In case you are wondering, I saved the Great Ocean Road for the last road trip during this visit to Melbourne. Like… How can I miss going on the Great Ocean Road when in this part of Australia, right? 😜
[Melbourne | Australia June & July 2016]
4 July 2016
Vertue Coffee Roasters, Melbourne Museum & Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Jimmy Grants & Gelato Messina
Since the buddies had been on the Great Ocean Road before, I found from online reviews and signed up for a one-day quiet trip out with Melbourne Coastal Tours. There were another eight or ten people in the group, not including the guide and driver so, I am not able to call this a solo trip. Hehehe…
For me, it was the most convenient to meet the driver and guide in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the buddies’ apartment. And, it was pretty surreal to wake up to a quiet street in Melbourne CBD that morning and also see the Cathedral and Flinders Street Station in a different light while waiting for the pickup.
After picking up everyone else on the same tour that morning, we went on our way onto the Great Ocean Road and a complimentary morning tea at Anglesea Information Centre before arriving at the Memorial Archway, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road of course!
This arch commemorates the building of the Great Ocean Road as a memorial to Victorians who served in the First World War between 1914-1918. However, the one we were looking at is the third arch. The original was erected in 1939 and replaced in 1973 when the road was widened. On 16 Feb 1983, the Ash Wednesday fires destroyed the second arch.
And, we were also supposed to take a quick walk down to the beach that morning if not for the rain that started after we left Angelsea. Everyone took a quick photo of/with the Memorial Arch and returned to the vehicle to hide away from the rain.
Talking about rain, I received an email confirmation of the tour together with a reminder that the weather forecast had it that it will be mostly cloudy that day and a recommendation to bring along a raincoat or poncho. But of course, I heeded nothing from the advice and was wondering how drenched I will be at the end of the day as we move along…
If you were to ask me, I personally prefer free and easy holidays and having full control of my itinerary and time as much as possible instead of joining tours. But, I have to admit that it is on guided tours that you learn more of a place from a local guide than travelling and researching on your own just like this random roadside scene.
The guide explained that a forest fire tore through the area, destroying the forest, towns and homes the year before and the forest didn’t manage to recover since then. That’s why the trees along the road for a big part of our journey on the Great Ocean Road that day looked dry, charred and lifeless.
Next stop, Teddy’s Lookout! Thank goodness there was a short break between downpours and, we managed to get a spectacular view of the ocean that the lookout offers as the many other lookouts along the Great Ocean Road.
The rainforest walk, part of the Great Otway National Park, was officially opened in March 1993. It is named after the district’s first forestry officer, Maitland Bryan, who would rest his horse near this location on his regular patrol from Apollo Bay to Hordenvale from around the time of the First World War and for many years afterwards.
Do stay on the 800m boardwalk or designated walking path on the circuit and avoid trampling on tree-fern gullies and moss-covered roots of ancient rainforest trees to protect them while you enjoy the unique forest views! 😊
We stopped by Kennett River to see the koalas and king parrots after the rainforest walk. It was effortless to spot them between the trees and no wonder it is one of the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road to spot the native animals.
Fun fact: The koalas don’t have much energy and spend their time curled up and dozing in the branches when they are not feasting on eucalyptus leaves up to 18 hours a day! So just look around for a furball on the branches when you are down at Kennett River next time!
I will not be able to imagine someone who will not like to stand perched up at a lookout but, too bad it was raining and very windy, and no one wanted to stay outside the vehicle for too long, so we took a brief stop and left.
Talking about the rain and chill, it was thoughtful of the guide to ensure that there are ample toilet breaks (especially on a cold rainy day) or made an extra stop at Lavers Hill before we finally arrived at Apollo Bay for lunch.
There were no other pictures because trust me, I spent the whole time in the public washroom trying to dry up from the rain. And, good thing I had enough time to grab a quick bite and hot coffee to warm up and a fridge magnet for a souvenir before we went on towards Port Campbell National Park. The National Park is home to Little Penguins, the Short-tailed Shearwaters and also where the main highlights of the Great Ocean Road like the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge are located.
We made our way down to the beach via the steps (86 in total according to Visit Melbourne) that were carved into the face of the 70-meter high cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson, who worked on the route which was originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people.
Everyone was either silent and enjoying the view and experience in awe or, the quiet conversations were engulfed with roaring sounds of the wind and waves that hit the beach. Yes, the wind and waves are loud enough we don’t even hear the seagulls too…
We seriously thought our guide was joking when she told us we should take a walk over to the Twelve Apostles after Gibson Steps until we arrived at the Twelve Apostle’s visitor facility barely before we settled into our seats. Hahaha…
The forces of nature had gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs which became arches and rock islands when the arches collapsed. There were 12 apostles, hence the name of the sight, when they were discovered but only seven or eight apostles remaining when we visited.
You can get a good view of the Apostles from the viewing platform, a short walk through the tunnel from the Twelve Apostles Centre where you can get insightful the cultural heritage stories. But, it gets crowded, especially during dusk and dawn, so take note of your safety, and you should probably hang on tight to your cameras while trying to get that postcard shot.
There are three easy walks at the gorge that requires approximately one hour for each or two or three hours if you intend to see them all with signages along the walks that tell the story of the shipwreck and little love story of Loch Ard.
TLDR: Loch Ard Gorge was named after the clipper Loch Ard, wrecked here in 1878. The area has since become famous for its coastal scenery.
Anyways, the coast between Cape Otway to Port Fairy has seen some 700 shipwrecks since way before from historical times that’s why the coastline of Port Campbell National Park is also nicknamed Shipwreck Coast. And you are interested, the Flagstaff Maritime Museum in Warrnambool is a must to visit for more stories of the dramatic history of the coastline.
The Razorback is side by side the Loch Ard Gorge and our guide told us we could walk over on our own. I was entranced by the wind roaring in my ears and looking at the waves crashing on the cliffs as I walked down the trail and forgot to look out for the rock formation. Otherwise, I am battled and starting to zone out as the day was coming to an end…
More posts from Melbourne | Australia June & July 2016 travelogue series:
- Red Spice QV, Om Nom & Fancy Hank’s | Melbourne, Australia
- Yarra Valley, Healesvilles & Marysville | Victoria, Australia
- Lake Mountain Resort and Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden | Marysville, Victoria, Australia
- Cafe Carpenter & Gukbab | Malvern East & Melbourne, Australia
- Fingal, Sorrento, Dromana & Shoreham | Victoria, Australia
- Hammer & Tong, Federation Square & ACMI, Belleville, N2 Gelato and Campari House | Melbourne, Australia
- Operator 25, Shrine of Remembrance, Royal Botanic Gardens, Yarra River & St. Paul’s Cathedral | Melbourne, Australia
- Breakfast Thieves, Rose Street Artists’ Market, Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam and Yarra River + Gas Brigades Fire Show | Melbourne, Australia
- Manchester Press, Market Lane Coffee and St. Kilda Beach & Breakwater| Melbourne, Australia
- Vertue Coffee Roasters, Melbourne Museum & Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Jimmy Grants and Gelato Messina | Melbourne, Australia
- Great Ocean Road | Victoria, Australia
- South Melbourne Market, State Library Victoria, Docklands Winter Fireworks 2016 and Cafes | Melbourne, Australia
- Collingwood Children’s Farm & Farmers’ Market, Flagstaff Gardens and Brick Lane Melbourne | Melbourne, Australia