Its chief attractions were that it was (1) fairly close to the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, that famous drive that everyone tells you you have to see when venturing out from Melbourne, and (2) I was able to book a reasonably priced room there online (via the very handy Wotif).
I somehow managed to get through my stay without visiting the Wool Museum, though, so someone else will have to report on that.
I wasn't originally planning to take the GOR. Not that I doubted its beauty ... but the descriptions and photos sounded an awful lot like Highway 1, the coastal road in Northern California. Not that there's anything wrong with Highway 1 -- it's a great drive -- but after going halfway around the globe, I'd like to do stuff that's significantly different from what you have at home.
But the recommendations seemed so universal, I gave in and decided to try it. Gotta follow local knowledge, right?
So is the GOR similar to Highway 1? Yes. The ocean is a different color, a shimmering aquamarine versus California's steely olive green; and the plants are different (California has lots of imported Eucalypts, but generally not on the coastal road. I did wonder whether the trees in Victoria that look so much like the Monterey Cypress of California's coast were native, or imports).
And those big white birds sailing overhead aren't egrets -- they're cockatoos.
And the sea stacks are better: I won't claim that California has anything that quite rivals the limestone majesty of the Twelve Apostles, or the even more impressive London Bridge.
It's a nice driving road; while it would have been a lot more fun in my X1/9, it was even fun in a rented automatic Hyundai Elantra. There's a section in the middle where it goes inland for a while (with an optional spur going off to a lighthouse) that reminded me of some of the great driving roads in the Santa Cruz mountains. Some of the ocean parts are less fun, mostly because they're so narrow, yet so choked with tour buses and trucks pulling trailers, none of which seem able to stay in their own lane.
All in all,, a fun but not not entirely exotic drive. Do I regret it? Not at all. I had a lot of fun driving it and admiring the scenery. I ended the drive in the pleasant town of Warrnambool, a fun name to say even if I seem incapable of remembering the spelling.
[ 04:04 Jan 28, 2008 More travel/melbourne08 | permalink to this entry | ]