This week has without doubt been the highlight of my visit so far, me and four friends booked a hire car and set off on a long weekend along the Great Ocean Road, and my god it was incredible. I’m not sure if I am going to be able to do the trip any justice by putting it into words as even the pictures don’t capture half the beauty but I will give it a go.
We met the Great Ocean Road at Torquay, where Becky had her first swim at Bell’s Beach (if there’s water, she’s in it), we are planning on going back there for the surfing competition later in the year. Next stop was the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet lighthouse where we saw our first Penguin down on the beach! The Animal theme carried onto Kennett River for the Koala’s but it turns out that once you’ve seen one Koala, you’ve seen them all, all they do is sleep. A sighting that was less planned however, was a family of Kangaroos along the side of the road, which was when Keegan thought it would be a brilliant idea to open the car door and try and get out before we had stopped, this was a habit we had to try stop throughout the whole trip. Friday night we stopped over in a brilliant hostel in Apollo Bay called Surfside Backpackers (Highly recommend and only $30 each) but I think it was the Saturday that was the highlight of everyone’s trip.
The biggest tip we learnt on this trip was that you should stop off at every ‘scenic view point’ because these are the secluded places not bursting with thousands tourists and actually are more beautiful than the main tourist spots along the GOR. One of our favourite stops was Castle Cove where we found a little trail down onto the beach, and I thought I had seen beautiful beaches but this was next level breath-taking! (It took some persuading but we managed to stop Becky trying to swim in the 6ft waves with insane currents.) The only other stop that compared to that was the final detour on Saturday night that Gus insisted on going to see and thank God he did! It was a thin section of cliff jutting out into the ocean with the most incredible view, without sounding mega cringe, we all said that being on that cliff edge was the freest we had ever felt.
At this point we were going to head towards our accommodation for the night but on the way back we bumped into a group of travelling New Zealanders who we had met at an earlier detour, they were setting up camp and invited us to join them in watching the sun set. Of course we were never going to decline such a brilliant offer so we went, bought beers, snacks and had the most surreal sunset experience of our lives.
Yes we visited the 12 Apostles, Loch ard Gorge and all the other ‘must sees’ but as much as they were gorgeous, being surrounded by groups of tourists diminished their impact somewhat. The appreciation you gain for the quiet, ‘unpopular’ places is unparalleled.
Our final day consisted of the Otway national park where we went on small hikes to stunning waterfalls which is not what you would expect from Australia in drought! The rain-forests were so lush but again we were lucky with our timing because for the most of it we had the waterfalls to ourselves and as we were leaving so many people were arriving. I think its safe to say we had a really special and lucky trip (apart from almost hitting a Kangaroo whilst driving in the dark, which actually made us stop so Sophie could cool off but we got to see the stars, so silver lining!).
I am truly grateful for this road-trip and the people I was with, it was an experience none of us wanted to end and its going to take a tough time beating it. The Great Ocean Road is different for every person who takes it but the only advise I would give is to not just go on a tour bus because you miss out on the true beauty of the coast.