Great Ocean Road

I spent a lot of time on the highway on this trip to Australia. In a country as diverse and vast as it is, there is no other way to see so much of it. And no better way, I would add.

I arrived in Melbourne freshly off a 14 hour trip from Maui, where I’d already spent a week. I was fully in vacation mode and ready to begin exploring the city before we ventured out of town. But first – coffee. Melbourne has a healthy coffee culture, music to my Seattle heart, and within a few days I was able to settle on a favorite spot. The Petty Officer in Albert Park is a sweet corner cafe with a properly caffeinated long black and entertaining stack of daily newspapers. Do stop in if you are in the area.

Once I had a chance to repack, we were off. The first road adventure took me and my traveling companion, only a year into her ex-pat status and 4 months pregnant to boot, up the winding Great Ocean Road. Beginning in Bells Beach, a breathtakingly deserted stretch of oceanside, we watched surfers glide in and out of the break with a howling wind at their backs.

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Onward through charming seaside towns to Lorne, where we watched perhaps the most perfect late summer sunset drift off as the moon rose over the calm waters of the small bay.

And then to the dramatic Twelve Apostles on a stormy day where the sunlight slashed through the dark clouds at unexpected moments, lighting up pillars of limestone in a way I wouldn’t believe was real except that I was there to see it.

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We threw in a few lighthouses to round out the trip, and unexpectedly stumbled on a koala teasing a small roadside crowd with his slow blinks and a mouthful of eucalyptus.

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We managed to the highway on a shoulder season, with little traffic and many room vacancies, but still warm days and nights. It was a part of Australia I never knew I needed to see until I saw it, in person, through the passenger-side window.

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