The Great Ocean Road is more than 150 miles of scenic southern Australian shores. It was perhaps the thing I was most eager to see in the ‘immediate’ area, so naturally it there was a freezing, windy downpour the entire time I was there.
When we left Otway Fly, it had already started raining. At the time, I didn’t mind it all that much. We were, after all, visiting a temperate rain forest, so I took the rain as more a part of the authentic rain forest experience than as a disappointment. When we left the rain forest behind and the rain followed us, that was a different story.
Melbourne is a magical place. In terms of weather, you can experience all four seasons in a single day. It can be warm and sunny and almost immediately switch to cold rain at the drop of a hat. This continued to be true even 100 miles out. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that we were so close to the water the whole time.
What I really wanted to see were The Twelve Apostles. They’re pretty much the biggest tourist attraction in this part of Victoria and most people, myself included, make the trip to see them a priority. Situated along the coast, the Apostles are a bunch of limestone stacks that stick up out of the water along the cliffs there. I think at one point there were actually twelve of them. Due to erosion, there are only seven visible all along the coast. Here you can see a few of them:
As you can probably tell, the water was a bit rough. By rough, I mean that the waves were going absolutely crazy and standing on the walkways along the cliff faces was extremely difficult. It was raining pretty hard and the wind was so strong it was blowing sea water and sand all the way up to where we were. When I first started going through my photos when I got home, I was actually shocked that there were so few water spots visible from the camera lens. I was quite wet after only being out there for half an hour.
Despite being sandblasted in the face, I managed to get off some pretty good (I thought) photos. While I definitely wish that the weather had cooperated with my trip, I have to say that I really appreciated being able to see The Twelve Apostles when the weather was nasty. It’s one thing to appreciate the sights when the sun is out and the water is calm. I was really just awed by the waves and the wind and the water – the sheer power of the ocean as it crashed against these limestone cliffs.
This was both comical and reassuring. There were also some highly entertaining signs warning about snakes in the brush, but I didn’t get a photo of those. There were about a million tourists there from China that spent more time fighting with their ponchos than actually enjoying the sights. I also saw a few crazy Aussies walking around in shorts, which was a questionable life choice, in my opinion.
After the Apostles, we headed a couple of minutes down the road to the Loch Ard Gorge. The Gorge was named after the ship Loch Ard, which shipwrecked at this location in 1878, killing all but two of the ship’s fifty-four passengers.
After spending the day here, I could definitely appreciate exactly how so many ships wrecked on the journey to Australia. The surf is absolutely insane and where there aren’t reefs, there are jagged rocks sticking out of the water at every turn. The fact that anyone survived the shipwreck here is amazing.
The big highlight for me was being able to climb down into the Gorge itself, where the two teenage survivors of the Loch Ard sheltered in some caves before one of them managed to climb out and find some pastoral farmers. Thoguh there’s a wooden stairway that heads down into the Gorge, the surge can sometimes prevent tourists from going down and really being able to get a good look around. It wasn’t that far in yet, so I headed down to take some pictures, get even more wet than I was before and also to get some sand in my shoes. Because, really, everyone needs sand in their sneakers.
I was astounded by the cliffs and the rock formations down there. It was just really quite exciting to be able to get a firsthand look from the ground, since it’s usually not something you can do.
I took about a hundred pictures, the majority of which I’ve added to the photostream, so definitely go and check those out. Our last stop of the day, since the weather was so bad, was at Port Campbell, which is a smallish town that sees a lot of action during the summer months because it has these nice little beaches. By this point I was absolutely soaked and sand-covered, so I only got off the bus to use the bathroom and snap one or two obligatory photos of one of the beaches there.
It was an amazing trip and a must-do for anyone visiting Victoria. I was really glad I decided to go, even with the weather being what it was. I hope to go back at some point when it’s nice out, probably the next time they offer a trip in the summertime. Until then, I’ll have to see what other kinds of trouble I can get into.