What an amazing stretch of land this is! The coast might be horrific for navigation in wooden ships, but driving the Great Ocean Road and seeing it from land, it was breathtaking, with miles of high, craggy cliffs carved by crashing waves. The wind and waves actually suit the place, as the coast and its rock formations look fairly untamed. Plus the wind kept things moving, so while rain occasionally fell, there were also bursts of sunlight and blue sky, as the gray, black, and white clouds churned through the sky.
The wind was sufficiently wild that I was occasionally concerned about the possibility of being blown off a cliff, but I still tackled each “scenic lookout” I reached. First stop, the Bay of Islands, then on to London Bridge.
At London Bridge, the wind was so wild that, though the cliffs are hundreds of feet high, there was a “blizzard” of sea foam falling on the vegetation around me–and on my camera, which I had to clean every few minutes. London Bridge used to connect to the mainland, but I’ve read that several years ago, just after a group of tourists had strolled out to the seaward end, the connection to land collapsed. No one was hurt, but the visitors had to be rescued by helicopter.
The Arch and Port Campbell followed London Bridge, the Blow Hole and Thunder Cave, and then on to Loch Ard Gorge.
In the parking area for Loch Ard Gorge, I paused for a bit, while a particularly wet and violent squall swept over me. Then, once things calmed down again, I took advantage of the stairway installed here to climb down to water level. Splendid and beautiful, and suddenly calm enough to make it hard to believe how wild it had been minutes earlier. Though impressive, it also made it clear that this would be an intimidating place to be shipwrecked, as there is no easy way upward without the quite new stairway I’d used. From this vantage point, I could also see how the continued erosion from crashing waves was undercutting the cliffs, which will someday fall or become additional arches and bridges.
Loch Ard Gorge was named for the clipper ship, the Loch Ard (the one from which the previously mentioned porcelain peacock was rescued), which was wrecked nearby. After exploring the gorge, I hiked to the nearby Loch Ard Cemetery, where those who did not survive were buried. There, I saw a flash of blue in a shrub and turned to see a jewel-like splendid blue wren perched there. What a delight. Then it was on the road again, heading for the Twelve Apostles.
The wind was becoming so wild that it made it difficult to walk, and even made it difficult to drive at times. However, the coast was of such astonishing grandeur and beauty that I could not imagine letting the weather deter me. Plus it added a bit more drama to the stunning scenery. (Though I wouldn’t mind trying milder weather someday.) As I continued on, the combination of rain and light offered me a treat in the form of a rainbow over the ocean. I love rainbows, so this seemed like a special gift, even in the midst of such a remarkable day.