Before I came to Australia, I’d never actually heard of the Great Ocean Road (I have no idea whether it’s meant to be capitalised). Someone asked me if I was going to do it, and I presumed they meant the east coast (awkward). But once I got here and realised it was a thing, I wasn’t all that bothered, to be honest. My thinking was that if it’s just a road along a beach, well, there’s plenty of those on the Isle of Wight. But I kind of figured that as I was in Melbourne, and it seems to be one of those bucket list things that everyone does in Australia, I should do it.
Apparently, the Great Ocean Road (see above about the whole capitalisation thing) is actually a memorial to the soldiers that served in WW1. Some random guy (google it if you’re all that interested) thought that there should be a road along the ocean, so he employed all the soldiers returning from the war suffering from post traumatic disorder. It was really good for them as it allowed them to work through their stress whilst having the company of others who had been through similar experiences. This story kind of made me feel like a proud mother, driving along the road and seeing what they’d achieved. Bless…
The most famous thing on the road is the twelve apostles, eight massive rocks in the sea that have, apparently become known as the twelve apostles over the years. Yep, even though there’s only eight. Oh dear… Now, it’s kind of hard to see all twelve (eight) at once, unless you walk along this epic cliff. Being really lazy, and seeing myself dropping my phone/body over the edge, I decided to take a helicopter ride instead. I know, I’m a backpacker and therefore skint, but once in a lifetime and all that (and it was only £50 and I’d just been paid). And wow, I’m so glad I was having a lazy moment because it was the most incredible thing, just chilling in the air above these incredible rocks, looking at the coast. And there was one called the pizza oven, which just made me really hungry. Weirdly, even though I don’t particularly like flying, it was okay in a helicopter as I felt more like I was levitating than anything else… And I felt important with my headphones 😉
The road generally was very photogenic; I kinda felt like I’d stepped onto the set of a postcard. I could’ve changed both my profile picture and cover photo a million times over from day one alone. I won’t bore you with a million and one pictures of me posing against a pretty backdrop, but I will tell you about a few of my favourite places. The first was Loch Ard Gorge, where a ship crashed. The only two survivors, the daughter of the captain and the ship’s apprentice, both spent the night on the beach and got really drunk on brandy to stop the cold. It was the suggestion that the two marry, at which point she skidaddled back to Ireland rather swiftly, that amused me… Rejected much?! The second place I thought was cool was a random beach towards the top of the ocean road, which was full of small piles of rocks. For no reason other than that someone decided to one day. As you do when you’re bored on a rainy day. It reminded me of the creepy piles of twigs in The Blair Witch Project, and I could just picture tourists walking around the beach in circles for hours and hours, never to be seen again… If you’ve ever watched the film, that won’t sound like complete gooblygop!
After spending the night opposite Bell’s Beach (apparently a famous surfing place – though anyone who reads my blog regularly will know I have no interest in that) with a gorgeous Labrador called Bella, we headed to Philip Island for (squeal) penguins! Yes, there were a lot of other nice viewpoints throughout the day, but who cares about that when there are penguins! Before the evening’s penguin encounter however, we visited a koala park. I’ve know decided my life goal is to be a koala… 18 hours of sleep a day! Not so sure about the chlamydia though… The koalas, like me in the morning, looked distinctly unimpressed at being woken whenever us tourists walked past, and were only placated by munching on their trees. And so cuddly!
And then there was the baby kangaroo. I’m not going to lie, at first, when the Joey was head down in its mother’s pouch, I thought it’s tail was something very different. But when it’s little head popped up and he blinked at the light, I was overcome by a massive urge to run over and cuddle the munchkin. Probably best for all involved that I managed to resist (except me).
But when it comes to cute cuddly things, nothing beats the penguins! We went to watch them return home for the night from a big day fishing in the sea, and, other than being crushed by a few very enthusiastic Chinese tourists, we had an amazing view. Once I’d established what was a penguin and what was a seagull (surprisingly hard in the dark from a distance), watching them waddle their way up the hill and to beddy byes reminded me of myself after a night out; slow, wobbly on my feet and disorientated. And small, though not as small as them, at only 15cm. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in case the flash disturbed them (though of course there were a few plonkers who tried), so here’s some impressive ones from Google I wish I could say I took:
The best thing about the little penguins was their little gangs that they stuck in, waddling on together, waiting for each other, and calling out if someone got lost. And it made me think of my little penguin friends, waddling through life blindly with me, making sure I don’t get left alone on the beach. Love and miss you all ❤️
P.S. Definitely didn’t say goodnight to all the penguins as the walked past. Not at all 😉