ON THE bulging turn around Mt Defiance, a big blue bus dances madly to the left, where the road drops away to the ocean. A ute has come around fast and blind and on the wrong side of the road.
The Sunday Age, following the bus, also makes a sudden swing towards the sea to avoid the ute. On the return trip we notice a large boulder that has broken away from the towering cliff face - and perhaps this was what caused the ute to veer wildly.
Or maybe the driver was an idiot distracted by the view.
It's not a busy day on the Great Ocean Road, but the professional drivers hauling tourists from Melbourne to the Twelve Apostles and back again know well to keep a watchful eye for distracted and weary tourists.
Jiri Haureljuk, operations manger with Wildlife Tours, was filling in for a sick driver. He said the company made a point of telling their drivers ''to keep their eyes on the road and not on the ocean. Because it can be a struggle not to get distracted by the view.''
Mr Haureljuk had stopped for lunch at Apollo Bay with 24 passengers in a mini-bus. Just before coming into town, he had narrowly missed colliding with a car on a bend. ''The driver was going too fast but also was taking pictures and he was veering off the road.''
Mr Haureljuk named the stretch between Kennet River and Skenes Creek as the ''scariest'' because the road was narrow, with lots of bends, and drivers seemed to take the 80 kilometre an hour speed limit as the speed to sit upon. ''They come flying into a bend that suddenly slows to 30 kilometres an hour,'' he says.
Joe Giacobello was also lunching in Apollo Bay. He was the driver of the blue bus that almost took out the errant ute at Mt Defiance.
''He would have come off second best,'' he says.
Mr Giacobello, who has driven the route for nine years, said the tour company, AAT Kings, restricted their drivers to one or two trips along the Great Ocean Road per week. ''They are 14 hour days and you have to pay attention every minute,'' he said.
As for road conditions, he said they worsened west of Apollo Bay, where a slippery surface was hazardous for drivers not paying attention.
His colleague Colin Lobley, a 15-year veteran of the road, had photographs on his iPhone of a mini-bus - driven by a professional driver - that had gone off the road near Lavers Hill.
''Some tour companies bringing drivers from overseas who aren't used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, don't know how to use the turn-outs [lanes where slower vehicles are meant to stop and allow the faster vehicles to pass] and just don't know the road at all,'' he said.
Mr Lobley said maintenance of the road tended to follow an accident. ''But you'd have to say a big issue is drivers underestimating the demands of the road. It's long and windy and turning. You have to pace yourself.''
Simon Greenland of Melbourne Private Tours was ferrying five Malaysians to the Twelve Apostles in a luxury SUV. He's driven the road a thousand times ''at least'' and regards the stretch between Lorne and Apollo Bay as a ''high crash site for motorbikes''.
There were days when he had been held up for hours because of a fatality.
Mr Greenland was also concerned that cyclists use the road as a training ground, and there simply wasn't enough room for them to do so safely. ''It's too narrow and they shouldn't be here.''