The Great Ocean Road | 12 Apostles

May 10, 2016

Remember the saying, ‘It’s about the journey, not the destination’, exactly what comes to mind when traveling along one the most famous scenic drives in the world…
The Great Ocean Road!

Dramatic scenery of the landscape,
long and winding roads along the coast,
panoramic views of the rugged ocean and cliff tops,
a breath of fresh air from the lush green forests,
quaint and charming beach-side towns,
infinite stunning vista lookouts at each turn,
all build up the excitement to marvel and wonder at the sheer magnificence and power of mother nature’s yet another wonder....
The 12 Apostles (and beyond)!


Our two week Australia vacation would not have been complete without traversing along the The Great Ocean Road, all the way upto the 12 Apostles and beyond.  While some parts of it reminded us of our drive(s) in the US along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 (from San Diego to Santa Barbara and San Francisco to Big Sur) , other parts and the vibe along The Great Ocean Road were a world apart. And no matter how much time you spend here, you will leave craving for more.

The world's longest war memorial, this 151 miles long road that stretches along Victoria's south-east coastline was apparently built by 3000 returning soldiers, in memory of the other soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I. The journey begins in Melbourne and takes you through the coastal roads and dense forests with magnificent backdrops.  

While you can traverse the entire distance along The Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles in 4hrs 15mins (without any stops), and beyond to Port Fairy in 6 hrs, the breathtaking scenery and attractions along the way will compel you to pull over to indulge all your senses and partake in the endless activities (surfing, swimming, eating, sunbathing, etc etc). Torquay officially marks the beginning of The Great Ocean Road, and within minutes you will be at Bells Beach…

Bells Beach: This is one of Australias most famous surfing destinations. While proudly representing Australias surfing culture, it hosts the worlds longest surfing event during Easter - the Rip Curl Pro. With its stunning vista lookout of the cliffs and the ocean, Bells beach sets the tone for what beholds ahead along the drive.

Anglesea and Lorne: Are on the way to Apollo Bay and flaunt beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular cliff views.  Teddys Lookout behind the hills in Lorne is another spot that offers a breathtaking sight of the cliffs (a great option for a picnic lunch too).

Apollo Bay: It is half way along the drive and is best known as the place where the hill meets the sea. The Mariner’s Lookout is a perfect location to enjoy the panoramic views of the town, the harbour, and the coast all from one  vantage point (another great location for a picnic lunch).

Cape Otway Light Station: Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland, which is still in operation. The climb to the top of the viewing platform that is 90 metres above the sea level provides stunning views of the Bass Strait (sea strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland) meeting the Southern Ocean.

Gibson Steps: A peek at two of the twelve giant limestone stacks rising up out of the Southern ocean, Gog and Magog (nicknames). The 86 steps (Hugh Gibson, a local settler carved the steps on the cliff) lead the way down to the beach to get an up and close view of the enormity of the 70m high vertical cliffs guarding the wild waves. You couldn’t ask for a more stunning location for a walk on the beach, touch the rock and play in the water.

The Twelve Apostles: Mother nature’s wonder and her power… No number of pictures found on the web or poetic expressions of a writer can truly describe what you witness before your eyes! These gigantic rock formations were created by nature’s force about 20 million years ago, through constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland. Of the 12 Apostles, ranging from 45 to 70 meters high,  only eight are remaining (while the ninth one collapsed dramatically in July 2005). There is a risk of them completely disappearing as a result of continued erosion.

Loch Ard Gorge: Is a combination of history, beauty and wilderness. The south-west coastline of Victoria is known to have claimed 180 shipwrecks, one among them is the Loch Ard shipwreck and hence the name. There are a few view points to marvel and chuckle at the views and accompanying stories. Climbing down a few stairs takes you down to the beach which provides the best view of the turquoise waters among the narrow opening between the cliffs.

London Bridge: An impressive rock formation similar to its namesake, London Bridge collapsed in 1990 (leaving 2 tourists stranded on the small piece of rock with an arc and had to be rescued by a helicopter). The viewing decks provide a gorgeous view of the untouchable rock and beach underneath.

The Arch: Shows you how creative nature is and displays its proud piece of art. The geological formations formed through erosion is at its best when the waves comes crashing around it. The Grotto is yet another example of nature’s artwork.
The Bay of Martyrs & The Bay of Islands: The towering stacks of limestones provide an experience and view quite different from the 12 Apostles - from appearance in shapes and sizes to the width and sight of the view.

  1. DO NOT go with a tour, instead rent a car in Melbourne and drive at your own pace and enjoy all that The Great Ocean Road has to offer
  2. While driving back to Melbourne, you can also take the inland route through Colac which takes about 3.5 hrs
  3. DO NOT rush and try to do a round trip in one day, spend a minimum of two days
  4. Avoid driving at night as the roads are narrow and watch out for wildlife crossing the road
  5. Fill up a full tank of gas and stock up on food (munchies, water, etc) for the road, oh you know the drill (no rocket science there)
  6. Spend as much time as possible at the beaches but be aware of the tide around the 12 Apostles
  7. Explore the Otway and Port Campbell National Parks by walk/hike
  8. Don’t miss an opportunity to catch the sunset and sunrise over the 12 Apostles (perfect timing too as the tourist buses are not around)
No matter how much we plan our trips, things are bound to happen - after fully enjoying the breathtaking views, playing in the beach, stopping at several vista points, snapping a few hundred pictures (and dancing on the road at times, literally) we made it to the 12 Apostles in time to the catch the sunset and rose up early to catch the sunrise. But, weather gods had other plans, it poured the entire time we were in Port Campbell National Park. Though that did not stop us from enjoying the sights, it did put a break on the amount of fun we could have had (rather the number of pictures we snapped between pulling out our umbrella and several dashes in-out of the car to keep our camera dry). We spent the maximum amount of time at Loch Ard Gorge and by the beach down Gibson steps, running in (and away from) the direction of the waves (theres something so charming and romantic about these two locations) and finally (and half-heartedly) bid good-bye to The Great Ocean Road and The 12 Apostles.

Stay tuned to hear about the blunder that followed upon our return to Melbourne….

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”.

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