The Great Ocean Road
When we awoke the next morning, the Nash was looking rough and so were we. Danenberg was really, really feeling the experiences from the previous night. Particularly once we had to get up and actually use the facilities at The Nash in order to “clean” up.
Once we got up, around and checked out of the Nash, we got on the road as quickly as possible. The Great Ocean Road was calling our name.
I volunteered to get behind the wheel for the drive, as I had driven these roads before. The Great Ocean Road runs along the South East Coast of Australia from Geelong to Portland City. Our destination was relatively close. We were only going as far as Port Campbell, which is probably only 200km the entire way. However, the roads that lead down the Great Ocean Road are some of the most winding, slow moving, motion sickness inducing roads I have ever experienced.
By the time we got to Lorne, which was only about 1.5 hours into our journey, Danenberg was in really rough shape. Some people's bodies react poorly to The Nash, for good reason, it is a hard core place. Legend has it that many times The Nash makes people's internal systems get very angry. Brian's body was busy with a full-on revolt against him. We decided to take a few minutes and chill out in Lorne, which was fine by me, because I had something to do in town.
Years before, Lorne was a really special place for me. It is the town where I first really talked to my friend Michelle at length and where our relationship basically began. One evening, so many years ago, on a last minute whim, I jumped in a car with Michelle, Hillary, Dan and Dave, and we drove down the Great Ocean Road towards Hillary's home town - the picturesque beach town of Lorne. That day we met some of her friends, spent some time on the beach, went to the local hotel, I took a walk on the beach with Michelle and we all stayed the night at Hillary's Mum's house.
I remembered the place where Hillary's Mum worked so many years ago, and strangely, I had a very vivid memory of what she looked like even though I had met her only once. I decided to step into what I remembered was her work place, and she was there, but she was talking on the phone. I briefly considered not saying anything, because I certainly didn't want to bother her. I decided that it would be silly to travel so far and not say anything, so I stepped up and asked her if she had a daughter named Hillary.
We had a really great conversation, and I got to find out what Hillary had been up to, which was really cool. Hillary's Mum Diane was the first person I saw on our trip that I had met from my previous trip. It was really great talking with her, good to see a familiar face, and good to hear that Hillary was doing well.
I returned to the car after a quick look at the beach, and Danenberg was not looking any better at all. I felt bad for the guy, but the worst of the roads were still ahead and we were a good two hours from our destination. We fueled up in town, then got started on down the tracks.
The roads were so bending, and crossing, and crazy that I was actually just laughing my ass off. Not at Danenberg, but just that he had gotten so torn up by going to the Nash the previous night and here we were on the absolute worst stretch of road in the world.
We finally made it to Port Campbell after what seemed like an eternity (particularly for Danenberg). After a quick lunch and lingering for a bit on the beach, we jumped back in the car to head for the 12 Apostles, which was the reason for our trip.
We tore down the Great Ocean Road in search of the 12 Apostles. It wasn't long before we arrived at the scenic lookout and began snapping pictures along with many other tourists. The 12 Apostles is very cool to see, and certainly one of the most well-known landmarks in all of Australia. It was good to get some pictures and view the rocks from afar, but I as I had recalled, the best experience is being on the beach right next to the rocks.
We drove down the road a couple of kilometers and found ourselves walking down the rock stairs and down to the beach. When we arrived it was just as breathtaking as I remember it being the first time. There is just something about the being on the beach next to the crashing ocean and seeing these rock formations that have been carved out of the land by so many years of battering sea. It somehow really puts the power of the land and the beauty that Australia contains into context.
We climbed our way back onto the road above, and set out to make it back home to Geelong for the night. Danenberg had to fly back the next morning. On the way home, the winding roads again had Danenberg curled up in the back of the car, and we didn't make it back into Geelong until around 9:30 PM. We quickly procured a hotel room at a thoroughly decent establishment called the Mercure hotel.
It was St. Patrick's day, and I wanted to run over to another of my former haunts — Irish Murphy's. Danenberg had to take an early flight out, so he declined, but Ken was good enough to join me. When we showed up at Irish Murphy's, the place was just absolutely torn to shreds and so were the customers. Apparently, the bar had been open since 7:30 AM that morning. From the looks of some of the people there, they had been there since then drinking. It was bad news. We had a couple of beers and I had a look around for any old friends that might be around, but alas, the place was just in shambles so we decided to get out of there.
We all got a good night of sleep and were able to see Danenberg off to the airport on time and in good shape...well, sort of good shape.