Along the Great Ocean Road, Sea Changers are Spotted

Along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

I’m happy to report that Ambien is a perfect antidote for a 15 1/2 hour plane trip.  For the first time in more than 50 overseas trips over many years, I slept soundly, and awoke with a very pleasant piece of news…there were only two more hours till touchdown in Melbourne.  Refreshed, I was, and it made our drive down through Geelong and to Apollo Bay a pleasant, scenic journey with no passing out in the passenger seat.

Now I’m perched atop a big hill overlooking the Southern Ocean, at an elegant restaurant called Chris’s Beacon Point, where the dining room is glass-walled and the ocean laps the shore far down the hill, and eucalyptus trees border the perimeter.

Up in those trees, I’m told, are many koala bears, who, unfortunately, in recent years have suffered an outbreak of marsupial chlamydia, causing their numbers to drop. Still, I was assured that along with kangaroos, sitings of koalas will be frequent as I walk along the Great Ocean Walk which straddles this great ocean here at the bottom of Australia.

I asked my host, Natalie, what people are talking about here in Victoria, and she said that a levy on wages was the topic du jour.  The floods that ravaged an area of eastern Australia bigger than the size of Germany has prompted the prime minister, Julia Gillard, to call for a $1 per week levy on every Australian’s paycheck to pay for flood damage.

For those making over $100K, it will be $5 a week. And most people here are strongly in favor of the tax.  Other news concerns a visit by Elizabeth Hurley to her former boyfriend, cricketer Shane Warn. A headline in the UK’s Daily Mirror proclaimed “Hurley to Bed!”

It’s summertime here, and in this part of Victoria, people make what they call “Sea changes” which means they move to a seaside village like Torquay, or Lorne, and enjoy life by the sea as retirees. Others make “tree changes” moving to the rural woods.

Down here is surfing central, the town of Torquay is lined with surf shops and the beaches are filled with vans with boards atop them and people zipping up wetsuits to plunge into the waves. The water’s very, very cold, yet people still venture in. The waves are strong and around every corner is a million-dollar view.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up to lace up my boots for a 22 km hike with my guide.  I’m pretty sure I’m up for this long hike since having a guide to talk to will make the long journey easier. Oh, and they’re taking my big suitcase ahead to my digs tomorrow night at the Aire Valley Guest House.