For years I have heard tales about the legendary Great Ocean Road. A mythical ribbon of flawless bitumen embracing the water’s edge. The views were breathtaking and exotic sports cars could be given free rein to run rampant with wild abandon. Absolute bloody codswallop.
I set out from the western end with high hopes only to arrive in Melbourne dismayed, exhausted and greatly disappointed. I didn’t have an exotic sports car, just a dirty 12 year old V8 Ford ute, and even she chomped at the bit and floundered in the heavy going for most of the way. For years I have mocked Victorian drivers for their poor driving skill, but if the Great Ocean Road is the best road they have to boast about in the state, it is little wonder they struggle to reach the speed limit anywhere else.
The first half of the road was more the Great Tree Road than the Great Ocean Road. There were brief glimpses of wet stuff through the branches but mostly I saw giant trees.
The second half of the road had plenty of ocean views and plenty of time to take them in. In my humble opinion though, the Great Ocean Road should be renamed the “Great Potholes, Lumpy Bits, Rough as Fuck, Non Stop Roadworks, With Nowhere to Overtake" Road.
I’ll admit I didn’t go all the way to the end of the Great Ocean Road. I was bored, depressed and edging towards suicidal so I took the first exit that promised a direct route to the big smoke with triple figure speed limits.
In Melbourne, Great Ocean Road enthusiasts asked me what I thought of their glorious road and I could see the pride in their little eyes as they waited for me to praise it. Luckily I was still jaded enough that I did not hold back in crushing their hopes and dreams with a clear and accurate description of my utter disgust. Before the locals could light fires at the foot of my stake I limped my poor battered Ford to the ferry and crossed the ditch to Tasmania.
Now here is a state that knows how to make a driver happy. As I left the ferry I hooked a right turn and followed the Northern Coastline to the West. Every twenty kilometers or so a small coastal village popped up offering fresh coffee and an assortment of pastries. The houses were neat and tidy with people walking their dogs and smiling warmly. I was left with the distinct impression that these were the kind of people who wore underpants on a very regular if not daily basis.
There were no potholes, no lumpy bits and no road works. There were two lanes, 110km per hour zones, and only one grey nomad in sight who was easily cruised past in the second lane. A never ending glorious stretch of perfect unblemished tar. Options to take a more scenic route were clearly signed but even these detours were blessed by road gods. There were no nasty speed bumps for us to bump our diff on and the fuel was just as cheap if not cheaper than the mainland. Bugger the Great Ocean Road, Tasmania is where the coastal driving nirvana is to be found.