Great Ocean Road
Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
123Trip End Feb 27, 2006
I saw a few people who I recognised from the Phillip Island trip, although we had a different guide this time
After an hours drive, we reached Torquay where we stopped for morning tea. However, I chose to bypass the free tea and biscuits as we only had half an hour, and I wanted to walk along the golden beach. I've been lucky again with the weather, as the sky was blue and there weren't any clouds to be seen.
Back on the coach, I got talking to David, a really nice, smiley Italian guy who had some amazing photographs to show. He was only in Oz for a few weeks, but his snaps of Sydney were very impressive, and they gave me some ideas for when I am there in February.
We had a quick stop at Bells Beach, which is famous for surfing, and was featured in the Patrick Swayze 'classic' Point Break. These short photo opportunity stops became a feature of the day. Ideally, I'd have loved to have taken a few days to travel along the Road and explored the many picturesque areas in more depth
Soon after Bells Beach, we drove under the sign that welcomed us to the Great Ocean Road. Sure enough, the scenery was stunning for the hour or so before our next stop, as we hugged the coastline. Looking down the steep cliff faces, I could see the gorgeous green water and yellow sand, as well as the strange rock formations that were common throughout. It was similar to the wild, west coast of New Zealand, but the beaches probably made it an even more scenic stretch of land.
Brian told us to be on the lookout for koalas, and eventually we spotted a few, so we stopped for 10-15 minutes to get a closer look. A couple of them were quite active by koala standards, and a quick rummage through the bush provided some good sightings that surpassed the ones at the Conservation Centre.
More stops followed, before we reached Apollo Bay just after midday. We stayed there for over an hour, and it was nice to be able to relax on the beach and take in the surroundings. It felt quite warm, and it reminded me of the good old days in Mount Maunganui, pre-packhouse when I used to chill out on the beach for hours
The hour or so after this lunch stop involved heading in land, through the rainforests of the Otway Ranges. A lot of people saw this time as opportunity for a nap, and I must admit the sea air did have an effect on me, but I resisted and chose to talk football with David instead.
The highlight of the trip came when we emerged from the rainforests, and rejoined the coast. The Twelve Apostles are one of the best known attractions in Victoria, and the tall rocky stacks grace the front cover of my Lonely Planet book. We spent 45 minutes admiring them, walking along the boardwalks for better views. I asked David to take a picture of me with them in the background, and he took forever as he moved around to get the best angle...a real pro! I do like the photo though, and it was worth being stared at by the people who couldn't pass until it had been taken.
Next up was Loch Ard Gorge, named after the ship that crashed into the rocks there in 1878. David and me did the 3 short walks that gave the best views, and just after completing the last one I bumped into Kim again! I knew she was doing the Great Ocean Road trip with a different company, and I had a feeling that I'd see her at some stage along the route
We had a final refreshment break after this, and a last chance to purchase souvenirs before we set off on the journey back to Melbourne. Our last photo opportunity came at London Bridge, so called because it is an arched rock formation that once shared an uncanny resemblance to, erm, London Bridge...until part of it collapsed in 1990! The nursery rhyme proved to be accurate in this instance.
It was close to 5.30pm at this point, and the sun was beginning to set. We travelled back to Melbourne on a more direct road, completing a loop of over 500km for the day. It certainly had been a long one by the time I got back to the hostel at 8pm, but it was great to get out of the city and see some of Australia's world famous scenery.
The Great Ocean Road had more than lived up to expectations.