Of all the places I’ve woken up in the world, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so far away from home as the gorgeous seaside town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. You really can’t help but feel like you’re leaving all your worries behind in this part of Australia, especially when every view is perceived through a calming filter of sparking sunlight. So here we were, day 2 of our road trip adventure, ready to cover some serious miles…
Stop 1 // Kennett River
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sheer elation that holding a parrot would bring out in me. It was honestly one of the best parts of the trip. Moreover, the abundance of wildlife that dwells at Kennett River is something that makes it an inevitable tourist magnet.
I was slightly dubious about feeding the birds here but the car park shop selling bird feed certainly sends a mixed message. Consequently, I’m not exactly sure whether to recommend this to you or not. However, if you’d rather not take part in the feeding anyway then just looking at these gorgeous birds is enough to make your day. Then there’s the added bonus that this is one of the most likely places along the Great Ocean Road to spot a koala in its natural habitat – which we did, thank goodness.
Taking animals out of the equation, Kennett River is also situated on one of the most picturesque sections of the Victoria coastline, which makes it well worth your time and if you venture even further up the track I’ve been told you stand a great chance of encountering some unforgettable glow worm light displays.
Stop 2 // Apollo Bay
If you’ve timed this right then Apollo Bay is a dream location to stop for lunch, housing some of the best fish and chip shops in Victoria and, let’s face it, probably the world. It was here I was introduced to the delicious ‘Flake’ (the fillet of a gummy shark apparently…) and the not quite so fresh-looking ‘dim sim’ (basically a deep fried dumpling) which, if you speak to most Aussies, seems to be hailed as a national favourite although I’m not sure I’m convinced.
If you want to stay longer in this picturesque fishing village it is certainly worth it for its stunning beach, which naturally plays host to a wealth of surf shops and boutiques. This is also another great base for your road trip if you’re intending to travel a little further than us, not least because of its proximity to the Otway Ranges, which could keep you busy for days.
Stop 3 // The 12 Apostles
This was the stop we were all waiting for, although I can’t say I felt all that well after our huge lunch at Apollo Bay, quickly followed by an hour and a half’s worth of winding coastal highway. Seeing as this is one of the most famous drives in the world it should have been amazing but instead left me feeling sick as a dog. Oh well, you live and learn. Perhaps my nauseous state can serve as a bit of an advice to you guys not to eat such a greasy lunch before a long drive. But anyway, back to those Apostles…
One of my favourite things about this landmark – made up of magnificent towering stacks of limestone – is the fact that there have never actually been ‘12 Apostles’. Since this site was heralded a major landmark for tourism in the 1920s, it turns out there have only ever been nine, before one of them dramatically collapsed in 2005 leaving the current total of eight. But I suppose that’s mother nature for you, and this landmark is a stark reminder to all of us that we should make the most of things while they last. The fleeting time we have left with these limestone stacks is probably one of the reasons they attract over 2 million visitors every year.
So, after forcing myself back in to a somewhat normal state with a couple of ice lollies, we made our way down the path towards the viewing platform and I felt even more shocked back in to awareness by the snake warning signs that seem quite keen for you to be on your guard. Nevertheless, I’m glad to say this fear-ridden walk through some of the most imposing heat I’ve ever experienced was worth it. Those Apostles really are quite something to behold…
Stop 4 // Gibson Steps
Another hidden gem of the Great Ocean Road is located just 5 minutes away from the 12 Apostles section of Port Campbell National Park. This is the Gibson Steps: a monstrously impressive staircase carved out of a cliff by an ancient local tribe, leading down to the most brightly coloured beach I’ve ever seen. It honestly felt like I’d turned my vision up to high definition when I got to the bottom of the steps, it was crazy. I couldn’t think why there weren’t more people here but after looking in to it I think this is the sort of place you need to keep your wits about you, owing to tides that can change at the drop of a hat. Then there is the fact it’s really hot. And I mean HOT.
Stop 4 // Back to Lorne
After we’d reached the end point of our pilgrimage, we were ready to return to the absolute dream that is Lorne, where we’d booked to stay for another night for a sunset swim and a traditional Aussie barbecue on the beach.
If you – like myself – had somewhat failed to comprehend the resolute importance of the Australian barbeque then don’t feel bad, but the long and short of it is they do it way better than us; I mean WAY better, no matter what country you’re from (with possible competition from South Africa but I won’t get in to that now).
I had no idea that most popular beaches are lined with public-use gas barbeques, which are thoughtfully cleaned by the council every day and always left in a respectfully good condition by the people before you. It became apparent to me almost instantly that there is a huge amount of reverence that goes hand in hand with the Aussie barbeque and it appears as though everyone wants their fellow barbequers to have the best experience possible. And that we did, I can assure you. After all, when the meat’s fresh, the beer’s cold and company’s on-point, life doesn’t get much better.