For the next instalment of my occasional ‘Greatest Trips’ series, I want to invite you back to August 2007 ….. Gordon Brown had recently become Prime Minister of UK, ‘W’ was into his second term in the Whitehouse, and no-one had heard of ‘Brexit’. As for me, I was spending time in the Australian city of Melbourne with Mrs E.
During this trip I wanted to take the opportunity to visit my cousins, Sharon and Warren at their home in Warrnambool – but in planning the visit, I made a bit of an error. I had thought that as Warrnambool was located in Victoria, the same state as Melbourne, it wouldn’t be too far to drive, I mean how big can a state be? So I figured this would be a simple day trip, but when hearing of my idea, Mrs E was quick to berate me, and make it clear that in fact Warrnambool was a bit further than just ‘up the road’ – some 250km from Melbourne to be exact, so not really a Sunday afternoon drive!
But after some planning, the day trip that I had in mind turned out to be a 3 day, 2 night excursion – one day to get to Warrnambool and visit my cousins, then the other 2 days to return. However, for the return route we decided to travel via the famous ‘Great Ocean Road’, which runs from Warrnambool, for 243 kms to Torquay – and we would have an overnight stop in Apollo Bay.
The Great Ocean Road has an emotional history for the people of Australia, as it was built by veterans returning from the First World War. The road therefore serves as a wonderful memorial to these national heroes, and has become one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions.
The drive on day 1 from Melbourne took us south on The Princes Highway to Geelong, then all the way to Warrnambool, passing through rural Victoria, with small, quiet towns such as Colac and Camperdown – quite different from the buzz of the big city.
We made it to Warrnambool soon after lunch time, and spent a great afternoon and evening with my family, before retiring to a local hotel for the night.
The next morning, before beginning our Great Ocean Road adventure, we decided to explore the area around Warrnambool, spending time at nearby Logan’s Beach, watching the early morning surfers.
Some of the gorgeous scenery around Logan’s Beach.
Bay of Islands
Eventually we were on our way, and our first stop along the Great Ocean Road was at Bay of Islands, home to some amazing views that centred around incredible limestone stacks, which are slowly being eroded by the Ocean.
The next shot is of yours truly, at ‘London Bridge’ as this is known – once the separated piece was connected to the mainland by a natural arch, but the arch collapsed on 15th January, 1990, emphasising that this area of coastline is ever changing.
Next up was the Port Campbell National Park – home to the amazing Twelve Apostles, which are again are a group of limestone stacks. What was once a collection of 12, is now down to 8, as slowly over time, collapses occur due to erosion, with the most recent being in July 2005.
Apollo Bay & Torquay
During the afternoon, after all this exploring we found our way to Apollo Bay – a gorgeous seaside town, and a favourite with campers during the busy summer months. However, as this was August, and so technically winter (although much warmer than the winters I am used to!), things were fairly quiet. We enjoyed wandering along the beach area, and discovering the charm of this small town.
The last day took us along the remaining 90km of the Great Ocean Road towards the final point, the Victorian surfing town of Torquay. I’m sure this would be a very busy place to visit during the peak months of January / February, but in August, we again found the location to be very quiet – great for a stroll on the beach, and maybe wondering what it must be like to ‘hit the waves’ with a surf board.
Truly the word ‘Great’ is very appropriate for the Great Ocean Road experience – for anyone spending time in the Melbourne area, a trip along this amazing stretch of coastline is a must, but don’t be in a hurry, take the time to enjoy the amazing sights on offer.
Excellent information about the Great Ocean Road and where to stay – here