it was only 10mins or less away.

On the way back to the van we explored up a few dirt roads looking for the places where the photos were taken that you see on the postcards and in their advertising literature, as where they let you go are not those places.We found a few good spots we thought would make good sunset shots if the sun came out.


After lunch we went back to the Lock Ard Gorge area and explored the other half which included Thunder Cave, the Blow Hole, Elephant Rock, The Lock Ard Cemetery, Mutton-bird Island, Broken Head and Sherbrook River. There is beach access near Sherbrook River which also gets you onto some rocks where you can view more rocks and crashing waves breaking on the rocks, quite spectacular.


Again we spent several hours exploring this area; it was very very windy, our faces are a bit wind burnt.

We popped back to the van had arvo tea before trying some of those sunset shots. Again the weather beat us with cloud covering the sun for most of the time, we did get a few shots but it was so cold, the hands were like icicles, feet were nearly as bad. Chris said he expected to see an iceberg come floating by, he also said he wants to blow his nose but his snot has frozen, I know gross but it was that cold.


We made it back before the fish and chips shop closed and had some hot fish and chips for tea. We leave Port Campbell tomorrow and head to Warrnambool were hopefully we will get the Jack looked at. Lots to see along the way including trying to get some sunrise shots again, we must be nuts.


Day 28 – 28th April

It’s time to get up its 6 O’clock; it’s time to get up its 6 O’clock. That is what we woke to this morning and being the first words you hear as you wake from your slumber those words kept going through my head for an hour or so later “its 6 O’clock; it’s time to get up.”

Chris stuck his head out the door and said yep I can see stars, clouds too so let’s go for it. We quickly got dressed and jumped into the car and headed towards the 12 Apostles for some sunrise shots we hoped.

The cloud had closed in even more, but we set ourselves up in the gale force winds, no I am not kidding. They has have been an extreme weather warning out along this area to at least Warrnambool for winds up to 100km’s an hr today. So yes it was extremely windy, our tripods were not nice and stable but were moving in the wind, we had to keep the shutter speed up high, any long exposures were blurry shots and I had a few of them. I said to Chris when we got up why do we do this again, he said it’s because that’s what we do and I say why because we find it fun, he said yep after a while out in this awful weather he said to me why do we do this again. Only crazy keen photographers are nuts enough to find them self out trying to take sunrise photos when there is no sun in a gale force warning.


After a while it became obvious the sun was not going to shine on the Apostles for quite some time and since we were freezing and we had to check out of the park and head to Warrnambool we decided to go back to the van. It turned out the morning was the best part of the day as the weather only got worst.


A short distance out of Port Campbell before Peterborough is the Arch, The London Bridge or London Arch as the middle has collapsed. I know why it got that name the weather around here is more suited to London. A bit further is the Grotto, we did get out and take some quick photos at all these places and they look very bleak. The surf was like a washing machine, waves were crashing hard against the sandstone cliffs turning the water to foam, very rough seas and very hard to hold the camera still.


After Peterborough was the Bay of Islands which under a blue sky and the sun shining would be amazing and we would have to say more interesting than the 12 Apostles and a lot less people, ok the weather may have kept the sensible ones inside but they are incredible. It was a very bleak scene today though.


We arrived in Warrnambool around lunch time, visited the local info centre got the info we needed booked into the Discovery Holiday Park for 2 nights cost $30.50 per night which is standard around here. Have to say the sites are nice, best we have had a nice concrete slab, grass on either side of the slab and room to park the Jack up next to it. On either side of the sites are trees and shrubs giving you privacy from the people next door.

After lunch we tracked down a mechanic to look at the Jack. The info centre had put us onto a guy that if he couldn’t help us he would know who could. Well cause the Jackaroo has gas a normal mechanic is not allowed to touch it, has to be someone who does gas installations, luckily Warrnambool is a big town so the guy was able to put us onto a gas installer, the Jackaroo is booked in tomorrow morning, luckily he is near the main street and lots of shops, goodie.


Day 29 – 29th April

We had to take the Jackaroo down by 9.30am, we then wandered down the street and looked at the shops. About an hour or so later we had a call from the Mechanic saying it was the fuel pump, fuel was getting through but there was no pressure. It wasn’t as expensive as we thought it was going to be so Chris told him to go ahead, he ordered the part from Repco and of course he had to drain the fuel tank. He found the fuel filter on top of the tank so while that was out replaced that. A few hours later we had another call from him saying it wasn’t the fuel pump but the fuel pipe that was in the tank was cracked, so as soon as any pressure was put on it the fuel went back into the tank. No wonder Chris couldn’t find the problem it was a tricky one for the mechanic. So the pipe had to get sent off to get repaired.


We had our lunch and then walked down to Flagstaff Hill.We looked and walked around there for many hours. Flagstaff Hill is a replica Maritime Village built around the original Lady Bay Lighthouse Complex. The Lady Bay Lighthouses have been guiding ships through the dangerous lady Bay Harbour since 1859. The Warrnambool Garrison Fortifications we added in the late 1880,s to protect the busy port from possible Russian invasion. Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village is a typical village of the late 1800’s. They are many old buildings, artefacts and exhibitions. Flagstaff Hill contains the most complete collection of the Great Ocean Road maritime heritage, including the Loch Arch Peacock that washed ashore in its crate after the Loch Ard shipwrecked at Lock Ard Gorge.

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The Peacock was aboard the Loch Ard as it was heading for an exhibition in Melbourne. It stands 1.5m tall and the only damage was a chip on the end of its beak. It was very interesting to wander around the village; they have done a wonderful job. It cost $16.50 for adults this gets you a 2 day pass, the night show called Shipwreck is $26 a combine ticket is $37.20.

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After walking around there until our feet hurt we made our way back to town and to a nice hot cuppa, it was about 4.30pm when we got the call the Jackaroo was ready, he only charged us $225 so we were very pleased and very relived the Jack was back to working properly. We went back to the van fully worn out had another cuppa and tea put our feet up for a while, while we did the washing before heading back out for 7pm to the Shipwreck show.

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Shipwreck is a night time show where you get to relive Australia’s most dramatic shipwreck. We are guided down to the Theatre along the cobbled path holding lanterns.  We are sent back in time to the first day in winter in 1878 the Melbourne bound clipper the Loch Ard has run aground on a small island near the present day Loch Ard Gorge. The ship is destroyed and 52 lives were lost only 2 survived 2, 18 year olds, crew member Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael.


The Presentation takes places against the backdrop of the Flagstaff Hill village. As we take our seats in the Wharf Theatre and watch as the walls slides away to reveal the village’s quiet port, Chimneys belch smoke, lamps glow in windows and the Steam Packet Inn is filled with merry drinkers. Before long however a storm is brewing, rain sweeps the scene, thunder and lightning rage and the air fills with the smell of the sea.

Flagstaff-Hill-3Without warning an enormous semicircular screen of water rises from the harbour and images appear before us. Suddenly we are on the Loch Ard on that grim night, our seats starts to move in time with with the action as the pounding seas claims the stricken vessel’s passengers and crew. We watch as Tom as comes to the surface and swims to the shore, then Eva comes to the surface and calls for help. Tom bravely faces the sea and swims back and rescues Eva.

The next morning Tom scaled a sheer cliff face to find help; they were rescued by a nearby homestead. Tom went on to become a Captain, was married and had 2 children. Eva Carmichael went back to Ireland 3 months after the shipwrecked where she married, the two never meant again. The whole experience was good and well worth doing.

Day 30 – 30th April

We slept in a bit due to our big day yesterday so it was a bit of a rush to get out of the park on time. We have decided we had enough of this bad weather, wind, rain and cold. We couldn’t get out and do much in this weather. We decided to end the coast part of the trip here and head towards home, inland to hopefully a bit better weather and make a few stops on the way when we felt like it. As it was it was raining this morning and we had to pack up in the rain.

We left the park and went down to the Warrnambool Port to have a look they have built a break wall to protect the harbour area from the pounding seas. We did see wave’s crash over this several times, the sea was rough but not as rough as a few days before.

We didn’t end up leaving Warrnambool until about 11.30am, we had just planned to go as far as we felt like it and hopefully find a nice free rest area to stop. We made good time until we got to Melbourne and went on the Melbourne Ring Road. That was not so quick and we lost quite a bit of time there. You have to get a long way out of Melbourne before you can find a place to stop if any. Most were just truck parking areas, so we kept pushing on. We ended up stopping about 7pm at Tocumwal on a free camp area called Apex Beach on the Murray River right near the NSW and Vic border. We got lost at first and went to the wrong area; we eventually found it and a spot not quite sure what our camp area looked like or even if we were in a good spot as it was so dark.


Day 31 – 1st May

It was a cool night and as it turns out we are in a beaut spot, it seems we have managed to stumble onto one of the prime spots. We are on the bend in the river it is lovely and quiet and there are a few other caravanners. We are right on a beach area that slopes down to the Murray giving us uninterrupted views, very tranquil and peaceful. 2 dogs have just been playing in the water, lovely reflections are on the water there are lovely clear blue skies and most importantly no wind. We will chill out and unwind here for a least a day.


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After lunch we had a walk around, and then went for a paddle in the Kayak first time this trip. Was nice and relaxing cruising up the Murray, trying to get close to some birds, paddled under the rail and road bridges before turning around and coming back to base. We then got a camp fire going, sat around watching the flames for a while before we baked up some yummy muffins, sitting by the fire while they cooked.



Had tea by the warmth of the fire under the stars before retiring for the night has been nice to unwind today.It is nice and relaxing sitting under the awning in the sun drinking a hot cuppa and eating a yummy muffin watching the Murray flow past.

Day 32 – 2nd May

Another peaceful night, the plan today was to head up to Forbes and maybe spend a couple of nights there. Well Murphy had a few other ideas, we had packed up and Chris started the Jackaroo on petrol to make sure all was still ok, only to find fuel pouring out under the Jack. So back under Chris went, he figured a fuel lead had come off somewhere, he checked all the ones he could get too. The only one he couldn’t check was the one attached to the fuel filter which is on top of the tank which the mechanics had replaced; it seems they didn’t attach the filter properly, grrrrrrrrrr. Since the Jack starts up on petrol it was pouring out fuel every time, potentially a dangerous problem. Chris pulled out the fuel pump replay to stop the fuel pump from working so we didn’t have fuel pouring out. So this means we are back to gas only, out come the maps as we plot our route over to the coast road. The reason we are taking the coast road rather than the inland route is there are more towns on the coast road and gas is more readily available so we won’t be stuck in between towns. As it is we will have to count km’s.


We headed towards Albury, then up the Hume Hwy stopping just short of Goulburn, a big day since we didn’t get away that early. We have stopped at a rest area about 4kms out of Goulburn; it is a rest area for all vehicles including trucks. We ended up staying up a bit late watching DVD’s as the trucks kept coming in and we figured we wouldn’t get to sleep anyway.

Day 33 – 3rd May

Well it was noisy night for Chris mostly as I had ear plugs he woke with a start a few times during the night with trucks pulling up beside and behind us. We were up reasonably early and on the road by 8am. We had to get off the Hume to fill up in Goulburn, lucky it was on and off pretty quick. Sydney was not so easy, they hit you with a toll when you go onto the M7 and when you get off, we had to get off to find fuel. Getting back on was not so easy, our GPS told us one way but the signs said Newcastle another so we followed the signs and not our Bossy Betsy the GPS. Well the signs took us closer to Sydney in busy traffic with a van is not fun, taking us around what we know as the older route to Newcastle instead of on the M7, off course when we did get back on we got hit for more tolls. The Highway is by passing the towns these days which is great if you just want to fly by them but a pain when you have to get off and find fuel, we had a red dot on the gas a few times. There are several service centres along the hwy which we used when we could.


We have pushed on hard today and got a lot of kms under us, just driving is all rather boring. There was a lot of road work along the way, at one point we were stop by road works for nearly 30mins. We have stopped for the night north of Kempsey at a rest area called Paddy’s Rest, not used by trucks, Chris backed us into a spot as far off the road as he could.