Monday, May 30, 2011

The Road Trip Begins

The day after our Barossa wine tour, Liz and I awoke early and departed from the “shack” to begin the first leg of our Great Ocean Road Trip.  The goal for the first day of driving:  make it as far as Warrnambool, Victoria – right where the proper Great Ocean Road begins.  But first we needed to thaw out:

It was freezing by night, but luckily it soon warmed up.  I was a happy camper to be behind the wheel of a car again:

In true Aussie road trip fashion, we just had to pull over when we saw a kangaroo crossing sign.  There were crossing signs for a wide variety of Australian animals, and I’ll picture one or two more in the next few blogs.

Our first pit stop was one that I was super excited about:  Naracoorte Caves National Park!  The park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Australia and is home to a large fossil collection.  The fossils stem from when ancient Australian fauna would fall into the caves and be unable to get out.  Included in the fossil collection are some Australian “megafauna” – think really, really large kangaroos!

There was a lot of stalagmite and stalactite action going on here:

One of the current fossil excavation sites in the caves:

Ancient kangaroo skeleton:

Ceiling of one of the caves which had round impressions in it - either caused by something geological... or aliens:

We had a little fun on the welcome sign before we drove off:

Our drive from the Naracoorte Caves took us to the town of Kingston for a crappy small town lunch, followed by a stop at a beach near Robe, South Australia:

This beach is significant because this is where our hosts, Tara & Simon, got married in November 2009.  I wasn’t invited to the wedding, so I figured I’d go see where the magic happened since I was in the area.  In all fairness, I hadn’t met them yet…

Our final stop was to check into our hotel in Warrnambool, Victoria.  The touristy town is at the very end of the Great Ocean Road - or for us, the very beginning.  Most people start in Melbourne to do the drive.  I dare to be different.

Walking around the main drag in town we were surprised to see so many dining options, but I guess they all thrive on the heavy flow of tourists.  At the very end of the main drag, we spotted this:

A Mexican restaurant!  In this small town in rural Victoria!  We didn’t end up eating there, but it was comforting knowing that even somewhere so far away from civilization as Warrnambool, there was something that was utterly Phill-friendly.  1 point for rural Victoria.

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