This past week, I finally had the opportunity to check the Great Ocean Road off my bucket list. The Great Ocean Road is exactly what it sounds like, a road that goes along the ocean.
This road was actually extremely difficult to build, as it cut through such thick greenery and rocks. In fact, it took over 13 years to complete.
Our journey began very early on Wednesday morning. We were picked up near Flinders Street Station by the bus, which we soon found would be the slow, painful death of us. Essentially, we ended up with the worst collection of people-no offense, but I’m not kidding. There was a baby crying, a man who talked 10 times louder than necessary, a young girl who must’ve overdosed on sugar, a little boy who kept tossing his cookies, if you will, a guy who loved to hear himself talk and all of the above who were at least 10 minutes late to meet back at the bus after every stop, which made us about 2 hours late getting back home in the end. Even so, we had a stellar time exploring the history and nature on the coast.
Split Point Lighthouse
Our first stop was the Split Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1919, so it’s been here for quite some time. We didn’t stay here too long as we had a lot of other places to get to before the end of the day, but it was a short walk to the top of the hill for an incredible view [see picture above].
Before getting on the bus, our guide made coffee and tea, which we enjoyed with some cookies and biscuits-not a bad start to our morning.
Our second stop was at Memorial Arch, which I would describe as a big tourist spot. Essentially, it’s just a wooden arch that spans across the road saying, “Great Ocean Road,” that everyone feels the need to get their picture with.
We decided to pass on the line and head down to the foggy beach, where our guide drew out the rest of our plans for the day in the sand.
Anglesea & Lorne
Anglesea and Lorne are both cute, little coastal towns along the journey. We stopped here for a quick bathroom break and at a few viewpoints as well.
There isn’t much in these towns, but they would be ideal for a peaceful holiday away from the city.
For lunch, we stopped in Apollo Bay and enjoyed ourselves in a cafe style eatery. This was a good chance to socialize with some of the other people that came on the tour with us and was a fun pit stop. We met some backpackers, some europeans and even a fellow Wisconsinite, as well as this dog (my favorite new friend)!
We had some extra time after lunch and decided to use it to stop at what was described as the best ice cream shop in the world. They must’ve been right because the woman in front of us said that her doctor told her couldn’t have any sugar, so she came here the day before to get 2 scoops of sugar-free ice cream. After ordering the same as the day before, she looked at the cashier and told him he could fit one more scoop on there [retirement goals].
Great Otway National Park
After lunch, we headed to see some wildlife in the Great Otway National Park. Here, the birds would literally come and land on your open arms and the koalas were plenty.
In fact, in some places, there were so many koalas that the government would have to come and move them because they ate so much Eucalyptus that the forest was dying. I still can’t decide who is happier: the woman at the ice cream shop or those koalas.
We also went on a quick nature hike here through the rainforest. It wasn’t as scary as you may think, with the dangerous animals in this country, because most of them didn’t want to be in this forest as it was too damp. There weren’t even any wallabies here because the vines were so thick that there would have been no where for them to hop.
Gibson Steps & the 12 Apostles
The last few stops were some of my favorites because the waves crashing up against these rocky formations were so beautiful. The Twelve Apostles were formed by the very thing that led to some of their destruction: Erosion. I say twelve because there are actually only eight left standing.
Shipwreck Coast & Loch Ard Gorge
We stopped at Loch Ard Gorge along the Shipwreck Coast where a devastating shipwreck took place a long time ago, with only two people surviving. Here, you could enjoy the scene from an aerial view or walk down to the beach and explore the cave where the two survivors were lucky enough to be tossed into.
After heading down to the beach, our guide found a little treasure: a broken piece of glass from the tragedy that happened so long ago. He told us that he has found glass there before, and sometimes it looks new and sometimes old, but he was confident this piece was from the original shipwreck as it was eroded and you could see the double binding of the bottle, which they no longer make. It was really cool to see that history like this can still remain after all the tourists walking these paths daily.
Approximately 1.7 million people visit the Great Ocean Road each year, and I suggest you go before another one of the great apostles takes a tumble because it was a great experience filled with sights, tastes and experiences…..just make sure you check the guest list for your bus beforehand.
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