Well today was the day that I've been looking forward to since
I began planning this trip. We were finally going to explore the Shipwreck Coast that I
had seen so many pictures of when I was doing research on Australia. Before we got to that
part of the Great Ocean Road we passed through the town of Lavers Hill and the Otways
Ranges National Park. Deep in the park is a wonderland of beech and fern gullies, known as
Mait's Rest and named after the first forester in the district. Mait's rest was the
resting place for Maitland Bryant and his team of horses en route between Apollo Bay and
Hordern Vale around the time of the First World War. Although locals have picnicked and
walked through this area for years, it is only recently that it has been made more
accessible to the public. A well-built boardwalk has been built above the forest floor and
makes this walk suitable for all age groups. An interesting fact about Mait's
Rest is that while it is a rainforest, it sometimes snows there! Mait's Rest is located in
a temperate rainforest, which basically means that the climate is much cooler than your
typical tropical rainforest.
After leaving Mait's Rest we continued on the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell until we came to the first of the many sights to see there: The Twelve Apostles. The cliffs of Port Campbell began to form 10-20 million years ago under the sea from a build-up of the skeletons of countless millions of tiny marine animals. When the sea level retreated the soft limestone was exposed to the wild seas and winds of the Southern Ocean. The limestone has been shaped over time into a spectacular array of rock stacks, gorges, islands, arches, and blowholes. One of the most impressive and famous of these natural sculptures are the row of stone pillars known as the Twelve Apostles. In truth there are only 8 or 9 of the apostles visible today, as the other structures have been reclaimed by the sea, but the Eight or Nine Apostles just doesn't have the same ring to it.
About 300 meters west of the Twelve Apostles was Loch Ard Gorge. Loch Ard Gorge is named for the clipper ship "Loch Ard" which sank in heavy seas off the coast in 1878. Only two people survived the Loch Ard wreck, cabin boy Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael, while 52 others perished. They were both swept into Loch Ard Gorge and took shelter in two caves that have since been named for them. Four victims of the wreck are buried on the cliff tops near the gorge in what is now known as Loch Ard Cemetery. Two days after the tragedy occurred, a ceramic Peacock was washed ashore. It had been made by Minton Potteries in England and was bound for the opening of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne when the tragedy took place. Today it is known as the "Loch Ard Peacock" and can be seen at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village in Warrnambool. The "Loch Ard" was one of 163 ships that are believed to have met a watery grave along this coastline. The simplest navigational error in this area often spelt disaster as ships were pounded to splinters by the merciless sea. If you have the inclination and the time you can scuba dive on many of the wrecks.
Some of the other dramatic rock formations that we saw included from left to right: The Razorback; The Arch; London Bridge; The Grotto. The final picture is a picture of The Grotto from above.
It took us 10 hours to drive 300 kilometers from
Apollo Bay to Portland. This was because just about every 300 meters there was another
scenic overlook to stop and check out. By the time we reached the Portland Inn we were
exhausted, so we ordered up some pizza and relaxed for the rest of the night. I'll be
posting some pictures of the Portland Inn and some other sights around Portland on
tomorrow's page. Hope everyone enjoyed the pictures on today's page. I certainly enjoyed
taking them! See ya' tomorrow.
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