There are things you do or see while travelling that you don't expect to get a big reaction about from those at home. However, as soon as I hit the road and descended upon the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia and started sharing Instagrams on Facebook and Twitter I felt as though many of good friends from home (UK) were with me, such was their applause, enthusiasm and downright jealousy for this stretch of road. "The best road trip in the world!" one messaged me. "I'm so glad you're doing that. It's stunning," tweeted another. It seems this particular drive and its scenery stays with many people.
And I'm not to be excluded from that number...
I could write about getting up early, about listening to my friend and chauffeur tell me brilliant childhood stories about growing up in Melbourne's suburbs and escaping to the farms in the nearby country where they used to hunt and go fishing (occasionally with the farmers permission... ahem) and I could tell you precisely where we stopped for toilet breaks, fish and chips as well as a flat white on the way home. It would be nice to tell you how I saw galahs and parakeets, how I watched surfers battle waves and how I've never seen so many parachutists in one single day. Oh and I could explain how that peskily persistent Australian sun was blisteringly hot but we didn't notice because of the charming ocean breeze and I could then describe how I never knew that just driving, walking along beaches and taking photographs all day could be so exhausting.
Seeing as I'm not going to tell you all these things, maybe the photos will tell the story.
As I look at these photos again and I recall that day, arguably one of my favourite days in Australia, I am struck by a gentle realisation. I always thought it slightly obnoxious that the Americans and Australians call their coastal waters "the ocean" while us Brits simply call it "the sea". But looking at the photos and being reminded of the power and size of "the sea" that lapped along the side of the Great Ocean Road, I can absolutely see and understand why Australians call it "the ocean" or maybe even "The Ocean".
You will notice that these photos don't include the famous Twelve Apostles. Sadly our time ran out and we had to return to Melbourne but I'm getting strangely used to leaving things on the other side of the world undone. I see it as a way to collect reasons to return to these places I only just started to love.
Frances M. Thompson
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