In Australia, Drive on The Left: Driving The Great Ocean Road….on the left

 

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In Australia, drive on the left. Everything is backwards. When you want to turn, you put on the windshield wipers. When you want to put the car in reverse, you find yourself looking for the gear shift. Not to mention, you drive on the left side of the road. Everything seemed so backwards, so done in reverse, and made no logical sense. That is, until I drove on The Great Ocean Road this weekend.

Suddenly, the left made it so that I would be closest to the ocean, and have an unobstructed view. Not to mention, the fact that on my left was a deep cliffside, motivating me to pay extra attention to my orientation so as to not drop the car lot of us tumbling down into the ocean. So, here I am speaking to you today about our Sunday Daytrip to The Great Ocean Road!

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En Australie, on roule à gauche

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Sunday, a bunch of my housemates and I woke up with the birds to head out along The Great Ocean Road, a 290KM long stretch that winds along the southern coast of Australia from Melbourne to Adelaide. Anxious for the journey ahead, seven of us piled in a van (frankly, the van is a story in and of itself) and let the open road guide us to the shoreline.

Driving along the road, our first stop was at Bells Beach, a well known surf beach near the beach town of Torquay. For those of you movie buffs, Bells Beach is the set of Point Break.

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C’est ce que nous rappellent les panneaux de signalisation tous les kilomètres sur la fameuse Great Ocean Road. Partis à 6:30, avec la dose de caféine, on admire le lever du soleil à l’approche de Torquay, avec enfin notre première vue sur la mer! Pause café oblige à Bells Beach, devant une troupe de surfeurs bravant les vagues de plusieurs mètres. Les stands pour les championnats du monde Rip Curl sont déjà installés au pied et en haut de la falaise.

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After four straight days of rain in Melbourne, we could not have been happier to see the Golden Sun as we arrived at our next stop in Lorne. Along the beach of the small beach town, surfers lined the bright blue water. We grabbed a boost-me-up coffee, and enjoyed it gazing at the surfers and yogis lining the sand.

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Energized for the next 50KM we drove along the road as it zig-zagged along from beach to beach. We were shocked as we saw the speed of huge double-decker greyhound busses, and puzzled as to how they did not tip over! Luckily for us, our car proved rather aerodynamic, even with the two sun roofs our van boasted.

The next stop at Kennett River was proposed by our Zoology student roommate, as it was known to be the spot to see wild Koalas in their natural habitat. And indeed it was! The second we got out of the car we noticed a hoard of tourists staring up a tree at a koala! We made our way quickly past the crowded group and deeper down Grey River Road. The longer we walked the more koalas we saw! Initially we found a few napping calmly in the tree. However, we found a way to wake them up from their 19hr/day nap by making a few coughing noises. While I considered myself very enthusiastic to have seen a Koala, I am sure that no one could have been happier than the zoology student!

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Après quelques manipulations sur le GPS, nous voilà répartis en direction cette fois de Apollo Bay. La route serpente au pied des falaises, et le van file entre les falaises de terre rouge et les eaux turquoises: on se sent vraiment petits dans ce spectacle. Pas une minute d’inattention! On arrête le fan dans un parc naturel, ou l’on peut faire une randonnée et observer les koalas sauvages perches dans les eucalyptus. Déçus dans un premier temps, on finit par trouver plus de koalas que l’on ne peut compter. Ces petites boules spoliés sont décidément sacrément mignonnes.

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Heading down the trail we said good bye to the koalas. Just as we were about to leave we met two neon colored parrots who seemed rather pleased to be photographed! In fact, these were very exciting birds, the best way to distinguish between the male and female is by their colour, one is red and one is green (one of the best aspects of having the zoology student as part of the gang)!

We worked up a hunger after all of our animal-spotting and zipped off to the next stop at Apollo Bay to have a picnic. We were absolutely amazed as the beach was met by bright green rolling hills, similar to what we would expect to see in New Zealand! The contrast of the bright blue water, golden sand, and green hills made it the perfect place for a few group shots and a little clowning around.

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 Enfin, la pause déjeuner bien méritée, surtout pour Claire, Francesco et Sudip qui maintenant se relayent depuis 6h. L’eau est glacée, on y trempe ses pieds à peine. C’est l’occasion pour une belle photo de groupe et puis on repart! Il nous reste une longue route pour arriver à Port Campbell. Après une bonne heure dans la forêt tropicale, on rejoint à nouveau la côte et on arrive à Princetown. Avec l’intention d’être aux 12 apôtres pour le coucher du soleil, on décide d’avancer et de s’y arrêter sur le retour. 

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After lunch was a long haul of 100KM to 12 Apostles (though only ever 9 stacks) now only 8 limestone stacks left standing over time as the ocean slowly erodes and takes its toll. Along the coast are also a variety of limestone bridges and limestone caves including Loch Ard Gorge. After a long day, it was magnificent to finally arrive at this destination. As the day came to a close, Raphael proposed we see a few last final stops, and then finish at the 12 Apostles for the sunset.

At the first stop we took, we had an initial idea of the limestone stacks, and the rough ocean below. However nothing could have prepared us for the view we would have at The Apostles.

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Pause café à Port Campbell, superbe petit village sur la côté (version australienne de Etretat). Dans l’ordre, on s’arrête donc au London Bridge, Loch and Gorge et enfin, aux 12 apôtres pour le coucher du soleil. Nous restons tous les 7 sans mots devant ce spectacle de couleurs et un peu assommés par ce qui fut une journée bien complète.

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The sky glowed a light pink and orange, with the clouds like brush strokes. The deep colors and shadows made the rocks and the sand glow deep and rich colors, changing and fading to a black as the sun slowly faded away. Of all our stops along the east coast, I believe this was our most beautiful sunset. Not to mention, it was fantastic to have enjoyed it with friends. Of course, a camera can never capture true beauty or true friendship, but we sure think we got some nice shots!

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One last and unplanned stop was for our friends to see their first kangaroo! Raphael and I have seen a fair share in our weekend trips, but you can never have enough kangaroos! It was so fun to see how excited everyone was to see their first kangaroo. Not to mention, I am pretty sure we gave the zoology student one of the best days of her life, her first wild koala and kangaroo!

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Sur le retour, dernier arrêt dans un autre parc naturel pour observer des kangourous sauvages. Dans l’obscurité, on ne distingue , jusqu’à ce que nos yeux se fassent au manque de lumière: on voit maintenant une centaine d kangourous broutant dans le pré en silence. La route du retour est longue et on doit rendre le van avant 23h: Claire appuie sur le champignon et l’on est tous aux aguets car la nuit, tous les animaux sortent et décident de travers la route. Enfin sur l’autoroute, tout le monda l’arrière s’endort et Claire et moi revivons ensemble les meilleurs moments d’aujourd’hui. En attendant de revoir cette route de plus près (littéralement) en mai lors du marathon, c’est une nuit de sommeil bien méritée. Bonne nuit à tous, et soyez prudents sur la route! 

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2 thoughts on “In Australia, Drive on The Left: Driving The Great Ocean Road….on the left

  1. Pingback: Life is a Long Quiet River, but maybe not in New Zealand | Defrosting & Discovering Down Under

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