Our rest day began with Krystal, Kelly, and I waking up at 5:30 so we could fit in a walk down to Station Beach (about 40 minutes through the scrub and over the dunes), Rainbow Falls (another kilometer across the sand along the coast) and maybe the Cape Otway Lighthouse before the group took off for a filed trip to destinations further afield.
The day dawned damp, and chilly (relatively speaking) but we were undeterred. As Krystal said, “it’s now or never!” The terrain around here is shockingly free of rocks. The substrate is quite sandy, and consequently lacking traction, except where vegetation has taken hold. The three of us slogged through the foggy landscape, slowing on the slippery uphills, and sand-sliding on the downhills. At various intervals we could hear the crashing of the surf, but it was a good half hour before we actually got a glimpse of the ocean. The trail morphed into a boardwalk for a few hundred meters. That ended at a very steep sand dune sloping past a pile of surfer refuse down to the beach.
We had originally figured that the 6 km loop from camp to beach to falls to lighthouse to camp could be easily accomplished in the 3 hours we had allotted from alarm clock to van departure. We hadn’t counted on being so thoroughly waylaid by the landscape, the rock formations, the shells, and the tidepools. We all wished we had a marine biologist and a geologist in tow to explain all the weird things we were seeing.
This algae is called “Neptune’s Pearls.” How cool is that?!?
Rainbow Falls was really just a series of trickles, but they made a lovely sound accompanying the surf, and left a layer of calcium carbonate crust dripping from the surface of the cliff over which they cascaded. I think each of us wanted to stay for hours to explore, but we kept our eye on the time and hoofed our way across the sand, up the dune, and up the trail to the campground and arrived, sweaty and with hearts pounding in time to catch our ride.
As a group (minus Des who had to stay back with a German film crew who are doing a documentary of her work), we drove along the winding coast road, past beef and dairy herds, sheep, tree plantations, dry rolling tan hills, and occasional glimpses of the water. We had lunch in Port Campbell, visited the Twelve Apostles (“The most photographed natural landscape in Australia,”) of which there are only 8 left standing, the rest having been eroded to collapse by the sea, and a few other POI’s along the Great Ocean Road of southern Victoria. I bought some internet time at a hotel in the tiny town where we ate, but it was insufficient to download e-mail and upload a blog post.
We re-provisioned stables like wine, beer, and chocolate, then wended our way back to Bimby Park to make dinner and do laundry. All that getting in and out of the van was exhausting, even more so than chasing koalas and laying out tree transects all day! The change of pace was good for all of us.