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.

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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.

Flagstaff-Hill

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.

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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 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.

The-Apostles

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.

London-Bridge

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.

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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.

Bay-of-Islands

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Gibson-Steps

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.

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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.

Island-Archway

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 24- 24th April

We had such nice neighbours who moved on yesterday only to be replaced by some very inconsiderate rude so and so’s. They talked loud, had loud music on until nearly 2am last night, obviously keeping us awake. There was also another group a bit further up just outside the park keeping people awake up there. The people next to us were in tents and had spread themselves across the back of 2 power sites, so the management is going to sort them out. Chris was also kept awake trying to still solve the Jackaroo problem.

Johanna-Beach

We have moved on from the Apollo Bay area and stopped at one of the free camping spots we scoped out the other day. Called Johanna Beach, turn off is between Glenaire and Lavers Hill on the Great Ocean Road. The camping area is just behind some sand dunes next to the beach. There are several areas, some are level some a bit sloppy and some more protected from the wind than others, there is several more around the place, including another area about 300m, so it is spread out over a big area. After we had people keeping us awake last night we were careful where we put ourselves. We expected it to be packed, but it wasn’t when we came in. Several other caravans have come into our area suitable spaced, people are arriving all the time, fingers crossed it will be a quiet night.

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It is a brilliant spot and if the weather was nice it would be lovely on the beach. This area is used as a surf beach for contests when the waves aren’t good at Bells Beach. So as you can imagine there were a few surfers when we walked down to the beach. They weren’t sticking around too long though as it was howling, there is a gale force warning out for this area. The wind was blowing the sand onto our legs like sharp little rocks; we didn’t stick around too long either. We are reasonable protected where we are camped, is raining on and off and is freezing outside in that wind. We had said the weather had been pretty mild up until now, not so bad in the van.

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It is cooling down outside, and is a bit of noise but it’s only early and the cold may force them into warm beds. No luck with the Jack yet, but not from a lack of trying on Chris’s part.

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Day 23 -23rd April

We have decided to book in for another night at the park, several reasons the biggest one is the Jackaroo is having some issues. It runs on Gas and Unleaded Petrol, well the petrol side isn’t working at all. Leaving us only gas and with our short towing range on Gas it has the potential to have us stuck somewhere if we can’t get gas. We only just made it back home last night as we didn’t know we had this problem until the Jack wouldn’t start; we were concerned about running out of gas all the way home.

We also haven’t had a chance to walk around Apollo Bay yet or the beach from the park. Don’t know how much beach walking we will get done as it’s raining, causing Chris issues when he is trying to work out what is wrong with the Jackaroo. It’s given me chance to catch up on a few things.

Chris worked on the jack for hours in the rain, got soaking wet and cold, he could not find the problem with the Jack, so we will have to take it to get fixed after the long weekend. We will have to be very mindful of how many km’s we have done between fills, since we can’t just swap over to petrol if we run out of gas.

It rained all day and was quite cool; we eventually got into Apollo Bay. Did some shopping at the IGA in the main street, it’s a suck in for tourists. The fruit and veggies weren’t that fresh, the place wasn’t exactly clean and the staff weren’t very friendly. We found the Foodworks store in a street opposite the Tourist Info, chalk and cheese, veggies looked much fresher, bigger store, clean and friendly staff this is where the locals shop.

We did eventually get down to the beach, with umbrellas trying to fly away in the wind; there was just a touch of colour in the sky. Even in this weather it was still nice, be awesome in good weather with a great sunset.

The place is filling up with people getting away for the long weekend.

I forgot to mention yesterday when we were scoping out the area for free camping spots we saw 2 foxes.

Day 22 – 22nd April

The legs are not quite as sore today. We have had a couple of bus loads of boys staying at the park, even though they did quieten down at night they have made big messes in the toilet block every day.

We started off a bit earlier today, we headed back up the road we came down last night, the sign at turn off from the Great Ocean Roads says to Beech Forest. We stopped at Hopetoun Falls, which is our favourite, does have a quite few steps so is listed as Moderate, only 1km. There is a viewing platform 20m from the carpark where you can see the falls but it’s best to do the walk as they are amazing. The falls fall into a pool which then flows down over mossy rocks, surrounded by tree ferns. Very pretty falls, we got a lot of good photos going to be hard to choose. There were lots of fungi on the walk to so we got lots of photos of them including some tiny little blue ones. Why oh why are they always so low to the ground? I took a plastic bag to sit and kneel on but I still get muddy. We have worked out the falls are taking us 2-3 hrs to complete by the time we stop and take photos of things along the way, we still walked over 9kms today.

Mossy-Rocks Hopetoun Falls

Next we stopped in at the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk; we didn’t do the walk as we didn’t have enough time as at this stage we were having so much fun checking out the free things, we have heard it is very good though. We had lunch there Fish, Chips and Salad was very nice.

Triplet-Falls

From there we continued 3km’s past the Tree Top Walk to Triplet Falls, a 2km loop, moderate walk but with loads of steps. There is a recommended direction for the loop, which starts downward, with steps and boardwalks, the falls is towards the other end of the loop, the climb back out is rather steep up steps, where you follow the creek along. It is if fact shorted to the falls to go the opposite direction if you only want to see the falls but you would miss out on the whole walk, which again is very pretty through spectacular rainforest along an old logging line. Again lots of fungi, which had us just about lying down on the rainforest floor with the leaches and mud. People walking past must have thought we were nuts taking photos of what they can’t even see as some of the fungi were tiny. It rained just as we were finishing the walk; we had a quick cuppa at the car before moving on.

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On the way back to the van we stopped and checked out a few free camps along the way ready for us to move to and have a few days break over the Anzac long weekend, to avoid the crowds on the roads.

We had done some washing before we left and hung it out on the clothes line set up at the front of the van on the A frame. We thought we would be faced with wet washing when we got back, when we pulled in the washing was gone, first thought was someone took our clothes, but our nice neighbours had brought it in for us and had it lying flat underneath their annex, very kind and thoughtful of them.

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Day 21 -21st April

Wow, ouch. Yep that is how we are feeling, mostly me as my calves are very sore from all the steps yesterday. They are ok once you are moving and the muscles have warmed up but when you have been sitting in the car and then get out and walk ouchhhhhhhhh.

We were a bit slow off the mark this morning enjoying sitting back having a cuppa. We then headed up into the Otways; the plan was to go to at least 4 waterfalls in the area. Ha we made 2, there is just so much to see on the way. There is a loop you can do from Skenes Creek, which back a few Kms up the Great Ocean Road, you then turn inland the road does a loop and joins back onto the Great Ocean Road further up from here at Lavers Hill, then back home. Well that was the plan.

Stevenson-Falls

First stop was Stevenson Falls, which is a bit further up, which meant we had to double back. But we had read the falls were great. There is also a camping area there, where vans can get into. Wow what a nice area, the drive there was beautiful, through tall trees, ferns and winding road, felt like we were driving in a rainforest. The camping area is one of the best we have seen for a while, from there it is either a 1.1km walk or you can drive to the falls day area, we drove. From the day area it is only a short walk on level ground to the falls. Lots of trees and ferns, it’s such a lovely walk.

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In amongst the base of some bushy pine trees we spied the same red Fungi we had seen in the Mansfield High Country area, only these were much better and lots of them. They start as round red balls with white bumps on them and then open up to big flat plates, some quite large. They are like something you would expect to see in Alice in Wonderland. We have just looked them up and they are Amanita Muscaria, commonly called Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita. They are not native to Australia; they were accidently brought in with Pine Plantations and are referred to as the Quintessential Toadstool, the little ones are called buttons and the white spots can wash off in heavy rainfall. I should point out there are poisonous to eat and are farmed for its hallucinogenic properties ha maybe that is why we were so happy when we saw them, the real Magic Mushroom.

Magic-Muchroom

I had soaking wet and dirty knees by the time I had finished. The falls were great with plenty of water going over them into pools below. We spent several hours there all up, we enjoyed lunch back at the day area before heading back down and rejoining the loop road, which takes you to the Otway Fly tree Top walk.

Beauchamp-Falls-walk

Next stop was Beauchamp Falls, a 3km return walk, listed as moderate difficult in the walking rating, Stevenson Falls was easy. It’s 1.5km all downhill on a very well maintained track. Again lots of fungi to see, some we hadn’t see before including one that was growing up a tree that can only be described as they look like Stalactites, never seen anything like it. We think it is a Tooth Fungi, or other names, Coral Fungi, or Icicle Fungi. Apparently it’s edible and delicious like Lobster and can be used as a rice substitute, but I’d check on that before you start munching in on it. The walk is another pretty walk with tree ferns, moss, fallen down trees with moss, and lots of tall trees but it is steep in places and the last bit is straight down with stairs, does have hand rails and they do help as the steps were wet and slippery. It is worth the walk as the falls are wonderful. The viewing platform is up some more steps, we also worked our way down to the bottom of the falls to take some photos. It was 5 o’clock so we moved it back up the track at a reasonable pace, trying to beat the dark, stopping to take pics of a few fungi, gave us a break. By the time we got back to the car we were hot and puffed.

Beauchamp Falls Tooth-Fungi

Mycena Family

We took a short cut back home straight down joining back up with the Great Ocean Road, not completing the loop YET. Plan tomorrow is to go back up the short cut and rejoin where we left off.

We came home with sore bits, Chris is now saying ouch too, covered in a bit of mud from kneeling in wet rainforest floor and sitting on wet muddy rocks, but as Chris said we were as happy as pigs in mud, we had a ball, and that is what it is all about, can’t wait for tomorrow after a nice rest that is.

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