Our 9am arrival in Victoria was direct to the thriving, bustling, huge runway of Avalon Airport in the dead centre of Melbourne CBD. Well you see, that’s what we thought a week ago when we made the booking.
*Note to self for future travels – research the airport destination a little more thoroughly.
In my defence, a Google search of Avalon airport does state it is the second busiest airport in Victoria, however, it is not the most convenient airport to land in, 50km from the city centre in the middle of the countryside. So if I was to ever travel to Melbourne again, I would fly direct to Melbourne’s main CBD airport, Tullamarine.
Once we had arrived we hoped in a taxi and took the 50 minute journey into Melbourne CBD. There was a huge queue to take the shuttle bus into the CBD, so for our tired bodies a $120 taxi was the more welcoming option. The shuttle would have saved us $8 each, saving us a total of $32, but our soft mattresses at Ibis Budget Hotel were screaming our names, so we wanted the comfort as soon as possible.
However, before we could embrace the cushioned padding of our mattress: we took the M1 into the city, arrived at Tullamarine Airport, paid our taxi driver, waited half an hour in a queue for our Firefly (Hertz) car rental, (at which point we were joined by Justice Crew), checked out the car that was ours for the next 24hours, found the cheapest car parking possible for $10 off Elizabeth street, checked into our hotel, carried our luggage to our room, rearranged our mattresses to lie on the floor, set our alarm for about 45 minutes and FINALLY crashed onto our beds at about 11:30.
An hour later, refreshed and rejuvenated, Tina, Cecelia, Judy and myself were able to begin our adventures in Victoria. Being a Sunday, a lot of eating places were closed but the wafting smell of Subway right outside the entrance to our hotel roped us in for a satisfying lunch.
At 2:00 we were finally on the road and heading to the destination I had been raving about for the past week. According to our taxi driver earlier, and to numerous sources on the internet, this place makes the Top 10 Greatest Drives in the world, it is a tourist destination multitudes have made the effort to visit and it is a beautiful coastal reminder of the fact that the continent of Australia is an isolated country surrounded by water. It is also a three hour drive from the CBD to this glorious destination – the Great Ocean Road.
In a car full of four girls, Tina and myself the rotating drivers, Cecelia our trusty navigator and Judy the music supplier, we filled our time with singing, talking and napping. We stopped once along Anglesea Road for ice cream and a bit of direction guidance and finally arrived at the location for the Twelve Apostles at 5:30. Thank the Australian Commonwealth of the early twentieth century for implementing Daylight Savings so we were able to arrive with plenty of light.
It had been a bit of a mission organising this trip to The Great Ocean Road. There was the option to join a tour group or hire a car, which while a hired car was the cheaper and less restrictive option, it was not so easy to acquire for a group of under 21 year olds. Therefore, due to all the hard work put into organising this one day, I was hoping that the sites would not disappoint. And boy were my hopes answered.
Limestone formations protrude out of the turquoise water that was rumbling onto the shore emitting a misty vapour and shrouding the coastline in a magical essence. That’s my attempt at a creatively formulated sentence to simply state that the natural beauty of the coastline was genuinely mystical. Perhaps it was the fact that the waves crashed far from the shore leaving a large portion of the water covered in foam. Perhaps it was the sheer height of the limestone stacks. Perhaps it was the fact we were viewing the coast from such a high point, about 45 meters above sea level. There are plenty of photos available to satisfy your curiosity, but there’s something special about being there in person.
(What friends are for.)
After spending an hour at varying points along the lookout sweetening our eyes with the view, the drizzling rain hurries us back to our car. We move on to the second point, Loch Ard Gorge. The story behind this location, a five minute drive down the coast from the 12 apostles, is about two shipwrecked survivors who helped each other survive in 1878, while the other 52 passengers of the Loch Ard ship from England died. There once was an arch connecting the two protruding land masses. However, this had collapsed in 2009, leaving behind the two jutting rock pillars creating a small doorway for the rest of the ocean to enter. The beauty and distinctiveness of this place was due to our easy access to walk down to the water’s shore and absorb the complete magnitude of the rocks and the natural exclusion of the beach.
Our final stop was a further five minute drive down the coast to a car park providing us access to three lookout points: Thunder Cave, Broken Head and Sherbrook River. Thunder Cave was as ominous as it sounds. The incoming waves, squeezed through a narrow entrance smashed against the underground cave wedged beneath the mainland. By this point the sun was setting and we were running low on time. We decided to explore the path towards Sherbrook River, but running out of time we took a shortcut over the fence to huddle close to the edge, feeling the chilly breeze prickle our faces, as we admired the misty shoreline about forty meters below.
We stopped once during the four hour drive home for dinner at a Thai place, before we arrived back to the car rental place at about midnight. Despite large periods of sitting still, we were ready for a solid’s night sleep