My Great Ocean Road Experience: An Amazing Day Tour!

My Great Ocean Road Experience: An Amazing Day Tour!

Michelle embarked on a day tour to check out the highlights of Melbourne’s majestic Great Ocean Road and this is her story.

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic road trip routes in the world, and it’s definitely something that everyone should experience at least once.

From distinctly Australian wildlife encounters like spotting koalas in the trees and kangaroos hopping across stretches of wilderness, to cruising down the winding road that weaves along the coast, the Great Ocean Road is a feast for the senses. At 244km long, the recommended three-day drive might sound quite intimidating to first-time road-trippers, and for those without a driving license, the Great Ocean Road might as well be a distant dream.

The pros of joining a day tour

So let me share a little secret: join a local day tour, and you’ll be able to cover the highlights of the Great Ocean Road and be back in Melbourne in just one day. Without the need to drive and navigate, you can even take multiple naps between stops and magically wake up right when you’ve reached the attractions.

ocean road experience

An early morning pickup

We signed up for a day tour online with Go West, an Australian company. The mini bus picked us up from our pre-arranged spot near our accommodation in Melbourne at about 7am, and by 8am, our tour group of twenty-four passengers was off on our adventure!

Our comfortable tour bus

Our all-in-one tour guide/driver/coordinator/DJ Jon did a great job juggling all his duties, and it was a comfortable and enjoyable ride. He drove the minibus like it was a sports car, all the while entertaining us with stories and little tidbits about the history of Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. Apparently, Melbourne was once called ‘Batmania’, after John Batman, one of its founders. What a name!

Our first stop was Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road. It’s a popular surfing spot in summer, but when we went in winter, the wind was so harsh and bitter that we all hurriedly rushed back to the shelter to have our breakfast of cakes and hot drinks after snapping a few photos.

Back on the road, we made a few more photo stops, including one with the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch, before stopping for lunch (included as part of the package) at Kennett River, a small seaside town with a little café.

If a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…

Kennett River is a great place to try and spot wild koalas, and we quickly spotted one sleeping high up in a tree. Protip: Just follow the crowds! We also spotted a lot of colourful king parrots and white cockatoos on the ground waiting to be fed, and a few of us lucky visitors even managed to get the parrots to land on us. My personal record: three parrots!

Our next stop was Apollo Bay, a small village near the Otways. You can take some time to stroll along the beach, or pop into the local shops for a quick cup of coffee or a souvenir. Don’t forget to use the restroom wherever you can!

We quickly moved on to Maits Rest, a short yet serene rainforest walk in the Otways. Maits Rest is a part of the rainforest that has been pretty well preserved because it used to be the favourite hangout spot of a ranger, so some of the giant trees here are hundreds of years old. Though it was a pretty short walk, I loved every moment of it. The air was cold and fresh, and walking through the lush rainforest, I felt a sense of peace and quiet.

ocean road experience

Finally, we arrived at the much-anticipated Twelve Apostles in the Port Campbell National Park. The Twelve Apostles were formed when the limestone cliffs were eroded by strong winds, causing the arches to collapse into isolated rock stacks. With the wind relentlessly slapping everyone’s hair into their faces, it was quite a comical sight to behold.

The disadvantages of a day tour

One of the drawbacks of joining a tour group is that because of the similar itinerary, many tour groups arrive at the same place at around the same time. While this wasn’t an issue at the previous stops we made, it was most evident at the Twelve Apostles, where the narrow lookout point was full of tourists, making it even more difficult to take a good photo with the Twelve Apostles. However, it is, in my opinion, a small price to pay for the convenience of seeing the highlights of the Great Ocean Road without having to drive.

We were then driven to another part of Port Campbell National Park, Loch Ard Gorge. We descended the steps to the beach, walked to the Loch Ard Wreck Site lookout point, and then made our way to the last vantage point closer to the Razorback, where we there was a nice view of the Island Archway.

Our final stop on the Great Ocean Road was the Gibson Steps, where we could once again head down to the beach, but we chose to stay at the top to admire the view instead.

With the sun setting, it was sadly time to return back to  Melbourne’s CBD. While it was only a day trip, it was an unforgettable one, an experience we would never forget!

About Author

Michelle Tan
Michelle Tan

Michelle is a creative storyteller who is fuelled by caffeine and her dreams of exploring the world. She aspires to become a polyglot, and when not planning her next trip, she enjoys playing covers on the guitar, completing quests on the PS4, and binge-watching Netflix. Read about her misadventures at A Girl Must Wander and see the world through her eyes at @agirlmustwander.


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