Find the rest of our trip here
One of the best parts of our Australia trip was driving the Great Ocean Road.
This famous scenic route is accessible from Melbourne (the start of the route is 1.5 hours from the city). You can do it as a day trip, which is what our group did, or you can spend the night (or several nights!) and have more time to pull over to look at other spots that attract your attention along the way. It would’ve been a hassle for us to leave our rooms at the hostel overnight, pack up, and mess up a toddler’s routine, but friends who did the longer trip got to see additional attractions and weren’t as rushed.
For our trip, we left bright and early, a bunch of us piled into a 12-passenger van. The drive itself is a huge part of the experience – after you pass the countryside outside of the city, it’s gorgeous coastline after gorgeous coastline. I imagine it’s similar to the Pacific Coast Highway. If you have a weak stomach, it might not be the best – LOTS of turns!
First our Australian guides led us to see Australia’s oldest lighthouse at Cape Otway, which is at the southernmost point of the Great Ocean Road. At this locale there is an amazing overlook of some of the coastline.
While we were walking up a random neighborhood road to get there, we saw a pink cockatoo chilling in somebody’s front yard. I still can’t believe that they are wild in Australia! (I just learned that the section we were in is a rainforest, which explains the diverse wildlife!)
We pulled over to a small town and ate our packed lunches or picked up fish and chips, and stretched our legs on Lorne beach (a popular summertime destination for college students).
We had hoped to see some wild koalas, but in the afternoon we did something even better – visited a petting zoo. Now, this was not your average petting zoo. There were several fields where kangaroos, wallabies, and sheep were just wandering around doing their thing, and you could just walk up and touch them! We had some feed to entice them, but as much as the animals would allow, you could get as close as you wanted!
The wallabies were really entertaining and easier to approach than the larger kangaroos. I think started the animal selfie trend with this photo.
There were also some cages with dingos and bigger fields with more sheep, deer, and wandering kangaroos. One followed my teammate and I around for a few minutes!
Finally, we reached our destination – the Twelve Apostles (without stops, the Apostles are four hours from the beginning of the route). Wikipedia says that these stately natural towers were formed from erosion caused by the ocean, which caused “the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which then became arches, which in turn collapsed; leaving rock stacks up to 50 metres high.” As of 2005, only 8 stacks remain. This is definitely one of those world wonders that you should visit sooner rather than later, before they disappear!
The Twelve Apostles were truly magnificent to behold. To view them, you walk a long path high above the sea below. The Apostles are on both sides of the path (left and right), and in between (straight ahead) is a stunning view of the Southern Ocean. It was quite windy, but we took our time walking, staring, and taking in the sights.
Apparently you can also walk down on the shore below via the Gibson Steps.
It was super windy and cold being near the ocean, so once it started to get dark we were ready to leave. We found a nearby town that only had a couple of places open (since it was the off-season), but shockingly one of the restaurants had gluten-free pizza, so I was saved. The rest of the group feasted on more fish and chips.
After all that we rested on the long, dark ride home, content with all we had seen and enjoyed during the day.