One of the things that people expect to see when they go to Melbourne is the 12 Apostles. We have now been here for almost 3 months and only this past weekend did we have a chance to go. Good thing we did though because we had some fantastic weather – 24+ with plenty of sun and a nice breeze, what more could we ask for? Of course, what that meant was that we would be on the road with countless other tourists looking to spend a day or the weekend on the famous road as well. A fellow Vancouver-ite made it to Melbourne for the road trip with us from New Zealand. We made it a point to start the day early to deal with that though as we picked up the car at 8 in the morning and headed out of town by about 9.
The good thing about making this a weekend trip is that we had more time to explore and take in the sights. So much of my Europe traveling was done on such a short timeline that you just had to see something and go. We stopped by quite a few sites but by no means is this a comprehensive list. I’m sure that we missed a few and we will make a point to come back again one day to catch up. Anyway, on to our first top!
By the time we got to Lorne we were all very hungry. This stop was about 1.5 hours from Melbourne so it was about 10:30 already at this point and none of us had had any breakfast. The chorus of bag rustling in the car was a sign that we would have to stop for some real food soon. Lorne was a fair sized town with a strip of boutique stores, restaurants, and cafes to serve the weekend road trippers. We settled down at, “The Bottle of Milk” for some burgers and a coffee for me before heading off. Sometimes the fear of going to a restaurant in a tourist driven area is that you’ll end up with expensive cafeteria grade food but this was not the case. The burgers were flavorful and huge as well. Nothing to complain about and certainly miles better than your fast food options. They serve Seven Seeds coffee as well so that’s a plus. Definitely recommend this place as a stopping point for breakfast or lunch on the way.
Apollo Bay and Cape Otway
Our next stop was Cape Otway and the Apollo Bay. Cape Otway is famous in pictures for the lighthouse but ironically that is the one place we did not stop off at. It looked like you had to pay to get in and the sight wasn’t what we were looking for (we were much more keen to see the coast, the cliffs, and the sand instead). Instead, we did go into Cape Otway and saw something else amazing – wild koalas! It’s one thing to see them in captivity or in sanctuaries but here they just hang out on their favorite eucalyptus trees either eating or sleeping… or in our case, walking down a road full of cars. It was one of the most bizarre things that we have ever seen but it is not something I will easily forget. The lone walker literally stopped traffic as people just got out of their cars whilst they were in the middle of the road and started to snap pictures. Be proud, koala, be proud, you caused a traffic jam because of your fluffiness.
Doesn’t he remind you of Stitch? Oh and we saw some pretty cool horses as well.
By the time you get close to the twelve apostles, the famous sites all started to pop up within very close proximity to one another. Our next stop brought us to the 12 Apostles (well almost). The Gibson Steps is the first stop that you’ll want to make as you get close to the main attraction. This site was just beautiful. The waves came in hard but in an almost soothing rhythm. In the distance, you can see two stacks of rocks in the water as well which added to the appeal of being there (though, they are not considered part of the Apostles). The sand was fine, soft, and warm while the water was cold at first touch but almost felt luke warm by the time my legs adjusted.
Loch Ard Gorge
Not far from the steps is the Loch Ard Gorge. The viewpoints provide a neat perspective of the gorge but I think in order to really get the full impact of this site, you really need to descend to the beach level to view it from there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware as the sign said “< Loch Ard Gorge, Something Cave >”. Alas we didn’t go down to the cave but that was evidently where we were supposed to go. I can see this as being a site definitely worth spending some time at though so we’ll be sure to revisit this one next time.
The Twelve Apostles
This is what most people come to Melbourne and want to see. Though there weren’t twelve, the site of the apostles in the distance with the setting sun was… how do you describe it… it is one of those moments where you just want to take a deep breath and just take it in. This is going to sound somewhat old fashioned of me but it’s sights like this that make you think that the world is an amazing place. Anyway, the pictures below are what we saw. If I could compare the impact of this place to anywhere else I had been… I would say that this is equally as impressive as the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland and Victoria Falls in Zambia. There are no words that can explain a place like this. You just need to be here to experience it. The weather had gotten progressively colder as the day wore on and by sunset it was cold and very windy. But we stayed for sunset anyway and we were glad that we did.
The Arch, London Bridge, and the Bay of Islands
After a full night’s rest, we headed westwards about 10km’s before looping back inland to get back to Melbourne. The journey west of Port Campbell brought us to some historic sights such as the arch, London bridge, and the Bay of Islands. The pictures below will do the rest of the talking. The pictures were somewhat rushed though as the weather had taken a turn on us, sending temperatures of 7 degrees and extremely gusty wind our way.
After about 5-6 hours on the road, I was really looking forward to settling down for the night. We were absolutely exhausted from the driving, the sun, and the cold during sunset. We settled down for the night at the Parkview Motel in Port Campbell, a small town closest to the Great Ocean Road’s main stopping points. The accommodation was for an apartment/townhouse that was fully equipped with a kitchen, all necessary utensils, television, internet, and two bedrooms. It was a great place to just lay back, have a few cups of wine before turning in for the night. Greg and his wife take care of this place and they were very pleasant as well – though J might disagree as they gave her a great scare after jokingly saying that they had sold our room off after we had passed our check-in time. In all honesty, if you are looking for a place to stay on the Great Ocean Road and want to be near the main attractions, Port Campbell is a great option. From here, you can get to the Apostles in less than 10 minutes. Hard to go wrong with that.
How do you summarize a road trip like this? I love road trips to begin with and when you couple it with amazing natural sites, photography and most importantly great company, you have the makings of something very memorable. We will be coming back here again for sure.