The Great Ocean Road

IMG_3053The air is a suspension of rain, as we head out of Melbourne, cosy in the upper deck of the GrayLine coach. Leaving the blinking traffic lights behind, we are out on freeways, the wind lashing on the windows. Past Geelong, we reach Anglesea, our first stop. All wintry, and deserted, the Anglesea river flows quietly down as we sip on Bush tea and enjoy Lamingtons and vegemite. The adventure down this Australian National Heritage listed road has begun!

The scenery unfolds quickly, like a series of fast shutter clicks. Blue below, and leafy green creeping upwards. The sun is out and the Southern Ocean lies like a sheet of undulating blueness- straited into bands of rich turquoise, ultramarine, emerald and sparkling blue, all frothing white at the edges. I sit back, the camera all insane in my hands and think

“At this moment, i swear Life is infinite.”

At quarter past ten, we reach Lorne. I hop off. The Cumberland Lorne Resort is my home for the day. Lorne is situated on the crescent Louttit Bay. The shops are sleepy behind their glass doors. The sea twinkles like a concoction of blur jellied stars. This is a beautiful place, the air all sharp with eucalyptus oil. I talk the Douge Stirling Walking Track to the pier, threading along the ocean, through ferns and wildflowers and ochre sands and rock pools among black breasts of basalt. There are pretty red birds with blue tails who didn’t tell me their name and yellow-combed macaws. The wind is ripping. The Lorne pier stretches out into the ocean. And the view? Impossibly perfect. To my left, Lorne rises and to my right, unabashed infinity. I pull out my earplugs, and listen to the ocean sing. I am left without words.

At sunrise the next morning, the beach shimmers gold. From navy to blue to rose to pink to gold, clouds pick up the tints and the ocean mirrors them. It is in a rainbow I am breathing. The pier is lit, and empty save for a few fishermen. The fetal sun hangs in the eastern corner like a bubble of blood. The sky is a criss-cross of veins, throbbing with renewed life.

The coach arrives at half past ten and we hit the road again. The next half, the more beautiful half, unfolds rather fast. We soon reach Apollo Bay for lunch, Jasmine rice with tofu and steamed seasonal vegetables, all blistering hot, and the sun high upon the main beach. Winding through The Ottway National Park, we head towards the Twelve Apostles. The rain clouds have gathered, and it is pouring. We skip the attractions, stop at Port Campbell for a break, and head back again. Our first stop is Loch Ard Gorge and the Razorback. In the weak sunlight, we climb down the steps to the sheltered beach where Tom and Eva took shelter. Waves crash on the beach, claw at the cliff face. The fingers are numb with cold.

Up next is the creme de la creme, the Twelve Apostles. These limestone formations stretch off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. They rise up, a flat yellow from the sea and stand tall, surveying the boundless oceans. Continued erosion at the base means they will fall one day and new formations will appear. I feel I am a bird, the salt moisture thick in my hair, soaring up. There is a sudden rush of happiness, life drinks deeply of it and is left feeling perfect.

Next we climb down Gibson’s steps to the beach. It is windy, the froth off the waves lies on the sands like the aftermath of a disaster. Steep faces of rock rise vertical behind, the clouds are messy, fusing with the choppy waters. A thread of water run down a crack, and flow into the ocean, slashing through the wet sand. A lone bird circles overhead. My heart is full.

We drive back to Melbourne in the polished purple glow of evening, thinking of the way the green mountains melt in the arms of the blue waters, the million kisses the waves leave on the shore, the million letters left written in the air. I think of destruction and I think of love, of beauty and the ache they leave in certain corners of the chest.

Tour Courtesy: Tourism Victoria

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