The Great Ocean Road – already the name is promising. And anyone who has ever seen images of the Twelve Apostles (actually only eight, but no matter) in the light of a sunset will not be able to resist the pull of these grandiose natural scenes. So on our journey from Adelaide to Melbourne, we did not avoid costs, efforts and mass tourism, to see those bizarre rock formations, which for thousands of years have defied the wind and waves of the Southern Ocean.
After entering the Great Ocean Road with the Bay of Islands near Peterborough, we headed to the Bay of Martyrs. Here we had the opportunity to walk to the foot of the steep rock cliffs and experience the yellow sand as well as the azure waters with pir bare toes (and India with her mouth). India, of course, was enthusiastic to finally have a proper sandpit. Right next to it we visited the Grotto, a hole in a rock, which, with its yellow colouring, formed an interesting framework for the blue ocean behind.
Then we went to the Australian version of the London Bridge – a large rocky arch off the coast. However, unlike the original, it is not recommended to pass this natural bridge with a boat – especially with the normally quite strong waves of the Southern Sea. As a small brother of the London Bridge is “The Arch”. This small stone bow is still connected to the mainland, but only the daring intend to climb it.
As the highlight of our second day along the Great Ocean Road, we had set aside the sunset over the Twelve Apostles. This ensemble of now only eight limestone rocks, which are up to 60 m high, is the most photographed tourist attraction in Australia, along with the Uluru (Ayers Rock). We can confirm this as well: Because on the one hand, more than a thousand people were gathering on the various viewing platforms of the national park, and on the other hand every one of these thousand people would probably have taken home at least 200 rock photos on his/her camera. At least this was the case with us.
This was mainly due to the many different perspectives offered by the various observation platforms, and on the other hand the lighting mood changed again and again during the half-hour sunset. At its dramatic end, the stone towers and the steep cliffs behind them lit up in a rich orange, before dusk caused the colours to fade. This was also the time to return quickly to our van to get a spot at the nearby campsite.
After this highlight, the Great Ocean Road still had a few more aces up its sleeve. So the next day we drove a bit back to see the Loch Ard Gorge. Here, waves have created a dramatic bay, along with steep rock faces, a soft sand beach and a pirate cave (without pirates). But while we were able to enjoy this natural wonder, a nearby cemetery showed that this place was also the backdrop of a human tragedy when the Clipper Loch Arge ran aground in 1878 and 52 people left their lives in the roaring floods.
As the sea was quite calm during our visit, the sight of another nature show was denied to us: the Thunder Cave and the Blowhole. They only live up to their names during strong swells.
That the Great Ocean Road not only consists of spectacular bays and rock formations, was shown during our afternoon walk through the Melba Gully in the Great Otway National Park. Thanks to the rich rainfall a humid rain forest has formed, with ferns, myrtle beeches and aggressive beetles 😉 After so much excitement, it was time for a night’s sleep, which we found thanks to Wiki Camps more or less legally in the small town of Apollo Bay.
After our romantic breakfast on the river with freshly picked blackberries, we went on to a man-made attraction. At Carisbrook Creek, one day a bored backpacker had begun to build a cairn (stone tower). Inspired by this pioneer, many more backpackers must have used the almost endless supply of granite stones on this beach to create hundreds more cairns. This is how a temporary work of art came about, which might be a small tribute to the towers of the Great Ocean Road. We did not miss the opportunity, of course, and also left behind a small Weltengugger turret on the beach.
At the end of our eventful journey along the Southern Sea we saw wild koalas, relaxed tawny frogmouths and the remains of a devastating bush fire. Then we said farewell to the Australian mainland for the time being and steered Kifaru in the belly of the Tasmanian Spirit in the port of Melbourne. Why we had a food orgy before the ferry left and later had to live on crispbread and water, you will find out in the next report. Until then…
Here are all photos of our drive along the Souther Ocean: Along the Great Ocean Road