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The Great Ocean Road

For those of you who do not know me personally. I am a great driver… of an automatic vehicle. The first joke of this whole trip is I bought myself a manual van, who was and is named Daisy. It felt wrong to change her name, I thought maybe she would respond to me better if it stayed. It’d be like buying an already named dog and trying to call it to you with a whole new name… it just wouldn't listen.

“Drive please Daisy, drive”. Would have been the ideal situation if the whole dog name scenario did relate… to cars. I purchased the van roughly 5 weeks out until I had to confidently drive Daisy onto the Spirit of Tasmania and through Melbourne city. I was losing sleep at the thought of it. But here I am safe and sound on the other side… So, the answer to the most frequently asked question… How did you go getting on and off the boat into Melbourne?

Absolutely nailed it friends. The boat part…

A close friend of mine said I MUST stock up and visit the most incredible whole foods store in Melbourne called Terra Mandres before heading down the highway to the Great Ocean Road. The only troublesome thing about this idea was the store was in Northcote… meaning I wouldn’t only have to just make it off the boat and get myself straight to the highway, but first drive through the city and back out… plus it was a Monday morning.

I decided I would see how confident I was feeling once I disembarked the Spirit. I cruised on off the boat following a little red car. We turned right into St Kilda and were greeted with a round about. Little red car decided to turn right into the round about (against the traffic) and continue along down the double lane highway into the on-coming traffic. Little red car then realised it was on the wrong side of the road and had to drive over the grassy island divider and swing back in front of me, to the correct side of the highway.

It was clear the universe was letting me know I was not the worst driver in Melbourne today. I was going to Terra Mandres.

“Drive please Daisy, D R I V E!!!!”. I was starting to think there was something wrong with the van not its driver as I sat in the middle of a major traffic light intersection. And when I say middle, I mean in the middle of a complete cross section of multiple lane highways… After a few more traffic light stalling events, I made it! And yes, I can recommend Terra Mandres. It has absolutely everything you could think of… plus more. And the cheapest fresh organic produce.

After my shop, I fluffed around stalling (pardon the pun). I now needed to get Daisy back through the city and onto the M1 . As I got back into the car my phone lit up with a message from my trusty mate Tals.

“If I am ever in doubt, I just REV it!!”. And I don't think I’ve stalled since.

Victoria to South Australia Great Ocean Road Camp Trail: -Big Hill Campsite Lorne (Used to be free but now Vic Parks - roughly $13 p/n) - Jamison Creek Campsite Lorne (Used to be free but now Vic Parks - roughly $13 p/n) - Lake Elingamite (Free) - Panmure Campground (Free) - Saw Pit Campground Heathmere (Free)

It was a quick trip along the Great Ocean Road as I began this adventure heading into the depths of Winter and I am aiming to chase the sunshine and head North as quickly as possible. After the eventful entry onto the big island, I was relieved to make it out of the city. I expected my situation to feel a lot more surreal after preparing for it for so long. But I was feeling calm and quite present. It just felt right.

I didn’t feel in major tourist or adventure mode. I didn’t feel like creating conversation. I was ready to be completely introvert and coming from a small community I was loving being another cog in the machine. I didn’t put any pressure on myself to feel any other way. I stayed a complete introvert for this whole week and didn’t venture far from my planned trail. I gave myself permission to transition and unwind from what felt like a massive build up. I could literally count the number of in person conversations that went back and forth more than three sentences on one hand for this whole leg.

I laid low, checked out Torquay, Bells Beach and settled in Lorne for a night. I spent the whole next day in Lorne literally in the beach carpark. I had a reading with Faye from Your Hearts Path for a little guidance on this next stage of life I was transitioning into. Writing this blog a few weeks on it’s interesting how all things shared and discussed are playing out… a whole other blog this could be…

From Lorne I woke early and made my way to the highway where I pulled over, had a cuppa and watched the sunrise over the Southern Ocean. I soaked up the stunning coastline as I followed the highway outlining its edges to Apollo Bay. Overcast, cold and drizzly. The light blue waters still hinted its clarity and promise of vibrant blue if the sun were out. I had a hot brewed chai and walked the beach before heading up to the lookout. Beautiful!

Back on the road I pulled off into Otway National Park to see the lighthouse. I am known for getting close to cliff edges, so I lived up to this by following a stray goats track to… a cliff edge. From the cliff edge I made it to the light house view. Perched on the cliff full of sea stories.

I continued down the highway through farm region. It was very confronting seeing the state of the cattle and the sad cows looking dishevelled on a concrete slab… I was relieved to be back near the ocean arriving to the 12 (7?) Apostles.

Another freezing overcast drizzly day did not tone down this grand landmark. The Apostles are breath

taking with a stubborn energy to them as they stood strong enduring the force of their environment. I visited the beach at the bay before their base giving another spectacular view of one of the apostles. It was contrasting to look up and see the beauty of the apostle yet look down to micro plastic and rubbish scattering the beach. I picked up what I could…

A night stop over a little more inland a Lake Elingamite. A large lake, an old fisherman, a man and his dog, Daisy van parked amongst the trees… and I fell asleep. The next morning the man and his dog chatted to me in passing for their morning walk. They had been living on the road for 5 years! Patrick’s dog Grace was the most beautiful dog. Extremely youthful but surprisingly 11 years old. Her white coat was pristine with the coolest black marking on one eye that I thought when seeing her from a distance that she had an eye patch.

From cuddling stranger’s dogs I checked out Hopkins Falls as I made my way to Warrnabool. I stopped by the park, rolled out my matt and practiced by the lake. I cooked up a feast for lunch, went for a long walk and decided I’d stay near-by for a couple of nights to plan my trail up through the red centre to Uluru whilst I had good reception and to also catch the markets for fresh produce on Sunday.

It had nearly been a week without a proper shower so I decided I would treat myself to a yoga class, get warm and score a shower at the same time. I was so excited I woke up early, knowing I was going to be inside practicing and having a shower.

I made it to the class. The studio was so stunning but I found it strange that everyone’s gear (not much of it) was placed right at the entrance. This was very much giving me no after class shower vibes… I went to the loo (still no shower in sight, but a gorgeous basin I very much admired) then rolled my mat out onto the beautiful polished concrete floor. The beautiful, polished, COLD concrete floor. Great cruisy class but unfortunately, I was still cold and stinky at the end of my experience.

I was feeling a little desperate and didn't want to spend any more money trying to shower so decided on the free public showers. When I say shower, imagine those ones you find at the top of a beach pathway that you use to rinse the sand off you. Now put that into a cubicle open to the outside air in the middle of winter, add a cold-water press button, and put a timer on for about 15 seconds because that’s how long it’ll dribble for. As I did my best to shower without having to actually touch the water… I fought with the outside temperature too. As I hung my head, I thanked my yoga practice for my limber spine as I was doing everything in my power to not allow my wet hair to touch my back.

An experience of cold I will never forget. I remained purple for a good six hours. I can say the Winter Solstice swim in Tasmania had me feeling nowhere near as cold as I felt that day. I could only laugh when my friend told me there were 20cent hot showers only meters down the road at the local Surf club… First world problems hey!

Cold and hangry I decided it was time to leave Warrnabool and not stick around. After a short drive I made it to the cute little town of Port Fairy. Starting to warm up a little after some lunch I continued to my next stop finding a great free campsite at Heathmere. Here I stayed for two nights resting, planning, reading and walking the shorter mountain bike trails.

It was here I had my first solo camping spook. The first morning I was making my breakfast when a hooded man did a lap around the site and parked his car about 20m away from the van and just starred at me. I wasn’t completely spooked as there were plenty of other people around but I sure did find it super weird. I took my breakfast to sit in the van and observe the man through my very tinted windows. He didn’t budge. Slumped in his seat still starring at the van. I finished my breakfast and looked out my back window once again to find he was gone. I was not a fan. I listened in to my gut and decided to remain for another night as I did feel safe enough. I had plenty of reception and there were many families at the grounds. All was well.

From Heathmere I made my way to Portland. I saw the sun for the first time in 5 days and took the opportunity to finally have my first and last swim on the Great Ocean Road at Nuns beach. It was fresh (but still warmer than my shower experience), salty and clear. It felt amazing! Feeling invigorated I was also excited to do a load of washing at the laundry mat (the little things we take for granted!). That was a whole other experience. I was happy to get out of there!!

With a clean wardrobe and the sun disappearing after its much-welcomed few hours, I drove through the rain annnnd made it to the South Australia boarder!

Relieved to be heading further North and starting to feel like I was making some distance, I began my mission to make it to Uluru for the 13th of July.

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