One of the big 'must-do's' while traveling Australia is the stunning Great Ocean Road, winding along the coast west of Melbourne, home to the famous 12 Apostles and a number of other iconic landmarks.
Built by 3000 returned soldiers over thirteen years, the Great Ocean Road is 243km long, making it the longest war memorial in the world.
Unless you have your own wheels, traveling the Great Ocean Road is hard to do without a tour group. Apparently there are some public transport options available but they are time-consuming and not reliable. I highly recommend booking a day tour (or multi-day if that's what you're interested in!). Most tour groups will pick up from any number of places in Melbourne and take you out all day for a big adventure along the coast. When selecting your tour company, make sure they take you to all the highlights you have on your list so you aren't disappointed!
I went on a 13-hour day trip with Sightseeing Australia operated by Autopia Tours which picked me up at St. Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne before heading along the coast from Memorial Arch to Mait's Rest Rainforest Walk all the way past the 12 Apostles to Loch Ard Gorge before returning us home.
Spots You Have to See on the Great Ocean Road
The third Memorial Arch (the first was too small and legend goes it was knocked down by a truck and the second burnt down), Memorial Arch honours the work of the Great Ocean Road.
Kennet River Coastal Reserve
A fantastic spot for koala-spotting and stunningly colourful birds, most of the tour buses stop here for you to stretch your legs and spot some native Australian animals in the wild. If you're lucky, you'll catch one snoozing in the trees! We learnt that koalas only enjoy eating about 35 of the 700 species of eucalyptus trees of which they can consume up to 2.5kg per day. The eucalyptus however makes them 'stoned' resulting in them sleeping 19-23 hours per day!
Mait's Rest Rainforest Walk
Home to fern trees that grow high above your head and are 1000-1300 years old, this stop was one of my favourites of the trip. The whole rainforest smells fresh and alive and the ferns leave you awe-inspired. The total loop takes no more than twenty minutes to enjoy.
Just before the famed 12 Apostles, the Gibson Steps provide a brief climb to a fantastic, panoramic view towards the start of the Apostles.
Loch Ard Gorge
One of the most well-known views of the region is Loch Ard Gorge, a partially collapsed sandstone cove with azure blue waters and beautiful white sand to dig your toes in to.
Once connected to the land, and also once much longer, the Razorback is a free-standing wall of sandstone that stands proudly in the inlet.
A beautiful bridge with epic archways nestled near the ocean, London Bridge is another sandstone bridge. Likely, the 12 Apostles looked like this thousands of years ago, but the bridges collapsed leaving the posts standing individually.
The 12 Apostles
The whole reason the world continues to flock here is for the famous 12 Apostles. Although there aren't actually 12, and there never were. There used to be 9, but one crumbled so there are now 8. Ah well, they're still stunning.