Monday, August 11, 2008

The View from the End of the World

The View from Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road

As I write this, we've just begun a 4 day end-of-tertianship retreat. Yes, you read that right, we're just about at the end of the line here. Less than two weeks. I've been crossing my fingers of late that I might fail for the course and be asked to repeat. However, the director (and my provincial) assure me that's not how this process works. I'm taking that as a personal challenge.

So, anyway, I probably won't be writing much this week. I'm hoping next week I can share just a few more really cool things about Australia, things I've grown to love.

But I did want to give one more little glance at the Great Ocean Road. Not far from all the green I put up yesterday is a little road that leads down to the Cape Otway Lighthouse. It's about 30kms out of the way of the main road, and I have to say I was really debating whether or not to make the trip. I was already about an hour over schedule, with less than a quarter tank of petrol in a car that had suddenly found its appetite for the fuel. Visions of being stranded in a friend's car with no gas on a road with few visitors on a rainy day suggested I should move on.

Plus, it's a lighthouse. I've seen lighthouses. I was at one just seven years ago with my parents and my Aunt Pat and Uncle Al in Maine. It was Ok, I guess. Had they changed in the intervening years? Was an Australian lighthouse going to be that different?

But in the back of my head, I could hear one of the other tertians, Michael Gilson, who had taken this road in the summer and told me repeatedly, I can't wait until you see that lighthouse.

I thought he had some lighthouse fetish, but Ok, forget my schedule, I took the turnoff and off we went.

Turns out, lighthouses are very cool. Or this one is, anyway. Here's the general view:

I know -- pretty typical. But then, here's the view to the left from the catwalk near the top of the lighthouse:

And to the right:

And, just to really mess with my head, the view down (100-105m/325-345 ft down):

Pretty fantastic, yeah? But it's the view straight out that really got me:

Maybe it's not all that impressive in a photo, but standing up there in the silence looking out on the ocean, it hits you, this is it. I'm standing at pretty much the end of the world. Drive just a little bit east on the Ocean Road and you might see nothing but ocean before you, but down past the horizon lies Tasmania and its whirling hordes of Tasmanian devils.
But go south from here, from the Cape Otway Lighthouse, and there's nothing ahead but the icebergs of Antarctica.

Quite a place to pause and have a little think.


Katie and Maeve said...

Forget America, perhaps you have found your new calling---writing travel guides! You definitely make me want to chuck it all and get on a plane to Australia.

Jim McDermott, SJ said...

Thanks, Katie. A Jesuit travel writer -- I like the sound of that...