As soon as we pulled into our camp site in Port Campbell I got a bling on my mobile phone …”
“Victorian severe thunderstorm warning, large hail, heavy rain …Waarnambool … at risk for the next several hours.”
The sky was dark and ominous, so it was all systems go to set the swag up and secure our camp before rain hit.
Earlier that day we’d left the Grampians under a dazzling blue sky. It was goodbye to the mountains and the sunshine for awhile as our road trip continued.
Roads were made for journeys, not destinations. Confucius
After our lunch stop at Tower Hill Reserve amongst emus and koalas and a cheeky magpie that stole Catherine’s sandwich (what is it about her and crazy birds?) we hit the cheesery at Waarnambool for some serious tasting and stocking up.
The first sign of the ocean and the coastline is always exciting for me, even under a rapidly darkening sky. We skirted past the Bay of Islands, hoping to return (without the van in tow) before the day was done.
Port Campbell Caravan Park was our destination, a small park located close to many of the highlights of the Great Ocean Road. The coast was calling but, with stormy skies overhead, limited hours left in the day and a dinner reservation that night … well, we couldn’t do everything.
But I think we gave it a damn good shot. Once our camp was secured it was time to hit the spectacular Loch Ard Gorge with all of its scenic lookouts, London Bridge, the Arch and the Grotto, just some of the natural attractions that define this spectacular coastline.
Welcome to the Great Ocean Road.
This place is like an artists easel and, even devoid of blue overhead, there’s magnificence around every bend. At each lookout we saw the views as though with new eyes.
The late afternoon light was filtering through dark clouds, shimmering on the water, and illuminating everything, as though on show for us.
It was the ultimate light show.
As quickly as the storm came it disappeared, as they so often do on the coast. It’s a powerful reminder of how fast things can change. Whatever’s going on in your life, there’s always a way out, always a silver lining and a lesson to be learnt along the way.
No storm, not even the one that might appear in our life, can last forever.
We know that eventually everything blows over. The waves in the ocean know that, they never stop rolling.
Down on Shipwreck Beach at the Loch Ard Gorge it was misty and drizzly. We sheltered under our umbrellas and marvelled at the beauty around us. At one stage we had the whole beach to ourself.
Anyone who’s been here knows this place is usually crowded with tour buses filled with Chinese tourists, even in the wet. But not now, in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. We relished the calm.
“Be the ocean, be ever changing but always the same. Be calm, be still, but let yourself get wild and lost in a storm from time to time … ” Michael DeBois
For me the highlight of our afternoon was the walk down the Gibson Steps.
It’s here on the shoreline that you truly feel the majesty and awe of those ocean swells as you look out to sea, taking in your first breathtaking view of an Apostle.
“Sky above, sand below, peace within.”
Even gray skies couldn’t dampen our mood, if anything it added a new element. As Catherine so eloquently wrote in her post …
“The weather wasn’t perfect but it gave a different feeling to our sightseeing. I think the threatening dark clouds and dimmed light accentuated the roughness of the coast, and the danger that awaited the sailors trying to tame it.“
It’s not called the Shipwreck Coast for nothing.
It was just us, the ocean, imposing cliffs that surrounded us and those massive swells crashing on the shore. Nature is powerful, tempestuous and awe inspiring all at the same time.
Saving the rest of the Apostles for early tomorrow morning, and with stomachs rumbling, we decided to head off for our dinner reservation at 12 Rocks bistro in Port Campbell.
It was Valentines Day and it felt fitting to enjoy a meal out together, cocooned inside this popular bistro overlooking the bay. It was a long night filled with good food, laughter and lively conversation. Not to mention decadent desserts and a port all round to end the night.
Any port in a storm.
I think we were the last ones to leave. In fact, I’m sure they were putting up the chairs around us!
Back at camp we all fell into our respective beds, weary but content, having travelled from the mountains to the coast. You can read Catherine’s version of our day and see that cheeky magpie stealing her lunch here.
The forecast ahead was for more grey skies but that wasn’t going to slow us down.
Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” Danny Kaye
The next day would see us sampling some local gourmet produce before venturing deep into a rainforest, and ending the day with some more wildlife encounters … just another day on the Great Ocean Road.
As the journey continues, I hope you’re enjoying yours, wherever you are.
In light and love
To be a writer is to be the tour guide who takes you to worlds you have always dreamt of visiting. Pickwick.
“To sit in silence at the shore, watch the waves and hear the surf, is to appreciate the very breath and heartbeat of the Earth.” Doe Zamtamata