Some people tackle the Great Ocean Road from the air. Others will spend just a day trying to hit the main sights. The lucky ones, like us, will start on the west end, driving Australia’s most popular road in a few days before arriving at a very special city.
Ocean versus limestone
Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the Great Ocean Road is the world’s largest war memorial. First stop, the Bay of Islands.
The extreme weather conditions of these shores and the power of the Southern Ocean gradually erode the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs. Inevitably, caves soon become arches.
Eventually, arches collapse, leaving rock stacks standing on their own. This one is called London Bridge.
Caves, arches and bridges are just the build up to the main attraction, a set of eight impressive limestone stacks which will also be claimed by the ocean one day. They call them The Twelve Apostles, despite only ever having nine rocks! There they are, behind all the crowds.
The crowds – yep, all of the sudden, Australia does not feel empty anymore. At any one time you can spot two or three helicopters in the sky, taking tourists for a ride to admire the Apostles from above. On the ground, the battle for the perfect selfie intensifies – get your selfie stick out or die.
Let’s take a walk down the beach
Yet there is still hope. A twenty minutes walk from car park in the scorching sun followed by some steep stairs leads to a pretty beach, perfect for an afternoon stroll.
This is no ordinary stroll though. Dwarfed by big chunks of limestone that stand still against the Southern Ocean, we had a pleasant feeling of achievement.
No doubt about it now – visiting Australia, renting a campervan and driving across the country was the right thing to do.
And this country is not done with us yet. Oh no.
Where have you been all this time?
Nothing matters after that beach. Not even the awful traffic leading out from the Great Ocean Road, a sign that we were close to a big city, Melbourne. After going to the wrong caravan park and getting lost a few times, we finally parked the car, board the tram – I love cities with tram – and set out to explore.
And boy is this a city worth exploring. The whole city screams “walk me” at you. Wander through the old shopping arcades and when you are done, keep an eye on the next piece of street art, it will be hidden behind the next corner.
Cross the bridge to admire the mix of old and new buildings blending in together. So many things in this city remind us of London.
But wait! Don’t cross back – stay a little while, you are in the Southbank now. Food or people watching? Or maybe a bit of both?
Want more? Take a stroll through Fitzroy, home to Melbourne’s hipster generation and some beautiful houses.
Or walk to the War Memorial and come back through the botanical gardens finishing the day in Albert Park, home to both the Australian Open and a F1 Gran Prix. And if you need more reasons to come, they even have a street in the name of ACDC. Enough said.
A place where we could see ourselves settling in – and that’s two already in Australia.
Mountains, the Opera House and a bloody good time with some friends.
Our Aussie adventure is slowly coming to an end and it is time for us to start thinking about our next destination. There is no better place to do that than the State Library of Victoria (in Melbourne of course). Inspiration is not hard to come by in a place like this.