The Road Often Travelled
One thing that I love about travel is that every new place you visit teaches a you a little bit more about yourself. When you assemble the puzzle pieces of the world in person, you're piecing together yourself as well.
When I visited the Great Ocean Road the thing that I learned about myself is that I am a beach kid through and through. I realized that I am at my happiest state and my total self when I'm close to the sand and sea. I’ve always been fascinated with waves in regards to their alliance with the moon and loyalty to the shore. The sound of them breaking brings me back to my childhood, and I am forever grateful to have grown up in Florida, always a stones throw away from the water.
I’ll curtail that little nostalgic trip down memory lane to tell you more about my recent adventure along one of the biggest tourist attractions in Australia.
The coastal drive is 241 kilometers long and stretches along the south-east of the country. I've heard people rave about it since I arrived to Australia, as it is one of the biggest “to-dos” in the country. What I didn’t know is that it’s actually a war memorial, the largest in the world in fact! The whole thing started as project to provide jobs for over 3,000 servicemen that came home from WWI. It took them 13 years to build the road by hand, and was dedicated to the soldiers who never made it home from the war.
I would recommend taking a two or three day tour over just a single day trip, or you can also rent a car and go at it yourself. Either way, there is so much to see along the way, and it’s important to allot yourself enough time so that you have the flexibility to stop as you please. Our tour was relaxed, so we stopped every half hour or so to take it all in. The sights are the epitome of ethereal. These are places that I won’t remember just for their beauty; I’ll remember the unearthly way I felt standing before them. I urge you to do the drive and take these stops if you want to feel the same way! (The pictures I captured don’t do justice in the slightest.)
Our first stop of the day where we enjoyed tea and biscuits whilst watching the surfers enjoy the morning swell.
A great town in which I could definitely see myself living in. Its frequent with beachy cafes and authentic surf shops. It's also home to "The Pier to Pub," the largest open water swim in the world. (Added that to the bucket list)
I've got a quirky story about this stop- I have been fascinated with Australia for a long time, but just a couple of years ago I decided to search for pictures of Australia on Pinterest to set as my phone background. It was kind of a way to inspire myself to not give up my dream of visiting here. When we stopped at this lookout, I saw the exact image I had as my phone background for so long, and it was a really funny feeling. The only way I could describe my thoughts at that moment is "I MADE IT!"
The highest point on the road, and a great place to dangle your feet!
This formation gets its shape from wind and water erosion.
The Twelve Apostles
Possibly the most famous stop on the drive. These limestone rock formations once had the appellation "Sow and Piglets," but the name got changed to sound more godly. Which they truly are.
The London Arch
Where we saw the sunset, the best sunset of my life to be honest. It was our last stop of the drive and it sure left a lasting impression!
Loch Ard Gorge
Our tour guide told us that this gorgeous inlet is often used as a wedding venue. I hope my future husband is on board (pun intended) because I am sold!
Favorite person I met along the way:
Stanley. We had such a stellar group of eight on our three day tour, with Miki and Kamini, two ladies from Japan, Eva from Germany, Elin from Sweden, Luke from England, and my American friend Kirsten and I. Stanley from Singapore was an absolute riot though; his candor and unique observations cracked us up the entire trip. All of our hearts broke when Stanley dropped his phone and selfie stick into the water at the Mackenzie waterfalls. I gave him a pat on the back and said "sorry about your phone Stanley." His jubilant deposition shined when he just looked back at me with a smile and said, "oh it doesn't matter to me Elyse!" Anyone in this day and age who doesn't absolutely crumble from the lack of a mobile device is more than admirable in my book. He has this effervescent personality and merry way about him, and his upbeat outlook on life has inspired me to view the world in the same light.
Fun Fact: The London Arch used to be deemed The London Bridge, as it was connected to the land instead of isolated like it is now. In 1990, 2 tourists got stuck on it when half of it collapsed, a man and a woman. A helicopter was sent to rescue them, however the man balked at rescuers because he didn't want to be on National Television. Why didn't he want to be on TV you ask? The woman he was with was not his wife, she was his mistress. Now that's some powerful karma for you!