Apollo Bay

Snorkelling is a simple pleasure. These rock pools near Apollo Bay offer beautiful and easily accessible underwater scenery all year round, when there is a low tide and the swell is not big. The minimum equipment list is small: mask, snorkel, fins, and of course a wetsuit. My swims here are usually solo. The underwater reef environment is always captivating. The water clarity in the pools varies between clear and exceptionally clear.

I never notice time passing when snorkelling here, unless an incoming tide interrupts my reverie with a nudge, or I eventually have my first shiver, or daylight begins to fade. I don’t do any spearfishing. I do take a few photos.

Clear rock pool near Apollo Bay
One of my favourite rock pools. The time of low tide on this day dictated snorkelling in the first hour of daylight.
Edge of rock pool at Apollo Bay
Entering this pool can be done with ease and comfort as the exposed reef at the water’s edge is fully upholstered with thick soft algae and seaweed. This makes sitting on the edge of the pool to put my fins on, then sliding into the water, very comfortable.
Bull kelp on reef at Apollo Bay
Bull kelp attached to the reef by circular holdfasts using a strong natural glue produced by the kelp.
Underwater plant life in rock pool
Underwater plant life in rock pool
Underwater plant life in rock pool
Underwater plant life in rock pool

Motorbike Riding

The Great Ocean Road between Aireys Inlet and Port Campbell could well have been made with motorbikes in mind. It is a joy to head east or west from Apollo Bay on the motorbike around the long succession of what are by now very familiar curves – another simple pleasure.

It is not difficult to find a time when the roads have little or no traffic on them. But of course there are always hazards on the GOR, for which due allowance must be made.

The BMW R1200GS is particularly well suited to the GOR. I ride it in all weather. I bought the GS new about 13 years ago. It still goes as well as the day I bought it. Given its age and mileage, its current value would be a lot less than the amount required to purchase of a flash new push bike. But that doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t sell it at any price. Whenever I look at it parked in my shed it just radiates great memories of rides. I have never had a ride on it that I didn’t enjoy. I have no plans to retire it any time soon.

The fuel tank capacity is a mere 20 litres, which is more than enough for a day’s touring along the GOR, starting and finishing at Apollo Bay. The great majority of the 235,000kms now on its odometer are solo kms.

Motorbike at Gibson Steps Beach on Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps, the Great Ocean Road and the mighty GS.
Motorbikes on Port Campbell foreshore
Port Campbell. It was a pleasure to ride with Gilbo on this autumn day.
Motorbikes at Gibson Steps Beach on Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps and the GOR. Gilbo also rides a GS.

Flying

Onshore winds blowing up and over the coastal hills around Apollo Bay can provide very good conditions for hang gliding. The ideal wind strength for my hang glider on this coast is around 15 knots, but winds in the 12-18 knot range (which are not gusting), will also see me cancel most other activities to go flying. Winds in this range do not occur daily or even weekly, but it is part of the fun to keep a close eye on weather patterns and the wind until a day with flyable conditions dawns. The eve of such a day usually sees me checking gear, charging radio batteries and examining weather forecasts. Living within sight of the launch site means that I get to fly when the wind is right. The window of suitable wind strength and direction can be as short as 30-40 minutes, or it can last all day.

The basic equipment list to fly like a bird is short: hang glider, harness and helmet.

I can see my favourite launch location from the back deck of my house.

Driving hang gliders through temperate rainforest to launch
Driving through dense cool temperate rainforest to a launch site for a late afternoon autumn flight.
Setting up hang gliders on hill
Commanding view from the partially sheltered setup area.
Measuring wind for hang gliding
Steady 15 knot south easterly. Ideal. John M and Bruce also flew on this afternoon.
Walking hang glider to edge of plateau for takeoff
Hooked in, legs in leg loops and hang check completed. Walking the glider to the edge of this plateau to launch.
Hang glider taking off
Airborne.

Hang glider in flight over Apollo Bay
Hang glider in flight over Apollo Bay
Hang glider in flight over Apollo Bay
Near cloud base at about 1700 feet above sea level. The cool air was damp at times. That’s Pisces caravan park visible just below the right-hand wheel on my base bar. I was speeding up here (pulling the bar in which moves my weight forward) to avoid gaining unwanted height in the considerable lift beneath this cloud which briefly produced light misty rain as it passed.
Hang glider in flight over Apollo Bay
Cape Patten ahead in the mist. Skenes Creek in the middle distance. Wild Dog Creek beach in this image is the sandy strip intersected by my right side-wire.
Hang glider in flight over Apollo Bay
Circling back over the setup area and launch site. Bruce’s hang glider is set up beside the two cars parked there. He took off not long after this photo was taken and joined the two of us who were already airborne. The three of us were in UHF radio contact while we flew (there was initially a bit of discussion about landing options and the high tide as the odd set of waves was washing over Wild Dog Creek beach), but we only saw each other occasionally. It’s a big site and a big sky.
Hang glider landed and parked on Cawood St Beach at Apollo Bay
I landed gently into a smooth 10 knot wind on the beach at the end of my street after soaring the coastal hills for just over two hours. We had taken off right on high tide, which meant that initially the beach was not ideal for landing. Two hours later it was fine.

Two hours of flying pleasure is the relevant performance figure for this flight. But my instruments also recorded that I flew 54.7kms in this time, and that my maximum groundspeed was 42.1 knots.

Silently and effortlessly soaring the coastal hills for a couple of hours in smooth air is peaceful and exhilarating. There’s really nothing else like it.

6 thoughts on “Apollo Bay

  1. John I admire your Dare Devil outlook on life unfortunately it certainly did not come up in either Toms nor my playbook!
    Love the underwater photos, sensational.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pleased to hear you enjoyed the underwater photos Sue.
      When you and Tom come to Apollo Bay I’ll take you snorkelling in one of the rock pools featured in the above photos.

      Like

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