The Great Ocean Road & The Twelve Apostles

You guys, I can’t believe I almost missed going to see the Great Ocean Road and The Twelve Apostles. It was such a highlight and deciding to go was a very last minute plan. When I checked in to my new hotel in Melbourne they had a little carousel of pamphlets, which I wouldn’t have normally paid attention to at all but, for some reason, I grabbed a couple to read. One was about day trips from Melbourne and listed options such as going to see penguins (next time!) and The Great Ocean Road. I had no idea these were options from Melbourne! This was Friday night and since the tour ended late in the evening I couldn’t risk coming back late and missing my flight on Sunday night. My only option was to go on Saturday, 12 hours away. I started checking tours online but of course most of them didn’t allow bookings so last minute. I finally found a tour available for the next day and booked it.

The tour I booked with, Melbourne Australia Tours ran in to quite a snag the morning of the tour. The company offers hotel pick up, but maybe because of my late sign up or my location in South Yarra, I got a text confirming my spot on the bus and was asked to be at the corner of Flinders and Swanston at 7:15am. This is a spot that many tours pick up and there seemed to be a steady flow of buses departing for their excursions. Finally at 7:30 there were just 5 of us standing there and one couple had received a text that the company was running late. At 8:30 they finally showed up – something to do with bus problems -and we finally hopped in and were on our way. I had arrived early, scared my name wouldn’t be on a list and I’d be left behind, so I’d been standing outside for an hour and a half in the 10 degree morning chill. I know that’s not freezing, but I was COLD!

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My view, staring at the Flinders Street Station for an hour and a half.

We were finally on our way and winding our way through some very pastoral, pretty countryside.

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I snagged the front passenger seat of the bus and kept it for the entire trip.

After a couple hours of driving we arrived at the coast and had our first glimpse of the Indian Ocean. I hopped out and hurried to get to the Twelve Apostles. The are gorgeous limestone stacks that have eroded over thousands of years.

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The greenery around the path walking to the coast. It felt a bit like Oregon.
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YOU  MAY FALL AND DIE. Um….okay. That’s a bit blunt, sign.
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My first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles.
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The Twelve Apostles, all of which aren’t visible due to the undulating nature of the coastline.
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More Apostles.
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This dry scrubby fauna felt similar to the coast near San Diego. Love this pic.
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This could be in California, right? This area reminded me so much of Cali.
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I saw photos like this before my trip and thought that they couldn’t possibly be real. They’re real.
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I just loved this view and colour of the water.
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Very unlikely to see a snake in winter.
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Oh wait. Excellent. Just what I want to see. A venomous Tiger Snake with a 40-60% mortality rate for untreated bites.

Next stop: Mutton Bird Island where we saw an island that is a common roosting place for yes, you guessed it, Mutton Birds. It was another beautiful formation carved out over thousands of years, surrounded by beautiful water.

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We didn’t have to go far to see the Island.
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The land in this National Park was scrubby and beautiful. It reminded me of Oregon.
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Part of Mutton Bird Island and point where the Loch Ard ship met its demise.
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Couldn’t get enough of this turquoise ocean.
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View of the islands.
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Maybe too many people strayed from the path – they were a lot of little patches of these grasses being reinstated.
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Turbulent waters and beautiful view.
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The photo that almost ended up with my phone falling over the cliff. Close one!

At the same stop we were able to check out Loch Ard Gorge, the site of a famous shipwreck and the location where two survivors washed ashore back in 1878. The Gorge is named after the ship that didn’t survive its journey to Melbourne.

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The pathway down to the beach to see the gorge.
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The Loch Ard Gorge.
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One second later my feet juuuuuust about got doused by the wave.
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There are pathways above to view the gorge from different angles.
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Last glimpse of the gorge.

We also stopped to see The London Arch. It used to be known as the London Bridge, as it had two “bridges” connected together. In 1990 the span connecting the shore and the centre column unexpectedly collapse (leaving two people stranded on the island!) Now, since the collapse, it’s known as London Arch.

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Beauty. Beauty. Beauty.
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The Arch.

After our time along the coast we continued on the Great Ocean Road through part of its inland route. I loved the rolling hills, fields filled with sheep, and eucalyptus trees.

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Peek of the coastline we were approaching.
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Some of the area we traveled through.
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Nothing but sky and green.
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A panoramic view.
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Onward to the ocean again.

We took a break in Apollo Bay for lunch (nothing special) then continued on down the coast with views of the water. By afternoon it was cooler and some mist had started to settle.

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The coast.
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No end to the turquoise water.

We stopped at Kennett River to do some koala spotting. It seems there are some eucalyptus trees with reliable koalas hanging out in the branches most days and we were not disappointed.

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If you see this sign, you’re going to see koalas!
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See that blob up in the tree? That’s a koala!
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This chubby guy was happily munching on the most tender eucalyptus leaves near the ends of the branches.
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I loved seeing this guy and wish he could have been closer.
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There were lots of wild parrots, too, who were very well fed by the constant stream of tourists and handfuls of seed.

I crossed the road to see where the river met the ocean. Again, it felt the California coast. Absolutely beautiful area!

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I was here.
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It was getting close to dusk and the moody light was gorgeous.
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Peaceful beach and surfable waves off shore.
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In case you were doubting, proof that was actually on the Great Ocean Road: The Memorial Arch. It is dedicated to the 3000 men who helped build the road.
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View of the coast and setting sun near the Memorial Arch.

We were racing against time to get to the spot we knew we’d see kangaroos. We spotted this guy out the window and I quickly took a pic in case we didn’t see any more.

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The kangaroo is the grey blob below the green bump on the left, halfway between the bump and the water. Trust me!

We raced to the Anglesea Golf Club for some kangaroo spotting. Unfortunately was showed up when it was basically dark. The kangaroos were there but difficult to see and especially challenging to photograph. They reminded me of deer in their behaviour – they come out at dawn and dusk, stay near some trees and like to graze.

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A few smudgy ‘roos grazing on the greens.
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You can just make out their shape. One of the mommas looked like she had a joey in her pouch. Very cool!

And that was the last stop on our tour. We drove for another hour back to Melbourne – I think every passenger snoozed – and that was that. It was an incredible day and definitely a highlight of my trip. If you ever get a chance to see this area, be sure you do!


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