Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Take the Long Way Home; Ann Rickard Takes Two of the World's Top Scenic Drives

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Take the Long Way Home; Ann Rickard Takes Two of the World's Top Scenic Drives

Article excerpt

BIG Sur in California is one of the world's most breathtaking drives. But then so is the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

I'm lucky. I've done them both.

Big Sur is a 140-kilometre stretch of rugged, natural coastline between Carmel and San Simeon. It's an exhilarating, cliff-hugging ride of dramatic dips, exciting twists and scary bends.

With the mighty Pacific Ocean in all its raw beauty on one side and the Santa Lucia Range on the other, it's a drive to bring out the superlatives in all those who experience it.

Perhaps what strikes you most is the power of the ocean beating against ragged, rocky outcrops. It makes you feel insignificant and caused one writer to describe it as C[pounds sterling]paralysingly beautifulC[yen].

Big Sur's wild ocean backdrop, immense sky, merciless surf and thrilling bird and sea life have been the backdrop for many classic movies.

If you're old enough to have seen Play Misty for Me with Clint Eastwood (made in 1971) you will remember the windswept scenes of him walking Big Sur's untamed beaches with his girlfriend. The movie, a grim psychological thriller, was all the more exciting by the contrast of the alarming subject (stalking) against the stunning scenery.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton filmed The Sandpiper in this area and that unforgettable kiss on the beach in Hawaii between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster was actually shot at Big Sur.

But if windswept walks and passionate kisses on wild beaches are not your thing, just keep driving and looking out the window. It's breathtaking.

The curving, winding, dipping road takes you over the Bixby Creek Bridge through Andrew Molera State Park, past Jade Cove and through Lucia Plaskett, Mt Manuel, Pfeiffer Ridge, Post Summit and Cooper Point Co all picturesque locations, many with camping grounds and small accommodation options.

Do stop at San Simeon, a sweeping vista point, and home to big elephant seals. …

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