Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostles at sunset

Last weekend, Amy and I ventured down to our neighboring state, Victoria to visit Melbourne and tour the Great Ocean Road which follows a portion of Australia's southern coastline.

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We spent Friday night in Melbourne, eating at what is apparently the only decent Mexican restaurant in Australia, Mamasita. If you are ever passing through the city, i recommend giving it a try.

We ventured out early Saturday morning, hoping that the rain would clear. As we reached our first stop, a lighthouse outside of Torquay, the sun was just beginning to break through the clouds.

Lighthouse and cliffs

As we continued along the coast, we were greeted around every corner with stunning views of dramatic cliffs and rough seas breaking over craggy rocks.

There are dozens of viewing platforms along the road

Around sunset, we reached the oft-photographed 12 Apostles. This is a series of rock pillars (originally 9, not 12) that jut out of the sea off the coast near Port Campbell. The setting sun produced a massive rainbow, as well as lit up the cliffs and ocean beautifully. It was a great cap to the day's driving.

Chris with the Apostles in the background

We spent the night in Port Fairy, a quaint town just past the end of the coastal part of the Great Ocean Road. Here we dined at The Stag which was quite frankly, the best food I have had since moving here. The food was fresh, locally sourced, and expertly prepared. Once again, if you are passing through, this is the place to go.

On Sunday, we enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Melbourne, stopping at some of the sights we blew by on Saturday, in an effort to get to the 12 Apostles before sundown.

12 Apostles from the air

Question mark shaped island must hold a secret hideout

One of these stops was at a helipad which was closed by the time we got there. We took a 25 minute flight up and down the coast, seeing what we had driven through from the air. It was a most impressive sight. The way the coast and formations are laid out is ideal for helicopter viewing. Also, helicopters are awesome.

A spot named "The Grotto". No Bunnies were found there. False advertising.

Our last stop on the way back was at Bells Beach. This is where the pro surfing tour hosts their annual Easter event and is one of the most prestigious in the sport. We hiked down the cliffs and watched the locals show their stuff.

One of the 2 breaks at Bells Beach

The great Ocean Road is generally ranked among "the worlds greatest drives" in travel magazines and other forums that monitor such things. I would compare it to the "Road to Hana" in Maui for those who have been there as a beautiful coastal trek that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Bells Beach, surfer on the bottom about to take it on