Another stupid o'clock awakening to go on a bus trip along one of the Top 10 drivers in the world - The Great Ocean Road. We had a driver who looked like Mike Myers from Wayne's World and he acted like him as we'll, being able to talk on a microphone, drink, steer around hairpin bends and change gear all at the same time. He told us serval entertaining quirky stories that entertained on a 600km drive ( in one day). His first started when we went past a pub called Young and Jackson. Apparently Victorian Melbourne residents ( no pun intended ), were prudes an insisted that a portrait of a naked woman was taken down from the Art Gallery. A local publican bought it and hung it in his pub. Her name was Chloe and when sailors and soldiers left for foreign fields, they came to say goodbye. If they didn't have wives, girlfriends, or significant others, they wrote to her instead.
The next story is about the awful bush fires that hit Victoria from time to time. In a town called Lorne, only 3 buildings survived an horrific bush fire in 1983. Only three buildings were saved, the lighthouse, which was a stone building, a house built on a huge metal stilt, and a building that, all the residents took the decision to save whilst their houses burnt down- the pub!
The Great Ocean Road was built by soldiers returning after World War 1. The Government could not afford to pay them, but in a recession the offer of three meals a day and a tent, were better than they would have normally got, so 3000 signed up to build it. It took 14 years but a ship called the casino was wrecked and its cargo of 150 barrels and 75 crates of spirits were washed ashore to be destroyed by 3000 road workers on the piss. Work was delayed by two weeks. The Aussies love a beer!
On our way we went over a huge suspension bridge crossing the docklands area of Melbourne. Its known locally as the Bridge of Doom. The bridge was built in the late 60s early 70s. As with most bridges being built, they meet in the middle. Only this bridge missed by 4 metres, so they decided to bend one side to join the other. There was a rumble and 160m of bridge collapsed killing 35 people. 7 Ps anyone? The sides have large fences put on them. This is the result of 3 suicides a month, as it was a quick and tidy way of killing yourself.
The Ocean Road itself is stunning. The cliffs and arches, and other features such as coves are a golden sandstone in the sun, the day having a clear blue sky. The sea really was turquoise moving into deep waters where it became a dark blue. The forests come down to the sea, throwing shimmering shadows on everything. We saw wild koalas and parrots and saw the lighthouse Cape Otway, the first sight that welcomes all émigrés to the new land. And what a beautiful land it is. As we drove back the sunset was orange, and the red silhouetting the Eucalyptus trees against the sky. Days don't get much better than this.