In Janice Gregg’s lovely photo of the Cape Otway coastline, the rock platform extending sometimes 50-80m out into the Southern Ocean is just visible.
Seventeen years ago (seems like yesterday etc etc) our friend Dennis took us for a walk along a section of these platforms from Blanket Bay to Parker River only at one point needing to navigate a big watery incursion. It was a memorable walk for all sorts of reasons: the pleasure and ease of walking on smoothed rock, the strong sense of being somewhere between the punch of the waves and the scale of the cliffs which sometimes towered above, but beyond anything I think it was the extraordinary shapes and patterns in the platform itself that iced the cake.
We spent a few days in the Otways after Christmas this year and I thought that walk was something I would like to do again. We couldn’t make it work but with Dennis again and Richard his son we did walk along through the forest on top of the cliffs between those two inlets, a section of the Great Ocean Walk and very pleasant in itself.
But we found another section of platform closer to where we were staying at Apollo Bay that had just as much interest:
the point at Marengo to Shelly Beach, at low tide.
Some of this is a part of the Great Ocean Walk as well — near enough to the beginning of it — but that track takes you off the rock up into the hills, in fact up and over Bald Hill directly in front of us here.
There was some company …
… but again it was the shapes and patterns that got me in. Quite a high proportion of the rock here is basalt, so full of holes.
And so full of life …
I read them, went home, and thought about what they had to say.
We’d been here before too. Twice. Recently. The second last time water was spilling over the ledge above.
It was winter and for the very first time we had discovered the Falls of Gar (‘Mt Difficult‘), one of the new sections of track of the recently opened Grampians Peaks Trail. We’d found the three falls, all running at the time, but only got about a third of the way along this section. It was quite a shock that it was all so new and familiar only in a generalised Grampians-y way. I must have driven past here scores of times in complete ignorance of these formations.
So on a beautiful day with additional company we repeated the first few kilometres.
Look at the quality of this work. Construction of the new elements of the track cost $37m. I say it’s worth it; but then I would.
The climb goes up one stage before the bumpy little peaks begin, and you have a long generous walk on the flat for a couple of kilometres.
This is the view one way (west).
And this is the view in the other direction,
to an amazing ampitheatre with a host of striking formations and an unusually fine echo.
There are two large rock shelters under the peak of this slope which are likely to have paintings in them. But the art is everywhere.
I had been looking for the old track to Gar and found it. It begins at this little trace and then goes more or less straight up the face.
And then there was getting down.
The old track takes over and you descend a couple of hundred metres in a couple of hundred metres to the pool at the bottom of Beehive Falls.
I have never seen more than a finger line of water coming over the falls themselves but this pool is always there for refreshment. I think it was about 10km by the time we got back to the car, but hard to imagine a better spent 10km. Glorious.
The Big Finish
A luxury finish to what is really just a collection of holiday snaps: a Corymbia in flower outside our unit in Apollo Bay, one of dozens in the street plantings.
Once called Flowering Gums, Corymbia were declared a genus separate to eucalypts in 1990. They are called ‘Corymbia’ because a corymb has a flattish top with a superficial resemblance towards an umbel, and may have a branching structure similar to a panicle. You’ll be saying to yourself: of course, of course. Why does he have to go over that stuff?.
What a delicious explosion of colour.