The Great Ocean Road runs for 243 kilometres between Torquay and Allansford on the south eastern coast of Victoria, Australia. It is heritage listed and is one of the worlds most scenic coastal drives.
Stunning coastal scenery along the Great Ocean Road.
London Bridge. Originally there were two arches but one has since collapsed due to the erosion of the waves.
Loch Ard gorge close to where the clipper ship Loch Ard ran aground in 1878.
The sandy cove at Loch Ard gorge where the two survivors of the shipwreck managed to get ashore.
Rugged cliffs and rough seas.
The Razorback on the Great Ocean Road is a thin wedge of rock, steadily being eroded away by the action of the sea.
Stormy afternoon over the Southern Ocean.
Our last stop on this trip before we arrived home was to spend a few days on our boat down on the Gippsland Lakes. The first night we tied up to a friend’s jetty, and the following day we ventured towards Lakes Entrance and stayed for the night at a lovely little spot called Barrier Landing which is a narrow strip of sand dunes separating the lake from the wild seas of Bass Strait.
I can never resist a beautiful sunset, and this one turned the sea and sky a beautiful apricot colour.
The evening was fine and perfectly calm. We walked across the sand dunes for a walk along the ocean beach before dinner.
There were plenty of spots to tie up for the night along the jetty or along the beach. We shared the jetty with only two other boats, so we all had plenty of space.
In the morning the wind came up so we headed back across the lake and up the sheltered waters of the Tambo River to the area where the cliffs tower over the river.
We spotted this lizard on the river bank. I am not sure what he is, but when he saw us he didn’t know whether to freeze and hope we hadn’t seen him, or run for his life.
I liked this farm house perched up on a hill, with cattle grazing in the paddock below.
The next morning the river was peaceful and calm, it was a great anchorage protected from the winds blowing across the nearby lake.
This pelican took off gracefully when we disturbed the peace by motoring through the flock of pelicans and cormorants resting on the river water. Pelicans are definitely my favourite bird, it always amazes me that they can fly so gracefully.
Have you ever drifted serenely on perfectly calm waters, watching the sun sink slowly in the west while the colours change around you, reflecting off the sky and water? It is a surreal experience that makes me realise how lucky I am to live in this beautiful country.
Right on sunset, everything is bathed in a golden glow that turns the water to a sea of gold.
Then just after the sun has disappeared below the horizon, everything is golden and blue.
In the next few moments, the blues and yellows gradually change to oranges,pinks and purples.
The sea was so calm you could see the gentle ripples from the ducks paddling around the inflatable tender.
This yacht was anchored a little further up the bay and looked so peaceful in the evening light.
All that was missing from this perfect evening was a pod of dolphins frolicking in the calm waters!
Elanda Point on Lake Cootharaba is a camp ground and canoe-adventure business. We set up our camp right on the shore of the lake, well away from several school groups that were sharing the campground, although I have to say the kids were a pleasure and the only sound we heard from them was laughter.
The older school kids set off in canoes to camp up the Noosa River at Harry’s Hut. They carried everything they needed in their canoes. What a great adventure. I would have loved to do something like that when I was at school…
Amazingly, again I was awake early enough to take a couple of dawn photos, just before the sun came up.
It was so peaceful out there in the early morning light. You could see the mist rising off the still waters of the lake.
I took one last photo of our quiet cove, then crept back into my warm bed. I am not really an early morning person. When we did get up, we thought we would go for a paddle in the kayaks and stupidly, I decided not to take the camera with me, which was a mistake. We ended up going across the lake and up the river to the Noosa Everglades on the Upper Noosa River. It was absolutely beautiful, with unbelievable reflections on the still waters. On the way, we crossed another smaller lake that was filled with purple/blue water lilies. Again, it was absolutely stunning and I was so sorry not to have my camera. We arrived back at camp about four and a half hours later, pretty tired but happy to have done the trip.
The next morning, when we were enjoying a breakfast coffee under the trees, we looked up to see a couple of kangaroos bounding through the shallow water. They went off shore about a hundred metres, where they had a bit of a swim for several minutes before jumping their way back to shore. I have never seen anything like that before! I have seen kangaroos on the beach, but I didn’t know they enjoyed swimming!
It’s not often I am up in the morning early enough to take photographs of the sunrise. Why was I up so early? You may well ask…
We were not planning on staying at Carmila Beach but on impulse turned left off the highway to check it out, and at the end of the soft and sandy track came across a secluded spot amongst the trees, out of the wind, that seemed to have our name on it.
We found a nice little spot, tucked away in the bush out of the wind.
Because we were a little late arriving and it was a warm afternoon, we didn’t bother to collect any firewood. However, once the sun went down, the temperature started to drop so after a fairly early dinner, we retired indoors when it got dark and read for a while before going to bed early.
It’s not often I am up early enough to see the sunrise, but because we went to bed so early, I was tempted out of bed and down to the beach with my camera.
The tide was right out, and the sand looked pretty amazing in the golden light.
Golden ripples in the sand. Low tide at Camila Beach, Qld
As I walked alonge the beach, I could see other camps stretching off into the distance, all the way along the shore. It is great to find such a lovely place where you can camp free of charge, and enjoy our wonderful beaches.
We passed through Bowen on our way north to Cape York, but decided it was worth a closer look now that we are heading south again. Of course, it was a bit grey and wet when we were here last, so it wasn’t really looking it’s best. Now that we are here again, we are finding it hard to leave! We have kayaked, cycled, snorkeled and walked and still haven’t managed to see all that Bowen has to offer. We have eaten fresh prawns on the foreshore, mango sorbet while walking on the wharf and had a magnificent meal in the pub. We’ve watched the sunset from the beach and felt the ‘Blowin’ in Bowen’ breeze every afternoon. The sun is shining, the weather is warm and Bowen is a very nice place to be.
This is the beach just in front of where we are camped. The coastline of Bowen is crowded with rounded rocks, and coral and tropical fish not far off shore. This is a the top of the Whitsundays, and there are many island visible in the distance.
I just like the way this looks with the water behind the palm trees on the beach. Very tropical!
This sedimentary rock on the beach has millions of tiny pieces of coral imbedded in the stone.
The waters are great for kayaking in the sheltered bays. You can fish or just explore amongst the huge rocks dotted along the shore line.
Looking out to sea, there are further rocky outcrops, and the northern islands of the Whitsundays in the distance.
And of course, the obligatory sunset photo. It is the most perfect time of day for a walk along the beach. Bowen is a very nice place to be!
One of the goals of our trip this year was to visit the northernmost point of mainland Australia. We started this part of our adventure in Cooktown where we left our caravan behind and headed off with a tent and some basic camping gear. The roads from Cooktown, travelling north up Cape York, are generally unmade roads with some short sections of bitumen along the way. The quality of the dirt roads varied from excellent (driving at up to 90km/hr) to appalling (travelling at less than 20km/hr) and included water crossings, some of which were very deep and a little concerning because the water went over the bonnet of our 4WD.
Cooktown’s main claim to fame is that Captain Cook brought the Endeavour up the river here (now named Endeavour River) to make repairs after the ship ran aground on a reef off the coast in 1770. There is a statue of Captain Cook on the foreshore to commemorate this time in Australia’s history.
We took Battle Camp Road from Cooktown to Laura. I loved this old rusting sign where we came out of the bush after our week at Billy Boil, to turn onto Battle Camp Rd.
This is one of our first river crossings, a nice easy one to get us used to the idea of driving through water. Some of the later ones we really had to think twice before proceeding, they can look very deep and murky and you have no idea what is lurking under the surface. (Think potholes, big rocks or even worse, crocs…)
Old Laura Station is the historic remains of one of the first cattle stations in the area. The old buildings remain, along with a rusted out relic of a truck from a bygone era.
Our first camp was at Hann River Roadhouse which doesn’t have all that much to recommend it, apart from a friendly emu and this heifer who was very interested in our camp and sneaked back at 2am to raid our rubbish bag.
Further up the road at Coen, we camped behind the Exchange Hotel, and this is our tent, with a huge Brahman bull checking us out. Luckily for us, a farmer we met there took charge and chased him out of the campground. That didn’t stop him coming back later in the day, and there was another confrontation, not quite so friendly that time…
Some joker has added an ‘S’ at the start of the Exchange Hotel sign, so it now reads Sexchange Hotel. Amazingly, some people didn’t even notice!
This is a great little business. There is the pub, with accommodation plus the camping area near the river at the rear. They also run a mechanical repair business (very busy because lots of people trash their cars on the rough roads up here), a general store, and fuel pumps. So pretty much anything you need in Coen, they can help.
One thing there is plenty of up in Cape York is red dust, and lots of it. There are long road trains barreling along the dusty developmental road, followed by a huge cloud of dust. This one is on a good section of the track.
This man is walking up to the top of Cape York with his donkey carrying everything they need. He let me take a photo, but refused our offer of a cool drink saying he had everything he needed.
Amazingly in the middle of all this dust and dirt, there are some stunning waterfalls, accessed via the old Telegraph Track. It is worth the ruts and water crossings when you finally arrive at these beautiful oases. The water is clear and warm and you can swim without worrying too much about crocodiles. Apparently crocs aren’t too fond of waterfalls and stay away from them, luckily for us!
- This pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant that eats insects. There were many of them growing wild along the sides of the river near the waterfalls. Amazing.
We camped at Loyalty Beach once we reached the top of Cape York. Quite a nice beach, but no swimming because of the crocs. You can see all the Torres Strait islands off in the distance.
Remains of the old jetty at Seisha. Seisha wharf is the taking off point for boat trips out to Thursday Island and Horn Island. I think Captain Cook was sick of thinking of names for the islands when he was here, because there is a Tuesday Island, Wednesday Island and of course, Thursday Island.
It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t put in at least one sunset! We sat beneath this palm tree at Loyalty Beach and enjoyed a candlelight dinner while we watched the sun sink slowing in the west.
This Cape York kookaburra seems to have an evil eye but he was quite friendly.
- So friendly, in fact, that he invited himself over for a coffee…
One other interesting visitor at the campground was this Palm Cockatoo, who liked to crack the nuts growing on the tree that shaded our tent.
We finally made it right up to the tip of Australia. This was taken standing on the beach, looking north. The mangroves grow along the beach, but further on there is a rocky headland to scale before you are standing at the tip.
This was one for Peter to cross off his bucket list…playing his trumpet right up at the tip, the northernmost point of the Australian mainland.
We made it! Peter and I standing at the sign denoting the tip of Australia. It seems strange that there are island directly across the water. You imagine that you won’t see anything other than water from up here.
- It is a tradition to add a rock to the cairn on the rocky headland.
The is the cairn where I added my stone.
Soon enough it was time for us to start heading back down Cape York. This is one of the water crossings we made as we went along the Old Telegraph Track into Eliot Fall and Twin Falls. This is the one which went right up over the bonnet of the car, and we had to do it again on the way out. But it was worth it, the falls are stunning. No pictures this time, we went swimming instead!
This one is a Cape York crow, for Anoushka…He wasn’t very interested in staying still while I took his photo.
We came across this lagoon with blue water lilies growing wild, when we stopped for lunch one day.
And so, soon enough, we returned to Battle Camp Road on our way back towards Cooktown, to pick up our caravan from the farm where we had left it while we were travelling with the tent. We had a wonderful time up on the cape and were lucky not to have had any car troubles apart from a couple of chips in the windcreen. It was a time to remember.