Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Down to and back along the Great Ocean Road

Australia Map Great Ocean Road

If there is one thing which Australians do not do well, it is much modern domestic architecture. Australia is dotted with housing estates with grand sounding names such as “Brook View”, “Mountain Court”……………. nice names but the architecture is often very poor and boring. Most housing estates seem to be full of single storey large floor area bungalows with tin roofs, high walls around the outside and fairly flat and featureless facades.

Horrid House 2 Horrid House 1

Land is cheap so why wouldn’t they spread out? Plots of land in the south west seem to be selling for £60,000 upwards and a large house costs around £100,000 more. What a pity though that too many of the houses are very bland. Of course we have seen some nice ones but too many are disappointing.

However, as we head into the more remote areas of Australia first settled in the mid to late 1800s, we have come across some wonderful old buildings. Some are now quite clearly past their prime and awaiting collapse

Old Building 1

but others are well maintained and obviously a source of local pride.

Old Building 4 Old Building 2 Old Building 3

Onwards into Victoria and then back into South Australia

We were unable to meet up with my cousin in Adelaide as we went South through it so we continued South East toward the Great Ocean Road (GOR) with the objective of driving back towards Adelaide along it (and then dropping in on my cousin).

Having got to the Great Ocean Road at Lorne, actually following it marked one other significant moment – our first step back to the UK. For the next two weeks we are driving North West towards Alice Springs from where we catch our three stage flight back home.

The GOR was constructed from 1919 onwards by returning WW1 servicemen, supposedly to emulate the equivalents in the USA by providing an interesting drive along a coastal strip not short of a amazing sites, vistas and towns. This it has done and there are more amazing views and natural features than one can record.

Sheoak Falls

one of many waterfalls


because of the frequent rain, there are rainbows everywhere

2 of the 12 Apostles

there are 12 limestone pillars standing in a furious sea, these are two of the “twelve apostles”

More of the Apostles

more of the Apostles

Arch Rock

an Apostle in the making, eventually the arch will collapse

At Warrnambool, there is a heritage museum devoted to the sea, ship wrecks and early maritime life for the colony of Australia.

Warrnambool 2

A 19th Century town has been built around a small harbour and many of the shops and houses have “performance staff” inside who recreate life of the time for visitors. One test which we passed admirably was to write a bank withdrawal slip in pounds, shillings and pence.

Warrnambool 3

The Blacksmiths and Undertaker – outside

Warrnambool 1

and Inside

11's at Warrnambool

Weary travellers take a break

Port Fairy further along the GOR has (apart from second best fish and chips we have ever tasted, the best being in Augusta) the most delightful collection of old buildings which are still in use. By old, in Australia you mean either 1800s or 1900s.

Port Fairy 3

Above is part of a parade of 1950’s shops which shows the architecture of that period Interesting, they also seem to still have the same variety of that period and operate the same way. We saw for example, a Tobacconists selling only “smoking requisites” – when was the last time you saw one in the UK? There was also a sweet shop operating as is  the 1950s and even the charity shops seem to be stocked with things which went out of fashion in the mid 20th century.

In many Australian towns, the pub / hotel looks and behaves inside, exactly the way you imagine it should. Port Fairy has two fine examples of old pubs with large first floor verandas, separate bars and reasonably priced food.

Port Fairy 1 

Port Fairy 2    

At Mount Gambier, there is a park where you can feed the Possums

Mt Gambier Sink Hole Gardens

after dark although none turned up when we were there. What we did see was an enormous sink hole caused by slightly acidic water dissolving

 Sink Hole 1 Sink Hole 2

limestone over millions of years leaving behind an enormous hole. In the late 1800s, an local landowner developed the hole into a garden which is now a local park.

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