Imagine coastal cliffs as far as your eyes can see, boulders as large as the shoulders of giants, and twelve tempered rocks as headstrong as the tide. This is the Great Ocean Road.
One of the world’s most scenic coastal routes, The Great Ocean Road is a natural marvel with dramatic coastlines, rugged cliffs, and rolling waves. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne, but for the chance to see the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, it’s worth it.
Quick money-saving tip: The average price for the tour was about $150 with an English tour operator, but we called a Chinatown guide who quoted us a $69 price. Since we were buying the tickets the day before the tour, the price had been marked down even more to just $39 (of course, the tour was going to be in Chinese, but who cares? Wikipedia knows everything anyway).
I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and headed to the meeting point with my mom and sister. We were organized into three buses full of tourists, mostly international Chinese and a few budget travelers like us.
About an hour in, we made our first bathroom stop before heading off and reaching the Great Ocean Road sign. There was a statue of workers memorializing the World War One servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road.
Following that, we made a few photo stops for some stunning ocean views.
We stopped by coastal town Apollo Bay for some fish and chips. We ate at a canteen-style restaurant, and about 10 minutes in a horde of Asian tourists swarmed the place with lines extending out the door – it felt like I was transported to a meat market in Hong Kong.
I decided to walk around on my own, and found a sandy path to a beautiful beach. Beside it, there was a playground with some kids going down slides and running around. I went on a little zip line-like thing (because I could), and it was glorious. The sun came out, which was a nice respite from the otherwise cloudy, bipolar weather.
Halfway through our day, we finally hit The Twelve Apostles. The weather had made a turn for the worse and the winds were being extremely unforgiving, but nevertheless we made it to the lookout point to take a look at the huge limestone rocks.
Though there used to be twelve apostles, only eight remain; the ninth one collapsed in 2005. The apostles were formed by erosion, and fall by the same method, too. There’s something poetic about coming to be the same way you return to the earth.
Beside us, people climbed over fences to take photos. Many took selfies and squeezed their way through for a clear view. Others opted to take a 50-minute helicopter ride that would offer a bird’s-eye view.
We walked down some steps to reach the Loch Ard Gorge, one of the most breathtaking pieces of scenery I’ve seen. For a good moment, I just stared at the behemoth-sized rocks, marked by their crevasses, and watched as the water flowed in and out of the gateway.
There were a few other walks to see some more spectacular cliffs and views, including the Island Archway and Razorback. The Island Archway used to look like an arch with a naturally formed gateway, but in June 2009 the top collapsed and now only two freestanding rocks remain.
We only had about an hour to explore the area, which was a little less than I had hoped. With more time, I would’ve wanted to take the Gibson Steps down to the beach where The Twelve Apostles are located, but even without doing so, I was satisfied.
I’m not a big fan of car rides that last more than an hour, but this was absolutely worth it. There is such majesty and fortitude in the way the rock formations in The Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge stand, like a stronghold undeterred by the thundering waves and stormy sky.