The Great Ocean Road


Tuesday, June 2nd 1987

We left Melbourne just after lunch. Mark and Tony pulled up outside in the Ute just as Peter the landlord arrived with a $114 phone bill.   He went inside and I didn’t wait for him to find the $6 that was in the jar. I bunged my rucksack in the back of the pick-up and got into the cab between Mark and Tony. Tony drove.

Mark and Tony were an ill-matched pair.  Mark was a pretty boisterous lad from London who had been working in the UK as a postman before giving it up to travel.  Tony was from rural New Zealand and was very quietly spoken.  They hadn’t know each other for too long and I think that the only thing they had in common was that Mark wanted a ride in a car and Tony had a car.

We made a few small errands in the centre of the city and then crossed the Westgate Bridge and headed south skirting Port Phillip Bay as we went. We paused for snacks at a place called the Tockers Road House before carrying on as far as Geelong. We pulled up outside the youth hostel and managed to get 3 beds for the night.

The youth hostel was run by a middle aged Australian who we quickly christened “the dragon lady”. She had a bit of a thing about discipline and she went to great lengths to explain all the rules. Then she allocated the chores to everyone. I was put in charge of cleaning of the shower and I was told that it better be shiny. She told us that although she wasn’t staying in the hostel herself she would be back the next morning and would be closely inspecting our work.

Geelong wasn’t really that interesting. There was a German, a Frenchman and an American girl staying in the hostel with us. Mark cooked us pork chops and then we went out to a pub together. We couldn’t talk over the loud music played by an awful band so we came back and had an early night.


Wednesday, June 3rd 1987

The next morning the Dragon Lady returned and, as promised, inspected our work. She examined the shower that I had spent a half hour cleaning and she concluded, with obvious disappointment, that “it would do”.

At 9:30 we set off again towards the start of the “Great Ocean Road”.   The road was built by servicemen returning after the First World War and provided a scenic coastal drive with great views of the Bass Straight.  It really was a fantastic road.


We stopped for lunch at Apollo bay and continued stopping every so often until we reached the “Twelve Apostles”, an unusual rock formation just south of Port Campbell. We also stopped to examine signs that explained the wreck of the Loch Ard, a ship that went down with only 2 survivors in 1878.  We saw “London Bridge” another unusual rock formation.


It was dusk by the time we reached Port Fairy and checked into the Youth Hostel. We sat in the kitchen for a while and watched a girl from Manchester burn her toast before we headed out to the pub.

The pub was called “The Star of the West” and was run by a friendly Kiwi named Bob and his young Australian wife Kate. Bob introduced us to the local South Australian Coopers Ale and, amidst chatting a couple of British girls and a girl from California, we drank far too much of it.

Grampian Mountains