‘Pack up the kids. We’re off to see the Sow and Piglets!’
What? You haven’t heard of the Sow and Piglets, those iconic rocky ocean sentinels standing guard along the Great Ocean Road. Thousands flock to see them every year, though judging by the number of signs on the Great Ocean Road reminding you to ‘drive on the left in Australia’ most, presumably, are foreigners.
I don’t know why, but apparently the Sow and Piglets just didn’t work for people, so they renamed them the Twelve Apostles, which is curious given there was only ever nine of the great rocky stacks. But you can’t have the Nine Apostles can you. Which three would you leave out? So the Twelve Apostles it is, although one fell down and now there are only eight. So it is the eight, Twelve Apostles. Got it! Good. Lets move on.
We visited the eight Apostles on the kind of day every international visitor aspires to, howling wind and driving rain. The greyness sets off the scenery just so and it was a delight to be out, with the rain stinging your cheeks. Us – fair weather travellers? I think not.
At least our first day on the Piglet Highway (Great Ocean Road) was fair. We visited Bell’s Beach with a lovely orange glow cast upon the breakers and thought we may have arrived in time to catch the action of the Rip Curl Pro. Just missed it as it turns out.
The next day we snaked our way around to Johanna Beach, just west of Cape Otway (where we saw 13 koalas). Eye catching scenery greeted every corner, of which there is more than a few, and with a caravan in tow there was more than enough time to soak in the views.
Johanna Beach was an unexpected delight. Huge breakers formed up in lines three and four deep with wind whipping up spray which trailed behind them. I took 217 photos of waves while Emma and Khia chatted, Dana, Evie, Amy and Oliver diverted the creek flowing across the beach and Paul turned himself into a human log to help realign the flow. Not one of my photos adequately captures the scene.
Of course, the Piglet Highway is not all sunshine and lollipops. It’s a treacherous place. A sign just near the Piglets, I mean Apostles, made it very clear.
‘Danger, do not enter, unstable cliffs, you may fall and DIE!!!!!’
I guess that’s clear enough.
In 1990 it almost happened. A couple of tourists walked across the London Bridge before the whole rock arch collapsed into the sea and left them stranded. That’d put a dampener on your day.
We finished our journey along the Piglet Highway at Portland. Portland was supposed to be home to a couple of Gannets, (Mr Gary and Janet Gannet), and a few thousand of their closest friends. Gary and Janet were meant to live at the aptly named Point Danger Gannet colony. Aptly named because the colony, and its viewing platform are situated at the target end of a shooting range! Not to worry, according to the tourist literature it’s all wheelchair and pram friendly.
It’s no wonder Gary and Janet weren’t home. They seemed to have moved out to the nearby Laurence rocks, a couple of kilometres off the coast. All the better to concentrate of diving for fish rather than dodging bullets. Visitors, such as us, would have to fend for ourselves.
Portland also has a petrified forest (which isn’t a forest), and a blowhole (which isn’t a blowhole). Is there a pattern forming here or is it just me? The petrified forest turned out to be a ‘solution pipe’. I was so disappointed at this deception I didn’t think to find out what a solution pipe is.
We weren’t disappointed with the Blowhole. It may not have been a blowhole but the shape of the rocky inlet sent ‘ocean fireworks’, as Oliver called them, soaring in spectacular fashion. We all oohhed and aahhed for ages urging the swells to set off more and more spectacular bursts of ocean spray.