DAY 4 – HALL'S GAP TO PORT FAIRY
Ouch, I have a pain in my lower back. There is something hard there. What is it? Oh it's my torch! Apparently after sleeping in a sleeping bag for a few nights I needed something digging into my back to make me sleep better. I lay in bed, thinking, enjoying the silence, birds singing their morning songs, bliss. Before long I hear a "Good morning Mummy," and my day begins, another shower while I have such a luxury available, breaky of bacon and eggs and into the car we get, off to explore the Grampians. I have my heart set on Silverband Falls, but when we arrive the roads are closed to major flooding back in 2011. Instead we turn into the Sundial Car Park and take the 600m walk to Lake Bellfield Lookout. It is an easy walk through the forest and around rock formations. When we reach the lookout and the view stretches for miles in every direction and we realise just how big the Grampians actually are. We head back to the car, consult the map and decide to try Mackenzie Falls.
Arriving at Mackenzie Falls we realise that the walk is over 2km return, not that far for most people, but with a 5 year old in tow, it's going to take a while. We reach the lookout from the top in no time at all, Alli cavorting around and skipping along down the path. The view from the top in great, the falls are high and clear. I look down, my heart sinks, and the next 700m are vertical, steps, wet and slippery. Oh this is not going to be fun. The climb to the bottom is hard work, but the falls are worth the effort. We hop across rocks to the far side of the stream, sit back, regain our breath, and take in the view. Then it's back to the top we go. Dad and I bounce up the steps, mum struggles; Alli helps by "pushing" her up by the bum and shouting words of encouragement, very funny to watch. About half way to the top Alli complains of a sore foot and after removing her shoes I discover a huge blister on her heel. Not much to relieve the pain here though, so she toughs it out until we reach the top, where band aids are dispensed immediately.
From Mackenzie Falls we head South through the Grampians, impressive ridge lines silhouetted against the blue sky. We stop for lunch at the southern end of the Grampians, in the town of Dunkeld, taking in the view while we munch on corned beef sandwiches.
Back in the car we head South- West towards the western end of the Great Ocean Road. As we near the town of Warrnambool, the GPS reduces us to fits of giggles. It pronounces the word as "warner bubble", and as result of far too many hours couped up in the car, the word is repeated with the GPS accent as often as possible, "Warner Bubble" also becomes interchanged for "water bottle" and anywhere else we can fit it in. A "had to be there" situation for sure, or maybe just a sign of madness settling in.
We reach Port Fairy by mid-afternoon. A medium sized fishing village with lovely old buildings and a terrific lolly shop. We go in search of Griffith Island but end up at a picturesque surfing beach. Alli and I clamber down over the rocks to get a better view and snap a few photos. About half way to the water's edge we get a great surprise; an adolescent seal is sunning itself on the rocks not 20 feet from us. I call down my parents and we spend 10 minutes admiring it before heading back to the car and on to Griffith Island, which turns out to be just down the road. Griffith Island is larger than expected, renowned for its Mutton bird colony and historic Light House. We circumnavigate the island by foot, around 3km, a scenic stroll and worth the effort.
Tonight's accommodation is an unpowered tent site at the Gum Tree Caravan Park, we are fortunate enough to score a spot right beside the camp kitchen and have almost all of the camping area to ourselves. Then the fun begins, the wind is foul, roaring down from the hills and attempting to rip our tents from our hands as we put camp together. I use every peg and guy rope I have, and my tent is still waving wildly in the wind, but I have fared better than mum and dad, their pegs keep ripping from the ground and the poles have broken in two spots. I am prepared for a long night. Thankfully the wind dies down just after dark and we are able to get to sleep. Before drifting off I catch up somewhat on my photo editing. I sleep fitfully as pine cones drop from the tree above and land on my tent intermittently throughout the night, waking me with their banging noises.
Extract from 'Headed South' Available from Amazon