Saturday, September 28, 2013

Melbourne Trip - Part 2 Great Ocean Road Day Trip

Sun 15 September 2013

When I arrived in Melbourne on 12 Sep 2013, I book via phone a day tour of the Great Ocean Road. I was recommended to take to Go West Tours. Indeed it turned out to be a good tour with this company. It cost AUD120 per person for this tour.

The Great Ocean Road tour includes:

  • A truly scenic journey along Australia's most spectacular coastal route
  • The famous Bells Beach - Australia’s most iconic surfing break
  • Visit the delightful coastal township of Apollo Bay
  • A guided eco tour in the Great Otway National Park’s cool temperate rainforest
  • Experience the tranquil beauty of the rainforest gullies
  • Towering eucalyptus trees
  • Wonder at the famous rock formations of the Port Campbell National Park
  • The awe-inspiring 12 Apostles
  • Loch Ard Gorge – hear the story of our most famous shipwreck
  • Learn the story behind of London Bridge’s collapse in the summer of 1990
  • A sumptuous morning tea
  • Delicious restaurant lunch (vegetarians catered for) 
  • FREE Wi-Fi service onboard
I was picked up at my hotel at 7.55 am sharp as what was arranged. A Go West bus came along and the driver/tour guide came into the hotel lobby to look for me. We had a full bus load for the day - all 24 of us, some from the US, Italy, Philippines, NZ, Switzerland, Japan. 

the go west bus

"The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometres (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial. Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region. "

I was told this is a must tour as the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic ocean roads in the world. The Great Ocean Road officially starts at Torquay and travels 243 kilometres westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road. The road is two lane (one in each direction), with the majority covered by an 80 kilometre per hour speed limit.

This first main town we pass by is GEELONG: THE CITY WITH A HOLIDAY CHARM
The city of Geelong has an enviable position.  Just an hour from Melbourne, it is set on a sparkling bay with a well developed and welcoming waterfront precinct, and a renowned and award-winning local wine region.  Its fascinating past is brought to life in cultural attractions, public art installations and heritage buildings.  As a large regional city Geelong has a thriving entertainment scene, quality hospitality venues (yes you can get a good coffee!) and some seriously cool places to shop.

The Great Ocean Road - a 2 lane road with speed limit of 80km per hour
Drive carefully
A stop-over to enjoy the first glimpse of the scenery 
We also pass through TORQUAY - AUSTRALIA'S SURFING CAPITAL. This town is home to world famous Bells Beach and the birth place of iconic surf brands, Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia.  Located 95km South West of Melbourne, it is the official start of the Great Ocean Road.
Whether you need a relaxing escape by the ocean or adrenaline pumping adventure is your thing, you can do it in Torquay.  Board shorts aren't just the dress code in Torquay, they were invented here.

Yes, it is nice to walk down to the beach to feel the sand and the waves

surfers' paradise
fellow travellers on the great ocen road tou

And we had morning tea and coffee with cakes

We see some families having a great time enjoying the sand and the waves

From wikipedia:
Construction on the road began on 19 September 1919, built by approximately 3,000 returned servicemen as a war memorial for fellow servicemen who had been killed in World War I. An advance survey team progressed through dense wilderness at approximately 3 kilometres a month. Construction was done by hand; using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows, and some small machinery, and was at times perilous, with several workers killed on the job; the final sections along steep coastal mountains being the most difficult to work on. Anecdotal evidence from ABC archives in 1982 suggested workers would rest detonators on their knees during travel, as it was the softest ride for them.

The soldiers were paid 10 shillings and sixpence for eight hours per day, also working a half-day on Saturdays. They used tents for accommodation throughout, and made use of a communal dining marquee and kitchen; food costing up to 10 shillings a week. Despite the difficulty involved in constructing the road, the workers had access to a piano, gramophone, games, newspapers and magazines at the camps.

The Memorial Arch was built as a tribute to the soldiers from the First World War who were engaged in the construction of the Great Ocean Road, the memorial arch provides a great photographic opportunity for travellers entering Lorne.

Alongside the arch is a sculpture also commemorating the returned servicemen, which was commissioned and placed during the 75th anniversary of the road celebrations.

There is a carpark alongside this area so visitors can make the most of this photo opportunity.

Nest, we stop by to catch a glimpse of koala bears and birds.

Nest we were at the MAITS REST RAINFOREST TRAIL part of the Great Otway National Park
We took a self-guided rainforest boardwalk at Maits Rest in the Otways to see the beautiful fern gardens and giant rainforest trees up to 300 years old.

We also walked on a wooden boardwalk which has been built over the tree-fern gullies and moss-covered roots of ancient rainforest trees, protecting the delicate ecosystem while providing visitors with unique views of the forest.

Our next destination is the TWELVE APOSTLES. This is one of the most well-known highlights of the Great Ocean Road - The Twelve Apostles. Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the massive limestone structures that tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean, leave its visitors awe-struck in wonder at their size and beauty. Behind the eight remaining stacks (five have fallen since their discovery) are majestic cliffs, around 70 metres high.

Glorious at both dusk and dawn the Twelve Apostles, by the forces of nature has gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs which became arches and when they collapsed, rock islands as high as 45 metres were left isolated from the shore.

Stop and visit the Twelve Apostles Centre before taking the walk to view the amazing Twelve Apostles coastline. The Centre offers insightful cultural heritage stories, shelter and toilets. Walk the short distance (500m) through the tunnel, under the Great Ocean Road to various lookouts offering expansive, breathtaking views.

The next stop is LOCH ARDGEORGE. The Loch Ard Gorge is part of Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia, about 10 minutes drive west of The Twelve Apostles. It is a visible example of the process of erosion in action.

Apart from natural beauty this site is steeped with history from the night of 31 May 1878. This location saw the dramatic survival of only two young people, Eva Carmichael as a passenger and Tom Pearce as crew.

The ship on a 90 day journey and was one day from arriving in Melbourne when it struck an outer reef. Sadly over 47 perished in The Wreck of the Loch Ard with only four bodies being retrieved and buried. Eva and Tom were swept into a long gorge and Tom dragged Eva into a cave in the western wall of the gorge before going for help. A walkway leads down to the beach, covered with delicate pink kelp, and you can scramble over craggy rocks to the cave where Eva sheltered, now a nesting site for small birds. 

Allow 2 - 3 hours to fully explore this precinct. At the main car park there is a map of the area, please note there are 3 car parking areas.

Offshore stacks, blowholes and the indescribable beauty of formations like the razorback and island arch make this precinct the one with the lot.

London Bridge, Port Phillips, Victoria, Australia

The next stop is the LONDON ARCH OR LONDON BRIDGE.

It is a natural arch in the Port Campbell National Park, Australia. The arch located at Great Ocean Road near Port Campbell in Victoria. This stack was formed by a gradual process of erosion, and until 1990 formed a complete double-span natural bridge. 

The arch closest to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly on 15 January 1990, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part until they were rescued by a helicopter. Prior to the collapse, the arch was known as London Bridge because of its similarity to its namesake. 


  1. Great post.
    Thank you very much for sharing and I love all your beautiful photos
    great ocean road tours 2 days

  2. great post - thanks for the info. We are heading over at Easter.

  3. Your blog is very informative, well written with good photographs. Excellent

    Aravinda Kumar
    Bangalore, India