The Tiger and I were up and about incredibly early today, mostly because we did not want to get left behind for the Great Ocean Road Day Tour we were going to. After getting reorganized at Federation Square, we got shuffled up to our bus, where our Driver Guide, Tom from AAT Kings, was waiting.
Then, we were on our way!
Driving through and out of Melbourne City, Tom gave us a quick history of the place – Melbourne was considered a hostile land when the settlers first came: it was difficult to grow crops, climate was horrible, and people found it difficult to live. It was not until the 1800s, when settler John Batman came and started the settlement (against the governor of Sydney then), when Melbourne was started.
Our tour was scheduled to be 12 hours, so to give a quick rundown, this was the order of our day tour stops:
- Aerys Inlet
- Memorial Arch
- Cumberland River
- Cape Patton
- Apollo Bay
- Loch Ard Gorge
- The 12 Apostles
- London Bridge
- Port Campbell
Before I launch you into a barrage of photographs, I just want to say that this was one of the windiest experiences I had in Victoria. The Tiger and I were seated about two rows away from the back door of the bus and we could already feel the cold wind the moment the bus door opened.
Now that that’s done, I present you… The Great Ocean Road.
Our first stop, we stopped here for coffee and a mid-morning snack, in a nice pub that looked like it was a cozy place to be in cold weather, seating near the fireplace and all.
It was the official start to the Great Ocean Road.
The Tiger and I tried to head to the beach, but we could not really go further than slightly after the entrance since the sand was incredibly soft. The scene was beautiful and the wind felt great on our faces though (despite what it did to our hair).
This was a 15 minute or so stop for photo opportunities. Tom was nice enough to help some of us take photographs without us having to go into selfie-mode.
Another quick photo opportunity spot. This was also where we learnt the reason behind why it was incredibly cold and windy despite the fact that we came during a relatively warmer season.
Since there is incredibly little land in the Southern Hemisphere, the next piece of land one will hit should you go in a straight line from the Great Ocean Road southwards, would be Antarctica.
We stopped at the Apollo Bay Hotel for lunch, and it was rather amusing that the first thing we saw on the menu was Singapore Noodles. I had quite a nice serving of Fish & Chips (which some of the people in our tour group claimed was shark), before we headed out to take more photographs of the place.
Loch Ard Gorge
This stop marks the start of a trio of incredibly beautiful pictures. After lunch and a nap on the coach, Tom drove us to Loch Ard Gorge first since the Twelve Apostles was crowded with other tour buses.
There were three main trails for this area though: The Razorback Walking Trail, The Shipwreck Walk, and down to the Gorge itself. Like the sand near the Memorial Arch, walking here was almost like sinking, but the views we caught were awesome.
The Twelve Apostles
The highlight of this tour – and also the reason why we were on this Great Ocean Road tour in the first place – was the Twelve Apostles National Park. And I shall leave you to admire them in their natural splendor. (Spoiler alert: There are only 7 of them)
The Twelve Apostles were so named because there was a naming contest for the limestone structures off the Great Ocean Road cliffs and the winner of the contest gave the name, “The Apostles”. They changed it to The Twelve Apostles for a nicer ring to it.
Also, you could fork out another AUD95 and take a helicopter ride around the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. We did not do that, but it would be a good experience.
The last of the awesome limestone scenery trio, it attracted quite a bit of media attention because the arch towards the limestone island actually collapsed, trapping two people on the island while their friends went to get help.
I would give you a description about what happened, but we have Google for that, so I’ll leave you with what Tom had been waiting to tell us about London Bridge (all day long).
Tom: So you see, the people trapped up there – David and Mary were married, but to different people. And because of the amount of time the two of them were trapped up there, you could say that after the whole ordeal, their marriages were… ON THE ROCKS. YES!!!
We stopped at Port Campbell for a bit of sustenance because it was going to be well into the evening by the time we reach Melbourne City. Going to the supermarket and gift shop for a bit of trinket shopping here and there, it was a nice, quiet town if someone wanted a retreat out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
We rounded up the tour with “Red Dog”, an Australian movie about the Western Australian town of Dampier, and how the real statue of Red Dog came about.
One of the most memorable trips I’ve had, the Great Ocean Road tour was both inspirational and exhilarating; Many thanks to AAT Kings and Tom for their great service and hospitality as well. For more information on AAT Kings and the tours they offer, click here.