Sunday we checked out of the Port Fairy YHA and started to make our way back to Melbourne via Port Campbell. Port Fairy is the far western end of the Great Ocean Road and we thought we’d back-track a little to see any sights we might have missed on the way out. Port Campbell is a nice little beach town and we camped at the Caravan Park for two nights.
Sunday night we drove on the Great Ocean Road back to the Twelve Apostles to enjoy them at sunset and spot some little blue penguins returning for the night after dark. The viewing platforms were mobbed with tourists for sunset, but once the sun was gone, so were the tourists, and we had the place nearly to ourselves to wait for the penguins. Sure enough, just at dusk, we spotted some little figures emerging from the water onto the beach. Despite our distance, we could see them waiting together at the water line in a little huddle. When a seemingly critical mass was obtained, they set off up the beach en masse to their nests in the dunes. Adorable! Darkness fell quickly and we couldn’t see the beach anymore and we went home for the night, on the look out for kangaroos on the roadside.
More sights from the Great Ocean Road:
Monday was a quiet day. We hiked the cliff walk east of the town beach and spent the day reading, writing and planning the next leg of our trip. We had considered taking another car from Melbourne to Sydney to see the south east coast before traveling north, but three full days in the car without much time to stop appeals to neither of us. So we decided to make a run for Byron Bay and the Gold Coast of Australia, in Queensland. I, especially, am looking forward to more summery weather and warmer water for swimming. The beaches of Australia’s south coast are lovely, but facing Antarctica and the Southern Ocean makes the water a little too cold for swimming.
Tuesday we woke up early to finish the drive to Melbourne and return the rental car. After a night at a hostel in Melbourne, we took the train to Sydney—twelve hours—on Wednesday! That’s a long ride on the train, but I have discovered it can be made much more civilized with the consumption of ‘Devonshire Tea’, as a midmorning snack. Two hot scones, which are really more like bready biscuits smeared with a barely sweet, creamy whipped butter served with tea and milk. Delicious!
Our arrival in Sydney was marred by an online booking failure that left us without a room for the night. Fortunately, the staff at the hostel found us another room close by and we didn’t have to sleep in the railway station. Thursday morning we got up early again to take the train from Sydney to Casino (it bills itself as the Beef Capital of Australia!) in northern New South Wales. Another long day on the train, followed by a coach ride from Casino to the beach town of Byron Bay. We’re staying three nights at the YHA hostel 200m from the beach. It will be hot and sunny here—perfect weather for being lazy on the beach before heading north to more beach towns in Queensland–the Sunshine State!