Great Ocean Road

This blog is now over a week old. For most of the last week we have had no internet connection, inherently not a bad thing! I haven’t  changed it however so for those of you following our adventure via Facebook / iPhoto – panic not! 

My loving husband, Chris, can in many ways escapes the jagged edges of my criticism. If you were to meet him, you would find him kind, caring, highly intelligent and funny. If you were to observe him from a distance when he little realises that he is being watched, you would also find him silly in a really great fun way.

There is one area however that Chris is difficult and that is time keeping! Now, he is never late for anything – in fact the very opposite, he is always early for anything he does. Now, I’m never on time either, you can always guarantee that I will want to leave for somewhere far too early also.

There is one location however that his earliness is always a little testing even for me: the airport. So today, I find myself in Melbourne Airport, ‘patiently’ waiting the three hours required for our flight to Hobart. At least it gives me time (lots of time) to catch up on my blog that I have had little time to touch in the last five days! Silver-linings and all!

IMG_4280The last five nights have been spent travelling overland from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. A friend in India has asked me to advise her on what to do on her upcoming trip to Australia she is trying to plan. Now, I am definitely no Australia expert but including the Great Ocean Road on her itinerary to me now seems obvious.

Year in, year out, Chris and I end up going on holidays to places at, shall we say, the least traditional times of year. Seville in mid-August where afternoon temperatures ranged into the 40s, Stockholm in the summer (well is it ever really warm there?!), Iceland in July (so chilly but no snow) and now Australia in the winter. Time after time on this trip, people have been astounded that we have chosen to come to Australia – ‘you did realise it’s winter here didn’t you?’ ‘You did realise it isn’t hot in Australia all year round, didn’t you??” Well yes we did but we live in India so … which as you can imagine sends the conversation off on a completely different track!

The Great Ocean Road therefore in winter is an experience, an incredible experience. One compounded by the fact that a storm swept along the coast while IMG_4279we were driving it. 120 km/hour winds were reported at various stages. We were able to reliably depend upon the fact that as soon as we arrived at a lookout, we
would see beautiful blue skies. By the time, we reached the furthest possible distance from the car however we could guarantee the arrival of the same black, black cloud (seriously it was very black!) giving us just about enough time to say ‘Wow, look at the view!’, snap a few photos and then have to run headlong to the car while being pursued and regular caught by torrential rain or even hailstones or sleet!

IMG_4317The weather resulted in three major outcomes. Firstly, amazing photos – wow! Even those taken by a simple iPhone were spectacular. Secondly, ridiculous wet coats, hats and scarfs! Finally, lots and lots of fun. Fighting your way onto some of the viewing platforms against winds that threatened to fling your backwards; clinging onto railings while trying to move along a lookout path; watching women’s hair streaming backwards in near horzontal lines; even getting wet over and over again was simply fun! Exhausting but fun!

IMG_4311The Great Ocean Road wasn’t quite what I expected. In my head, we would travel for mile upon mile along a road that probably twisted and turned along the edge ofthe coast. Reality was that that was the reality from Apollo Bay to near Geelong however the first few days were IMG_4337spent on roads that twisted up and down mountains; through coastal rainforest; and through barren heathland. At times, the sea was only metres away but not visible through the trees. Somehow therefore when you emerged from the rainforest or heathland and saw the sea it dramatically increased the impact of the view.

When I lived in Warsaw, Poland, I used to always say that Warsaw was more beautiful than Krakow. Unlike Krakow, Warsaw’s stunningly beautiful buildings were interspersed with ugly communist blocks but that this allowed you to see just how beautiful the buildings were because you had something to compare them to. The same goes for the Great Ocean Road coastline. As a result of not always being able to see the beauty of the coastline, it was more shockingly beautiful when you could. On the other hand, what we did drive through was also stunningly beautiful just different from expectations! Unlike, of course, the ugly communist blocks of Warsaw! IMG_4275

By the time we had reached the end of the Great Ocean Road, the term ‘holiday of a lifetime’ had gained currency and greater clarity of meaning. I had never really believed in the concept of a ‘holiday of a lifetime’. Surely that was a very sad concept, a bit like how your wedding is ‘the happiest day of your life’. Well if this holiday is the best it is ever going to get then that is a very depressing thought.

I now understand what it really means. It means a holiday that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A holiday that little things that you see and do into your long-term future will fleetingly remind you of that great three weeks of your life. it is a holiday that has more meaning than the average one, that has had more impact than the average holiday. Australia has become our ‘holiday of a lifetime.’  A ‘holiday of a lifetime’ that we can be assured will never be diminished by the other ‘holidays of a lifetime’ we will have in our future.

How do you feel about this topic? Do any of its ideas resonate with you? I'd love to know your thoughts! K

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