THE START OF THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD!
Perhaps the number one ‘Must-Do’ in Victoria, a trip along The Great Ocean Road is an amazing getaway and great way to experience the Victorian Coastline. The road technically stretches from Torquay to Adelaide, but you can hop on and off as you wish, and go whichever distance best fits your desires and timetable. Starting from Anglesea, I spent three days total along the coast, making Tower Hill my furthest point before turning back around. Here is how I spent my three days:
The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie:
My first stop along the G.O.R. was to the chocolate factory. With the hot chocolate festival in full swing, how could I pass up the chance to try some real, chocolate factory hot chocolate? I indulged in the Hazelnut-ella, which was served with a side cup of nutella—just in case it wasn’t nutella-y enough—and a chocolate marshmallow. The factory offered samples of their Milk, Dark, and White Chocolate buttons, and having left all my will power in the car, I purchased some handmade truffles as well.
Driving along the Great Ocean Road, I stopped and got out of the car every time an inlet or turn out caught my attention. I did pan ahead though for Kennet River, which is most known for it’s koala sightings in the many Eucalyptus Trees which line the offset roads. It must have been my lucky day because the first tree I came to had a koala—awake and happily munching away. Cockatiels and beautiful rainbow lorikeets also make their own home along these trees. Tip: bring along seeds in order to make fast friends with some of the locals.
Otway National Forest:
The Otway National Forest is a lush rainforest filled with wildlife, nature treks, and breathtaking waterfalls. Before venturing off on my road trip, I did some research on which treks and waterfalls I wanted to visit on my short stop over through the forest. I decided on a 5km return walk to Little Aire Falls along Phillips Track Road in the northern region of the Otway Ranges. Little Aire Falls shares the same trail head with Triplet Falls, so you have your choice of either or both treks
Just a few kilometers down the road from Triplet Falls/Little Aire Falls is Melba Gully. This is a must do on your trip because the glow worms come out after dark. I went at dusk and did the full loop while waiting for the glow worms to come out. They don’t come until after it’s dark, so bring a flashlight with you. I was lucky enough that it was almost a full moon, so I used the moonlight to guide my way. A few hundred meters down the path, turn off your light and look into the ferns on your left. The glow worms appear and within a few minutes, you’re surrounded by the these twinkling lights against the darkness of the forest. It’s definitely an enchanting event not to be missed!
The Kindness of Strangers:
While at Melba Gully, I ran into four other ladies who had also come to see the glow worms. We walked down the path together and after spending some magical moments in the darkness of the forest surrounded by the glimmering lights, returned to the car park. They asked me where I was spending the night. I had actually found myself an hour up the road from my accommodation, so I canceled my booking and had intended to camp in a nearby campsite for the night. Without a moment’s hesitation, the ladies invited me over for dinner and offered me their couch to stay on in their AirBnB they had rented for the weekend. Part of me didn’t want to intrude on the ladies’ weekend, but the other part of me was inclined to be open to what the universe was bringing me, so I accepted the invitation and followed them to their AirBnB about 20 minutes down the road. They shared their dinner with me and we spent the night chatting and getting to know each other. Gail force winds picked up during the night and brought an absolute downpour of rain. If I had camped I probably would have been blown away! I can’t thank these ladies enough for inviting a complete stranger into their weekend getaway and offering a warm meal and place to sleep without any hesitations. I am so grateful for their kindness and glad that I trusted my instincts in accepting their invitation for the evening.
VIEW FROM THE AIRBNB THE MORNING AFTER THE DOWNPOUR.
Probably the most famous stop-off along the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles are another site not to be missed. I arrived early Saturday morning, and was fortunate to beat the tour busses and groups to the lookout. The pictures don’t do these massive structures justice. You don’t get the full magnitude of the power of nature until you’re standing in front of these humbling rock clusters. Though they’re named the 12 Apostles, I believe only 8 ‘Apostles’ are still standing, the others have been taken out by the waves in which they were formed.
JUST A BIT WINDY...
Moving on to the next Must-See of the trip—Whale Watching at Logan’s Beach! There’s a whale nursery and viewing platform at Logan’s Beach, and the whales come to breed and calf and can be spotted between May and September. I spotted about six whales and three calves, right next to the shoreline, and could also make out numerous others out in the deeper sea. Arriving around 11:00am, I didn’t have to wait more than five minutes before my first sighting.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve:
I chose Tower Hill as my final stop before turning back around because of the wildlife reserve and hiking treks located within the reserve. There are about five main treks you can take, and a nice picnic area where you can share a table with the resident emus. I went on the Journey to the Last Volcano, and the Lake Edge Circuit where I encountered wild Kangaroos and numerous bird life. It was such a peaceful walk through nature, and the trees were overflowing with yellow blooming flowers, giving off a fairytale scenery. The paths lead you up to great viewing areas where you can look out over the lakes and the rest of the reserve.
A cute little town along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay has plenty to keep you occupied for a night’s stop over. Right alongside the coast, the town’s main street offers an array of different shops to keep your interest, and one of the most popular breweries in Victoria.
My last stop off along the Great Ocean Road was a detour to Eskrine Falls. Reviewed as one of the most popular waterfalls, I had to take a look for myself. Again, nestled in the rainforest about 10km outside the city of Lorne, the falls are secluded and offer a much needed escape from the main road. The trail head brings you to the top of the falls, but the trek to the bottom is worth the view. When the water level is low, you can cross the river and follow the trail back to Lorne—about a 7km/3 hour trek. Or, just have some fun jumping along boulders before making the climb back up the 250+ stairs to the carpark.
I had an absolute blast on my three day, two night solo journey along the Great Ocean Road. Regardless of how far you’re able to travel, I highly recommend a stop-over where ocean, forest, and wildlife combine to make an unforgettable experience.