For a huge country like Australia, it’s not surprising that it has almost everything from mountains to gorges and deserts to beaches. I know that our Melbourne trip won’t be complete without a drive along the Great Ocean Road. In fact, it was the reason why we flew to Melbourne. And it didn’t disappoint us considering that we saw just a part of it.
We only covered half of it, actually. From Melbourne CBD, we joined the tour all the way to Port Campbell and back for only $95. The tour was from 7:00am until 8:00pm and they picked us up and dropped us at Federation Square, which is near our hotel. This was a bargain compared to the $120 package of most arranged tours. Check Otway Discovery Tour for updated rates. (I just checked and their current price is $99). Snacks and lunch were provided.
After around 2 hours on the road, our first stop was the coastal town of Lorne for some tea and biscuits. And with a view like the photo below, I have to say it was the best cup of tea I had so far.
Not far from Lorne is a viewpoint (sorry, I forgot the name) where we stopped for a few minutes to admire this view:
A friend once told me that the Great Ocean Road was really amazing but it makes you a bit desensitized after driving along it for hours with coastal view after another. It gets repetitive, somehow. But for me, a repetition of beautiful views like this is an experience that I don’t mind. This is my kind of monotony. ;)
We also had the opportunity to hand-feed some birds at one of the stops. It was a bit frightening at first because they flocked as soon as we showed the seeds on our hands. But surprisingly, they didn’t leave any scratch (or poop) on us. They were lovely!
After feeding the birds, it was time to feed ourselves. We had a barbie (Aussie slang for barbecue) at Cape Otway. But before that, we stopped along the Cape Otway Road to spot some wild koalas. I think we’ve seen at least 20 and some were really close to the road. Of course, this is the best way to have an encounter with one of Australia’s favorite animals.
The lighthouse above is Australia’s oldest, operational lighthouse which guided sailors since 1848. There is a lovely, traditional café in the area. We climbed up the station and the view from there was spectacular–endless blue water met by the sky’s lighter shade. But it was too windy that I seriously thought I would’ve been blown away if I didn’t hold on the rails.
Another hour on the road, we reached the famous 12 apostles.
A disclaimer: although it’s called 12 Apostles, there are only 9 of these limestone towers. But for tourism purposes, its original name of Sow and Piglets was replaced with 12 Apostles in 1922. The remaining stacks are continuously being eroded.
Close to the 12 Apostles is the Loch Ard Gorge. Like the 12 Apostles, this gorge is also part of the Port Campbell National Park. It very much reminded me of the movie The Beach but with harsher waves (perhaps because of the windy weather that day). It was secluded and like most secluded places, it was stunning!
And it was even more stunning when you go down a few steps towards the beach. There were also interesting formations in front of the caves near it.
After spending around 30 minutes on this beach, we then drove for a while to Gibson steps to get closer to 2 of the apostles. This is also part of the national park and was the last stop of the tour before we headed back to Melbourne.
The 12 Apostles, including the sites along the Great Ocean Road, is one of those places that you really have to see, like postcard views that came to life. Standing on the cliffs, I felt like I was at the end of the world and about to enter a new one if I jump off. Grand adjectives are short of describing the beauty that I’ve seen there. It’s nature’s work and it’s still working. And I’m grateful for being part of it.