Since arriving in Melbourne, Will and I always had the Great Ocean Road on our Melbourne bucket list, but it’s one of those things where you live in the city, so you can “go see it anytime”. We knew it was the opportune time to go check it out when my mom came to visit, and decided to make a day trip out of it! There are a great number of Great Ocean Road tours in Melbourne, and they’re all priced about the same with the same things/activities included, so we checked out a few and ended up going with an awesome one!
We had quite an early start, as the bus was picking us up at 7am, but we made it on time and had the sweetest tour guide in the world. He was so energetic, funny and so informative! He was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. :) Most of the tours take you down a certain route to show you the Great Ocean Road, starting with Torquay and goes all the way to the Port Campbell National Park and then heads back to the city. Our tour actually took the opposite route, taking us through some beautiful rural areas of Victoria and starting off with the Twelve Apostles (we got the most perfect lighting, as opposed to seeing them at sunset, when they’d be silhouetted) and taking us all the way down through the various cities and beaches. Because of the alternative route, we had about 2.5 hours before we’d see any actual sites, so we had a good amount of time to catch up on some sleep, and we stopped by a precious little town for some amazing coffee, pastries and caramel slices. Then, it was back on the road!
Before we knew it, we were at the Twelve Apostles! After pinning so many photos of this gorgeous place and gawking at its beauty online, I was blown away by just how magnificent it really was. Fun fact: there actually aren’t twelve ‘apostles’! (also, another fun fact: Cape Town has its own Twelve Apostles!) On our way to the walkway – not even 30 seconds in the ‘wild’, we saw our first snake!!! I think I was in a state of shock because I didn’t scream – but I definitely panicked when we returned 15 minutes later and it was gone. Ugh, #nope! Not only that, we heard a bit of commotion by a sign and saw a HUGE spider tucked in between the sign and the plexiglass covering it. #nopenope #ohaustralia! We headed off to see the rest of the beach and were just so in awe the entire time. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place!
Our next stop was to Loch Ard Gorge, a small enclosure/beach of sorts. It was named after a ship that wrecked there in 1878 called the Loch Ard, and only two people survived. There actually used to be an archway made out of the rock formations near that area as well, where people used to be able to walk over the arch, but it collapsed in 2009. The walk down was super steep (and the walk back up was no easy feat! – heh, I rhymed) but it was so worth it. The beach was beautiful, although the waves were quite rough. It also had a variety of caves and we’d love to go back and explore it more the next time we visit!
It was lunch time, and the tour provided us with some yummy lunch and treats! We walked down several flights of crazy steps called the Gibson Steps – again, so worth it. Just an hour or so prior, we saw people walking along the beach and were trying to figure out how they had gotten down there… and now we were there, looking from the bottom up at these magnificent rocks. I could almost liken it to the majestic mountains of Cape Town – but alas, I’m too biased to let anything be more beautiful than my beloved Mother City ;). It was truly beautiful, though – and even when I posted a photo of it on Instagram, I had to post a disclaimer saying it was totally real and not Photoshopped – even though it looked completely surreal!
We also had the privilege of being able to see some of the Otway rainforest, which was unbelievable. Some of the trees there were 1500 – 2000 years old, and were so tall, I almost had to bend all the way back to see the top! It was so cool to see a new side of Victoria and experience some wildlife/nature. It’s easy to get trapped in an urban bubble when you’re always living in the city and doing everything within it, so it was a wonderful change of scenery. We had some more time to nap as we made our way to our first beach: Apollo Bay! We were able to spend some time walking along the beach and getting coffee or ice cream. My mom and I opted for some gelato and they had a Vegemite flavor – eeeek. My mom tried it and was not impressed, LOL. Apollo Bay seemed so laidback and it was really a beautiful stretch of beach. The weather was a little crazy that day (#melbourneproblems), so we refrained from swimming or even putting our feet in the water, but it was beautiful to look at. :)
We also had a pit stop and saw some wild koalas in eucalyptus trees, made some cockatoo friends and even saw kookaburras! I was especially excited because I had always wanted to see a kookaburra in the wild – I’ve always heard them (they sound like laughing monkeys), but never saw them. They were so cute :)
We got to check out the famous Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch in Eastern View, which was created in 1939, and has since been rebuilt two more times but the original sign is the same! We made our way through several other beach towns, like Lorne, Anglesea and the famed Torquay, where we stopped for dinner. Fun fact(s) about Torquay: it is home to the famed Bells Beach, where several surf competitions are held throughout the year and is the birthplace of famous surf companies, Rip Curl and Quiksilver. It was quite cold by this time, but we were able to witness the most gorgeous sunset and enjoy the last bit of our day! We didn’t get a chance to walk along Torquay’s beach, but we’d love to check it out again one day – perhaps even return for some surfing lessons or to check out a surf competition! :)
If you’re planning on visiting Melbourne (or Victoria in general), please make sure you plan a day for the Great Ocean Road – you will not regret it. It’s such a magnificent and beautiful place – neverending mountains/rocks, constant rolling waves and such awesome wildlife! We had such a wonderful day with some pretty epic photos to remember it. :) we hope to return very, very soon!