Mini Guide: The Great Ocean Road Tour

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road…it’s pretty great actually.  I didn’t want to do this tour initially because it was a whole day activity. I felt it would be a waste of our precious time and would take a huge chunk out of our very short 5-day stay in Melbourne.  And to think that one day is actually the shortest time you can spend touring this coastline! Surprise, surprise!  We did enjoy the tour because, like I said, it was pretty GREEAAT.  Good choice of word to describe this long stretch of road that spans a total of 243 kilometers with the most picturesque Victorian coastline as backdrop or view.

TIP: The best way to experience the Great Ocean Road is to rent a car.  It’s a long scenic drive but with dangerous cliffs here and there so it’s advisable to have at least 2 drivers in the group who can take turns when one gets tired.




Coming from the Philippines and driving in Australia, there is a bit of a learning curve as we’re accustomed to driving on the right side of the road with a left hand drive vehicle which is the opposite in Australia.  If it’s your first time driving with a right hand vehicle in an unfamiliar and a bit challenging zigzag road, think twice or better yet, just join an organized tour where you can sit down and relax while enjoying gorgeous views that change from sea to mountain in a matter of minutes.  And that we did.

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All ten of us were up and about as early as 7am for the bus pick-up.  Together with other people, we were on our way to the Great Ocean Road by 9am.

TORQUAY

The Tour starts at the birthplace of surf companies Rip Curl and Quicksilver.   Tea, coffee and cakes were served at a park overlooking the coastline of Torquay.  It was also the perfect time to get to know fellow tourists.  We were 24 in total and the Philippines was very well represented as there were 10 of us in the bus.  We also had on board Americans, mother & daughter from Shanghai, a couple also from China, and a fellow from Queensland, Australia.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

We had half an hour to mingle and explore this coastal town.  Torquay is all about the surf.  Even in the cold, people still surf.  And the waves here are pretty epic and the view quite breathtaking.

The Great Ocean Road Torquay

See also: Bells Beach, Anglesea and the Great Otway National Park

GREAT OCEAN MEMORIAL ARCH

Just a 10-minute photo opportunity at the memorial arch and we didn’t waste our chance to get all possible angles.

The Great Ocean Road

 

GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK & MAIT’S FOREST

We visited a portion of the National Park where koalas are especially abundant.  We saw some high up in the trees sleeping.  It makes you wonder how they can balance their weight even on thin branches.  All they do is sleep and eat actually.  They’re like pandas.

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But what surprised us was the number of parrots and cockatoos in the area.  It was such a fun experience for the kids and a bit scary for little children who may find these lovely feathered creatures quite aggressive.

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We also took a stroll (It was actually quite a stroll) at Mait’s Rainforest and discovered that Eucalyptus trees are the second tallest trees in the world, Redwood being the tallest which can be found in the US.
The Great Ocean Road Eucalyptus

Mait's Rainforest
That’s Michelle, our Guide from GoWest Tours.

The Great Ocean Road

 

LORNE

Too bad we only passed by this beautiful town of Lorne.  Small and quite charming.  According to our guide, this town comes alive during summer when all accommodations are almost always fully booked. Rich people have vacation houses here, too.  It’s like a small European village meets hipster California.

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The Great Ocean Road Lorne

Wish we had time to have coffee.

 

APOLLO BAY

Our lunch stop is in the town of Apollo Bay.  By the way, lunch is included in the tour and it was simple Thai food at a local cafe.  Meals were served in disposable containers without drinks.  Not what we expected but it was filling.  Since we were following a schedule, we didn’t get to explore the shops nor the marina.  We were given just enough time to have lunch and get some ice cream.

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Thai lunch at a local cafe in Apollo Bay

 

12 APOSTLES

Back on the road, our next stop and highlight of our tour was the magnificent Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell.  Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the 12 Apostles.  By the way, they’re not actually twelve.  I counted like seven or eight.  Our guide told us that the name 12 Apostles was just a phrase someone coined and it stuck.  There was really none of the 12 limestone rock formations to begin with. In all consideration, I don’t care! Because twelve or less, it’s still a sight to behold.  It’s the mother of all views.

Twelve Apostles

It was windy and cold and taking pictures was a challenge as we were taking photos against the light using a point and shoot camera.  But we still got pretty amazing shots, don’t you think?

Twelve Apostles

SIDE NOTE: It would be nice to stay for sunset and watch the 12 Apostles turn even more dramatic and breathtaking.  However, the drive back would be more dangerous and it is a long drive back to Melbourne CBD.  But if you’re staying nearby, do stay for the sunset.

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles
The Gang

 

GIBSON’S STEPS

We also had a chance to take in the awesome views from beach level at Gibson’s Steps.  It was a long way down and a struggle on the way up.  For someone who’s out of shape, I had a hard time going back up. I had to stop every 10 steps or so to catch my breath.  It’s obvious that I better go back to running.

Gibson Steps

Gibson Steps

Gibson Steps

Gibson Steps

 

LORD ARD GORGE

Equally stunning is Lord Ard Gorge.  There’s an interesting story to be told about this gorge and it’s quite long.  So I will just direct you to this link.  Read up. It was sad ending and it involved a shipwreck.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Lord Ard Gorge

Lord Ard Gorge

Lord Ard Gorge

There you have it!  The Great Ocean Road and its stunning attractions…

Some say that this trip is over-rated.  I don’t think so.  I’ve been around and have seen a number of beautiful landscapes and scenery that totally left me speechless and I would say that The Great Ocean Road did not disappoint.  I would just do it differently.  The tour is a bit rushed.  Although we were given time to explore each attraction, it would be so much better if we stayed longer and truly take in the sights.  Perhaps that is part of the tour that kind of sucks.  But I can’t blame the tour operator.  They can only fit in so much in a day and it is a very tight schedule.  If we had more time, we would perhaps just drive ourselves, stay one night in Lorne or Apollo Bay and see the sights at our own pace. If you’re not keen on driving, just take the 2-day package that GoWest offers.

Interested in our 2 week Australia itinerary, go HERE.

More on our 5 day stay in Melbourne HERE.

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Not fond of DIY tours?  You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentalsrooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!

 

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