Our first full day on the Great Ocean Road was everything we’d hoped for, no crowds, fine weather, and the kind of land-sea interface that makes your heart sing.
The road was built by servicemen returning from World War I both to connect the isolated towns along the coast and as a memorial to the Australians who lost their lives in the war. It is the world’s longest war memorial and attracts millions of tourists from around the world.
We stopped every few miles to hike out to the promontories, ooh and ahh over the views and take dozens of photographs. When we hiked down to a beach we found where all the people were, taking advantage of the last few days of summer vacation before school starts again.
Several people recommended the Kafé Koala as a place where the iconic little bears could be spotted easily. We dutifully endured the less than appetizing food, then ventured deep into the nearby eucalyptus forest in search of the elusive buggers. We saw a couple of fuzzy balls way up in the treetops before finally hitting paydirt, six within fifty meters or so along the forest road, and a bonus fearless kookaburra, not laughing.
We could have watched for hours, especially since they weren’t sleeping but rather quite active, shimmying along the branches and nibbling leaves. Eventually our necks cried out in protest and we reluctantly tore ourselves away.
At the bottom of the forest road we stopped to watch a couple of tourists feeding beautiful parrots and cockatoos across from the Kafé. All in all, a pretty spectacular day. But have lunch somewhere else.