I’m trying not to develop a complex, but natural disasters seem to follow us everywhere we go.
I feel like our arrival in a new country should be taken as a bad omen as the power of nature will soon befall those in our path.
When we arrived in Quito (Ecuador) the nearby volcano Cotopaxi began erupting for the first time in nearly 140 years.
Later, we were traveling down a road in Ecuador where days before 6 people had been killed in major landslides. As we drove along several sections of the road were beginning to slump and drivers, including ours, were hustling down the road trying to escape the same fate.
While in Chile a large earthquake struck just north of where we had been staying in Santiago…resulting in a tsunami that did damage on Easter Island where we had been just days before.
While hiking the Inca Trail in Peru we were pounded by a torrential downpour of hail that lasted for at least 30 minutes (and was then followed by rain and rain and rain). Many of the porters, some of whom have hiked the Inca Trail hundreds of times, had never seen anything like it.
The day after we left Churchill (Manitoba) after walking with the polar bears a big storm hit, closing the airport and forcing the tourists that followed us to have to leave the remote eco-lodge early.
Two days before arriving at Fox Glacier in New Zealand a helicopter crashed, killing 6 tourists and the pilot. Unseasonably bad weather prevented the recovery of the bodies for nearly a week.
Our arrival in Australia was met with a rare three-day heatwave (of course)…
And as we toured the Great Ocean Road on the southern coast of Australia we drove past a wildfire that ultimately became a raging inferno that destroyed 116 homes on Christmas Day.
I used to stress out in immigration lines about if my tourist visa paperwork was up to snuff.
Now I fear we may get flagged as harbingers of natural disasters. They’ll refuse us entry for fear of the destruction that will surely follow in our wake! I say that in jest…but at the same time I’m beginning to see a pattern here. We are headed to Tasmania tomorrow, so at least for now the poor folks on the Australian mainland should be safer.
Look out Tassies, here we come!
In the meantime, we had a lovely time touring the Great Ocean Road – one of the most picturesque coastal drives in all the world. Beginning just south of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road loops down around the southern tip of Australia and is a hot spot for international visitors as well as Australians seeking sun and time at the beach.
We spent several days on a section of the Great Ocean Road known as the “surf coast” – an area of the coast with a booming surf culture. We spent the day hiking a section of the Surf Coast Walk, a nearly 30 mile trail that links between coastal towns and sites. We hiked the section from the town of Torquay to Bells Beach, Australia’s most famous surfing beach.
The Otways are an inland hilly region covered in a beautiful rainforest. The backroads twist and turn through valleys of towering eucalyptus and tree ferns. We had a few adventures in this area including a unique tree-canopy walk at a place called Otway Fly.
Old Beechy Rail Trail
There are nearly 630 known shipwrecks along the southern Australian coast and many of them are on a stretch of the Great Ocean Road aptly named Shipwreck Coast. We spent one afternoon hiking down to one section of the beach in search of old anchors. We didn’t find any evidence of wrecks, but we did come across some of the most fascinating rock formations I have ever seen.
While in the nearby town of Warrnambool we visited a funky little tourist attraction called Flagstaff Hill, a mockup of an 1870’s coastal village complete with period actors, a museum, etc. We went at night to tour the village by lantern and attend a laser light show about the locally famous shipwreck of the Loch Ard.
The highlight of any trip along the Great Ocean Road is most likely the Twelve Apostles, Australia’s most famous coastal scene. These rock formations are constantly being eroded by wind and water. Several of them used to be connected, forming what looked like bridges. Those structures have since collapsed leaving these pillars as the ocean begins carving new formations out of the cliff faces. It was interesting to see pictures of how much they have changed in just my lifetime.
Nasty, big, pointy teeth!
“The wildlife in New Zealand just wanted a bite of my breakfast toast; The wildlife in Australia wants to eat my face off,” said Glenn as we walked past yet another sign warning us about the area wildlife, especially snakes. He may have been right as we did come across a carnivorous snail.
We didn’t come across anything especially dangerous along the Great Ocean Road, but we did find some of Australia’s more friendly and iconic wildlife.
By my estimation we still have several natural disasters to narrowly avoid.
For example, we have yet to experience flooding, hurricanes or tornadoes. Asteroids or gamma-ray bursts, too, for that matter. So who wants to invite us to come visit them next? We could always use a couch to sleep on! (Natural hazard insurance is recommended.)