Ever heard about taking the scenic route? Ever wanted to go on a road trip along the coast?
Hurray! You've landed at the right post.
I was at Fed Square waiting for my tour bus to arrive, looking at the to-ing and fro-ing of many other tour buses and intently watching out for mine. This being my first international day tour without my parents and me being a newbie in the city of Melbourne, I was sceptical about missing the bus. To top it all, I had no idea what I was going to experience on the tour (because I was only 17 at that time and had done no research whatsoever. I am grateful to my wonderful mother for booking me on the tour :p ). Finally, the bus arrived and I got in and found myself a seat (like kids get into the school bus on the first day of school). The bus zoomed off away from the city towards the "GREAT OCEAN ROAD" commencing the journey of one of the most scenic drives in Australia and one of the TOP 10 scenic drives in the world.
“THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD” is a 243 kilometre stretch of road hugging the South-eastern coast of Australia lying between two peaceful and laid-back cities of Torquay and Allansford. This road winds up along the coast passing through peaceful cities, beautiful beaches, rainforests and finally taking us to some amazing limestone formations known as the Twelve Apostles.
After starting from Melbourne, our first stop was at Torquay (100 km from Melbourne) where the Great Ocean Road starts. For a bit of history on the Great Ocean Road, This road was built by soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, making it the World’s largest War Memorial. We got to click some pictures here and got to know the fellow tourmates. One great thing about group tours is that complete strangers become family at the end of the day. The tour guide was also very friendly, I got to know that she was the ex-girlfriend of a famous Australian Cricketer. I was amazed at how humble and normal her life was ( I couldn't imagine how it would have been in India, I don't even know if such famous people date normal people).
We then drove alongside some spectacular beaches, one worth mentioning is the Bell’s Beach. The Bell’s beach is the home of the world’s longest continuously running pro surfing competition known as the RIP Curl Pro which happens during easter every year. The city of Torquay is also the headquarters of the famous surfing brand - Rip Curl , which sponsors the RIP Curl Pro event. The waves at these beaches are uproarious and vicious, and the breeze here is quite too strong. It's definitely a sight to look at the pro surfers tackling the waves and rising above them at these beaches..
Next up , we stopped at Kennet River which is a small town known as one of the best places for spotting wild koalas in Australia. The Koalas can be spotted right from the parking lot, camouflaged on top of the trees, lazily sleeping almost all the time. This place also has many parrots and cockatoos around, which I presume are very well fed by the tourists and the locals, because I've never ever seen such big parrots in my life!!!.
Next up, we stopped at the Great Otway National Park. The guide took us all through a 30 minute loop walk through the rainforest known as Mait’s rest. Being a rainforest, it was a stunning green of ferns and some very old trees. The rainforest was totally wet with drops of water on the leaves and the trees seemed to form a canopy overhead.
The walk had a wooden broad walkthrough which we walked, talked and photographed to reach an ancient hollow Myrtle Beech Tree. Legend has it that walking through the tree from one side to other results in a good chance for pregnancy (Maybe spend a good night in the forest if you are looking at getting pregnant :p)
Leaving the forest, we continued on our journey to the most attractive and stunningly beautiful natural formations on the Great Ocean Road. Next up, we stopped at the Twelve Apostles.
Twelve Apostles, the name sounds familiar somehow? Twelve Apostles are limestone formations said to be formed 20 million years ago, which was earlier a part of the mainland. The ferocious waves then eroded parts of the mainland to form separate standing formations. It was named the TWELVE APOSTLES (after the twelve disciples of Jesus) purely for marketing purposes and because they were 12 in number (If you know Aussie's, you will know that they are great at marketing ;) ). As of today, only 8 apostles stand while the others got eroded and fell into the ocean as rubbles. If I had known that I was going on a tour to look at some rocks, I would've been like "Duh! whatever". But I went in without any expectations and I must say that I was amazed at the beauty and handiwork of nature with its natural formations and arches formed in them due to the waves eroding the bottom of the rocks. If you have seen the song "Enna Vizhai Azhage" from Kadhalar Dhinam, then you might have noticed the twelve apostles forming the backdrop of the song or if you have a Windows laptop, you probably have this picture of the Apostles on the lock screen :p.
We then walked to the Loch Ard Gorge just three minutes away from the Twelve Apostles. The Loch Ard Gorge is home to a pearlescent bay which is an inlet of water between two cliffs. The bay has calm water compared to the rest of the coast and is perfect for a swim as the two cliffs on each side serve to tranquillise the waves resulting in an amazing scene just out a movie. The name is no coincidence, Loch Ard Gorge is named after the ship (Loch Ard) that sailed from Europe and was wrecked at this place, killing everybody except two youngsters who managed to survive. One being Tom and the other being Eva (an Irish girl). The Loch Ard Gorge was a single strip of the cliff during the time of the shipwreck, it then split up into two cliffs (thanks to Australia's insane weather conditions) and one cliff was named Tom and the other named Eva in memory of the survivors.
Sadly the tour had come to an end after the Loch Ard Gorge, we then returned back to Melbourne, travelling back along the same coastline enjoying the serene beauty of the coast in silence. Before we knew it, we were back in Melbourne and dropped off at Fed Square from where I returned home to fill in my mom on the day’s happenings. I fell asleep that night thinking about the drive along the coast, the people I had met and the spectacular places I had visited. Now that I think of it, I feel like Alice in Wonderland, following a rabbit (Melbourne) and falling through the rabbit hole (Great Ocean Road) and discovering Wonderland (Loch Ard Gorge and Twelve Apostles). Thus we come to the end of my one day tour of the Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostles. I hope you liked this post, see you all in my next post talking about another great attraction in Melbourne.