Mon 1st July – Tues 2nd July: Manly to Torquay and Torquay to Apollo Bay
Let me start by saying we had two of the best days of our entire 10 months away from home – out on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. It is a truly beautiful road, and up there with the best we have driven (including those in New Zealand, and Highway 1 I visited with my parents when young).
I have split the drive into two posts (with days 1 and 2 in this post and day 3 in the next post) – as there is just so much to say and so many photos to post! I have also written a special post focussed on the completely wonderful koalas we saw in the wild in two different places (including tips on where and how to spot them!).
We left Sydney on Mon and flew into Melbourne’s Avalon airport, with Jetstar. We are yet again very impressed with Jetstar as have flown with them numerous time in New Zealand, and they are just as impressive over here. They are a budget airline as their prices are so cheap, but they are so professional, their seats are comfy with enough space and whenever we have flown they have never been late. We chose this airport over Tullamarine because Avalon was much closer to the start of the Great Ocean Road – and it was a brilliant decision. We picked up our hire car from Avis – where we were told we were the second people only to drive our car – awesome! It was a lovely blue Yaris that we named Zulu (after it having ZUL on its number plate).
We drove down to Torquay and checked into the wonderful Torquay 1903 cottages. My parents had driven the Great Ocean Road back in August last year and had stayed here and highly recommended it, so we decided to stay here too – and we are so glad we did! The cottage was incredibly warm and homely – with a lovely fire, big comfy bed and spa bath. There were also lots of lovely extras such as chocs, and the owners were very welcoming and friendly – even commenting they remembered my parents who they said were lovely people! We also read my parents’ comments in the guestbook which was quite strange! And comforting too 🙂 We took a quick drive down to the beachfront where we looked at the awesome and beautiful sundial that was there. It was cloudy and quite windy but the scenery was very pretty and we loved the feel of Torquay.
We awoke the next morning to wonderful clear blue sky and excitedly set off on our Great Ocean Road adventure. Our first stop was the completely beautiful Bells Beach (*sat nav tip: use Jarosite road for your sat nav – I will be including these along the way, as we found some places that would have been difficult to find without a sat nav direction!). This is definitely up there with our favourite beaches in the world and was simply stunning! The views down from the viewpoint by the car point were just gorgeous and the views from along the beach were even better.
We took the steps down, and were joined by a lot of surfers. Apparently Bells beach is one of the best surfing (if not the best!) beaches in the whole of Australia and we could see why! There was loads of surfers all the in water, waiting patiently to get on the end of the most impressive waves. The surf was up and the waves were pretty high. We watched them riding the waves effortlessly and took a few photos (see my gallery below for more), and here are just a couple.
We could have spent hours just watching them! We loved the beach and the great weather just enhanced its beauty.
The Great Ocean Road was calling and soon we were back on our way. We had picked up a brilliant map from Avalon airport which we used to guide some of our stops along the way (The Great Ocean Road touring map), so I would highly recommend this if you are planning to drive it. We also did our own extensive research to find more off-the-beaten track places to stop at too. Not far from Bells beach we stopped at Angelsea Golf Club (*sat nav – 1 Golf links road – Angelsea) to see kangaroos. I suppose technically they are not ‘in the wild’ as they are living on the golf course, but they weren’t in any kind of zoo/park etc. so we pretty much class them as that! They were just happily sitting on the course. We did have to peek over a fence to get some shots, but it was amazing to see them 🙂
Next stop was Split Point Lighthouse (*sat nav – Federal street, Airey’s Inlet) – which is the actual lighthouse they used in the filming of the old Aussie TV show ‘Round the Twist’. Only if you are a fan will you remember the awesome theme song – “Have you ever, ever felt like this? Strange things happen when you’re going round the twist!”. What a great show! And it was great being able to see the lighthouse for free (take note Cape Otway lighthouse!), with an optional paid-for tour to the top – which we didn’t do.
There was a short walk with fantastic views just past the lighthouse, and we took some more snaps here. Next was the Great Ocean Road memorial arch (in Eastern view) – where you can just stop by the side of the road and have a look. In Lorne – where we stopped next – there is a pretty beach, and a great lookout called Teddy’s lookout (*sat nav George St, Lorne).
A real highlight of the day (and possibly our lives!) was next though when we headed out to Kennet River and took the Grey River road looking for koalas. I had read a few tips online (buried away!) about the possibility of koalas out here, and after 1-2kms along the road we spotted some high up in the trees! It was really just so amazing to see them. They were pretty high but I go some photos using my excellent zoom lens on my camera, and we also filmed them a bit. They were mostly sleeping but one of them moved around a little. There were about 7 in all and it was fantastic to see them! We really loved just watching them. We also saw them on day 3 of our trip, so I will definitely write a separate post about them to include the additional photos I took! 🙂 We then headed to Cape Patton lookout for awesome views before arriving at our lovely motel in Apollo Bay (which was excellent value at $89).
Today was just incredible – with seeing the koalas in the wild a real highlight, and watching the surfers at Bells Beach. I am posting retrospectively so will post more about our amazing day 3 soon.