‘it’s time to remember what it’s like to feel alive.’
Sometimes you need to explore the wanders that are in your backyard. I have had a serious case of wanderlust regarding The Great Ocean Road. It’s been on my bucket list for quite a while and seeing as a trip to Victoria was on the cards, I decided it was time to cross it off the list.
I booked my tour online through a tour operator called ‘Go West Tours’ for $130AU. I decided to book the tour as the company has over 1300 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars or so out of 5. After going on the tour, I can see why the feedback is as high as it is.
The tour bus holds a maximum of 24 passengers so the groups are relatively small. Cath was our tour guide and not only did she manage to remember all of our names (all 24 of us), she took the time to converse, laugh, smile and and make each of us feel included throughout the day which is no easy feat considering we came from various places across the globe (most came further than I did, just an Aussie over from the west coast).
The tour goes for approximately 14 hours (depending on where your pick up/drop off location is). It is a long day, there’s no debating that but honestly, it is well worth it. Not only will you sleep like a baby after you get back to your hotel, you will have experienced the beauty of a part of the Great Ocean Road. There are stops along the way if you need to have a coffee fix or if you don’t mind trading views of the pristine coastline for a nap, you’ll have the chance to do so.
I lucked it out and it was a glorious day with a high of 30 degrees and bright blue skies (until in true Victorian form, the ‘season’ changed to winter with rain in the late afternoon). Hail, rain or sunshine- it doesn’t matter, it is still breath taking and worth braving the rain for. (My advice, bring a waterproof jacket- if you don’t want to miss a chance at capturing the moment).
The day starts early with complimentary hotel pickups and then the trip begins with the first stop being for complimentary morning tea and a chance to walk along Torquay Beach.
Then the real adventure begins, with a drive along the Surf Coast. If you sit on the left side of the bus, you’ll have a clear view of the glistening waters and a coast line that seems to span for as far as the eye can see. The drive takes you through Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. There’s a brief stop for a photo opportunity and a chance for another walk along the beach.
Further along and another stop allowed us to take in the views of Lorne at Scotchman’s Hill before going Koala spotting at Kenneth River Caravan Park.
Once we found a few koalas, it was time to drive to Apollo Bay where lunch was waiting at the local Thaihouse Cafe & Restaurant. Cath also recommended that we wander down to the main road and induldge in some gelato, sorbet or ice cream at Dooley’s Ice Cream (the best ice cream shop along the Great Ocean Road)- it was definitely worth the pending food coma!
After a relaxing break for lunch, a walk along the coast line and two scoops of gelato, it was time for a walk through the rain forest. We embarked on a 25 minute rain forest walk at Maits’ Rest (located in the Great Otway National Park).
We fare-welled the Surf Coast and entered into the Green Coast for our walk among the trees. It was time to head towards the Shipwreck Coast for a chance to see how many of the 12 Apostles are still standing tall in Port Campbell National Park. (My tour group couldn’t decide whether seven or eight were still standing)..
Our second last stop took us out to Loch Ard Gorge. Even though it started to rain when we reached the gorge, it was absolutely breath taking. There are three short walks that you can do to see the gorge from different views, each is just as beautiful as the next. If you have limited time, I’d recommend following the path to the Loch Ard Gorge Lookout and walking down to the hidden beach.
Our final coastal stop was at Gibsons’ Steps on the way back to Melbourne. It was pouring down with rain and quite windy BUT some moments are worth braving the elements for.
It was time to head back into Melbourne after a stop in a country town for a bite to eat. If you’re up for an adventure, a chance to watch the coastline as you drive right alongside it and see a natural wonder, I highly recommend upping you dose of caffeine, packing some snacks, a camera and booking a spot of this remarkable Go West Tour.