After a somewhat disturbed sleep from people entering and exiting the hostel room during the night I woke at around 6am. Trying to be as quiet as possible I gathered my things, showered and waited in reception. The tour bus was due to pick me up around 7am outside of the hostel and so I had some time to kill before they arrived. I spotted a map of the world on the table in front of me and so moved closer to get a better look.
I’ll admit this now – my Geography is terrible! I once thought Africa was in Europe and Cape Town was in New Zealand… why I decided to travel I’ll never know! Anyway… after studying the map for a while and having a giggle to myself over funny place names I’ve never heard of, the tour bus arrived. I was one of the first people on to the bus so pretty much all of the seats were free. A few stops later the bus was nearly full when an Argentinean called Eduardo jumped on and sat next to me. We didn’t chat much at first as it was still rather early and a lot of people were still tired, but as the day went on we swapped travel stories etc. and stuck with each other for the rest of the trip.
Our tour guide was a bubbly young girl. The first thing she said to us on the tour was “I’m blonde. I’m a woman and I’m driving your bus. Good luck” She’d crack similar jokes throughout the day but also gave us some brilliant information.
The first stop on our tour was at Bells Beach. Apparently it’s a world famous beach but I’ve not heard of it before… it was a nice beach though! As we were waiting to board the bus Eduardo started speaking to somebody from another tour. I wasn’t listening at first but gradually joined the conversation. At first I thought they were just speaking really fast as I could make out words every now and again but then I realized they were speaking Spanish to each other. I felt rude just leaving the conversation and so nodded my head every now and again laughed when they did. I think I pulled it off but Eduardo laughed at me later on the bus when he realized I can’t speak a word of Spanish.
We drove for a while more before stopping at a The Split Point Lighthouse. For those of you who know the program “Around the Twist” – this was the lighthouse that they used to film in. We all jumped off the bus and walked through a few dirt tracks to get to the base of it. On the way back to the bus the road forked in to 3 different routes which I didn’t see on the way in… we went down the wrong one at first leading us in to somebody’s back garden but the second route we took got us back to the bus.
We drove again for around 45 minutes, stopping every now and again for photos and to take in the scenery. It was around midday by now so the tour guide broke out the free lunch for us all which I must admit was bloody brilliant! We were parked in a small picnic area on the side of the road with a view of the ocean right in front of us. Behind the picnic area was a large area of eucalyptus trees where wild Koalas were normally spotted. Eduardo and I took a walk up the path to see what we could see and were amazed when we spotted a koala literally an arms stretch away from us. It was reaching out for leaves every now and again, eating them and watching us while doing so. Others started to arrive in the area and it became a bit crowded so we left and boarded the bus again. Again we drove for a while stopping at some view points for photos before we arrived at one of the rainforests along the way.
The rainforest we stopped at is apparently one of the only places in the world that the carnivorous black snail can be found. We had some free time to walk around the forest to see if we could spot any but unfortunately the only ones we could find had been squashed and killed on the path. The rainforest wasn’t the best compared to those on the Gold Coast but it was still fairly nice. If you’ve got the spare time then you might as well check it out!
After our little trip in the rain forest was the part of the trip that I was most looking forward to – the 12 apostles! The 12 apostles are one of those places that I immediately think of when I think of Australia. Some people think Sydney Harbor Bridge is the place to go see – but this place is truly beautiful.
It’s always going to be busy by the 12 apostles no matter what time of the day you go – it’s mostly full of Asians snapping away with their cameras but if you stick around for long enough you can get yourself some amazing photos. Unfortunately I didn’t have my nice camera with me and so the photos aren’t the best, but to be honest, photos wouldn’t do this place any justice. It’s really somewhere that you have to see for your own eyes. There is an option to go up in a helicopter for $70 each but we didn’t have the time while on the tour. A few photos and videos later we unfortunately had to get back on the bus to head to the next area. I didn’t care where we went after there as to me, that’s what the Great Ocean Road was all about – but boy I was wrong. The next stop on the tour was Loch Ard Gorge.
Loch Ard Gorge was named after the ship Loch Ard that sank just off the coast. All but two passengers died. The story goes that one of the survivors had made it to shore when he heard a female cry for help. He jumped back in to the water and rescued a young girl who had also been caught in the wreck. The water was far too rough to get in and swim but it looked truly amazing. If we had all day I could have easily spent most of it there just sitting back and relaxing. After spending 20 minutes or so down at the gorge we walked up to the top to see some more views. The waves were crashing extremely hard at the mouth of the gorge making noises that sounded very close to thunder.
It was getting quite late now and so the next stop was the last on the trip. It was only a 15-20 minute drive to the next area ‘London Bridge’. This was a stack of rocks off the coast that originally looked like the London Bridge. Unfortunately part of the stack had collapsed and so now it doesn’t look much like the London Bridge but it was still fairly impressive.
We’d driven around 450km getting to London Bridge which meant we had another 450km to drive on the way back. Even though we spent a lot of the day on the bus we were all very tired and I could see people dropping off to sleep one by one on the way back. I must have nodded off along the way too as I was woken up by a phone call from one of the Melbourne Matt’s just outside of Geelong. It was quite difficult to speak to him on the phone as I was still half asleep and had an Argentinean sleeping on my shoulder. I felt bad waking him up so tried not to move much at all. Besides, I fell asleep again as soon as I hung up the phone so I didn’t really mind. The tour dropped my back at the hostel at around 8pm but thanks to my little nap on the bus I was wide awake.
As I walked in to the room one of the girls there was on their way out and invited me along. She was only going to the common area of the hostel but I went along anyway. We ended up playing pool with each other and it’s safe to say she well and truly kicked my arse. Before we knew it, it had turned 1am so we decided to call it a night and head to bed. Unlike the previous night we were actually the last ones in to the room.