Here we are then. The final day of this week long hike, which covers the section between Devils Kitchen to Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Walk. As you’ve followed my travels on this particular hike, hopefully you haven’t slipped into a coma too often. If you have, then I can retire, as my work here is complete.
There’s a bit to get through in this entry (not really, but I like to talk things up) and they’re not all walking related. I guess I should get them out of the way early?
Firstly, I think there’s been a fiasco in the comments department. I received an email from a long suffering punter, who said he tried to leave a comment on a post. Instead of it being published, as he hit enter, the comment refused to adhere, nice and shiny on my blog. Instead, it spat back out of his screen and slapped him across the face. It just goes to show. Working on a computer is not necessarily a safe haven.
Anyway, it’s hard to know if the comments problem is at my end or something within the nuclear proof bunker of Google. I’ve checked their Blogger anguish page and nothing of note appears there. So, all I can do is apply the universal fix, which is change the comment format and then switch back again, whilst thinking nothing was wrong in the first place. Essentially, there are three formats I can use. Embedded (preferred), pop up or full page. Until I can work out what’s going on, I gave pop up a go. This lasted a day, as it looked completely daft, so I’d switched back. If you try and leave a comment, but it still doesn’t work, feel free to send me an email and I’ll don on my hat with a propeller on it and try to fix it.
Next up, I got an email from the National Library of Australia, wanting to archive this balls up of a blog into the online archives. The bonus of this is obvious. Once I’m dead and my stunt double has left to annoy someone else, the blog will remain. Forever. Yeah yeah, technically I know the earth will be absorbed by the sun in 2.8 billion years, but you know what I mean. Even then, I’m hoping a special spaceship will be created just for my blog to sit in. If a few million people have to miss out because my bloated blog is taking up all the room in the craft and as a result, they all die in a fireball, well, the answer is obvious. It’ll be worth it.
Is that it for now? I think so. Now, the final leg of this walk. Let it be known, I was actually excited about it. Not for the reason of finally finishing, but because the track had been realigned since my previous visit.
In the ye olde days of about five years ago, I was introduced to the Old Coach Road. This ‘track’ was all that was available on the stroll from Devils Kitchen campsite to the bustling madness of Princetown. On my first attempt, it took me about 10 minutes of walking before contemplating suicide. Old Coach Road is just a sandy route of complete crap. A dispiriting trudge, surrounded by mind numbing farmland. Views of cows didn’t thrill me. Not even the good looking ones. I was so traumatised, I only made it to Princetown, which just so happened to be where my car was stored for the week. Promptly I got in and put my foot to the floor all the way back to Melbourne. This meant I didn’t even see the official finishing point of the Twelve Apostles.
What happened the second time? I’d actually gone to bed at Devils Kitchen, but lay there shaking due to upcoming fear of facing the horror of the Old Coach Road again. Unable to sleep, I got up in the middle of the night, packed up and walked to Princetown in the dark. There was no moon and if there was, I would have worn a blindfold, just so I couldn’t see the undulating, sandy horror. You know the drill. I made it as far as Princetown, got in my car and took off in opposite-lock mayhem, before driving back to Melbourne. Oh yeah, as you can imagine, I didn’t make it to the Twelve Apostles.
That’s history though. What about now? Well, the whole shindig from Devils Kitchen to Princetown has been realigned with a spanking new track, with not a cow to be seen. Now you know why I was feeling excited. Could the new track live up to my pending hype?
The day began after a night like all the others. An uneventful dry evening, with the only excitement being a dozen leeches crawling all over my tent. I didn’t see any bloodsuckers on my previous Devils Kitchen visits? I must have been a bit dozy, as the ferny surrounds must have always housed them. The only trouble was, when packing up the tent, I couldn’t find them all. In the end I just rolled up the tent and thought I’d deal with them when home, whilst hoping none would slide out, crawl across the backpack and attach themselves to the back of my head.
Setting off, I certainly couldn’t complain about the new track, as it followed a comfortable path…
…with a combo of coastal views…
…and tree covered hills.
There was even a bit of fungi around to admire.
The track continued past the occasional spot where there’s car access. If you’ve followed my last few posts you’d know all about my griping and whining regarding rubbish lying around. Well, I’m not going to stop whinging just yet. This photo sort of sums it up. A Great Ocean Walk marker post near a car friendly location, with you guessed it, the ubiquitous pile of tissues nearby.
Anyway, enough of the rubbish talk. I’m over it. Until the next post. Above the tree tops there was the standard coastal vista 101 to keep me entertained, especially on the descent whilst overlooking Point Ronald and the Gellibrand River.
Actually, I had no idea of its name at the time, but Point Ronald sounds pretty pedestrian. I’m surprised Cape Barry isn’t nearby. Nice view though, especially from a strategically placed bench on the stroll down. During this leg, I made a habit of sitting on every bench provided, as I wanted to get my moneys worth, plus I figure they’ve been placed in the position for the best possible view. I can’t be deciding where the good outlooks are. I need other people to decide for me. I’m not even taking the piss.
During my extended time spent on the bench, I made up my mind to explore the beach within view. Generous sizing gives me an advantage of being able to utilise the full benefits of gravity, so a rapid descent brought me to the Gellibrand River within a couple of minutes. There was a distinct tannin coloured water to admire…
…as I took to the sand and strolled up the inlet.
A low tide made the sand a little soft underfoot, but I was determined to reach the beach or die trying. Actually, as I’m writing this now the last sentence is quite pointless. You already know I made it to the beach. An old, timber fence post looked out of place…
…but it was worth investigating.
It was here, whilst standing on Princetown Beach, where billions of years of time and space came together in a melting pot moment of dark matter, neutrinos, photons and atoms. Slowly I raised my hand up, faced the camera towards the ocean and turned the polarizer. You should have been there. It was amazing.
These good times couldn’t last though, as there was a walk to finish. I left the beach and river behind and made my way past the outskirts and smokestacks of downtown Princetown. On the way, I made some notes to give the local caravan park a miss. I think I was affected by a handful of people, sitting, not talking and staring out into the dried oblivion of a paddock. Maybe if the grassy wasteland was green, I might change my mind.
Now, from here on, it was new ground for me. Usually I would have been sideways in my car leaving the area, but on this occasion I was heading off into the hills to finally put this walk to bed.
Actually, the climb away from the sprawling suburbia took me surprise. Yeah okay, it was only about 10 metres in elevation, but my locomotive groaned and wheezed all the way up. At one stage, things were so desperate I almost picked up and ate this discarded M&M. Maybe it was the natural blue colour, which enticed me so much.
It was interesting to hear the constant roar of surf, but not being able to see the ocean at all. Thick vegetation blocked off the sights for a while, but on the other side, there were some paddocks to admire.
Eventually the ocean appeared dead ahead. I’d show you what I mean in a photo now, but I used it at the start of this post, so you’ll have to burn some calories by scrolling up to get an idea of what the view was.
I must say, it’s quite spectacular, but the end was nigh. I found an isolated lookout with this on the ground…
…which may have signified the end of the walk. I’m not sure, but what lay ahead didn’t excite me too much.
There’s always the thought after a week of walking about wanting to go home and get back to a comfortable bed and familiar way of life. Unfortunately for me, this feeling usually vanishes within 10 minutes of being back in the suburban world. Usually, dealing with a bout of traffic, is the first thing which wipes me out mentally. As I stood with the Great Ocean Walk plaque beneath my feet, I looked out at the Gibson Steps carpark and saw this. It didn’t look pretty.
It was motorcar madness with an accompanying bedlam of noise from tourists high on life. Oh well, this must be either the end of the hike or I’d entered purgatory on the sly.
Descending into the screaming hordes, I paused for a moment, before lighting up my blubber and powering on to the official/maybe official/I’m only guessing end of the hike a few hundred metres further on at the Twelve Apostles. The world there wasn’t much different. In fact it was insane. I never really think how popular this section of the coast is, but it must be, as hundreds upon hundreds of people rushed about.
I can definitely say this. Once at the Twelve Apostles there’s no more walking other than the obligatory stroll to the lookouts. Remember the last post, where I was bleating (get the correct bleat, as there were a few) about not having a bombproof DSLR camera? I joined a throng of hundreds staring at the shattered cliffs, but made the mistake of going all nerd-like, by checking out the cameras being wielded by punters around me.
I think I had a brain seizure, as firstly I saw a bloke toting the Canon EOS-1D X. A flagship professional camera built to survive the raid on Entebbe, being used for the purpose of general toolery.
No sooner had I turned away with saliva dribbling from my mouth and I was immediately confronted by another dude with a Nikon D4. With a professional lens attached, the goddammed thing will work inside a tornado. Man, what I could do with that camera, yet here it was being used for the purpose of taking photos of people mugging in front of the Twelve Apostles. I was well and truly a victim of the eighth deadly sin. Insufficient finances.
Anyway, surrounded by the fresh smelling masses, general yee-haaring, a sun which was way too strong, I resignedly pointed my camera at the target of the trip. It was a tourist photo by the numbers.
So there you have it. The walk is done and it’s time to move onto some other things. After the next post of course. I’ll tap out my final thoughts about the GOW and finally move onto some other stuff. Maybe Lerderderg Gorge? I haven’t written about that joint for a while.
I can say one thing about the last day of this walk. The moon in the evening was a beauty.
Very nice that the National Library of Australia wants to archive your blog. You've achieved some sort of immortality! 🙂 In 500 years some stranger could be reading your thoughts! Better than a flashy headstone.
Ah, yes, camera envy. I know that well. Lucky for me I am technologically-challenged so I usually can't recognize the flash features on other people's cameras! It's must be more painful for you though, being knowledgeable about these things, especially when it seems the owners don't utilize the features. However, your portfolio doesn't appear to be suffering, Greg! I'm pretty envious of your skill. Doesn't the saying go it's more about how you use it and not about the dimensions or features… 😉 The beach shots are making me drool and the moon is gorgeous.
The Apostles look special and deserve some quiet contemplative moments I think. What a shame it had to be spoiled by crowds. I imagine it would be a very different experience to be sitting there by yourself, just listening to the ocean in peace. Funny isn't it, how some of us just go nuts around crowds and traffic? Well, actually funny is the totally wrong word. I feel like a different species to those around me sometimes. I've pretty much always got escape on my mind. 🙂
I couldn't remember Princetown so I checked it out on Google maps and now realise why I couldn't remember it. I'm certain it was used as a post-apocalyptic town in one of the Mad Max movies.
Almost every time I flick through the shopping show they seem to be selling a 2 or 3 thousand dollar camera. To people that don't understand that photography is all about light and using a tripod so that the camera doesn't move while you're capturing that beautiful light. When I next go to the 12 Apostles I'll stay in Port Campbell so I can be there at dawn. It will still be crowded, but at least some of them will be people I can relate to.
Congratulations on the National Library. Hopefully they won't put you near Patrick White on the space ship, or it could be a very long trip.
Good call by the National Library on your blog, Greg! Do you reckon Ozzies will still have the same sense of humour in 500 years time?!! That shock of people and cars whenyou arrive at teh Apostles is very confronting – I remember being buzzed by tourist helicopters – we thought there was a national emergency or something,a s we were walking up the sand dunes to finally see the Apostles after 6 days walking, but no – just the tourist economy in full swing!
I've no idea how the National Library thing works, but I just said 'okay' and didn't put much thought into it! I'm a bit of a cynic though and can imagine it being axed under some sort of budget cut!
Thanks for your kind words about the photos, but there're a lot of handy photographers out and about. I reckon I could do better, but my pics are always a compromise. Having to be on the move and not being able to get the right light is a common theme. One day I'll spend a week not walking, but just visiting spots with all the gear, which I know will result in better photos. One day though!
The Twelve Apostles are spectacular, but so is the entire coastline along there. The crowds can be avoided. Just pick a day of crap weather and there's no one around 🙂
Oh yeah, there's not a lot at Princetown. If Peter Weir called his movie 'The Cars that Ate Princetown', I'd totally believe it!
I try not to come across as an elitist wanker when it comes to photos, but sometimes I can't help it. It's an interesting point you made about the Twelve Apostles. I first did the GOW in winter 2009 and stayed at Point Campbell for the night. It was a clear, sunny day, so I rushed to the lookout for the sunset. There was quite a crowd, but as soon as the sun dipped and that insane chill of air along the coast set in, the place turned into a ghost town. The light though was freakish and I wished I was equipped to take some photos in the fading light. Unfortunately it was in my compact days, so I missed out. I always wanted to spend a week down at Point Campbell in the winter though with all photo gear. You might find me joining in, but I prefer sunset rather than dawn, as I prefer the sleep in! Anyway, five years on and I still haven't made it down there:)
I'd only have a very select few on my spaceship. As in not many 🙂
Thanks! I'm not sure about the sense of humour in 500 years time? I know it's only taken about seven months with the current government for me to lose a bit of my humour. Bloody hell, imagine 500 more years of this?!
Ah yes, good call. I forgot about the skies! It was amazing to see multiple helicopters buzzing around the area. I watched them land, unload some punters, pick up some more and take off again. Over and over. Whoever's running the choppers down there must be making a buck. On top of the aircraft flying along the coast, it was like am air show. There was certainly no sense of wilderness in that entire area 🙂
Someone at Apollo Bay recommended that I go further west and look at Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs. No tourists (too far from Melbourne for a day trip) and lookd like fantastic scenery. Unfortunately the weather had come in again, and photos looked like crap.
Congratulations!! (on making it to the end) Great write up with some cool photos as always.
The National Library wants to immortalise you hey, that's a pretty good achievement right there, well done.
Even though the cynic in me also agrees with you, you might get archived on some old 3 & 1/4 floppy drives they had lying around from the 80's : )
Keep up the good work.
It sounds like a good plan, or even the other way out east. I always wanted to return to the Point Hicks Lighthouse area, particularly during a nasty winter. Then again, it's the mix though, isn't it? Too much grey and the pics are bland. Need a combo of sun and dark clouds moving through. It would be great taking pictures like that for a living.
I've made a note of the places you've mentioned. I'll do some research 🙂
Thanks mate! Yeah, I always think a government somewhere will just chop that sort of stuff at a whim, so I wasn't getting too carried away with it. I think they just send the invite out to everyone who gets shortlisted in the Aust Writers Comp!
I'll try and keep up the good work, but I can't guarantee quality 🙂