Today was time for an adventure – we were off on a trip down Victoria’s glorious Great Ocean Road. It’s something I would recommend to anybody visiting Melbourne! In case you missed by previous Aussie posts, make sure you check out my arrival in Australia and see our journey around Melbourne if you’ve missed them.
The trip started when we were collected in a minibus from the gigantic Crown Casino, just across the road from our apartment. Our tour operator was a little company known as A Tour With A Difference and I would genuinely recommend them – a friendly, knowledgeable tour guide, plenty of stops, and unique in that they offer small bus tours, as opposed to a stifling coach crammed with fellow tourists.
First stop: Bells Beach!
Renowned as one of Australia’s most famous surf beaches and home to one of the biggest competitions in the surfing world, the photos don’t really do this incredible beach justice. It offered us perfect views to enjoy as we sampled some authentically Aussie morning tea – Lamington cakes (little chocolate covered sponge cakes sprinkled with desiccated coconut – to die for!), Vegemite on crackers, and Bush tea made from a billy can.
After a few snaps, we hopped back into the bus for our next proper stop: Lorne. The journey to Lorne was impressive in itself as we passed some incredible houses with even better views, the lighthouse from kids’ TV show ‘Around the Twist’ (remember!?), and some beautiful stretches of coastline.
Lorne itself is a small former fishing village, and is a really pretty place to stop off along the Great Ocean Road. It’s popular with backpackers and even has a few hostels if you’re interested in staying there.
And back on the road! We took a slight detour in an attempt to say hello to some rather sleepy koalas, but bumped into this fella instead…
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such pretty birds!
We headed back on the road and saw lots of beautiful coastal views whilst listening to some shark stories – not scary at all(!) – before stopping at a rainforest on the way.
Despite all feeling about nervous about the creatures lurking around, it was pretty educational. We saw the effects of bush fire and koalas that had destroyed eucalyptus trees.
… and learned that Aboriginees believed that walking through this tree improves your fertility (although not yet, thanks!)
After surviving a trek through the rainforest, it was time for the bit of the trip I was looking forward to the most – the Twelve Apostles!
Ok, so the Twelve Apostles may not actually be twelve any more – more like the Eight Apostles, thanks to a combination of erosion and fierce weather. It’s unsure how long the rest will be standing for, so try to see them as soon as you can!
As such icons of Australia, it was really exciting to see them at last. Even if we were surrounded by some unwanted company.
Our next stop was London Bridge. There’s a little story about this ‘bridge’. One day the two slabs of rock were joined together. Imagine the horror, then, of the two tourists who walked over onto the piece of rock at the end before the bridge crumbled into the sea, leaving them stranded!
Despite the rumours of the couple being celebrities, a duo having a secret affair and therefore being distraught to be discovered, it eventually turned out that they were just an Aussie couple who were terrified for their lives until they were rescued by helicopter!
On the other side of the beach, if you look carefully, you can see the tiny prints of little penguins who come and nestle on the beach after sunset. More about penguins tomorrow!
But for now, it was time for us to head back to Melbourne.
We enjoyed our last proper evening downtown by taking a stroll along the Yarra River, soaking up the sights. Cue rows of wealthy businessmen fine dining al fresco in the balmy night from one of the casino’s restaurants, with the city’s twinkling lights reflecting upon the windows.
An experience not to be missed are the torches alongside the river which simultaneously blast fire from their towers when it strikes on the hour. Expecting just a little flame, we nearly jumped out of our skins with the explosive roar it made before cracking up, but the flames were really impressive and very warm!
That’s it from me for today! Have you done the same trip? Or is it something you’d like to do? Let me know!