TUESDAY 3/23/2010 – MELBOURNE >> GEELONG >> TORQUAY >> APOLLO BAY
I woke around 6:30, got up, and showered. Lexie followed. Marcia was back from getting coffee by the time Lexie was out of the bathroom. Lexie straightened her hair – I’m telling you . . . the best $17.99 this mom has ever spent! The girl looked good. She was happy.
Lexie and I ran down to the Soul Café, two doors away from our hotel. $5 for a pastry or muffin and a coffee. Lexie got a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino. I got a chocolate chip muffin and a milk. The lady behind the counter was so busy but very pleasant – like really friendly and really chatty. There were 4 or 5 people ahead of us in line and 3 men (on their way to work?) behind us. I think the men all left before placing their orders because the poor clerk – all by herself – was taking her time getting the orders out. We made our way back to the room and finished our breakfast.
We loaded up our bags, checked out, and walked north up Swanston Street with our luggage. We found the Hertz Rental Car office. Lexie stood in the doorway with our luggage. Marcia and I went upstairs to complete the paperwork for the car. The man behind the counter was very friendly. He reassured us that we’d be fine. If we can drive in the states, we’ll be able to drive. He had driven both the east and the west coast of the United States. Although, he told us this after he sold us additional insurance. He said if anyone hits you and damages the vehicle this is what you’ll pay. He wrote down $3,300. You can buy insurance to cover that deductible for $34/day. Marcia and I chose to purchase the additional coverage. He gave us directions to get out of town and onto the Great Ocean Road. We asked about the goofy right turns we had seen drivers make the night before from the far left lane. He assured us he wouldn’t give us a route with any MELBOURNE RIGHTS. Marcia and I passed Lexie on the landing on our way to the underground garage. We looked the car over with the attendant, pointed out a few marks and dents we didn’t want to get charged for. I opened the driver door, and – oops, wrong side. I went around to the right side of the vehicle and got in behind the steering wheel. I made a right turn out of the stall and drove up the ramp. We stopped at the road to load our bags into the trunk and pick up the girl. We were on our way – Day 1 of our ROADTRIP!
I made a left on Little Bourke Street and another left onto Spencer Street. I made my first right onto Flinders Street. Lexie was in the back seat recording it all with sound. “Is there anything you’d like to say before your first right turn?” she asked. “God Help Us”, I responded. You can hear Marcia calling out directions in the background. The emu is an excellent navigator.
We made it safely to the Great Ocean Road. The windshield wipers went on before every turn and every lane change. There were only a couple of times that Marcia had to remind me to stay left.
We got off the highway in Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city on the edge of Corio Bay. After trying to pull into a private parking ramp, we found a place to park on the street. We had to walk a few spaces down to put $4 in a meter that spewed out a ticket to be placed on our dash. More new technology for the three of us in 2010.
From there, we walked to the Visitor Information Center/National Wool Museum. Then, we walked down a block to the wharf. We took photos with the quirky sculptures that looked like toy soldiers and other characters painted on giant clothespins. They’re actually called bollards – reclaimed timber pier pylons transformed by Artist Jan Mitchell in 1995. There are over 100 of them installed around Waterfront Geelong from Limeburner’s Point to Rippleside Park.
We wandered into a building that housed a beautifully restored, 1892 steam driven, hand carved wooden carousel (with real horse hair tails).
We had lunch at the Warf Shed Café. Lexie had bacon bruschetta, and eggs. I ordered potato wedges, and Marcia had a SANGER. All orders were giant sized.
After lunch, we wandered down the beach a bit before heading back to our car and getting back ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
We continued on the Great Ocean Road until we reached Torquay, Australia’s Surfing Capital. We found a place to park along the street and took a photo of the license plate so we’d be able to refer to the camera if there was ever a problem finding our vehicle.
Lexie changed into her swimsuit and we walked down to the beach. There was a game of Cricket being played on the beach. There were a number of people learning to surf. Lexie made herself comfortable on the uncrowded beach.
Marcia and I followed a trail that lead from Torquay Surf Beach along the cliffside to Jan Juc Beach. The color of the turquoise ocean in contrast to the golden rocks was stunning. I saw a fisherman catch a small fish. We took some stairs down to the beach. I stopped to talk to Gustaf, the fisherman; he seemed about 100 years old. He was very friendly. I asked if I could take his photo. “I’m not opposed”, he responded.
We made our way back to Torquay Surf Beach and met up with Lexie.
We hopped into the car, and drove to Bells Beach where we got a glimpse of real surfers. From there we drove to Split Point Lighthouse.
After a quick snack and a lemonade at the coffee shop up the road from the lighthouse, we were on the road again.
We didn’t stop again until we got into Apollo Bay. The road was very curvy the last hour of our drive. We pulled into Apollo Bay – drove through the downtown – to see what types of accommodations were available. When we hit the last building in town, I turned right to go around the block. On the backside of the block, we passed a BOWLS CLUB with men and women lined up playing some type of lawn bowling.
We went back to the main street, parked our car, and walked into the Apollo Bay Hotel to see about getting a room. The staff looked surprised at our request. Well, the Apollo Bay Hotel isn’t a hotel at all. It’s just a bar and restaurant. We asked for a recommendation, but no one seemed too eager to provide one. Eventually, a young woman gave us the name of a hotel she used to work at. She said it was nothing fancy, but reasonable and clean. We walked down the street to check it out. Check out the glossary for a definition of HOTEL. The Apollo Bay Hotel staff reaction makes sense now – ten years later!
We approached the Golden Chain Lodge on our way to the recommended hotel. I decided to check availability and price of this place, while Lexie and Marcia did the same at the next. The man at the front desk informed me that the price was $120/night. He offered me the key to Room #4, so I could see what I’d be getting. I reluctantly took the key and quickly walked down to #4, opened the door and peaked inside. It looked fine to me. I locked and closed the door, went back to the office, and told the friendly man that I’d have to catch up with my friends, and may be back. As I left the office, I saw Lexie and Marcia turning on to the sidewalk from the hotel next door. I met them at the end of the drive. The price was the same. They were surprised that I had already been down to the room and back. We decided we’d stay here at the Golden Chain Lodge. We walked back to the office, and Rex, the friendly man, offered the keys to the room again so Marcia and Lexie could check it out. Repeat earlier step. Marcia and Lexie LOVED IT! We went back to the office and gave Rex our credit card information.
Then, we got the car and brought it down in front of our room and unloaded our stuff. Lexie and Marcia couldn’t get over how cute the room was, It had a Queen bed and a single bed, built-in bench/luggage rack along 1 ½ walls, reading lights, large window along the front, a little kitchen with sink, fridge, and hot plate, a bathroom with a door separating the toilet from sink and shower, brick walls, and an open beam vaulted ceiling.
We freshened up a bit and took a walk back to the BOWLS CLUB. We walked along two sides of a fence and up to the building. Before making our way inside, a man approached us and said, “There you are. I’ve been waiting for you.” He tried to sell us raffle tickets. The prizes he mentioned were meat and tickets to the upcoming weekend music festival. When we explained that we were only there for one night, he offered to auction off the prizes for us if we won. He didn’t want to twist our arms, so he suggested that we go in and order a drink and then decide. Raffle would begin in about a half hour, he told us. I recently read that gambling is more popular in Australia than anywhere else in the world.
I had every intention of making a raffle ticket donation, but the Bowls tournament ended, my drink was done, and I never saw the nice man again. Except for that man, none of the other bowlers were too friendly. It seemed like we had entered a private club, although it did say PUBLIC WELCOME on a sign outside the door.
We left to look for a friendly venue. There didn’t seem to be much going on. We ended up back at the falsely advertised Apollo Bay Hotel. Marcia ordered a STUBBY and I had my first Captain Morgan and diet coke of the trip. I also ordered potato gnocci with a creamy pesto sauce – very tasty! There was a game of red and yellow billiards going on near our table. When we finished our drinks and gnocci, Lexie was ready to go to our hotel room. Marcia and I walked her back.
Then, Marcia and I headed back downtown looking for some excitement – maybe we’d find some handsome JACKAROOS! Evidently, there is no excitement in Apollo Bay on a Tuesday night. We ended up back at the Apollo Bay Hotel. We finished one more drink and went back to our cute hotel room for the night. We didn’t get ROTTEN.
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