Region Visit: The Great Ocean Road. Anglesea to the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

This post is one chapter on our trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne with The Great Ocean Road, exploring The Yarra Valley and the beaches of The Gold Coast via Qantas First Class. This trip was booked using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Region Visit: The Great Ocean Road. Anglesea to the Twelve Apostles, Victoria Australia

We had 4 days in Melbourne getting used to the time zone change after arriving from North America. With efforts to try and get the most out of our time in Melbourne, we aimed to visit the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road. It’s located quite a ways from the Melbourne CBD at about four and a half hours drive from Melbourne.

We were up at 7:30 AM to get ready to drive the Great Ocean Road. We enjoyed the last of our included breakfasts at the hotel before setting off on our journey at about 10 AM.

Setting out on the Great Ocean Road:

It was a 250 km drive (one way) from Melbourne down the coast through Anglesea, past many points of interest ending at the Twelve Apostles. We would have incredibly variable weather for the day’s drive; somewhere between bright sunshine and thundershowers with gale force winds. Thankfully, the systems would change every 15 minutes or so making for an interesting experience throughout the day.

It was about 90 minutes before we actually got to the coast and started getting some beautiful scenery. Anglesea had many vacation homes from Melbourian’s it seemed, most with a great view of the water.

The highway got quite a bit windy through this stretch with many spots to pull over and take photographs with narrow stops that clung closely to the cliffs below.

Some photographs from Devil’s Elbow…

We continued on towards Big Hill; another terrific viewpoint area.

And around towards more beautiful views in Cumberland River.

Being winter, we only had about 7 hours of day light on this trip so we stopped for lunch in Apollo Bay at a locally famous bakery offering meat pies.

Visiting Great Otaway National Park:

After lunch, we eventually entered the Great Otaway National Park. We took a turn off the main road and headed down towards Cape Orsey. Cape Orsey was the sight of one of the most southern lighthouses in Australia. The Great Otaway National Park is known for its wildlife and boasts one of the best opportunities to see koalas in the wild.

The entry to the park was an area where it was expected to be on the lookout for wild animals. Indeed, similar to an African Safari, several cars were pulled over looking at things in the gump trees. Thanks to another car’s help, we were able to see a koala bear in the wild sleeping in one of the trees. Even with a 300 mm lens, it was hard to get a solid shot.

The further south we got, the vegetation changed.

Viewing the Cape Orsey Lighthouse:

We made it to the Cape Orsey lighthouse. The light house had a $20 AUD admission fee. MrsWT73 wasn’t to keen on it but I made her go since we’d come all this way. After all, it’s only money (laughing). It ended up being a very spectacular spot to spend an hour in.

It was exceptionally windy at the light house; I would guess the winds were approximately 70-80 km/h.

There were more spectacular views from the lighthouse. We were able to climb up to the top. We were even able to see the inter functioning of the lamp which was still spinning but not light since it was daytime.

Feeling the Wind at the Twelve Apostles:

From there, it was a short drive up to the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles were the star of the drive today. They are concealed from the roadway and you wouldn’t typically see them from the road if you didn’t know that they were there. It was starting to fall to dusk at the time of our visit, which made the time there all that more special.

While we were at the Twelve Apostles, it was incredibly windy with gusts probably over 90 – 100 km/h. The gusts were so strong, I had trouble taking photographs with the iPhone and nearly lost it blown away to the wind a few times.

The Twelve Apostles are suffering from erosion. There are only 7 of them actually left but it seems that many more are being carved out from the continued waves crashing against the shore.

We headed around the rocky promenade to take in the spectacular rocky coast walls as the sun set over this wonderful landscape.

After the Twelve Apostles, we hopped back in to the XTrail and headed back up to Melbourne. It was about a 3 hour drive back through several small towns. The visitor center at the Twelve Apostles noted that the scenic coastal road route we had arrived on was about a 5 hr and 15 minute drive back to Melbourne. Thankfully, the in land road was much straighter and slightly quicker.

We arrived back in Melbourne at about 8:30 PM after gassing up the car at a highway rest stop. It was 56 litres of gas for $76 AUD for the day’s driving. Unfortunately, I managed to get a photo radar ticket on the drive back by doing 106 km/h in a 100 km/h zone. I didn’t get the notice in the mail until about 60 days later after they tracked me down in Canada. I paid the $200 AUD ticket with the knowledge that if I ever rent a car in Australia again, I will make sure the cruise is set exactly at the speed limit. Despite that, after all efforts, I managed to avoid the Hertz $38 AUD toll fee.

Finishing the day at the Rooftop Bar at the Cumberland House:

Once we were back in Melbourne, we dropped the car at the hotel and headed out into the CBD to the Melbourne Emporium mall to collect a Katmandu puffy down jacket for MrsWT73 since it was on a 50% off sale. I also ended up picking up $249 rain jacket for $99 AUD; a great deal.

We hadn’t eaten dinner but we headed to the Rooftop Bar at the Cumberland House for a final rooftop blood red gin and tonic along with all the kids since it was Friday night. We were lucky enough to get a seat.

We had another slice of pizza at Rossili on the way home to pack for our trip up to the Great Barrier Reef. Overall we had a very nice time in Melbourne. It’s the kind of place that would be great to be on “expense” pay for by a generous employer. There are lots of restaurants, bars and great shopping to experience when you’re down here. MrsWT73 described Melbourne as a cross between Dallas Forth Worth for the freeways, Signapore for the shopping and New York City for grit. In sum, a pleasant visit and a nice place to get over some jet lag while in comfortable surroundings…

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