The Great Ocean Road which winds alongside the jagged cliffs and untamed Southern Ocean is home to the few remaining limestone spires of the 12 Apostles. Join me on a story of this breathtaking and dramatic region. This is a guide along the Great Ocean Road for those who like to travel without a tour guide.
posted on October 31st, 2018 by Lee-Rose
The feat began as the dust settled from World War 1, and 2400 ex-servicemen joined with 600 civilians in grabbing their shovels and starting the Great Ocean Road trust. The task ahead was tough, and with only the ropes tied around their waists preventing them from falling into the wild sea, they slowly worked away at the hill to create what we now know as the Great Ocean Road. At last, on 26 November 1932 the 243km long route was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine, marking a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I carved into the rock.
Hit The Road
You arrive in Torquay as the beaches become more extravagant, and open the way to the start of the great ocean road. The bamboo overhang announces the start as it hangs above the car and the road that cuts into the mountain. The view is surreal, like you're on an exotic island, with the diverse scenery changing between the towns as you get closer to the famous rocky outcrops. At the beginning the road winded through the mountains, separating them from the ocean. But then as you drive further along you begin to see the true impact of harsh Australian bush fires and the remaining skeletons of the houses left behind amongst the charred trees. But with all that behind you, there is yet another change, you start to see the countryside that everyone remembers from the trip. The smooth light brown and green grass covering the rolling hills. But then these hills soon get flatter and towns start appearing as you approach the roads most famous destination, The Twelve Apostles.
Our first destinations was a short detour away, along a road lined with the skeletons of dead trees. These trees are a dim reminder of the thousands of koalas that used to live there, and had been killing themselves and the environment. Since 2016 wildlife conservationists have relocated over 600 koalas around the area, and are now starting to see normal numbers as some of the trees regrow their leaves after being stripped back. Once out of the eucalyptus tree graveyard we reached Cape Otway, a 'beacon of hope' that rests on top of the towering sea cliffs where the Bass straight and the Southern Ocean collide. Cape Otway lighthouse was built in 1848, and since then, from sunrise till sunset it guided thousands upon thousands of those adrift to shore, and for just a small fee this grand lighthouse was yours to explore. Cape Otway lighthouse is truly one of the most amazing sights, and from the top the view is even more exceptional, as the icy blue ocean that crashes against the cliff stretches for miles out in front of you. With your back to the ocean as harsh winds whip across the sky listen to one of the few lighthouse keepers explain to you the tragic history of this place, and how it all works.
Carved by Hugh Gibson, 86 limestone steps scour their way down the side of the cliff. Leading a way down to the beautiful beach where daring surfers hit the waves. Take a walk down the path originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people, and sit back against the sand in front of Gog and Margog, two towering 70-meter high limestone stacks that rise up out of the sea. This destination is definitely a must, and was one of my favourite destinations along the road due to its extravagant cliffs and minimal visitors, making it mostly secluded despite a few other photographers and fearless surfers taking to the waves.
Tip: If you walk
from to the bottom of the steps and go to the right, you can see where the
cliff extends to the ocean. And if you time it right (depending on if its low
or high tide) you can slip around the corner to another beach where there is no
one else as the only way to get there is back where you came from, and not many
people know about it. But the cool thing is, from there you can see the lookout
for the twelve apostles (and photo bomb some of the tourists photos). Though
there is no access to the twelve apostles from this beach unless you swim (DO
NOT) or catch a boat, due to how far the cliff extends. (Disclaimer: make sure you keep an eye on the tide as you don’t want to be stuck there.)
The Twelve Apostles are 20 million year old limestone stacks that tower above the rough water of the Shipwreck Coast and are a popular tourist destination for people around the world. The Twelve Apostles were originally called "the sow and piglets" and consisted of 12 pillars originally, but now sadly four of them have collapsed into the thundering ocean, with the most recent one being in 2005 when the highest Apostle fell (50m) leaving only 8 Apostles. But hurry to this location as on average 2cm is eroded from the base of these pillars each year.
The Twelve Apostles are an amazing sight, but don’t be fooled, the amount of people that visit there is astounding making it almost impossible to see them without standing on the tables. Personally they were not the highlight of our trip as there is many more less known locations along the dramatic coast that are even more impressive. Although if you are a fan of them and want to see them in person, I would recommend going in the early morning or evening as the tour busses have left, or not yet come.
Bay of islands
Yes, this place is a s beautiful as its name suggests. The next day we left our camp in the early hours of the day to catch the sunrise at the Bay Of Islands. Once their you can choose from two different viewing areas to watch the water sparkle and colour spread across the sky as the sun comes up. Be sure to arrive quite a while before sunrise to make sure you find the ideal spot to view it. We decided to start by heading down to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs, yes
this can be done, if you follow the road around from the car park you will come to a boat ramp, and if you continue down at the bottom of the ramp is the beach. As to be expected the ramp is quite steep and can be quite slippery especially in wet weather, as well as this if you want to launch a boat there make sure have at least launched a boat a few times before due to the steep decline. After we took the drone up for a fly we had no time to sit back and watched the sunrise as we were off to the next spot, determined to see all the places before the flocks of people came.
After a short walk from the car park you arrive at a set of stairs that lead down to a small rock archway. For me this was not one of my Favourite places, but it was still very beautiful, in my opinion the best spot to take a photo was not at the bottom of the stairs but from above as you walked along.
no, its not the actual London Bridge, it is a rock formation much like the Grotto but larger. 29 years ago the London bridge was connected to the mainland via a second bridge and there was a walk all the way across to the point. Although due to erosion, in 1990 the arch collapsed trapping Dave Darrington and his cousin on the newly formed island for until they could be rescued. (find out more about this event at http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/02/16/4181113.htm) As well as this there also used to be a way down to the beach although due to penguin colonies nesting their it was removed, despite the few daring people who scaled the cliff side to reach the bottom.
the blowhole, Loch ard gorge & muton bird island
This short detour off the great ocean road would have to be the best place to go as there is several different lookouts and features of the cliff side to see, including views of Tom and Eva, access to a beautiful beach in-between the cliff faces, a blowhole and two caves.
incomplete, more coming soon...
Photo from 1919 sourced from otwaylifemagazine.wordpress.com
Facts from the history of the Great Ocean Road may not be correct, as I am not an expert and the sources I gathered the information from may be false. Sorry for any inconveniences.