Great times on the Great Ocean Road

I’m not really someone who makes a big deal about birthdays, but some ages are milestones that need celebrating. Add my guy’s recent big birthday to the fact that I really, really wanted to visit the Great Ocean Ecolodge again, and I had the perfect excuse for a road trip. I didn’t tell him where we were going, just said that we were going somewhere special for his birthday, and so it was that we set off on kind of a mystery tour last weekend. If you like gorgeous scenery and rare native animals, please join me as I recount our adventures!

I knew to expect fabulous coastal views as we drove along the Great Ocean Road, but the stunning blue of the estuary at Anglesea surprised me.

It was blowing a gale there but so pretty that we stopped for a picnic and to stretch our legs. I’m not sure why the water was this colour, hopefully it’s naturally like that and not due to some kind of pollution. The wildlife didn’t seem to be too deterred by it, anyway.

We ventured along to the adjoining surf beach which was beautiful too, but too blustery to stay for long. Just time for a happy snap!

We got in and out of the car several times on our trip – with views like this, it would be impossible not to!

Finally we arrived at the Great Ocean Ecolodge. Mystery destination achieved!

A few minutes after we arrived, Jesse, one of the ecolodge staff (and, it turns out, a pretty good photographer!) took us and the other two guests (numbers are kept to a minimum to allow for a more personal experience) to meet the welcoming committee…

We wandered around the property, which is part of the Conservation Ecology Centre that is funded by the ecolodge, with birdsong and the grunts of male koalas looking for females on heat as our soundtrack. Talk about romance!
Last time I visited, it was winter, so it got dark quite quickly, but this time we were able to visit the tiger quolls while it was still daylight. That meant I was able to get shots of them demanding food from Jesse…

…checking out other guests…

… and enjoying their meal (a massive rat!).

These two are sisters, and shared their food quite happily. Tiger quolls are very rare and these ones have all been bred in captivity, but hopefully some time in the future the ecolodge’s research will help boost their numbers in the wild.

I’m not sure why they’re called tiger quolls… if it was for their fur, whoever named them obviously had never seen a tiger. Maybe they mixed up their wildcats – this spotty coat looks more like a leopard’s to me!

By the time we’d oohed and aahed over the quolls for a bit the sun was setting and even the kangaroos were heading home.

We had a lovely dinner with veggies from the lodge’s garden before feeding sugar gliders and an orphaned potoroo with honey from our fingers. You know, just your average hotel experience! I couldn’t get photos because I was having too much fun, plus my hands were covered with honey!
The next day, the nearby Wreck Beach sounded like a good idea but it was pouring with rain and the wind was something like gale force when we arrived, so anything coastal was ruled out. But the great thing about the Otways section of the Great Ocean Road is that even if the weather is hideous, you can either wait a few minutes and it will change, or you can head to one of the rainforest areas where you’re protected from the elements by huge trees and ferns.

These ferns remind me of orangutans!

I love how there are tiny details in the rainforest…

… as well as the “wow factor” main features such as this wall of water at the Triplet Falls.

The sun peeked out for a few minutes, but seconds after I took this photo there was another torrential downpour…

… so we headed for the shelter of the Redwood Forest (near the Hopetoun Falls).

The grove of sequoias makes for an interesting contrast with the native rainforest across the creek. I’m not sure why someone planted sequoias here in 1938, but it wasn’t such a bad idea as it has become a beautiful place to explore.

It kind of reminded us of some of the woods in Game of Thrones… we wouldn’t have been surprised if an army from King’s Landing had ambushed us from behind the trees!

 I was the only one doing any ambushing though, hehe…

On the way back to the ecolodge we got up close and personal with the koalas along the Cape Otway Lighthouse road.

The manna gum trees that the koalas love to nibble on are dying on that stretch of road, and some people think it’s because the koalas are eating them to exhaustion. It’s part of the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research to work out what’s wrong with the trees. Personally, I don’t think it could only be the koalas who are to blame. Look into this little fuzzy face, it’s the picture of innocence!

On our last day, we said goodbye to the wildlife at the ecolodge and headed back to Melbourne via Lake Elizabeth in the little town of Forrest.

The lake was formed by a record rainfall more than 50 years ago which flooded the area and created a dam – and this spectacular and unique landscape.

Apparently there are platypuses living in the lake but we didn’t see any. We were more than satisfied with the scenery we did see, though.

The three days went far too quickly and we only saw a tiny section of the Great Ocean Road, so we’re planning a longer trip for next time. If you’ve never been – or even if you have – I can highly recommend spending at least a few days exploring this lovely part of Victoria!

去年始めてGreat Ocean Ecolodgeに泊まったけど、あまりにも感動的だったので彼氏の誕生日を理由にして先週末2泊してきました。なぜ感動したかというと、Ecolodgeの建物実体は正式なエコ宿泊先の上、スタッフがフレンドリーでご飯も美味しい。でもそれより、泊まった金額がConservation Ecology Centreに寄付されるのは素晴らしいと思います。Conservation Ecology Centreでオーストラリアの動物や環境の研究が行って、大事な自然が保護されています。Ecolodgeはそのセンターの土地にあるので、泊まるとスタッフがその大自然で案内してくれます。カンガルーやコアラが見られるのは素敵だけど、もっと面白いのはクオール(quoll)というかなり珍しい動物です。自然の中にはほぼ見かけられない動物なので、センターにいるクオールは研究のためにとても大事な4匹です。こういうレアな動物に会えて本当にラッキーな気分になりました!
旅のメインな目的はEcolodgeに泊まることだったけど、Great Ocean Roadのいろんなところも見に行きました。びっくりするぐらい真っ青になっているAnglesea Estuary、そしてTriplet Fallsという滝、しずかなRedwood ForestやミステリアスなLake Elizabethの景色は素晴らしくきれいで、森の中だから大雨の中でもOKです。3日間ではこの地域のほんの少ししか見られなかったので、また近いうちに戻ってさらに感動的な経験をしたいと思います。