Join us in a series of blog entries on our trip to the Great Ocean Road – our sanity retreat in midst of the hassle of finishing up our PhD theses…

In January, we booked a long weekend at the Great Ocean Road for when we’ll be in the middle of our end-of-PhD stress. Turns out that it was the best idea ever. We probably wouldn’t have decided to suddenly go on a trip less than 4 months before our firm deadline for handing in the thesis, but really really needed a┬á break. So this booked trip was just perfect in the middle of a couple of pretty stressful weeks; it became our sanity retreat. We didn’t bring any laptop or work-related books, papers or thoughts…
We flew down to Melbourne Avalon on Thursday afternoon, where we picked up our car fort he weekend and drove down to Geelong. We watched some TV, had a great dinner and watched some more TV ­čÖé Just 100% relaxing. The next morning after a great brekkie and some excellent tips from the tourist info, we headed down towards Torquay, the official start of the Great Ocean road. First stop was Bells Beach, a well-known surfer’s beach, where we watched the enormous waves and the brave surfers. We stopped at pretty much every lookout on the way and made a detour to the Erskine Falls.
One of the highlights of the first day was at Kennett River, where according to the gentleman at the tourist info, there was a high chance of spotting a Koala. And sure enough, it did not take long until we saw the first one. There were also quite a few King Parrots, as well as crimson rosellas and corellas. As we were standing there, Simone got surrounded by a number of inquisitive birds. As I tried to take a photo, a bird flew towards me, and when I looked to my left shoulder, a female king parrot was sitting there, looking at me. As Simone got up to take a photo, another king parrot lady sat landed on Simone’s shoulder, and was apparently very interested in her earring.
For the sunset, we planned to go to the Cape Otway lighthouse. On our way there, we crossed open farmlands, and the sun was just about to set, a huge burning ball in the sky. So we stopped and took a few photos of this incredible scene, and then Simone rushed to the lighthouse, or, more precisely, to the closed gate in front of the lighthouse. So we returned back to Apollo Bay, where we spent the night in a cozy Motel.