We travelled another few thousand km and visited yet another place of The 1000 Places to See Before You Die: The Great Ocean Road in southern Australia. I thought we would be able to travel along the Great Ocean Road in a few hours, since it is only 260km long. I was wrong.
Overall we spent 3 days along the Great Ocean Road and could have easily spent another 3 weeks in the area. We were a bit limited since we aren’t allowed to travel far on gravel roads and our campervan is not a 4 wheel drive, but even the things we were able to see were absolutely breathtaking.
Getting to the Great Ocean Road
We started our trip in Sydney after visiting the Blue Mountains (here’s our previous post about it) and getting our ridiculously awesome campervan. Even though the Great Ocean Road doesn’t start until after Melbourne, we still had a blast going along the East Coast.
So pardon us for putting in a few pictures that were taken before or after the Great Ocean Road. We just assumed you will still enjoy them anyways. And after all, this isn’t only a blog about the 1000 Places but also about our life in general 😉
The Grand Scenic Drive: Sunrises & Surfers
The best way to get from Sydney to Melbourne is on Princess Highway, but to take a detour over the Grand Scenic Drive and that is exactly what we did. It is almost as beautiful as the Great Ocean Road and if you flying in to Sydney and don’t have the time to drive down to Melbourne, than the Grand Scenic Drive is a good alternative.
On our way along the coast we had the wonderful experience to sleep the most fascinating places. The first night we parked our campervan at a beach with the crashing of the waves offering a pretty good sound to fall asleep to.
The most spectacular thing happened when I woke up. Through a tiny part between the curtains I could see the sun rising over the ocean.
You should know that Sonja usually takes quite some time to get out of bed, but when I woke her and showed her the most stunning sunrise I have seen in my life, it took her about 20 seconds to jump out of bed to take some pictures 😉
Unfortunately, the pictures weren’t able to catch that special moment, when I first realized that we are actually sleeping 5 feet away from the beach and that a new day is starting with the sun rising with amazing colors. It took me a while, but at that moment I instantly realized that we are actually doing a 2 month road trip through Australia and that we are really lucky people to have that opportunity.
Of course, the first surfers were already eager to jump into the water and a few seconds later there were a bunch of surfers out there, riding the waves before they crashed onto the beach. As we (actually just I) ate breakfast we wondered if those people don’t have to work or if they are just surfing before they go about their regular jobs…
The Great Ocean Road
The famous road along the south coast of Australia was built as a memorial for the fallen Australians in World War I. Of course all those little towns along the coast were happy to finally have a real connection to the bigger cities without having to travel on a ship.
The area along the coast is full of stories about the early settlers, who were looking for riches or simply a new start. The stories you can read about as you are travelling along help you get a great understanding of what it must have felt like for the settlers and also how – sadly – how they dealt with the Aborigines they encountered.
A specific part of the road is even named Shipwreck Trail since so many ships crashed here despite the many, many lighthouses along the coast. After sailing for 2-3 months without seeing land on a very dangerous trip from Britain to Australia, it must have been heartbreaking to have your ship go down just as you begin to believe that you have finally made it.
The 12 Apostles
Now there is something that I have a problem with. Everybody raves about the 12 Apostles (the rock formation, not the actual disciples of Jesus) and yes, they are pretty. However, I don’t understand why they are so special compared to the rest of the Great Ocean Road.
Don’t get me wrong, the coastline is spectacular. It’s just that the 10km before and after the 12 Apostles – like The Grotto or The Thunder Cave – are just as breathtaking. Off topic: I can’t stop thinking that any name that starts with “Thunder” is kickass. Kinda reminds me of a superhero or a badass wrestler J.
The real highlight: Kangaroos, Parrots & Koalas
Now I am getting to the best part of the trip along the coast of Australia: The wildlife you see along the way is ridiculous. Maybe as a European, we are not used to wildlife anymore, but seeing at least a hundred kangaroos, cute and cuddly koalas and so many colorful parrots that would make a midsized zoo jealous is something that must also be special to a hardcore Australian.
And it doesn’t stop there. We saw pelicans, colorful ducks, seagulls, eagles and a snake. I also believe to have seen a seal. It was before sunrise at a beach, so I am not 100% sure. At Grey River Road, where we spotted our first koalas, we didn’t have to look for parrots. They actually were looking for us and probably have mistaken us for a tree.
Of course, we also saw lots of “pest animals” like rabbits and foxes. Later on our way north we also saw emus and even more (pretty big) eagles.
When you see the first kangaroo sign you start looking like crazy to finally see your first kangaroo. When we finally saw our first roo, we were so excited, we couldn’t stop smiling. As we get further and further away from the city, you don’t even have to look for them. They even go out of their way to jump in front of your car and say hi J. Luckily we haven’t hit a kangaroo and hopefully we won’t ever hit one.
In order to get to see the real beauty of the area along the Great Ocean road, you really have to take your time and visit the National Parks and other attractions along the way. It takes more time than you think and every minute of it is worth it.
Is it really one of The 1000 Places?
YES. It reminded me a lot of Highway One in California between L.A. and San Francisco, although if you are really just driving along both roads then I would give the edge to Highway One.
The real beauty of the Great Ocean Road are all the things along the coast that make it so special: The National Parks, the wildlife and the historic places that tell so much about a time when coming to Australia meant either you are risking your life to find fortune in a new world or you were a criminal forced to go there.
The conditions have obviously improved, so today the Great Ocean Road is surely a place that you should see.