While it is currently raining and cold here in Wiesbaden Germany, I can’t help to think about the last summer trip I had in Australia. I truly had a great time (and tan) exploring the ‘Land Down Under’.
During my trip, I went around the East Coast and one of my stops is Melbourne. Melbourne is a beautiful city. I can actually say that this is one of my favorite cities to date (I can live there). If you are on a holiday though, you don’t want to explore just the city, specially if you have enough time to go on an adventure around the state. Victoria is such a huge state and you can actually do a day trip to one of its famous tourist attractions. Driving around The Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is considered as one of Australia’s famous scenic route (if not the most). Aside from its beautiful sceneries (coastlines, villages and rainforests), the Great Ocean Road is also known for its history and cultural significance.
Before flying to Melbourne from the Gold Coast, a lot of the people I met (even my Aunt, whom I stayed with) told me the I should do the Great Ocean Road and visit The Twelve Apostles in particular. —- and I took their notes with me.
I got so excited that for this trip, I was in touched with AAT Kings and partnered with them to experience this amazing day tour. With my lack of research (hahaha), I thought that the Great Ocean Road is just a road that will head down to the famous Twelve Apostles. Only when I was browsing the brochure from AAT Kings did I know that, the Twelve Apostles is just one stop in this whole adventure day. Knowing this, I got really excited and can’t hardly wait till we hit the road.
Because I was not staying in hotel/hostel, I was scheduled to be picked up at Federation Square (Corner of Flinders & Russell Streets) around 7:45 in the morning. But if you are staying in a hotel, the bus can pick you up so you don’t need to travel to Fed Square.
My train arrived a little bit early at the Flinder Station (Melbourne CBD) so I decided to do a little walk and get a coffee and something to eat while I waited for my pick-up. During my first day in Melbourne, I stayed at the United Backpackers Hostel, so I kinda know the area. There is a cute little street where you can find specialty cafes (yheap Melbourne is famous for that—if you still don’t have any idea). So I thought of trying one of its cafes.
I headed on to Degraves St and went to this cafe called Issus and tried breakfast takeaway offer. I had their egg and bacon muffin + coffee for only 5 aud. It is not actually the best looking muffin, but it did fill my belly before we start the tour. The coffee was amazing though (as expected).
When I arrived at Fed Square, our bus was already waiting for people to board. I was the first one to hop in and I was able to get a seat near the driver. Although, you really don’t need to be near him to hear what he will say (mics and speaker–duh). The only thing that I haven’t really thought about was which side to seat on. I learned my mistake when we started moving. You see, I sat down at the right side of the bus (if you are facing the driver). The ideal side should be at the left side. If you are seating on this side, you’ll get a good view of the Great Ocean Road’s coastlines, and it isn’t called the ‘Ocean Road’ for nothing. Oh well, I just settled on always turning my neck whenever a beautiful coastline pops in.
The first part of the tour is actually a quick tour around Melbourne’s CBD. For someone who haven’t really toured around the city, the view from the bus (including some commentary from the driver guide) can be very interesting. I have been in Melbourne for a few days already before I took this tour and amazingly, there are still a lot of places that I haven’t been to.
Once we left Melbourne’s CBD and the cityscape slowly transformed into beautiful landscapes, you can feel that the excitement started to build up.
We had our first stop at Airey’s Pub to do an early stretch and also try some of their pastries (also a good time to talk with other people who are part of the group). I already had food but I thought of getting a donut and a coffee just to get the whole day trip experience (for this review). It cost me a total of 7.50 aud for the whole snack. After 15min. break we headed on the road and traverse the zigzaggy coastline.
Our driver guide’s name is Steve and he is AMAZING! He knows everything about this road and gave us useful (and fun) information which made the long journey entertaining.
We had a quick stop and a photo op at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch which is a tribute to the World War 1 servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road. It also served as a sign that you are now driving on the Great Ocean Road.
We did another stop at Cape Patton, which serves as a lookout point. The view is spectacular. Thinking that we are at the edge of Australia is surreal.
We drove pass a little seaside town called Lorne which according to Steve, a popular holiday spot to a lot of people in Victoria. I cant really imagine why not. You got an awesome beach and that is quite enough.
Alas, after hours of driving, we arrived at the Apollo Bay where we can grab our lunch. Lunch was not included in the tour but we are provided an ample time to get some proper lunch. Also, Apollo Bay is surrounded with different restaurants that offers several kinds of fish and chips (haha). Well, I have been craving some good fish and chips even before I left for Dubai, something that will remind me of my visit in Northern Ireland, so the idea of having one for lunch isn’t bad at all. My only concern was how much will it be. Looking at the place, it surely caters mainly to tourist so I was expecting it to be very pricey. Surprisingly a plate of fish and chips only cost 10 aud at George’s Foodcourt. It was not the best fish and chips though, but it did satisfy a craving.
After lunch we went straight to what is considered as the main event, THE TWELVE APOSTLES. Before reaching the lookout points, we did a little bit of walking so be sure to have your sunblock lotion ready if you are visiting during summer time (I did). The whole walk to the lookout made the view more dramatic. The Twelve Apostles (limestone stacks) is so beautiful. Just the site alone is worth the long drive.
To simply put it, The Twelve Apostles are eight stacks of limestone (initially 9 stacks before 1 collapsed last 2005) formed through erosion. Although they are not really 12, it was named as such for tourism purposes
Here’s how they got formed:
- Limestone got eroded and formed caves in the cliff
- Caves formed arches
- Arches collapsed and left rock stacks
- TADA….you have your Twelve Apostles!
The only thing that I didn’t enjoy at the Twelve Apostles lookout are the amount of tourists who were there. It was so hard to move and to really get a good solo shot. But like most famous tourist destinations, this has been an on going struggle (and I am also a tourist, so who am I to complain?) Also, because we were on a bus tour, we have to abide with the time. We were given 45 minutes and somehow I felt as if it was not enough —– yeah, I was left by the bus hahaha! But, Steve came back after dropping other people from the group to the next stop (which is not too far from where I was). Note: After this, I was never late in any tour groups that I was in.
Our next stop was the Loch Ard Gorge. During our stop we have an option to walk down the beach or go to the lookout on the eastern side of the gorge. I opted to go down and experience the beach. I love that I chose this, the view is impeccable. Crystal blue water and limestone cliffs. PERFECT. Aside from its amazing views, the Loch Ard Gorge is the location of Victorias most famous shipwreck. (know the Loch Ard Gorge history here)
After several site stops, our next destination was Port Campbell. A colorful lively village where we had an option to grab a snack (ICECREAM!!), toilet breaks or just enjoy the coastal view. I sat under the shade and as cliche as it may sound, I took my time to appreciate the surroundings. The day was full packed and this stop for me felt necessary just to take everything in and relax.
Now time for our last stop. We had a short stop at the London Bridge. Just like the Twelve Apostles, this is a land formed by limestone erosion. I think it is on its way to become part of the Twelve Apostles. It had actually a bridge that was connected to the main land but last 1990 the bridge collapsed.
We arrived back in Melbourne’s CBD around 8:30 pm and I got out of the bus at 9pm as we have to drop off everyone else and the Federation Square was the last stop. I must admit I felt tired after a full day of touring around. I can say that I think the trip is too much to be compacted in a day but I can’t think of any parts that should also be removed (maybe just old age talking). So I guess one tip I can give you is to have a good rest first if you have this trip booked for the next day.
To those of you who are visiting the state of Victoria I would highly suggest doing this trip. AAT Kings also have several trips that cover the Great Ocean Road with other tourist sites (normally 2 -3 days trip). They were so helpful and accommodating when I was booking for this trip. AAT Kings know their Australia and will surely help you find the best trip based on what you are looking for.
I also partnered with AAT Kings during my stay in Sydney. Will keep you posted once I have this on the blog.
If you don’t fancy going on a tour, you can also drive around the coast to visit the Great Ocean Road. Being prepared when doing a big road trip is very important so If you’re looking for some quality 4×4 accessories for your four-wheel drive, why not check out Lifestyle 4×4.
To book this trip check out these information
w/in Australia: 1300 228 546
Outside: +61 2 9028 51822