Honeymooning with Sara and Katie is never as simple as relaxing on a beach. After four days of lackadaisical living in Fiji and sipping sunlight through our pores it was time to hop onto another airplane. The rest of our trip would be centered on driving the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Port Fairy – a 150-mile scenic drive along the southern coast built after WWI to honor fallen soldiers. We had 6 days on the road with an extra few in Melbourne city center after looping back inland for the trip back. It felt like we had been away for weeks by the time we got back on that airplane, landing in Melbourne close to midnight and shuffling in exhaustion to the car rental office. We stayed overnight just 10 minutes from the airport because neither of us is fond of driving in a brand-new country in the pitch black. In the course of those 10 minutes, we missed our turn and got hopelessly confused by a multi-lane roundabout while re-acclimating to the left side of the road. Sleep x 10.
The next day we woke up early to drive south towards Queenscliff, a little town by the water where we were being picked up for a wine tour around the Bellarine Peninsula. Australia is the first foreign country we’ve driven in that has a country music radio station – thanks Keith Urban. We got to our B&B just in time for the arrival of our tour van, and a cheery couple was there to greet us with bubbly (inconspicuously hidden in adult sippy cups) and snacks. We set off to visit a cider brewery and several wineries in the nearby area. The weather in Australia was uncharacteristically chilly for that time of year and our bodies took a minute to adapt to the brisk wind and hazy skies.
The first couple of wineries were whisper quiet due to our off-peak visiting time, which meant we had the luxury of extra tastings. By lunch, we were feeling more buzzed than anticipated and ate our way through a gigantic bowl of mussels, an entire charcuterie plate and about 8 pieces of crunchy bread as the sun finally came out of hiding. We were feeling especially talkative during our post-lunch tasting and declared enthusiastically that each sip of wine was “so tasty”, a phrase we were told is in fact very American.
“Here we just say that something tastes ‘good’”
Fun fact number two: having flower arrangements on the ends of vineyard rows is a very French thing to do, or so we learned from the Paris-born sommelier at our final stop who rattled off 3 lists of restaurant recommendations on the Great Ocean Road and kept our glasses full the whole time. This resulted in us purchasing a *critically* necessary (and expensive) 2006 red that I was pretty sure would be broken at 36,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean a week later.
By the time our wine tour dropped us off at a brewery back in Queenscliff for dinner, we were stumbling through the door. That last backseat sippy cup of champagne (and resulting 13 selfies) was entirely unnecessary, but we chose to remedy that situation with pub food and a few more (equally as unnecessary) draft beers before falling asleep early.
The next day we woke up in the sleepy town of Queenscliff and began our drive to Lorne through the official start of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped to snap a photo at the “Great Ocean Road” arch over the highway before continuing onward, as the road opened and we were met with our first sweeping views of seaside cliffs, docks, and overlooks. The overcast skies that day gave it all an eerily beautiful sense of away-ness.
We arrived in Lorne in the late afternoon and settled into our hotel, an old historic structure on the edge of town. The front desk man was especially enthusiastic while trying to convince us to sign up for the breakfast buffet, asserting that they had the “best scrambled eggs you’ll ever eat” and individually listing every style of milk and every flavor of cereal they offered before we had 30 seconds to say “okay”.
That night we took the 15-minute walk into town down a quiet stretch of sidewalk adjacent to the main road, past the smallest hospital I’ve ever seen and rows of pretty houses. I settled into a plate of fresh fish with couscous and a zesty sauce at Mestizo Restaurant before we made our way back home for the night. I’m convinced that I never really shook the jetlag because 9:45pm had become a standard “bedtime”. It was strangely soothing.