“Now look a bit to the left! Nice! Alright, smile guys!” our friend L shouted from behind his newly purchased digital Sony camera. He was bossing us around and we happily obliged. His photos turned out great – high spirits and grinning faces he cleverly captured…
It seemed like only yesterday that I, my hubby and our tennis friends embarked on a short but memorable adventure, a road trip that took our breath away – a day on the spectacular Great Ocean Road…
This remarkable road stretches along the south-eastern coast of Australia in the state of Victoria. It is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world, made famous by its rugged coastlines and imposing rock formations. Unassuming towns lie along the coast and tranquil forests stood quietly inland.
It was meant to be a break from the Australian Open action that, for me, turned out the highlight of our trip, apart from watching the matches of the great Roger Federer, of course. 🙂
We engaged Melbourne Private Tours for the day whose package included a private car and a chauffeur cum guide. We were picked up from our hotel in Melbourne and our first stop was coffee and muffins at Cafe Moby, a small casual restaurant in the town of Torquay. Torquay is the surf capital of Victoria, the official start point of the Great Ocean Road (if coming from Melbourne) and the beginning of our awesome day! It is also the birthplace of Rip Curl and Quicksilver.
We headed next to Bells Beach, known for the big swells crashing against its sandy golden shore, and host to the annual Rip Curl Pro surfing competition. This stop shouldn’t be missed. It was just too fun running away from the foam waves here.
Some 20 km west was Aireys Inlet, a beautiful hamlet best recognised by the Split Point Light House which sits atop a hill overlooking the sea. What I liked most about this stop was the short clifftop walk that led us to a lookout that showcased dramatic cliffs, turquoise waters of the Bass Strait and foam swells chasing the rugged shoreline.
It was soon time to meet Australia’s iconic animal. We were hence driven to Kennett River to see koalas in the wild. There were a number of them but nocturnal marsupials that they are, they were mostly sleeping when we arrived.
We then made our way to Apollo Bay where we stopped for a much-desired lunch. La Bimba, a modest, but I remember it being big in taste, was our guide’s choice of restaurant.
A quiet walk in Mait’s Rest Rainforest in Cape Otway was next in our guide’s itinerary. The lush vegetation and massive trees can be reached in the safety of a wooden walkway.
Soon it was time to see the star of the Great Ocean Road. Rising out of the Southern Ocean, off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, are flat-bedded stacks of limestone famously known as 12 Apostles. These intriguing rock formations were shaped over the years by erosion from waves and wind that constantly batter the limestone pillars. The only but big regret I have during this stop was not insisting that we walk down to the shore where the pillars stood. It would have been an epic coastal walk. Next time, perhaps.
Just a short drive from the 12 Apostles was Loch Ard Gorge. This was probably my favourite among all our stops. It was a perfect display of nature at its best. I loved the small secluded beach and its tranquility, disturbed only by our audible smiles and the constant clicks of our camera. There were several other things in the gorge, apparently, like a blowhole, a cave and guided walks. Our guide didn’t show us these unfortunately, he was in a hurry to get back I recall. Next visit, hopefully.
I think one day on the Great Ocean Road was not enough. There are more trails to cover, quaint towns to experience and beaches to explore. If we get the chance to come back with our two kids, we would spend 2 to 3 days driving on our own, on this spectacular road…
If you have more time, read our blog on Australian Open and St Kilda. xoxo
Melbourne Private Tours
41 The Esplanade, Torquay VIC 3228, Australia
125 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay VIC 3233