After a breakfast of cheeseburgers and mango, we went to Griffith Island to walk on a trail past mutton birds, a light house, and rolling waves.
We finally started our journey on The Great Ocean Road, which brought us to the Port Campbell National Park. The park was home to incredible rock formations staggered along the ocean cliffs. The towers of limestone rock had once been part of the mainland, but had eroded away into different formations, each with individual names, like the London Bridge, The Grotto, Loch Ard Gorge, and the most famous of all, the Twelve Apostles (although there’s really only like five of them). The bright white rock, the calming green blue ocean and the fiery deep orange sand made for one impressive color palette. Even thought the Twelve Apostles is the most famous, I found the others to be even better due to the lack of oversized tour buses, aggressive selfie stick usage, and pushing to get the best view. We continued on past identical looking seaside towns with shopping, cafes, and beaches, such as Apollo Bay and Lorne. The road followed the ocean for the most part, but also took us deep into jungle-esque scenery. Other than stopping at an ocean lookout at Split Point Lighthouse, we kept chugging along on the terrifyingly windy road, just feet from the cliff edge and the ocean below. Thank goodness for the oldies rock station we kept blasting from the radio to keep myself distracted from worrying about the twists and turns Byron was navigating. We hit our evening destination of Torquay, surfing capital and home to brands like Quick Silver and Rip Curl, and were greeted again by signs firmly staying camping wasn’t allowed. We drove in circles praying there was some place to stay, but the info center was closed, all the caravan parks were booked out, and our phones were about to die. Just as we were about to give up hope, a yoga instructor walked past us, setting up a sign for her class the following morning. We bombarded her with questions and she told us to drive a bit out of town and we’ll be fine. We took her advice and cheered when we found a tiny park without a single sign telling us not to camp there and made friends with some French travelers with the same idea. With a hearty dinner of leftover cheeseburgers and birthday cake, we slept for one last night in the car.
Jan. 7 – Road Trip Day Five: Melbourne
We felt like we’d seen enough of Torquay after walking along the main beach that morning and decided to continue driving along to Geelong. Geelong turned out to be just another city with waterfront, so we rushed through it and strolled the harbor for half an hour, eager to drive into Melbourne.
Before returning the car, we were required to get it fully cleaned, and pay top dollar for the quality hand wash they recommended. To save some moolah, we drove around (almost empty on gas and running out of time), until we found this run down Self Service wash, costing us a total of $3. It helped that it started pouring rain, saving us anther dollar or two on a rinse. Thank you, Mother Nature.
We scrubbed and vacuumed as best as we could, stressing over a smudge here or a scratch there, yet when we pulled up to the Wicked Camper lot, the dude glanced at the car for a second, and told us we were good to go. Figures.
That pouring rain that helped us out earlier was now drenching us as we tried to navigate the streets to our hostel, Pint on Punt. I am cheap (almost to a fault) and refuse to take taxis anywhere that I can walk or take public transportation. However, when Byron hailed a cab and dragged me inside, I reluctantly admitted it was a welcome relief from the downpour.
Our four person room was a bit of a squeeze, and relied on ventilation from a window above the constant traffic of the busy street. All this aside, it was so much better than sleeping in the back of a car, using park toilets and beach showers. We immediately did laundry and showered all of the camping grime away and ate one of the backpacker meals in the Irish pub below. After a healthy dose of wifi, we attempted to sleep through the wailing and screeching of Karaoke Night from the bar.