Friday, 7 March 2014

A Walk from Lorne

In December last year, I learnt a useful lesson... the best time to take a quiet summer beach break in Australia is the week before Christmas.

By about the 15th, businessmen have stopped travelling but it's too early for the school holiday rush. As a result, Narrelle and I scored a good room rate at the Mantra Lorne.

It's a resort built around the historic Erskine House guesthouse, in the attractive seaside town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road.

This wasn't a work-related trip, and our main aim was to sit around doing very little. But one day we went for a walk on the trail which winds along the beachfront then up and around to the Lorne Pier.

Here's a view looking back to the town. As you can see, it was a relatively cool and overcast day for December:


On the way we encountered a gang of cockatoos delighting tourists at a rest stop:


All along the coastline at Lorne, there's a series of signs recalling past maritime disasters - a reminder of how deadly these waters could be, and how many shipwrecks lie below. In this case, the sign recalled the clipper Paul Jones, which in 1886 caught fire offshore and had to be abandoned:


The shoreline became impressively rocky as we approached the pier:


And this is Lorne Pier - or at least the current version, constructed in 2007 when the old pier (opened in 1879) reached the end of its long life:



It was good to see that a short length of the original pier was retained next to the new structure, with historic signage to explain its significance. The rails are a reminder of the 1904 horse-drawn tramway which hauled timber from nearby forests, to be loaded onto ships:



Near the pier is the magnificent Grand Pacific Hotel, opened in 1880 to accommodate travellers arriving by sea from Melbourne and other ports. You'll note a Chinese flag to the right, a sign that it's still in the tourism business in the 21st century:


Finally, on the way back to the town centre we followed the Great Ocean Road rather than the shoreline. This distinctive sign, which I've only ever seen on this route, is confirmation of how popular the road is with foreign visitors, and how dangerous its twists and turns can be if you're not paying attention...