Great People on the Great Ocean Road

A lovely woman named Denise at the Otway Lighthouse kept feeding us hot chocolate and other treats. I remarked to Caki that I wish she had been my kindly next door neighbor while growing up. Envisioning her with a nice little house that would be filled with treats was not difficult. As we were packing up, I went to thank her for her hospitality. Handed her our card, I told her a little bit about our trip around the world.

She asked, "Are you going through Tibet or India?" I replied, "Yes…"

Her face became animated as she explained that she had been the study abroad coordinator for Antioch College’s Buddhist studies program. My "kindly next-door neighbor" began to spin tales of her adventures throughout India, Tibet, and Iran. The stories were sprinkled with warnings, advice, religious history and stories. We came away from our talk with Denise bearing sheets upon sheets of paper full of people we should talk to or visit and the guide book we must buy. My next-door neighbor had quickly morphed into the exciting world adventurer I hope to be.

Paul, the keeper of the lighthouse, later arrived to give an interview. Personal insight from the man who lives at the point like many other keepers before him gave us an interesting perspective on the area and history. He augmented the lighthouse story provided by our tour guide on our in-depth 45 minute tour. Paul went further than most, however, when he offered to put some of our pictures and possibly a link on the lighthouse website. The generosity of this gesture was highlighted by the fact that he only met us that day and had no prior knowledge about our expedition.

For the Great Ocean road grand finale, we stopped by the Longboard Winery where Matthew and his adorable daughter Lulu showed us around. Lulu accompanied us throughout the tour and it was easy to see how Lulu and Matthew spent their time together. It was almost as though we had become part of the family. During our three hour tour, Matthew, Lulu, and Matthew’s partner, Roger, showed us their estate, taught us about wine and wine making, discussed the current drought and the effect the drought had on the local wine industry. It was the most comprehensive wine tour I’ve ever been on. Despite walking into this winery knowing that the Longboard name was related to the surfboard, Matthew regaled us all with his in-depth knowledge about the history of surfing. Not only did he have surfing knowledge but also the personal connection to surfing. Many surfing greats have visited Longboard and sipped on a glass of wine with Matthew while trading surfing legends.

Needless to say, we will all remember the Great Ocean Road for the scenery and activities but the experience would not be as memorable if it were not for all of the kind, generous, and interesting people who we met while on the road. My dad always says “It never hurts to say hi.” The people of the Great Ocean Road prove that you never know who you will meet and what knowledge they will reveal.