The Great Ocean Road was built by the survivors of WWI as a tribute to their fallen
comrads. It was also a way to put the returning service men to work. It was done
in sections taking about 20 years to build.
The Great Ocean Road follows the coast in the southeast part of the country. In the
USA it would curve from South Carolina to Mississippi, if you cut across Florida.
But the terrain is not nearly as flat as that part of the USA.
After leaving Ballarat and the Sovereign Hill fun park we headed south for a day.
We stopped at a small town campground and the next morning was the Saturday farmer’s
market. So we went.
We enjoy these local events and have a good time talking to the locals, eating local
foods, in this case breakfast, and generally watching the fun, like harp and violin
music or wool spinning. After an hour or so we headed out and a few kilometers down
the road came upon the arch at the top of the page.
The Great Ocean road follows the water’s edge for most of its way. It only goes inland
when the path is insurmountable. It in many places reminded us of the Oregon coast
In other places it looked more like Big Sur in California with the road cut into
the steeply sloped hillside.
When we took a break at a local info center we saw all of these hopeful Cockatoos
watching a family from India have lunch out of the trunk (boot) of their car.
At other times of the day we were dodging rain clouds. During our stop at Stevensons
Falls we wore our raincoats but didn’t need them after all.
Not all of our travels are boring, just look at the sign on the inside of the stall
door in the men’s toilet. Who really needs to be told not to “stand on the toilet”
or to “do it” on the floor? I got a good laugh at it but someone thought it was necessary
and that was probably because users were actually doing this!
And then on the right is a warning sign for wildlife that has been modified by someone
with a black marker and a sense of humor!
The Cape Otway lighthouse is on the tip of a point that sticks out and caught unwary
sailing ships. It was built in 1848 and used whale oil to create the light. In 1891
the top was replaced with a “modern” kerosene lamp and a Fresnel lens. In 1939 it
got electricity from its own
generator. In 1994 it was replaced by a smaller (to the right of the tower) light
that is completely automatic and no longer required a lighthouse keeper. The keeper
lived in the right hand building and his assistant in the left. These were married
men with families and life was tough at first. Supplies came by sea every 6 months
and landed about 6 k. away (over 3 miles). Then the family hauled it all home by
cart. A WWII radar bunker is near the hump in the left side of the picture. Both
German and Japanese ships and subs patrolled this area.
One of the big attractions along the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles. These are
several (not 12) pieces of the coast that are standing free of the coast. Over time
Mother Nature washes away the cliffs and creates the towers. She also washes away
the base of the towers and collapses them too.
The best viewing platform was out the narrow point that someday will become its own
tower. Look close and you can see the crowd all along the trail out to the tip.
And this is out on the point looking back. This is a VERY popular site and draws
the busloads of tourists, most of whom are Chinese. We saw tour buses with the name
of the company written in large Chinese characters and, underneath, in very small
English letters. They obviously are doing fine from just the Chinese visitors to
Australia. We have seen these buses everywhere in Australia but not in the numbers
as there are here and at the “Three Sisters /Scenic World” lookout.
This was just about the end of the Great Ocean Road and we headed to Ararat where
the Gum San Chinese Heritage Center resides. This center is a museum of the work,
art and culture that 85,000 Chinese miners brought to Australia, mainly in the southeast
section of the country, including Sovereign Hill. Three quarters of them eventually
went home or on to other countries to work. One group of 700 hopeful miners sailing
on the same ship landed and was exploring this area, looking for gold in creeks and
draws when they came upon the alluvial gold at this site. They tried to keep it a
secret but buying supplies with gold nuggets gave it away, swamping the area with
all kinds of miners. This turned out to be the richest gold site in Australian history
and the only town based on a Chinese discovery of gold. The alluvial field was 8
km. (5 mi.) long, 200-300 feet wide and up to 70 feet deep allowing some 3,000 claims
to be registered. The gold was being found up to 25 ounces per “wash” (the bucket
of gravel brought up to be sifted).
Most of what they brought with them were mining tools but as they spent the years
here they brought their culture and arts too. The Chinese had real problems with
the other, European heritage, miners. The European countrymen controlled the government
and the Chinese were heavily discriminated against, including a yearly head tax that
no other group had to pay.
The gentleman in the opening picture for this section is Guan Di, the guardian of
China and her people.
Our next destination is the Grampian Mountains. The mountains are the remnants of
old volcanoes. Shield volcanoes that spread out instead of towering high like the
ones at home (Mt. St. Helens for example). This is one of the old calderas.
There are many hiking trails in these mountains. We took the one to MacKenzie falls.
It was about 800 meters (½ mile) each way. Alongside the trail the trees and brush
were recovering from a bush fire three year earlier that burned the entire area.
These flowers were the prettiest of the several we saw in the recovering forest.
And we haven’t shown you any flowers in a long time.
We are now one day away from our friend’s home in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills.
We will be staying with them through Christmas.