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The Great Ocean Road

Written on: Wednesday March 7th, 2007

A journal entry from: The long flight away from home.

The Great Ocean Road 

We had rented a car for the previous weekend only to find out after we had paid that the car was a stick shift and that none of us had ever driven one before. So therefore we had to change our plans and go the following weekend, March 1st to 4th.  It was disappointing having to wait another week, but in the end it was well worth it.


Thursday morning we took the train into the CBD (central business district of Melbourne) and made our way to the car rental place. Once there I found out that I would not be aloud to drive at all since I was under 21. It was not a big deal since Rachel is a really good driver and didn?t have any problems at all getting used to driving on the left hand side. We (Susan, Rachel, Laura, Janice and I) packed all our stuff into the boot (Australian for trunk) and were on our way. It was pretty straight forward to get out of the city and on the right root for the Great Ocean Road.


Our first stop was in Geelong, about 1:10h away from Melbourne. We had stopped at Surf City, a massive area the size of a couple city blocks of surf stores. Every brand imaginable had its shop in this area, RipCurl, Quicksilver, Cult, Reef, Billabong, Roxy?. And when you thought it couldn?t get any better, it did! Each store also had its own clearance store further down the street. It was hard not to spend a whole lot of money in this area, it definitely took some self control.


The next stop was just down the road in Torquay, home of Jason Polakow (one of the best windsurfers in the world, and founder of JP Australia). It was a very nice little village with nice beaches and good surf. I saw a hill that I wanted to try to longboard down so we drove to the top and I got dropped off. I started to skate down and realized that it was way to fast, so I stopped myself and started again, yet again it was to fast so I stopped and started again. However, this time I started to go to fast and got speed wobbles and once you get speed wobbles your pretty much screwed, I had no way to slow down and there was a brick speed bump at the bottom of the hill. I decided to try and turn onto a side street, only to make it about half way and bail onto the pavement and flip a few times into the curb/ditch. Besides some bad road rash it wasn?t to bad, it could have been a lot worse.


We then drove on to Bells Beach, which is known as being a top surf breaks on a world scale. We walked along the coastline for a while and watched a small core group of surfers rip up the waves. Once again we got back into the car and kept driving down the Australia?s South-East coastline to a town named Lorne. Once arrived we checked into a nice little hostel and headed to the beach for a swim, followed by a good night on the beach with 3 other Canadians staying at the hostel who were traveling across the country. 


The following day I woke up fairly early and rented a surf board and headed to the beach. After only a short time I was able to catch some decent waves and get up on the board and ride them in. I was pretty pleased considering it was my first real time surfing. The girls all took their turn to try and then it was back on the road again. The next two hours of driving were pretty crazy, really narrow with lots of sharp corners along the side of the ocean. We did two rainforest walks which were very nice. On the road we saw some kangaroos and even some Koalas, (did you know Koalas sleep 20h per day since they are always high from the eucalyptus leafs that they eat. It?s pretty amazing!).


After a couple of hours on the road we reached our destination of Apollo Bay. A nice little ocean bay town with very high rolling hills in the background. We checked into our hostel called Surf Side backpackers. It wasn?t as nice as Lorne but it would do the job. We didn?t do much that night since we were all still pretty tired from the previous night. I randomly decided at 8p.m. to go and hike up the hills behind the town. It was a lot more like a run to get there before the sun came down, but was totally worth it. From the top I had a bird?s eye view of the whole town and bay. Afterwards we just relaxed and called it an early night.


The following morning we checked out a local beach festival that was going on, it wasn?t that exciting, so after getting some food we got back on the road in search for the 12 Apostles. Once arrived at our destination we walked along the top of the cliffs forming the coastline and observed the picturesque 12 Apostles standing in the ocean (there are only 6 or so left). The Apostles are formed by the ocean eroding the softer rock surrounding sections of hard rock, eventually with the pounding of the waves the sections of hard rock become free standing peers in the ocean with the coastline continuing to erode at a rate of 2cm per year. It was really cool to see! In one location we ventured down the cliff to sea level where we checked out a cool little cave eroded into the shore. Shortly after we had arrived the whole area of the 12 Apostles was swarming with tourist from all over the world arriving on tour buses from Melbourne, so that was our queue to get back on the road.


Soon we had arrived at Port Campbell, our destination for the 3rd night, but very quickly decided that there was not much going on in the town and not much to see. Therefore, as a group we decided to drive back to Lorne where we had spent our first night since it was such a good atmosphere. It was well worth the drive, had a good night and went back to the beach the next morning.


It was finally time to depart and head back to Melbourne. Our rental car was due back at 5p.m. on Sunday night, and we were told by the hostel owner that you had a 59min grace period. So since it was only 3 when we arrived back in the city, I had the bright idea that we should use the car to bring our stuff back to our place and go do some groceries. It was a great idea at first?. until Rachel and I went to return the car  at the rental place and got there at 5:25, only to realize that the 59min grace period did NOT exist!!! We encountered 3 employees in the parking lot but they would not take the car back, and if we didn?t want to pay for an extra day we would have to bring the car to the other office which was located at the airport. So we got back in the car, drove out of the city the way we had just came, traveled around and to the north of the city to finally reach the airport. After finally managing to drop the car off we got on an airport shuttle that took us back to the city. We then went to grab a train, but they were all delayed due to some police blitz going on somewhere in the city. But in the end we made it.


It wasn?t the best way to end the trip, but you couldn?t help but just laugh. All in all it was a great 4 days, with lots of nice view and good times. I would not hesitate to go back and would encourage others who visit Australia to make it a priority to travel down the Great Ocean Road.


Take care,



From Lydia on Mar 8th, 2007

How exciting David ! thanks for the blog ;)

From Daniel on Mar 19th, 2007

Looks like you are having lots of fun with 'your girls'! Checkout our March Break in Whistler 'Movie' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9CRjnurrmE Click on 'More from this user' to see other movies Take care, Daniel