I am a sucker for the beach. But I love mountains too. I am one of those really whimsical people who just can’t decide if they want a house by the sea or up in the mountains. And I have always wondered if there is a place on earth that has both together. That was until I visited The Great Ocean Road. People, this place is ALL THAT. It is a huge stretch of the bluest ocean with powder sand beach RIGHT NEXT THE MOUNTAINS. And not just some average mountains. These are rolling green mountains with lush valleys snuggled within. I am not joking I promise. The ocean is dotted with cliffs and creeks. And the mountains have these valleys with rolling pastures and guess what? Rainforests! Yes! And these rainforests are the real thing, with foliage so thick and the green so green your eyes hurt. And air so fresh and pure, you feel each molecule you take in is vacuuming your lungs and making you five days younger. And between this ocean and these mountains runs the Great Ocean Road. I swear I am not exaggerating. You still don’t believe me. If you did, you would leave everything you are doing at the moment and apply for your Australian visa and head to this place to see it for yourself. Please you cannot leave this planet without having seen so compelling a patch of earth.
Along the way there are many viewing points, where you can just stop and stare at the ocean and take a few snaps. I have pictures and videos, but honestly no photography can do justice to this place. There are touristy attractions all the way like the Twelve Apostles (twelve tall, jagged rocks in the ocean near the coast) and Gibsons Steps, a rainforest treks, parks, surfing schools, some petting zoos, thick eucalyptus vegetation for wild koala spotting; but the Road itself so full of wonder it doesn’t need these embellishments. Just the drive itself is that amazing.
We drove from Melbourne to Lorne (stopped here for lunch) on the first day of the year, before heading to Apollo Bay. (Please take some anti-emetic, the road is very winding and the toddler threw up, sorry for that detail). There was literally no vacancy anywhere and we were especially glad we had made booking online beforehand. We stayed at Sea View Motel & Apartments. It was ok, not too toddler-friendly though. They made it obvious they didn’t like it when he was loud. Good thing about this place was it was walking distance from the happening town centre, and despite having rented a car we chose to walk to it most days. (Highly recommended Italian place, Casalingo, although a bit pricey for us. Another place: Dooley’s ice cream which we had about 5 million times in four days). Along the Road, we visited a petting zoo one day, and did a rainforest trek the next. Guys, there were massive redwood trees in the trek. It was all so pretty I felt I was dreaming. There were ferns and all kinds of natural creepers. We could manage only a half hour trek with the toddler, but please these are wonderful places to see. Literally the stuff of movies. The furthest we went on the Great Ocean road was Port Campbell.
Also, we stopped for pictures at many points on The Great Ocean Road, to and fro. Each time I was so particularly unwilling to leave the viewing point, I had to literally force my soul to get back in the car. At one of these points there was an observatory at the edge of the cliff (maybe Gibson’s steps I can’t recall exactly). The wind was especially crazy and quite chilly. We instantly put on something warm (including the husband who detests warm clothing no matter the weather). I remember standing there looking at the ocean, the wind making a whirlpool of my hair, and with freezing fingers taking pictures. Don’t know if you agree, but there are some specific instances, some special moments of a vacation that are rooted in your memory for good. They are inerasable. THIS moment was it. I looked at the beautiful sea stretching into the misty horizon, and I remember feeling so grateful to be there. I remember muttering to myself – ‘It’s so good to be ALIVE’.