Thursday, June 22, 2017

Great Ocean Road Trip (Day 2 in Victoria)

We visited Melbourne City area on our first day in Victoria, Australia. Second day, Great Ocean Road. We booked our day tour with Go West Tours a few days before we departed to Melbourne. The tour operator's prompt responses, plus, good rating on Tripadvisor helped us with our decision. 

Melbourne, second day, 7:30 am. We arrived at Rendezvous Hotel at Flinders Street. Our tour guide and driver- Joel, fetched us at 8 am. The tour was well-arranged, with several stops along the way- Torquay for breakfast at around 10 am, Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch for photo at 11 am, Kennett River for wild Koala at 12 pm,  and lunch at Apollo Bay at 1 pm. After lunch, we took 1 hour drive to Great Otway National Park to look for the second largest tree in the world.  

Then, we took 1 hour 25 minutes to reach Port Campbell National Park to see the famous "Twelve Apostles"- gigantic sea-water carved limestone stacks along the sea side. We enjoyed the majestic view of these limestone stacks at the observatory platform for around 40 minutes before we took Gibson's Steps to the beach at 4:30 pm. We made our last stop at Loch Ard Gorge, which was 10 minutes away from Gibson's Steps. We headed back to Melbourne at around 5:45 pm, took a short dinner at Colac around 7 pm, and reached Rendezvous Hotel at around 9 pm. 

We reached Torquay at around 10 am and stayed for 30 minutes. We had our breakfast- tea, coffee, chocolate drink, and cakes beside the beach. Torquay is one of the surfers' paradise along Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road stretches 243 kms, starting east from Torquay to Allensford on the west. Click on this image for bigger panoramic view.

Great Ocean Road was built mainly by the soldiers returned from World War 1. The construction started in 1919 and completed on 1932. It was part of the effort of the country to cope with employment of the returning soldiers, and at the same time, improving land connection of the coastline towns. The work was not easy as the construction was done by hand, along with simple tools such as axes, pickaxes, explosive and shovels. The Memorial Arch of Great Ocean Road was built to commemorate sacrifices of the workers thorough the construction. The first memorial arch was built in 1939. The current one is the third, after the first two destroyed by wild fire.

A memorial statues beside the Great Ocean Arch. We took a quick stop around 10 minutes there, just to take photos.
Our next stop, wild koala watching at Kennett River. There was a small cafe nearby the car park (upper left). The eucalyptus trees along the viewing area attract wild koalas to feast, and then sleep on these trees (upper right). We successfully spotted three koalas. They had one thing in common- rolled themselves comfortably for a day time nap (lower right). In contrast, the cockatoos were more active and interactive. 

Well, people paid more attention to the birds than the koalas.

After lunch at Apollo Bay, the road led us into a forest area (upper left). We took a 20-minute walk into Otway National Park to see the second largest tree in the world- Eucalyptus Ragnans (upper right). The largest living specimen of the eucalyptus is in Tasmania, reaching approximately 100 meters in height (lower right). The hole at the tree is definitely too big for a rabbit.
Some cool art by nature found in Otway National Park.

3:45 pm, we reached the tourist center nearby the Twelve Apostles observatory platform (upper row). The observatory platforms is 500 meters away- flat, and accessible by wheel chair (lower right). The walk path cuts through the native vegetation nearby the cliff. These limestone stacks are a part of Port Campbell National Park.

Limestone cliff and the gigantic pillars carved by nature were stunning. The wind was strong and the sound of the wave splashing on the pillars could be heard clearly. Lucky for us, it was not cold. The observation area was not very crowdy as well.

The observatory platforms are built strategically to see the limestone stacks by the sea. Out of 12, 8 stacks are remaining, eroding 2 cm per year by the sea.

Gibson Steps is nearby the observatory area of Twelve Apostle limestone stacks. Named after the building- Hughes Gibson, the stairs take us down the cliff to the beach, where we can see the limestone stacks and the cliff from sea level.

The steps might be intimidating from the top, but it takes less effort to get down to the beach. Well, climbing up is where the real challenge awaits. The staircase was carved through the limestone, steep and narrow. So it will be good for us to leave the heavy backpacks in the bus.

Nice view from the beach. The two off shore stacks are named Gog and Magog (not a part of 12 Apostles).

30 meter high cliff spanning till the edge of the sea level. We stayed for 30 minutes at the beach before heading to our last stop at Port Campbell National Park- Loch Ard Gorge.

We reached Loch Ard Gorge around 5:10 pm. It was getting dark. There are four different paths that lead us to different places. Due to the time constrain, we chose only two- Razorback and Loch Ard Gorge.We came across  these two limestone stacks, which once was connected to each others on our way to see Razorback.

The Razorback is a big limestone stack, with the razor-like edge facing the direction where the waves hit the stone. This limestone stack is located at the end of the left path. Click on the picture for bigger panoramic view.

Back to the car park, we took the path led to the Loch Ard Gorge- named after the ship wreak at the gorge in 1878. The incident killed 52 passengers on board, while two survivors of the ship successfully made their way to the gorge and took refuge there. The story about the ship wreak and the survivors can be obtained here.

Is this the cave that two survivors from the ship wreak rested? We couldn't find any clue there. This cave is located on the beach side of Loch Ard Gorge, where it can be accessed through wooden staircase.

Loch Ard Gorge was our last stop at Great Ocean Road. We took the inland route back to Melbourne City. As the night fall, we couldn't see much except the faint lights from the farm houses and the street lights along the the road. 

Great Ocean Road is indeed a must visit site nearby Melbourne. Despite a day long trip by bus, it worth the money and the time spent. We can see different scenery- from the city, suburban area, to small surfing town, sea side, farmland and forest, the trip covered them all.

The whole trip require a lot of walking, especially at Otway National Park and Port Campbell National Park. Non-slippery shoes are necessary to walk on the forest and seaside terrains.  Food and drinks can be bought at Kennett River, Apollo Bay, and Colac. It will be great if we can bring some snacks and drinks with us. Sufficient drink to keep us hydrated and snacks to maintain the energy level are required. Rest rooms are available at Torquay, Kennett River, Apollo Bay, the tourist center at Port Campbell National Park, and the eatery at Colac. All the attractions along the road are open to visitors without entrance fee. We are thankful that Go West Tour arranged the whole trip well, by taking a stop almost every hour.

This is one of the hardest-to-built stretches of Great Ocean Road. We were allowed to hoop down and walked around for 3 minutes there. Click on the picture for bigger panoramic view. 

Beautiful farmland with cattle and sheep can be seen along the Great Ocean Road.

Different views from Melbourne city (upper left) to the suburban area (upper right), to the farming area (lower right) and sea side, all can be seen in Great Ocean Road trip.

We had a long trip to Great Ocean Road on our second day in Melbourne. Third day, Healesville Sanctuary.


  1. These pictures have blown my mind. Sensational. This is magical work mate. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Just love this.