A pre-dawn wind chills me as I’m standing on Mariners Lookout, gazing down at the tiny township of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road. I silently cheer for the rising sun, standing freezing on top of the hilltop, coat wrapped tight and not even close to warm. Why am I here again?
I’m at Mariners Lookout, at sunrise, on our first full day on the Great Ocean Road because Dean and I have a thing for sunrise. The morning after we met, having stayed up for most of the night talking endlessly as in the early days of love, we wandered on to the beach and watched the sunrise. The first photo I ever took in my walking behind Dean pattern was taken on that day, at sunrise. Some of the most amazing things we’ve seen have happened at sunrise, like climbing a volcano, getting some perspective on our Australia road trip or just enjoying our beach holidays. Whenever we travel somewhere, we make it a point to watch a sunrise, just because they are so good.
So, that’s how I found myself, absolutely chilled to the core standing on a hilltop lookout out over Apollo Bay, the ocean, and the winding ribbon of the Great Ocean Road. The sun, to my left, was just starting to peak up over the horizon. To my right, the moon was hanging suspended in the sky, in no rush to end its watch. Behind me, a small flock of sheep gazed mildly at two crazy humans, shivering in the cold light of morning. Still, it was worth it.
We hadn’t heard of Mariners Lookout before arriving in Apollo Bay, but to be quite honest we didn’t do much research for our little impromptu trip beyond booking accomodation. Winging it is not always my style, but in this case I knew I’d be happy to just go with the flow, see what was around and, weather permitting, do some walking. We went up to Mariners Lookout in the car, because there wasn’t a clearly marked footpath (that we saw) and we didn’t know the area that well. In fact, we only found out about Mariners Lookout because we were checking for geocaches in the area. There’s one at the top, but we didn’t find it, likely because we were so cold that coherent thought escaped us.
The sunrise was spectacular from the top though, and I highly recommend it. We were in Apollo Bay, and on our Great Ocean Road trip, in the low winter season so we only saw one lone traveller up there checking out the same view. I’ve heard in the summer the area is quite busy, and from signage it appears to be a paraglider launching spot. For us though, shivering and attempting to take shelter in the windswept bushes, it was just a fantastic way to start off our Great Ocean Road adventure, with the sun shining and the road waiting for us.
- If you’re walking from the bottom to the top, I think the distance would be around 1km. The distance from the carpark is only a few hundred metres, but the road is narrow so watch for approaching cars.
- After rain the top of Mariners Lookout is quite slippery with mud. I imagine this is worse with more foot traffic. Wear the right shoes, or prepare to get muddy, particularly if walking down to the lower fence.
- Rug up if you’re going early (and not in summer) because the winds can be strong and cold!