One of the coolest and most unforgettable things I got to do while in Melbourne, Victoria was taking a day trip along Great Ocean Road! It is a must if you go to Australia! The landscape is breathtaking and awe-inspiring!! I took a one-day tour through Go West Tours Victoria, and was completely satisfied! Our tour guide & bus driver was Rhys – he was hilarious and so so good and should get a huge a raise 🙂
So the Great Ocean Road is just stunning and the history behind it is pretty amazing as well – it was built by soldiers returning home from WW1 and it was all man made (with the help from some explosives) – no machinery! It was built from 1919 to 1932 – so it took FOREVER to complete! But what is really amazing about GOR is the diversity and range in the landscape! You drive along the coast hugging the cliffs with stunning beaches and perfect ocean views and then you head into Rain Forests where you can go for a “bush walk” or make a stop at the Eucalyptus Forest where you can stop and see Koalas, King Parrots, and Wallabies in the WILD! No joke! The parrots are not shy at all and will come right at you & your camera so keep your eyes open! The more inland you go the more the landscape changes – like on the way back in to Melbourne we drove through green rolling hills of farmland – vast and wild and open full of sheep and cattle – and we were lucky enough to spot some wild KANGAROOS at sunset!!
From Melbourne, the first stop along the 270-kilometer Great Ocean Road is Bells Beach, located in the coastal town of Torquay. The town itself is famous for being the home of Quicksilver & Rip Curl, while Bells Beach is the site of the aptly-named Bells Beach Surf Classic, an annual surf competition that draws thousands of visitors from all over the globe to this usually sleepy portion of the Australian coast. You may also recognize the name Bells Beach from the ‘wildly acclaimed’ film called ‘Point Break’ – you know the one with Keanu Reeves & Patrick Swayze?! Don’t pretend you haven’t seen it, I know it must be someone else’s guilty pleasure movie – bank-robbing surfers come on?!
As you continue along GOR you pass through some cute beach towns:Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell making your way to the real stars of the show! The famous 12 Apostles – which by the way there are only 8 of, London Bridge – which is now partly collapsed due to erosion several years ago, and the magical Shipwreck Cove – which makes you feel like you are in a movie like The Goonies and was one of my favorite places! The 12 Apostles and the London Bridge are limestone rock formations that have formed over thousands of years and with the color of the green-blue ocean as their backdrop you can imagine how stunning they are for your eyes to behold! I cannot even begin to describe the awe and wonder I felt just standing there and taking them each in. Shipwreck Cove is just like I said magical! It is a beach that you have to climb down to and it feels like you are in a completely different world – there are limestone caves and and you are surrounded by giant limestone cliffs…you just have to see it, stand on its beach and you’ll understand!
If you are only in Melbourne for a limited amount of time then the one-day tours are perfect for you! They include morning and afternoon tea plus lunch, and they stop on the way home so you can buy your dinner. It is literally an ALL DAY tour though – from 7 am to 9:30/10ish pm – so keep that in mind when you’re planning. The tour bus picks you up from several locations in the city so that makes it a bit easier to get there on time! Now, if you are not under any time restraints and want the freedom to explore Great Ocean Road at your own pace than I would recommend hiring a car and taking 2 days to do it in! I am definitely going to do this the next time I head to Melbourne because I want to feel the wind in my hair, have some good tunes playing loudly and just stop when I want to stop for however long I want..and I want to go see the light houses!! One thing we didn’t get to stop at on our tour. But seriously don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience Great Ocean Road and all its wonder and magic! You won’t be the same! While some compare it to California’s Pacific Coast Highway (and I can see the similarities) it just doesn’t compare – it isn’t the same – it has Koalas!
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