The Great Ocean Road…an overview
The Great Ocean Road is one of the top ten drives in the world and the 12 Apostles are one of the most visited attractions in Australia. It is a listed National Historic site of Australia.There’s so much to see on this amazing coastal drive which stretches 243 kilometres along the coast from Torquay to Allansford.
This road hugs the shores of the Southern Ocean with beaches and limestone cliffs on one side and green countryside on the other. Port Campbell National Park which houses the 12 Apostles lies on this road . The coast from Torquay to Cape Otway is called the surf coast and further on it is called the shipwreck coast.The limestone cliffs here were responsible for many of the early ship wrecks.
The Great Ocean Road was built in memory of Australians who lost their lives in the first World War.
We had a day trip on Great Ocean Road booked from India via Viator
Picked up by Bunyip travels, our local tour operator, we were soon out of Melbourne and at the Memorial Arch on the Great Ocean Road.
Memorial Arch was built as a tribute to honour the three thousand servicemen that built and worked on the road from 1919 to 1932.
The Arch is at one of the original toll points where people paid to use the road .The toll point was taken down once the building costs were paid off and the archway was then built mostly from wood.
The Memorial Arch On Great Ocean Road
After a short photo halt, we drove down to the town of Anglesea where we were treated to some packed breakfast.
The drive on The Great Ocean Road is an experience in itself. The winding road with greenery and palatial mansions of the rich and famous keeps one glued to the window on one side. On the other side, the ocean plays hide and seek with you. A great view of the ocean suddenly blinded by cliffs for a short distance and then again another perspective of the ocean. This is perhaps how you can describe this drive. But the ocean views are awesome to say the least. Occasional rocky sentinels stand out from the ocean with the waves constantly brushing them. Some of these sentinels have obviously worn out due to the constant caresses from the ocean waves. Many of these were connected to the coast long ago and have been gradually severed away by the lashing waves.
Cape Otway lighthouse was our next photo halt. Here , a short walk off the road leads you to a light house and a small cafe.
The Cape Otway Lighthouse
The Cape Otway lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia.It is decommissioned now. It is a great whale watching destination from ashore as whales swim close to the shores in winter. There is a telegraph station here too.
Further down the Great Ocean road from Otway, the coast is called the Shipwreck coast. Rightly so….at least eight ships have wrecked on this coast. A sinister record indeed!!!
The Great Otway National Park
Located 162 kms from Melbourne this National Park lies in the Otway Ranges. It contains diverse range of landscapes and vegetation types.This park is designated an important bird area due to the variety of birds sighted here primarily due to its diverse vegetation . We had a small halt here and did a small forest walk. Some pictures….
The Otway Rainforest
The Bass Strait
The Bass Strait separates mainland Australia from the island of Tasmania.
There were many lookout points on the Great Ocean Road from where there are amazing views of the Bass Strait. One such picture…
The Bass Strait from one of the look outs on Great Ocean Road.
After a lunch break at one of the towns, we proceeded to Port Campbell National Park
The Port Campbell National Park features multiple limestone cliffs,rock stacks, gorges and arches.The 12 Apostles, The Loch Ard Gorge and the Gibson steps are the more popular attractions . These have all resulted from the salt laden air and harsh weather conditions peculiar to this region
The 12 Apostles
Rising out of the Southern Ocean, just off The Great Ocean Road are these magnificent limestone cliffs called The 12 Apostles. These were connected to the mainland once upon a time. Nature has played its music with these pillars. Winds and waves have battered them over the years into caves, arches and eventually into 150 ft high columns around 10 to 20 million years ago.At present there are only 8 such pillars seen.
These limestone cliffs look remarkable against the bluish ocean backdrop. They vary in colour and appearance depending on the time of the day. There are special sunset tours organised to the Apostles as the sun set views are claimed to be exquisite.There is a long wooden walkway towards the ocean and one can get views of these cliffs from different angles.
Our tour day was a cloudy one and so the pictures do not reflect the varied colours seen on sunny days.Some pictures…
The Loch Ard Gorge
3.5 km further west of the Apostles, is Loch Ard gorge.
The picturesque gorge is home to two yellow colored cliff faces with a bay in between. The water from the ocean enters the bay and can be reached at the beach.Though it looks like something out of a storybook, Loch Ard has a history dating back to 1878. A ship named Loch Ard was wrecked here killing all except two passengers, Pierce and Carmichael.
Stairs allow visitors to access the beach.
This gorge has provided a backdrop for many movies….and is still considered a popular destination for film shoots.
The Loch Ard Gorge
Situated close to the Apostles and the Loch Ard Gorge, one can access the beach using this stairway which has 86 steps.
As a popular stop-off on the Great Ocean Road, the Gibson Steps are easy to reach. The easiest way is to park in the designated car park that leads directly onto the viewing platform and the steps below. The views here are stunning, and after a view from the top on the roadside, one can use the steps to access the beach below.
Originally, it is thought the steps were cut out by the Kirrae Whurrong people, a local tribe who called the area home.
Hugh Gibson built the Glenample Homestead nearby and regularly used the carved steps to access the beach below. During this time, it was constantly used by fishermen and other seafaring workers to get to the beach and the water. Gibson is most famous for his role in the Loch Ard shipwreck. The two survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, were nursed and regained their strength at his homestead.
After spending some time on the beach and clicking some pictures, we returned to the bus to be driven back to Melbourne.
With another exciting trip to Philip Island to see the little blue penguins scheduled next day, we rested for the night …..
See you next week among those cute blue penguins….till then good bye
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