My laid back attitude has a big influence in the way I travel abroad. I always have a general idea of where I’m going with a loose “must see, must do” list because I love doing things on a whim. That’s what happened when my friends and I decided to drive the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles. It was suggested by our new Melbourne friends to see the natural wonder. I had heard of the 12 Apostles before but had no idea it was a relatively close drive from Melbourne. So on our second day in the city we booked a car for the very next day.
We started early to give ourselves enough time to get there and back within the day. Luckily, there was a coffee shop just a few steps away from the car rental and we fueled our bodies for the long day ahead. We quickly learned that Gloria Jean’s Coffee shops are almost as frequent as Starbucks shops are in America. It was decided that I would drive the first half there which limited my picture taking opportunities while on the road. However, with two other riders, one being quite the paparazzi (love you, Teresa!) and plenty of stops along the way, I did my best taking as many pictures as possible.
The start of this famed stretch of road begins in the beach community of Torquay. That’s pronounced Tor·key for all us Yanks. So, of course, we had to take our first pictures and one of many stops here. I also made a special stop at the local Surfcoast Whole Foods to pick up a couple green beauty items that I had my particular eyes on (review here).
From Torquay to the 12 Apostles National Park you drive through several small beach communities and farmlands. The views were nothing less than breathtaking. Although I was driving the first half, the winding roads gave me short glimpses ahead to appreciate the seascape. The charm of the beach communities we drove through helped solidify my attraction to this country.
Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, and Port Campbell were a few of the towns we zipped through. About 30 minutes after we had left Torquay, we reached the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. We took a customary stop and snapped a few photos but with the oncoming traffic from either side it was hard to take a nice head-on picture. We made a few more stops along the way in areas that had some great scenery.
Once we reached Apollo Bay we decided to stop for a toilet break and grocery store run. It was here that I got to enjoy one of my [now] favorite ice creams. A toffee and vanilla mix covered in milk chocolate and sprinkled with honeycomb bits – Golden Gaytime, please come to America! We were now stretching the normal 4 hours drive to almost 6 hours with all the stops. We decided that the drive from here on out was going to be a straight shot in order to make it there with light still in the sky.
About 5.5 hours later we finally made it to the 12 Apostles just in time for some astonishing views. The October Spring greeted us with quite the wind and chill. I was dumb enough not to bring my sweater with me but it didn’t really matter because all I could concentrate on was the view.
We walked on the pathway that ran alongside the ocean up to a headland where you could get a 180° view (click picture above to enlarge amateur iPhone panoramic view). It might be a wonder on how these 12 apostles came to be but it’s scientific, really. The limestone stacks have been forming over millions of years through erosion. The waves gently beat on the soft cliff sides giving way to form caves which eventually turned into arches. These arches collapsed and formed these isolated stacks of limestone. There were originally 9 stacks but now 8 since 2005 when one of them collapsed under further erosion.
We stayed there for almost 2 hours before we decided it was time to start heading back to Melbourne. This time Cassandra was behind the wheel while I got to relax as a passenger and have my undivided attention on the beautiful views. I was able to take some photos of the impressive farm landscapes complete with grazing cows, horses, and sheep. And somewhere along the way I could have sworn we passed by a kangaroo or wallaby hiding in the greenery just off to the side of the road. With Cassandra driving and Teresa staring at the ocean, they couldn’t vouch for my sighting. Before we completely fell into nightfall (and I into motion sickness) I was able to get one more glance of the setting sun just over one of the hills.