The Adventures of Hannah & Louise
Our trip to the Great Ocean Road began early with us needing to be in the city for our pick up at 7.30am. We boarded our mini bus along with about 15 other people and headed off South West of Melbourne, through Geelong to start our journey on the Great Ocean Road. Our first stop was Bell's Beach, which is famous both as a top surfing destination and also where the final scenes of the film Point Break where filmed. The weather on the Great Ocean Road was being as unpredictable as it was in Melbourne and we were lucky not to get blown off the top of the cliff and on to the beach!! A quick photo stop and we were off to our next location... the sign to mark the official start of the Great Ocean Road. The signage that hangs above the road, was erected as a memorial to the men who built the road, some of whom lost their lives. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and is the world's largest war memorial; dedicated to casualties of World War 1 and runs from Torquay to Warrnambool for 151 miles. Just as we got back on the bus, the heavens well and truly opened and we continued on to a small town called Lorne which is a beautiful bay, which only has a small population of permanent residents which swells in the summer when people visit their holiday homes. Back on the bus and we continued to the Kennet River area where we saw rainbow Lorikeet's and were able to feed them and have them sit on our hands. We also saw wild Koalas sitting in the trees fast asleep. We decided we could happily be Koalas, they eat for 4 hours a day and then sleep for 20 because the eating exhausts them so much! (it's actually because the eucalyptus leaves that they eat don't have enough nutrients in them to give them any energy to do anything else). By now it was almost lunchtime and we headed off to Apollo Bay. On a day tour to the Great Ocean Road, you stop for lunch at Apollo Bay and then continue on touring for the rest of the day. We had opted to do a 3 day trip so at this point we hopped off the bus and headed to our hostel to check in. We would have the afternoon, the whole of the following day and the morning of the 3rd day to do our own thing before rejoining another tour in the afternoon. When we got to our hostel, we were very impressed. We stayed at the YHA Apollo Bay Eco Beach. It's a purpose built eco hostel, which looks like something out of home design magazine, it's all glass and wood and open plan. The main living areas have open fires, comfy sofas and well equipped kitchens. The atmosphere, people who run it and the people who were staying there were all amazing and very welcoming. It was the cleanest hostel we've ever been to and immaculate everywhere. There were a range of people staying, from a young family right through to older people and of all nationalities. So, after checking in, we headed off for a walk around our surroundings. However, the weather was well and truly against us, so after stocking up at the local supermarket, we headed back to the hostel and spent the evening reading our books in front of the fire and chatting to other guests of the hostel. Next morning, we decided that whatever the weather we would do some walking. In the morning, pacamacs on, we walked along the beach at Apollo Bay up to a road called Mariner's Walk. We had been warned that this walk would be quite steep and they weren't wrong. After about half an hour of real up hill walking, we arrived at a point called Mariner's lookout. The view was very impressive and we could see right across Apollo Bay into the neighbouring villages. Just as we reached the top, the heavens opened!!! This didn't deter us, our hoods went up and we continued taking photos and then headed back down the hill. After lunch, we walked in the opposite direction towards the next bay, called Marengo. As our walk began, so did the rain (can you see a pattern emerging here?!) thank goodness for pacamacs! At this point, we were questioning if we were actually in Australia in the SUMMER. The landscape is similar to somewhere like Devon as was the weather!! Undeterred, in typical English fashion, we headed off into the rain and arrived safely at Marengo a short time later. We watched some local children body boarding and surfing but decided not to join them as the water was far too cold! We headed back towards Apollo Bay and stopped for what we had been promised by our roommates at the hostel was an amazing hot chocolate at a local cafe. Then it was back to the hostel for another night of socialising with fellow guests. Despite the weather, Apollo Bay and it's surrounding villages are definitely worth a visit. The beaches and landscape are incredible and neither our words or pictures will ever be able to do it justice. If find yourself in the Melbourne area, make sure you take a trip on the Great Ocean Road and stay at the hostel, even if you wouldn't normally stay in a hostel, this place is in a whole different class. On our final day, we spent the morning again relaxing in Apollo Bay and making the most of our luxurious hostel before being picked up at lunchtime by the tour and heading off to see the rest of the Great Ocean Road. First stop was a small rainforest area which had massive Mountain Ash trees which can grow over 100 metres tall, making them the tallest flowering plants in the world. We had a nice walk through the rainforest before heading off to our next location through an ever changing landscape. The 12 Apostles were our next stop. The Twelve Apostles is a collection of eight miocene limestone rock stacks jutting from the water in Port Campbell National Park, which were formed by erosion and continue to erode. Since I (Hannah) visited 5 years ago, one has actually completely disappeared. It was completely breath taking and again our photos will hopefully give you an idea of how beautiful it was. The weather, although not hot, was kind to us on the Friday and was mostly sunny, hooray! Our penultimate stop was Loch Ard Gorge. I'd been harping on about this place to Lou since our Australia trip began formation, it's one of my favourite places in the world, it is stunning. The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard which ran aground on the 1st of June, 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Tom Pearce, a ship's apprentice, and Eva Carmichael, an Irishwoman were the only 2 survivors. Tom was washed ashore and rescued Eva from the water after hearing her cries for help. He then scaled the rock face and luckily happened across 2 men who he alerted to the disaster. It's a beautiful cove surrounded by massive rock faces with a deep blue/ green water and golden sands. Our final stop was at "London Bridge" - a rock formation given the name due to it's likeness to the original. However, in 1990, one part of the bridge collapsed, leaving just 2 stacks unconnected from the mainland. You used to be able to walk from the mainland right out to the edge of what is now the last stack. The story goes that on the day of the collapse 2 people had walked out to the edge of the stack, when the bridge suddenly collapsed leaving them stranded. A local man in a nearby car park saw what had happened and called the Australian equivalent of the coast guard, who told him that at that moment they were unable to help as they were too busy and advised him to call the local TV stations as it was mid-summer so they were quite often out and about filming with helicopters and that this would be a newsworthy story. Channel 7, sent a helicopter out to film the rescue, as they approached, the 2 stranded people were waving and overjoyed to see a helicopter coming to rescue them. All the time, this was being beamed live on TV. As the helicopter got closer, the people suddenly through themselves to the ground and refused to show their face when they realised they were being filmed. Noone could understand why they didn't want to be seen until it was revealed at a later date that they were married, however not to each other..... So, this concluded our trip along the Great Ocean Road and we headed back to Melbourne exhausted but having had a great exhilirating and peaceful few days in beautiful surroundings and having met some great people.