The Great Ocean Road: Surf Towns, Koalas and Apostles

November 14, 2017

When a road trip consistently makes it on various travel guides’ list of best road trips in the world (CNN travel, Rough guides, Fodor), and you happen to be in the neighborhood, well, you don’t hesitate to do that road trip. That’s why Daniel and I, as soon as we landed at Melbourne airport, rented a car and started directly towards the Great Ocean Road, which stretches for about 250 km along Australia’s south coast, starting just a bit to the west of Melbourne. Many people drive this (or take a tour) just as a day trip from Melbourne, but we preferred to take our time, so we planned 3 days for it in our schedule. Looking back, having one more day would have been nice, but even the 3 were great and allowed us to take in the experiences and views at a pace that suited us.

As it winds down Australia’s south coast, the Great Ocean Road passes through small seaside towns and along some truly amazing landscapes. Honestly, before we started the drive, I was somewhat skeptical of it, because I felt like we had spent enough time on beaches in Australia already and we had seen so many beautiful places at the sea, that this additional drive couldn’t bring anything too impressive anymore. The name, containing the word “great”, also put me off a bit. Australians seem to like calling a lot of the places in their country “great”. While that may be (subjectively) true, I prefer to make up my own mind whether I find something great or not. But as we slowly made our way along the coast, my skepticism slowly disappeared.

The Great Ocean Road is indeed what it promises to be. There is wildlife spotting (koalas in the eucalyptus trees, very friendly birds that will sit on your head if they think you have food), rainforests with waterfalls, some good restaurants, nice campgrounds, and farms selling their own produce (we visited a strawberry farm and left with 1 kg of strawberries, which didn’t last long). But of course, the main attraction is the coastline, in many places rough and rugged, with cliffs dropping straight down into the water.

The “crown jewel” of this coastline are the so-called “12 Apostles” cliffs. They were initially called The Sow and Piglets, but then someone thought they needed a more majestic name in order to attract tourists and came up with the name Apostles. Since the apostles usually come in a group of 12, the number was added to the name, but the cliffs are not 12, regardless of how you count and from which viewpoint you look at them. Since they are made of not so durable limestone, they sometimes collapse (fall down into the water) or simply change appearance when a piece of them collapses. Anyhow, their name or exactly how many they are doesn’t make any difference to how amazingly beautiful they are. If I had to choose the one most beautiful place that I have seen in Australia in these about 5 weeks we’ve spent here, this would be it.

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