14 May 2017
Today we leave Melbourne and journey along one of Australia’s most beautiful and famous drives: the Great Ocean Road; including koala spotting, Apollo Bay, The Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.
It is an early start as we need to be at the meeting point at 7.00am. It is the pick up point for multiple tours so is a bit chaotic but eventually we find our bus and guide Kelly. As it is coming into winter, we have multiple tours combined into one: some people are doing 3 days and back to Melbourne, others continuing on to Adelaide, I’m doing 2 further days on Kangaroo Island, while others are heading on to Alice Springs – but it should all work out.
We have 14 people from all around the world: Nicholas (Belgium), Eleza (Finland), Jennifer and Nadine (Switzerland), Lucille and Leza (France), Xing, Stephanie, Sheryl and Evelyn (Singapore), Marie-Grace (Canada via Fiji), Yani (Australia), Luta (Hungary), Kelly (guide, Australia) and me from NZ. We have a good spread of ages (although mostly in 20s) and for the first time ever I am the oldest in the group (except perhaps Kelly but he’s not telling).
It is good to leave town early so that we beat all the tour buses; tourism to this area has really ballooned in recent years. We are lucky that it is off-season but it still seems very crowded to me. We drive for about 2.5 hours until we hit the start of the Great Ocean Road (marked by an arch) and stop at various lookout points along the way. It is fine but bitterly cold – more so than any of us had expected.
We stop at Kennett River to see koalas in the trees and lots of different Australian birds. Lunch stop is a picnic at Apollo Bay and then we head to Mait’s Rest Rainforest Walk: with magnificent Mountain Ash trees – the world’s tallest flowering plants – many of which are hollow at the base and are the stuff of aboriginal tales and customs. One is sacred to aboriginal women and walking through the hollow arch is said to increase fertility. There are tree ferns and numerous different fungi; it is a beautiful place.
Then onto the spot that EVERYONE is coming to see: the Twelve Apostles (but there are only 9 now) – originally they were called the Sow and Piglets but that was not so good for tourism! We have brooding clouds which really bring out the colours in the rocks and in the water and lead to some beautiful photos.
From there we head to Loch Ard Gorge: the site of a shipwreck where 2 survivors found their way into a tiny secluded bay, totally surrounded by towering cliffs and sheltered in a cave overnight before trying to climb out. From the top we can also see various arches and caves.
London Bridge is the next stop – the early settlers got homesick and started naming everything that reminded them even remotely of landmarks back home. Apparently there used to be 2 ‘bridge spans’ but 2 visitors some years ago had jumped up and down on top of the first one and then whilst they were further out, they heard tumbling rocks and the whole span fell into the water leaving them stranded on an island.
We stop for sunset photos at the Bay of Martyrs before heading to our stop for the night in Warrnambool – a city in the middle of nowhere. We first stop for a grilled chicken dinner and then head to our accommodation. With the mix of different tours combined, I end up being the only one staying in a motel whilst the others are at a backpackers round the corner.
The Great Ocean Road and Kangaroo Island Adventure:
Day 1: The Great Ocean Road
Day 2: The Grampians
Day 3: The Grampians to Adelaide
Day 4: Adelaide to Kangaroo Island
Day 5: Kangaroo Island to Adelaide
For this and other similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.