A Trip along the Great Ocean Road

Individual experiences will depend greatly on the weather forecast. Check the prognosis beforehand or you will end up feeling like you are inside a massive fucking washing machine. I know this because that is exactly what happened to me. It was a long day, a bloody long day. We started out early, we were in Melbourne for a few days and I sensed an opportunity. I thought while I was there, I would do something I had always wanted to do and that was travel the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is a heritage listed road in Victoria, Australia that stretches for 151 miles or 243 km. It was built by returned soldiers of the great war (there wasn’t a lot of employment back then for WW1 veterans) and was dedicated to the comrades who did not return. Subsequently, the road is the world’s biggest war memorial which in my opinion (as a veteran myself) makes it even more special.
We were up at the crack of dawn and greeted by a tour guide who was far too chirpy for that time of the morning. The bloke was nice enough but he sounded as though he was six red bulls and five cups of coffee ahead of me on the excitement scale.
He informed us that the van didn’t have a radio and instead he would be talking while we partook in the journey. I must say I wasn’t very excited by this at first, I was hoping I could get some much needed kip before we left the concrete jungle of Melbourne. I know my way around Melbourne fairly well and was confident that I wasn’t going to miss anything of significance.

 
This was not to be the case however as he started bunging on the accent and enthralling the mostly foreign crowd with his yarns (stories) about living in the outback. He may have been embellishing the accent (I still had not worked that out by the end of the day) but there was no doubt that the bloke was a genuine, dinky di, true blue, Occa, 100% outback raised Australian male.
He was from a small town in outback Queensland that I had been through once and he even knew some lads I went to boarding school with that were from there. At least he wasn’t some latte drinking posh lad from the suburbs throwing on a complete three act play I deduced by the time Melbourne was in the rear view mirror.

 
By the time the sun rose, I was as equally enthusiastic as the others on the bus. The guide was pretty funny and his positive attitude was actually not annoying but rather infectious. What really impressed me most and drew me into being a part of it all was that the guide was a walking encyclopedia of local history and knowledge.
I’d already done some research and the guide knew his stuff, he also taught us a lot of knowledge that you wouldn’t find in a book. It was really incredible and by the time we made our first stop I was hooked.
If only I’d checked the weather report as vigorously as I’d checked the local history…
The first part of the day was fine and there was no indication that things were going to turn ugly. We arrived at a golf course which probably is making you think what I initially thought. What the bloody hell are we doing here? It was soon apparent though as there were many kangaroos bounding around and the clicks of the cameras soon followed.
It was a long day, a bloody long day. We started out early, we were in Melbourne for a few days and I sensed an opportunity. I thought while I was there, I would do something I had always wanted to do and that was travel the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is a heritage listed road in Victoria, Australia that stretches for 151 miles or 243 km. It was built by returned soldiers of the great war (there wasn’t a lot of employment back then for WW1 veterans) and was dedicated to the comrades who did not return. Subsequently, the road is the world’s biggest war memorial which in my opinion (as a veteran myself) makes it even more special.
We were up at the crack of dawn and greeted by a tour guide who was far too chirpy for that time of the morning. The bloke was nice enough but he sounded as though he was six red bulls and five cups of coffee ahead of me on the excitement scale.
He informed us that the van didn’t have a radio and instead he would be talking while we partook in the journey. I must say I wasn’t very excited by this at first, I was hoping I could get some much needed kip before we left the concrete jungle of Melbourne. I know my way around Melbourne fairly well and was confident that I wasn’t going to miss anything of significance.

 
This was not to be the case however as he started bunging on the accent and enthralling the mostly foreign crowd with his yarns (stories) about living in the outback. He may have been embellishing the accent (I still had not worked that out by the end of the day) but there was no doubt that the bloke was a genuine, dinky di, true blue, Occa, 100% outback raised Australian male.
He was from a small town in outback Queensland that I had been through once and he even knew some lads I went to boarding school with that were from there. At least he wasn’t some latte drinking posh lad from the suburbs throwing on a complete three act play I deduced by the time Melbourne was in the rear view mirror.
By the time the sun rose, I was as equally enthusiastic as the others on the bus. The guide was pretty funny and his positive attitude was actually not annoying but rather infectious. What really impressed me most and drew me into being a part of it all was that the guide was a walking encyclopedia of local history and knowledge.
I’d already done some research and the guide knew his stuff, he also taught us a lot of knowledge that you wouldn’t find in a book. It was really incredible and by the time we made our first stop I was hooked.
If only I’d checked the weather report as vigorously as I’d checked the local history…
The first part of the day was fine and there was no indication that things were going to turn ugly. We arrived at a golf course which probably is making you think what I initially thought. What the bloody hell are we doing here? It was soon apparent though as there were many kangaroos bounding around and the clicks of the cameras soon followed.
Soon we departed and after a short drive we came upon a small bushland area where there were many birds congregating. The guide gave us some seed which we fed to the birds and then took us on a hike to find some koalas. Spotting koalas is not easy but we were fortunate enough to be in an area where there is a large population so with a bit of luck I managed to spot some. There were times when the other tourists were pointing out some other koalas but for the life of me, on occasion I just could not find them. A pair of Koreans tried to help me find one and just as they were about to give up, I discovered it twenty meters in front of me.
We got back on the bus and headed along the Great Ocean Road, stopping off at a little town for lunch at a small but tasty cafe.

From there we continued on our journey and the bad weather set in, dark storm clouds loomed over head before the heavens opened with torrential rains.

The bus wound its way around the curving road, going higher and higher as visibility was cut dramatically. The guide like a pioneer with a team of horses pressed on, with the knowledge that we, still hadn’t seen the landmarks, that the Great Ocean Road is famed for possessing.
The weather was abysmal but the guide kept our spirits high.
The rain was a drizzle now but the winds had picked up and I felt as though I was in a washing machine. Whenever we stopped to see the sights, lighter people were almost picked up off their feet. I was constantly struggling against nature’s abusive air conditioning that I was forced to endure. The wind ripped into me, filling my hoodie up like a balloon. I took in the views whenever the bus stopped, took in some happy snaps and quickly retreated back to the safety of the bus. 
The views were simply breathtaking, there is no denying it. For years I had been telling my visiting friends from Overseas to visit the Great Ocean Road. I would view their photos with envy and also a sense of pride that they had taken me up on my advice to see the road. Everyone had been over the moon about how gorgeous it was and I knew I had to do the trek myself one day.
I was under no illusions that the views would not be good but honestly, they exceeded my high expectations.
By the time, we came to the Twelve Apostles, a lime stone formation that is probably the most famous part of the entire road, it was getting late into the afternoon.
There are only eight apostles, but what kind of name would that be?
The ninth apostle collapsed in spectacular fashion back in July 2005.

It was called the Twelve Apostles to promote tourism and judging by the number of them that flew past me in the torrential winds, it is working. 

We stayed at the site for quite a while, I pulled a Bear Grylls and hid in the nearby crowded cafe to avoid getting hypothermia. At the prescribed time, we shuffled back onto the bus and headed back to Melbourne. A stop off at MacDonald’s completed the day before we arrived back at our respective hotels.
It had been a long day and I was exhausted but I was glad I had done it. I wish I had spent longer on the road and next time I may hire a car. A guide is a good idea if it is your first time though, especially if you are from overseas. I will definitely be back as I was more than impressed with the day I spent on the Great Ocean Road.

Written by Rob Currell

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