If you have come looking for an article that will given you an in-depth and detailed travel guide to both the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians National Park then I apologise, because you are sorely mistaken. However, if you have come looking for a little information about possible places/landmarks to visit (and some kick-ass photos to boot) then continue reading about my recent journey, courtesy of Wildlife Tours Australia.
Although I left the UK to travel, I came to Aus on a working holiday visa, so I could to top up my bank account and earn some money to help fund future travel plans. However, working full-time can be quite a bore, so you do need to do things to stop you falling into a rut. Fortunately my job allows me every second weekend off and, since I am living in Melbourne, I decided to use those weekends to try and get myself completing some of recommended activities for the area. One of these happened to be the Great Ocean Road, something that I wasn’t quite able to do on my previous visit back in 2015. As the whole weekend was free, I thought I’d splash out and go for the tour that included a visit to the Grampians as well.
The Great Ocean Road officially starts in Torquay, but if effectively takes you from Melbourne to Adelaide (or vice versa). It is known as one of the worlds greatest scenic drives, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because, well, you spend the entire time with the ocean on one side of you. It is also hope to the 12 Apostles, although due to erosion and weather damage there are no longer twelve of them. However, the name has still stuck.
An early wake-up call saw me get picked-up and driven into the CBD to meet my tour group and tour guide. The usual information was then passed onto us, from the days itinerary and rough arrival times at places, to where we would be having lunch and staying overnight. All of this detailed whilst we made our way on towards the “official” starting point of the Great Ocean Road, marked by a big, wonderful sign.
Anyway, after stopping off here for some stereotypical snaps and a little beach walk, it was back on the road! During the time between this stop and the next, our guide informed us that the koalas in the state of Victoria were actually larger than those in its neighbouring states, and could be up to twice the size of those you find in Queensland. Fascinated by this information and a series of other koala based factoids (including how damn stupid & dangerous their diet is), we transitioned beautifully to a stop where it seemed every tourist driving that day was going in order to try and spot a wild koala. Seriously, it was madness. In fact, I can imagine a koala living in this particular area could find it borderline traumatic – or be in love with their automatically assigned “celebrity status” – due to the hoards of people huddling under a single tree, clamouring to take a photo of a single koala. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if people were aware that they didn’t need to use their in-built camera flash for every single photo they take no matter what time of day but, unfortunately, they don’t. It’s a shame really.
There are also quite a few bayside towns along the GOR that I would recommend you look into. We ourselves stopped off at two, Lorne and Apollo Bay, the latter of which was hosting some sort of running festival. Personally, I don’t see the appeal, but it had seemed to have drawn in quite a lot of runners and a very large crowd.
Moving on, after our lunch stop in Apollo Bay we settled in for our longest stretch of driving yet in order to reach the 12 Apostles (or at least some of them). At this stop there is an optional helicopter ride but, having done that down in Franz Josef, I decided against paying for it.
The Apostles are pretty damn cool though. Much like England’s White Cliffs of Dover, they give this particular stretch of Australian coastline some additional character. A uniqueness. It was a shame then, that the light conditions did not really lend themselves to my level of photography skills. I’d probably suggest staying near-by and heading down at sunrise. If it is a good one, you’d get a beautiful glow bouncing off of the Apostles.
The next stopping point was probably my favourite of the day, and that is 100% down to the backstory of the area. Loch Ard Gorge is home to a beautiful little cove that has a treacherous past, more of which can be read by clicking on this link here (fyi, it involves a shipwreck).
If you take the path away from the little cove, you come across the final few Apostles and even more picturesque landscapes. Honestly, you could keep coming back to this area week after week, taking the same photo again and again, and you wouldn’t get bored because it would constantly change depending on the position of the sun and the light available. Truly, it is when you hit this stretch of road that you can being to appreciate why is attract so many people and is known all over the world.
The last stop of the day before heading to our accommodation was the London Arch, which was formerly known as the London Bridge until it – ironically – fell down in 1990 (no, I’m not making this up – you read about the survivor reliving the experience here). We had had beautiful weather all day and, although the sunset had begun at Loch Ard Gorge, we arrived at the Arch just in time to witness it in its full glory. Due to the fact it was now quite late in the day, nearly every other potential visitor had left to journey to wherever they were staying, meaning that we effectively had the viewing platform to ourselves, which was absolutely wonderful.