Posted by: Paul Sheringhams blog: a place of running dreams come true | November 8, 2016

Great Ocean Road


Apollo Bay


Twelve Apostles


Gibson Steps


Twelve Apostles


Pink Bells


Stackhousia spathulata


Acacia sp.


Leptospermum sp.



I finally made it to the Great Ocean Road. The holiday I had planned for two weeks ago before I hurt my back. I am currently in Apollo Bay, which is about three hours west of Melbourne, Victoria.

After leaving Melbourne after a longish wait to get my hire car, I drove along the very busy freeway towards Geelong. The freeway was four lanes wide, but very busy with trucks and cars. There were cars speeding in and out of the lanes. I just stuck to the speed limit and kept my eye for road signs to Great Ocean Road.

It is a long scenic drive to get here. Between Angelsea and Apollo Bay it was a windy road with lots of hairpin bends and precipitous fall to a raging ocean on one side of the car and big coastal hills on the other. Some of the hills had a covering of dead trees and a ground cover of bright green regenerating ferns. These were scars from the big bush fires from a few years ago. I saw a few wildflowers in the bushland including white flowering broom tea tree.

I didn’t have much chance to enjoy the view and arrived quite late, I made it before reception closed. I got caught behind a slow driver and at a couple of traffic work red lights, one where a bridge was being repaired.

The coast is comprised of limestone geology, and is home to the iconic Twelve Apostles. These are large sea. stacks, several  have collapsed over time and now only eight are left.

I hope to get some photos there later in my stay.

Apollo Bay is a medium sized town located on the southern ocean. It has its own harbour and breakwater, and so reminds me of a temperate Coffs. After checking into my apartment, I bought some fish and chips, and ate it near the breakwall.

The sunset looked promising. What I noticed is that sunset is very late, 7:48, compared to Coffs. The days are much longer in this more southerly latitude. I found on Google maps an interesting beach with a limestone reef  beyond a strip of sand with rocks exposed at low tide and an array of seaweed, seagrass, shells, Neptune’s necklace.

There was really nice sunset light in the long streaky clouds to the west and it was reflected in the rock pools and along the wet sand. I spent an enjoyable hour or so taking photos. I shared the photo taking with a Sooty Oystercatcher who was pecking at shells behind me with its strong red bill. Then I walked back to my car in the near dark.

I had a good long sleep, I looked out the window before dawn but there weren’t any clouds, so I slept in.

Twelve Apostles.


I headed west from Apollo Bay. I visited Shelley Beach which is a 900m walk through tall Eucalypt forest to the coast. A species of Olearia and spiny-leaved wattle were commonly flowering  along the road. I photographed these at the car park.

Shelley Beach was small area of sandy beach behind an extensive limestone rock platform.  The last bit of the walk was muddy and slippery, a spring fed water along the track.

I gave the walk to Elliott River a miss and headed to Cape Otway. On the drive in I came upon lots of caps parked by the side of the road with the tourists pointing their cameras up into the trees. There were Koalas in the trees.  I drove on, I have seen Koalas before, and I don’t have a zoom lens to get a decent photo of them.

The lighthouse  was accessed through a souvenir shop, it cost about 20 dollars, so I decided not to do it. I walked through the car park along a track signposted to Cape Otway Lighthouse lookout. It was a pretty average Lookout.  There were quite a lot of flies landing on me so I got back into the car and started towards Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles.

Two cars slowed to a stop at a road bridge over a creek. In chalk on the road was launching pad. There was a Koalas in the middle of the road. It scampered off to the side of the road as fast as a Koalas can.

The road then headed away from the coast towards Mt Lavery and Princetown.  A car overtook me, and the red ute behind me, going about 160km/hr. Very dangerous. A lot of motorcyclists use the road, and of course Maui and Britz campervans.

Eventually the road turned towards the coast down towards the narrow strip of coastline and rugged coastline of Port Campbell National Park. I stopped at Loch Ard Gorge. I walked around with my mobile camera looking at vantage points.

The Twelve Apostles car park was busy with tourists. There was a kiosk that only had two pies left. The buzz of joy flight helicopters taking off and landing was a regular occurrence. It was a windy day and I imagined the helicopters being buffeted around the conditions.

I went to the Twelve Apostles lookout and the tourists were as thick as rhe flies that landed on my arms.

While I was there I was  asked to take photos of three other couples. This fired my anxiety up. One couple were English, the man had a tatoo down his arm, his partner was young with big breasts. I tried not to let my had shake as I took the photo. The next were a couple in their thirties, both were tall and attractive the woman had dark hair the man a beard. Their mobile was smashed and I took photos but wasn’t sure if they came out to their satisfaction. The last couple were shorter, with a European accent, I think they were happier with my efforts.

I went into Port Campbell for something to eat. The town is fairly small with a general store on the main street. The Port is  a small bay enclosed by a low limestone cliff on the western side of town. It was long wait until sunset. It was overcast most of the afternoon, so I wasn’t certain what sort of sunset would eventuate. The London Bridge feature was located west of town. It is no longer a bridge but an island. The part of it joining it to island collapsed a few years ago.

I drove to the Twelve Apostles car park and waited for sunset. I walked down to the lookout just after 6:00pm. The tourists were thick on the ground. A French tourist noticed my glasses on the ground and picked them up , they were identical to his. What a coincidence.

So I waited for sunset, the crowds thickened,  the clouds thinned. By sunset there were only a few thin streaks in the direction of the Apostles. I took some photos looking towards Castle Rock where the best of the clouds were located. In the sheer cliffs below the Castle Rock, little Corellas nested in cavities in the limestone a hundred metres above the ocean. They looped out in big arcs above the ocean, and some perched on limestone rock crevicex. A long wait for an average sunset. Even at average sunsets you always see things of interest.

Then it was long drive back to Apollo Bay. The wind had picked up and was a howling gale by the time I reached Apollo Bay. I saw another Koalas sitting motionless in the road. Not an intelligent place to sit.

Day 2

A long night of strong wind, and  morning greeted by heavy rain. I drove back towards Port Campbell and parts of the road were flooding, trees had fallen on the road overnight. I made it 33km before having to go back for my phone camera charger in the room.

I made it back to Port Campbell by midday and ate some lunch. Then I headed to my apartment, which is a comfortable 2 level apartment with bedrooms upstairs. The manager was also a photographer and he had a nice sunset photo of the twelve apostles hanging in the office for sale.

He spoke about some good vantage points; and photography in general. He mentioned that at times after rain a waterfall falls over the cliffs at the 12 Apostles.

Sure enough when I made it our to the lookout a waterfall was spilling over the cliff. I try to make it a focus of my photography. It was freezing cold and windy standing there at the viewing platform. The crowds of the night before were not present.

The light shining on the cliffs was pleasingly golden, and those photo were probably the best of those I took. The sunset clouds were low and scudding rain laden clouds and they didn’t fire brightly at sunset. I left and headed back to the car after 8:00pm. Glad to go somewhere at get warm. The shops and service station were closed in Port Campbell. I got back to the apartment and got into bed to warm up.

Day 3

I slept in for sunrise. It wasn’t a colourful one. I came home and slept for a while. It wasn’t until lunch time that I headed out. I drove west of Port Campbell to Peterborough. I stopped at the Grotto, and the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands. The limestone coast here was broken by sandy beaches and dunes.

I drove through Peterborough across a large river bridge. The Road left the coast and went through rural country on the way to Warnanbool, which is a town of over 33000 people. I filled up with petrol, and then drove into town a parked near the town beach. Warrnambool has a parkrun starting up.

Then it was shopping in Woolies and then back to Port Campbell. I was still thinking of Coffs Harbour problems even several days into my holiday and being thousands of kilometres away from there. There is no holiday from Coffs, the only way to have a break from Coffs is to leave permanently. It is as if the thoughts of Coffs eve pollute what should be an enjoyable holiday. At least I can go shopping in a Woolies in Warnanbool unlike Coffs.

I took a detour into Childers Cove, a nice sandy beach sheltered amongst limestone Headlands. The stairs down to the beach were closed due to damage.

Back at home I watched some movies. The Day the Earth stooder still with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connolly. It wasn’t too bad even if somewhat implausible.  I see some critics don’t like it because the message of humans destroying the planet is Hollywood liberalism, they preferred the religious overtones in the 1951 original.

Then I watched The Martian with Matt Damon. It was OK too, I really liked the rendering of the Martian landscape as he explored it in his Rover.  I really didn’t  get a sense of a lot of tension or drama of his experience until right at the end when he is shot out of the capsule. It was a pretty jovial film. The ending was unusual with all the characters congratulating themselves on another Aries launch, and their names being given as credits. I wouldn’t mind being by myself on a planet like Mars.

A bit of time to kill before the sunset. Another cold affair it was. The crowds at th he lookout were very thin. One of the last helicopters landed for the day. I put on an extra T shirt. I am dressed only in shorts, so that icy wind was cutting right through me as I waited for sunset.

The clouds were heavy and rain laden, with a thinner clouds in a gap above There were long rays appearing behind the clouds as they the sun lowered. I was hopeful that there would be a gap lower on the horizon letting colourfull sunset rays through, but they petered out.

It is a hard location to photograph, the Apostles are quite distant now that the nearest one collapsed. A portrait photo with my 100m macro seems to frame the Apostles and also get a little sky in the frame. The 35mm doesn’t really fill the frame.

It was good to get back to the car out of the wind, and back to my apartment at Port Campbell.

Day 4

The day started with sunrise over the Gibson steps. Which is a short walk down steps in the limestone cliff. I walked over to a few rocks and used them as a back drop for one the larger Apostles in the background. The sunrise was a drab affair very little colour got through. Grey skies with a tiny fringe of pink on the edges.

Back at home I jumped into bed as it was very cold, and slept for a while. I waited until 8:00am until the general store opened. I bought a Twelve Apostles Hoodie to keep me warmer.

Back home I watched another movie, Prometheus, which was interesting enough to keep me watching, but the actions of the crew seemed to be manipulated and implausible.  Particularly the part where a character has abdominal surgery, and then for the next few hours runs around saving herself actively from all sorts of catastrophes.

It wasn’t until after 5:00pm that I headed out to explore. I found an interesting dirt track that led to Sherbrooke Creek. I photographed flowers. A pink flowered Rulingia, a purple and yellow flowered exotic daisy, Senecio elegans, and a white flowered aromatic plant of the dunes. A sun orchid by the trail was in bud but not flowering, just my luck.

Sherbrooke River flowed directly over the sand into the ocean.

The other track went to Rutledge Creek. It was a slippery track lined by a low heath of tea-tree. A small waterfall fed over limestone rocks into the sea. There were footprints of kangaroos on the trail. It looked as if one Kangaroo had taken a slide. A large sea stack lay out to sea beyond an arc of limestone cliffs. Rutledge Creek spilled out over the edge of a small waterfall. A really pleasant spot hidden away from the crowds of torists.

I looked skywards and I thought that maybe there would be a great sunset for my last night at the Twelve Apostles. I had on a wincheater, and a Twelve Apostles hoodie that I bought at the general store to brave the cold standing there at the lookout waiting for sunset. It was sunset and the crowds were very thin at the lookout.

The sunset looked potentially promising but petered out like all the others. The sun set on the horizon as an orange glow low on the hroizon, but didn’t radiate out with any good light. One final burst of pink which was localised and way out to sea. The clouds closer to the Apostles where drab and dark.

I felt a sadness that my holiday was drawing to a close, and a trepidation that I am one week closer to work.

Day 5

Last Day. I was up again for sunrise. I drove over to the Gibson steps. The sunrise was completely blocked by grey clouds, with only some bruised pink light getting through. I didn’t even get out of the car for it.

I went for a walk on a trail to Broken Head and own the onto Sherbrooke River. A big sea cave has eroded the limestone under the cliffs. The park managers where doing Geotechnical investigations of tracks to discover in there was any subsidence. It is a very active and unstable limestone environment.

As I got back into my car, a blue wren appeared. It was pecking at my wind screen wipers trying to feed on windscreen insect kill, and attacking its reflection in the side view mirror. I took some photos and filmed it with my mobile phone camera. It really made me smile to see it, and all of my worrying thoughts left me. A moment of joy and wonder that’s what I am alive for.

I began to dream of working toward retirement and one day leaving the things that worry me behind and exploring Australia, and experiencing more great moments. Just my own company, with no worries of going back to an office. My office can be the beach and bushland, the wildflowers and wildlife.

I ate some breakfast, a sausage roll, and payed my final visit to the general store. Then I packed up an cleaned my apartment. The apartment manager recommended I go to Hopeton Falls on the way back to Melbourne.

That sadness of leaving Port Campbell filled me again. A good little holiday and now it was ending. I drove back to the walking track where the sun orchid was, but it was still in bud even though the sun was coming out.

Then I drove back towards Apollo Bay. To get to Hopeton Falls  I needed to drive through Beech Forest a small town with a cool name. I stopped to photograph Pink Bells flowering by the the side of the road. Gang Gang Cockatoos called from the trees above.

It was a 4km drive to get to Hopeton Falls, through pine plantations then a walk down a steep track of steps. The falls were quite impressive with a roar of water going over them. I took a few photos, but the midday light was not flattering, and it was hard to get a good angle on the falls.

Then I began the long haul back to Melbourne. Through Colac. About 2 hours 30 minutes, no time to stop for lunch. It would be touch and go to make my flight at 4:45. I filled up at Colac.

A few road work red lights slowed me down. Through Geelong with about 70km to go. I topped up again at a Setvice centre with about 40km to Melbourne.

The traffic started to slow on the M80 road approaching the airport. I got stuck in an outside lane and needed to manoeuvre to get across onto the right lane.

Then at the airport I got lost trying to find the rental car return parking. I drove around looking for it. Wasting time. I finally headed in the right direction and found the car return area. I dropped my car cleared it out. My nerves a mess. Then I checked in at just after 4:00pm.

I made it to my flight with only 10 minutes to spare. The flight to Sydney was a quick one about an hour.  Then it was only half an hour to my Coffs flight which arrived at 8:10pm. I was back in Coffs, but it never feels like coming home.


  1. I really love the first one…the sunset. It is beautiful!!

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