Ian (IMonaghan to TP'ers) spent last month in Melbourne and we had quite a few opportunities to catch up. And there's nothing better than going on a road trip with someone else who loves to see the world. So, the second weekend he was here, we loaded up his hire car and headed straight for the greatest natural attraction in Victoria - the Great Ocean Road. It would be a short trip, but we managed to cram in some great sights.
Getting to the Great Ocean Road is quite straightforward from Melbourne. You just head out on the Geelong Hwy and continue past Geelong following the big brown signs. Passing the small town of Anglesea, there is a famous arch that you go under to officially start your Great Ocean Road trip. You can usually find some tourists taking pictures there. It's almost obligatory to get a picture of yourself in front of that sign.
We meandered down the coast taking in the stunning views. You can't drive fast, but there really is no need to. Along the way, we spotted some Koala's sleepily going about their business. In Lorne, we decided to make a detour and check out the Erskine Falls. On the way, we practically screeched to a halt to give way to a little echidna crossing the road. The echidna was bemused by all the photo taking that was going on and didn't seem to mind it one bit. I guess they can't run fast, so they may as well enjoy the moment. One of the great and often unmentioned things about the Great Ocean Road is the Otway Ranges that it backs on to. There are some spectacular waterfalls, wildlife, forest walks and since recently, even the longest treetop walk in the world (more on that later). You could easily spend a mid-week going from sight to sight at a fairly hectic pace and still not see everything. The Erskine Falls provided a good taste of the rainforest.
Further down the road though we decided to stop at another great rainforest experience - Mait's Rest, an easy (mostly boardwalked) walk through some beautiful ferns and very tall trees. I've been there before but had forgotten how enjoyable it was.
After a lunch of seafood in Apollo Bay, we decided to pay the Cape Otway lighthouse a visit. Lighthouses are usually good fun and this was no exception. The views from the top of the lighthouse are simply stunning.
We noticed the sun was on its way down by now and we needed to make some serious progress to catch the star attraction of the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles. And we arrived there at exactly the right time - minutes before sunset and a perfect photo opportunity. This scenery never fails to impress.
It was getting dark quickly now, so we pushed on to Warrnambool where we stayed for the night. Warrnambool is a great little town, but sadly not much seemed to be going on that night. We had fish and chips for dinner, then tried the local Irish Pub, but had to leave when the rather dismal band came on stage. Driving around town, we didn't find many other options, so decided to call it an early night. After all, we had plans for the morning.
We didn't have long the next day (had to be back in Melbourne by 5), but we desperately wanted to go see the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, a fairly new attraction. Also, we wanted to stop off at some of the other coastal features we had missed the night before. So, we rose bright and early and headed back to the Road. There are several other great coastal scenic lookouts besides the Apostles. I found the Bay of Islands, which I hadn't seen before, quite spectacular. The Loch Ard Gorge is an old favourite and it didn't disappoint this time either, it's well worth walking down the steps here. Though, I'm sure the caves at the base was accessible last time I visited about 6 years ago. There's another cave that requires some negotiation with the tides that can still be explored though (probably not advisable, but oh well).
The Fly Treetop Walk was enjoyable. Plenty of freaked out people scared of heights to keep us entertained. The walk down to access the Treetop walk is longer than you would imagine though and means you will need to walk back up that hill as well. Still, well worth it.
And that pretty much ended the trip. From there we drove straight back to Melbourne for a bbq and some beers to finish off the day.