I’ve been wanting to visit The Great Ocean Road since I was a young child and now that I’ve been living in Melbourne, I thought it was about time to see what all the fuss was about. My good friend, Erica had also come over from the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand) to experience Australia for the first time. The stars had aligned and it was time for a good old fashioned road trip!
We were incredibly excited as we drove out on the highway in our zippy little rental car. Within the first 10 minutes it quickly became evident that although I do have many talents such as being the resident car DJ and ‘would you rather’ question spinner, navigation was not a skill I possessed. Luckily modern technology saved the day (thank you Google Maps) and we were back on the right direction towards the winding coast.
The drive to The Great Ocean Road is a stark contrast from the hustle and bustle of the urban wonderland that is Melbourne. As soon as we left the city and found rolling green hills on either side of the highway, we felt a huge sigh of relief that nature brings when you’ve been cramped up among concrete buildings everyday.
We passed many beautiful towns along the way, each with it’s own unique personality and style. Bells Beach is a salty, surfing village that prides itself on it’s waves and surfing competitions. Although we only stopped briefly for a quick coffee, you can’t escape the laid back coastal personality of the place, with Quick Silver logo’s and surfboard shops sprawling along the main road, you expect to see Kelly Slater at any moment. Although I’m not a surfer (I haven’t touched a surfboard since I was 14) I think this place would make for an epic long weekend holiday spot to chill by the beach, watch some great surfing and drink some cold beers as the sun sets.
By the time we arrived at the Apostles the sun was starting to make it’s way towards to horizon. The scenery had changed to one of rugged wilderness as we followed our way along the harsh yet beautiful coastline. The land was flat with clumps of bushes and wildflowers growing amongst red sandy soil. As we drove we would catch glimpses of jagged cliff edges high above the crashing greyish blue ocean. The wind howled against the shore and the sky grew golden against the burnt orange cliffs.
The drive had made us weary but our spirits were high as we parked and made our way to the famous 12 Apostles lookout. These beautiful limestone peaks rise around 50 meters out of the wild ocean and are amazing to see. We found lines of tourists walking along the lookouts to view these natural giants against the sound of the raging ocean beneath. Sitting against the highest lookout and peering over the safety rail, you can see just how treacherous Mother Nature could be. The history of ships sailing against this part of Australia has not been a positive one, with sunken shipwrecks playing a large part in the Great Ocean Roads history.
As we made our way to our hostel we really felt gratitude for the experience and we wore large grins on our sleepy faces. Erica had driven us for around 6 hours and we were well and truly exhausted from the journey. Our hair was messy from the salty wind and our bellies were hungry. The Port Campbell Hostel was our home away from home for the night and we felt completely welcomed by the lovely couple who manage it. After several beers and home made pizza our long day came to an end.
The second day was full of more car karaoke, shit talking and photo stops. I even managed to squeeze in a little yoga (of course). The last highlight of our journey was the Loch ard Gorge which was located just a quick 5minutes drive down the road from the 12 Apostles. This place was just as stunning as the previous tourist destination, without the tourists! This is a must for those of you who haven’t yet traveled to the GOR.
We didn’t see another soul as we made our way around the lookouts of more giant cliff edges and crashing waves. These limestone caves and bridges are natural sculptures with bands of colour subtly blending across the rocky surface; sandy beige, warm copper and bronze bleeding into earthy reds with greyish blue and lush greens where tufts of grass grow sporadically from the crumbling surface.
Although Erica and I only had a short visit to the beautiful stretch of coastline that is The Great Ocean Road, we loved every minute and will definitely need to re visit.
Have you been to this part of Australia before? I’d love to hear other peoples stories of micro or macro adventures around Victoria, Australia.