Sunday, 13 January 2013

MELBOURNE - Going on a Scenic Roadtrip

The Great Ocean Road

This is THE most awaited part of the whole trip. Researching and looking at photos fueled the fire.

Yes, on our 3rd day, we went on a road trip to Australia's most scenic coastal drive --- The Great Ocean Road.

A national heritage site, the 240+km stretch of road hugs the south-east coastline of Victoria. Passing through quaint towns, surfing beaches, historic ports, whale lookouts, shipwreck coasts,  breathtaking mountain ranges, majestic rainforests, scenic coastal towns and national parks.

We left Melbourne from the West Gate Bridge and visited charming towns, beautiful beaches and breathtaking wonders of nature:


Our first stop for morning tea. We had time to check and take a photo of the beach. A surfers haven.  

Yes, we missed the surf shop outlets. Unfortunately, they were still closed and we have a long trip ahead of us.

Torquay Beach
Quaint Torquay

* Bells Beach 

Home to World Surfing Championships. This is where I thought the black specks I saw out on the sea where penguins, and quickly realized that those were surfers trying out the waves at such a cold and early morning! brrr... We were, after all, in one of Australia's best surfing beaches.
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
North view of Bells Beach
No, those are not penguins...
* Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot is 2000miles from the South Pole. So named because of the obvious shape of the beach.
Horseshoe Bay from a Lookout
* Great Ocean Road (GOR) welcome arch  or better known as a memorial arch, dedicated to those who built this road in World War I.

The Great Ocean Road welcome arch
* Lorne   
A seaside town that attracts visitors all year round. Home to a lot of holiday homes.
View of Lorne from Kenneth River Park

* Kenneth River Park
Halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay. This is where we had another dose of close encounter with wild koalas and feed birds while taking a short break in the nearby park. It would have made my day  more if we got to see dolphins, seals and even whales (!) while looking out to sea.

Feeding wild parrots

Yup! Koalas sleep 18-20 hours a day, and the rest is spent eating. What a life aye? Oh, and they are known to be polygamous.

Caravan homes
* Wye River  - drove through Wye River on our way to Cape Patton and Apollo Bay
* Cape Patton Lookout  - one of the highest along this scenic route. The view here reminds me of our very own Batanes Island.

Cape Patton Lookout
View from Cape Patton
View of the Great Ocean Road from Cape Patton
* Apollo Bay 
Lunch was at a whaling town of Apollo Bay. This is where we got to taste a homemade delicious ice cream --- Dooley's. Yes, despite the cold weather, we do not want to miss the ice cream after a hefty lunch of steak.
Apollo Bay is one of the major stop-overs along this route. With museums,  the coast, the shops and cafes and the Great Otway National Park to explore.

Apollo Bay
You have got to try this!
The beach on Apollo Bay
@Apollo Bay
* Otway National Park
On our way to the 12 Apostles, we cruised through the park to marvel at the Koalas on top of trees just above the road, and had fun counting them. We also learned about the great bush fire that destroyed a large part of the park and forests in this side and displaced thousands of animals.

* The 12 Apostles 

 Located at the Port Campbell National Park and the most popular attraction in this quaint town. There is no other way to appreciate the magnificence of this limestone sea stacks but through a helicopter ride or a boat ride. We took the helicopter and we did not regret it. The sight was breathtaking up there. Seeing the coastline, the 12 Apostles and the other sea stacks just took my breath away.

To know more about this magnificent work of nature, I dedicated a separate post for it, here.

After all, this is a surfer's paradise
Fog descending over the 12 Apostles
Sea stacks at the Great Ocean Road
Salt & Pepper shaker isn't it?
* Loch Ard Gorge
 Part of the Port Campbell National Park, it was named after the ship Loch Ard that run aground in the nearby island in 1878.

And here's a trivia: This site has been  part of movie scenes like the Pirate Movie in 1982, and the TV series Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1999.

Loch Ard Gorge beach
The cave on the other cove

crushing waves coming in
* London Arch
Originally named London Bridge, it was renamed London Arch after the main arch that connects it to the mainland cracked and fell to the sea in 1990, trapping 2 people in the new island. They were rescued eventually.  You should hear the juicy story of those 2 people.  Yes, we had a gossip of a driver and guide.
The London Arch
* Port Campbell 
A seaside village and popular summer holiday destination for Australians. There were only a handful of people around when we were there, as it was autumn.

Our last stop before we head back to Melbourne. Took a very late coffee break as we will have a very late dinner when we arrive back in Melbourne.

Early evening at Port Campbell
Port Campbell

This scenic road has truly enriched me. As you can see from the number of photos I posted here, there are plenty of opportunities in this route.  Landscape photographers will have a feast.

A day trip is definitely not enough. I would love to go on a leisurely drive on this road for days. Taking in each and every towns' charms.  There is just too many to see and do!

Loving Australia more, everyday!

You might be interested to check out my other posts on Australia:

Day 2 in Melbourne - Going for Gold

Day 1 in Melbourne - Of wombats, koalas and penguins

The Majestic 12 Apostles of Victoria, Australia

Through the New South Wales countryside

Four days in Sydney


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