Rich and I had been waiting for this day of riding since the moment we started out of Adelaide. Today, we were going to leave the normal, boring old roads behind and start up on the Great Ocean Road. To get to Port Campbell, one of the first towns on the Great Ocean Road, we were going to have to travel 95.6 kilometers and to climb some pretty massive hills.
At least that’s what they told us (we only experienced 487 meters of elevation gain all day).
Climbing up Tower Hill, an inactive volcano that locals seemed to like warning us about, between Port Fairy and Warrnambol, was really not so bad. The slope is gradual and the elevation gain not much. Even with the trailer Rich seemed to sail up the hill. He was so pleased that he even stopped halfway up not to get off and push, but to get some good pictures of the lake within the volcano before cruising back up and over the top.
We got into Warrnambol in no time and tried to get away from the crowds and cars as quickly as possible. The city does have bike lanes going along the Princes Highway, but they’re inconsistent. More than once we’d follow a bike lane only to cross the street, follow the lane for ten meters and have it disappear entirely, sending us into the city’s rather chaotic traffic. There are service lanes, and had we known about the disappearing bike lanes, we would have steered into these instead.
Eventually we found our way out of the city’s chaos and saw signs welcoming us onto the Great Ocean Road. Rich gave a little fist pump as we turned onto it and off the Princes Highway.
After a quick stop at Cheese World, just off the Great Ocean Road (GOR), for a really delicious lunch and some decent milkshakes, we were riding off into some stunning farmland. Here were paddocks after paddocks full of really adorable and curious little calves, some of which ran up to fencing on the side of the road to moo and get a better look at us.
For most of the morning the wind had been at our backs as we traveled east, and we were really enjoying ourselves, until we found out just how strong the wind was. The early kilometers of the Great Ocean Road form a square criss-crossing route. You travel east for a couple of kilometers, and then have to turn down south, before turning east again and so on. So instead of just having a nice diagonal route where we could have still used the wind, we’d have it behind us for a time, turn down the road and have it blowing directly into our sides. At times the wind was so strong that I felt I might get lifted off my bike and sent hurtling into the trees planted along the side of the road.
After lots of turning in and out of the wind, we saw coastline appear over the horizon. Beautiful, long, rugged, expansive coastline. Stopping sporadically so that we could take a picture or two of sights like the Bay of Islands and London Bridge, we were able to enjoy the gentle undulations of this road, eventually cruising down one epic final hill into Port Campbell.
Like Port Fairy, Port Campbell is a cute little town and it has a great beach. Unfortunately the place is ruined by its touristy feel. Everything here seems to be geared toward tourists, from the overpriced restaurants to the plethora of motels promising great views. We couldn’t find a single grocery store, or anywhere we could get a reasonably priced meal (under $20 per person). The entire place seems to have sprouted out of the ground solely in the effort to support the summer holiday rush. At least we still had plenty of Pop Tarts for breakfast…