B: The most quintessential trip in Victoria is the Great Ocean Road. It’s a coastal drive heading west from Melbourne that takes anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on how many detours and pictures you want to take. We borrowed the car from Rhonda, Gabriella’s boss at the yoga studio, for a 3-day weekend out of the city. We had both been working hard and enjoying the city life for 3 solid months, but now was time to escape back into a natural setting and see more of what Australia has to offer.
We left on a sunny Friday morning and slid out of the metropolis towards Geelong. The first stop was in Torquay and the famous Bells Beach surf spot. This place holds an annual surf competition that’s known around the world. The water was quite frigid, but the surf was up and sprinkled with brave wave riders. Then we continued to Lorne and stopped for a fresh coffee in the quaint town.
G: It was hard not to stop every few minutes to pull over and take a picture, but we kept going until Kennett River. The guidebook recommended this spot as a great place to see koalas, and lucky for us, they were right! The little fuzz balls were dotted throughout the eucalyptus trees; some were even quite low so we could observe them up close. They don’t move too much, unless they’re hungry, and generally stay sitting within the V of tree branches. They don’t have nerve endings in their bum so they can sit there for hours!
Our drive continued along the narrow coastal highway until we stopped for the night in Apollo Bay. Since it was winter the days were shorter, and we didn’t get very far before the sun set. The weather was quite windy and brisk, so we found a quiet hostel and had a nice dinner inside before we retired for the night.
B: The next morning was a bit overcast and we got a late start on the road. Our first stop was at Maits Rest to do a short walk through a rainforest to see a giant 300-year-old Myrtle Beech tree. The air was fresh and the ferns were huge! Then we continued south to the Cape Otway Lighthouse. We didn’t plan to go up to the top because it’s quite expensive, but the road that deviates from the Great Ocean Road to the lighthouse is right through a koala forest. All along the road we were spotting koalas high up in the trees; some in pairs, others hanging out solo. At one point we got out and walked around to get a closer look and snapped some great photos. From Cape Otway, we stayed determined in getting to the main attraction: the Twelve Apostles.
G: The first site of the Twelve Apostles comes at Gibson Steps. From the car park, we walked down a narrow set of stairs etched into the side of a huge cliff leading down to the beach. The sea was rough and the wind was tearing right through us. Once on the beach, we could see around the corner to the mammoth sea rocks known as the Twelve Apostles. We didn’t stay long because we wanted a closer look at this amazing natural wonder.
The Twelve Apostles used to be part of a land bridge connecting mainland Australia to Tasmania. Now they are colossal rocks that are constantly getting battered by the wind and sea to form uniquely beautiful shapes and colors. These formations are dotted along the coast, but the biggest ones are called the Twelve Apostles. This is the main attraction and sometimes the only stop tourists make on the Great Ocean Road (what a pity!).
B: A few kilometers down the road are more beautiful sites to admire. We stopped at Loch Ard Gorge, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, and Bay of Islands. London Bridge isn’t actually a bridge anymore because it collapsed a few years back. As the story goes, there were two people on the other side when it fell and had to be rescued by helicopter! These are all amazing coastal sites only a short walk from the car park and MUCH less crowded than the Twelve Apostles. If you’re going to do the Great Ocean Road, you have to continue a bit further to see these places!
We stopped for the night in Port Campbell and found an empty hostel to stay in. The benefits of traveling in the off-season! Our only plan the next day was to travel straight back to Melbourne, so we took the opportunity to visit some of the amazing sites again, this time with different lighting. We took a slight detour on the way back and went north from Lavers Hill through Beech Forest instead of south through Glenaire. We did a quick walk to Triplet Falls, but it wasn’t too impressive. The beech forest was nice, but the road was quite winding and took longer than the previous route. Well worth it though!
One final stop before hitting the highway to Melbourne was at the Anglesea golf course. We heard it was a great place to see kangaroos feasting on the fresh green grass, and it certainly got that reputation for a reason. They were everywhere!
We made it back to Melbourne Sunday night after an awesome long weekend out of the city. It was refreshing to hit the road again and see what all the hype was all about. The Great Ocean Road is stunning and certainly one of the best drives I’ve ever done. You gotta go, mate!