Here’s the wiki link, I can’t really describe the Great Ocean Road and do the job justice.
What I CAN do is tell you about my experience there. How it can be done in one day relatively inexpensively.
One day is not enough. I think three is a minimum. But we didn’t have that option.
Back when I was planning our vacation, I wanted to explore here. But with visiting friends, driving on the wrong side of the road, unfamiliar territory, and such, I didn’t want to commit until after I looked the situation over. Mistake. We happened to be in Aussie at the peak tourist time of the year. Many Australians have four weeks off around Christmas, so motels in popular areas can be jammed.
I’m sure we could have found some place and Edmund agreed. But he also said that any available rooms would be charged an outrageous premium. Plus, rent a car in downtown Melbourne, crowds at popular spots, etc. It just didn’t sound like something I wanted to take on.
Edmund came to the rescue. He volunteered to set us up on a one day train, bus, bus, train tour of the GOR. As I had no idea how this would work, we accepted. He then volunteered to be our tour guide. I now owe him BIG TIME and hope I can pay this back some day in the US.
First, off to a VLine ticket counter to purchase your ticket. Since we were right next to the Southern Cross Station, it was easy and we did it the day before. Knowing exactly what to purchase is a different matter. On the odd chance someone reading this blog decides to make this trip, here is the description of the route.
Saved this as a souvenir. Train from Southern Cross Station to Geelong main station. There are three stations in Geelong, get off at the second stop. If you have any doubt, ask the conductor when you board. Tour bus from Geelong to Apollo Bay. Tour bus from Apollo Bay to Warrnambool. Train from Warrnambool to Southern Cross Station. Notice the first class ticket on the last leg. It’s only $8 more and you get a wider, reclining seat with a better quality of passengers. Worth it. 4 hours from Warrnambool to Southern Cross.
This is a long, long day. About twelve hours. Bring a lunch to eat at Apollo Bay as there is no time to buy anything there. Dinner is available on the train, selection is limited by the end of the day. You have about an hour to pick up a bite to eat in Warrnambool.
The bus from Apollo Bay to Warrnambool operates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as of this date 1/14/2017. Keep that in mind. Some people get on and off, spending a few days at various towns along the way. This will cost extra, but it’s a helluva lot cheaper than renting a car and worth considering. You can also turn around in Apollo Bay and return after a two hour layover in Apollo Bay. Not something I recommend as the best sites are further on around the loop. I can’t see any reason why a person couldn’t spend a few days in Apollo Bay for the same price. Or Warrnambool, but there isn’t much to see there.
We were supposed to meet Edmund at 8:20am at the Woolworth’s at Southern Cross Station. But, we were up early and made it there at 8:00am. Bought our lunch and Edmund walked up about the same time we got out of the store. He bought his lunch, and we were ready. Since the trains leave about every 15 minutes in the morning, we jumped on the 8:30am train. No problems with that.
I was waiting for this station. Not about to miss this picture.
Classic rock music buffs are familiar with the Little River Band. On the highway near this stations is where they found their name. Quoting from wikipedia…
“After their return to Australia [from the UK], the members began rehearsing in February 1975, still using the name of Mississippi. In Wheatley’s autobiography, Paper Paradise (1999), he described how they obtained their name: “It was now time to get out of the rehearsal room and play to a live audience – somewhere without any fanfare, somewhere out of the way. I booked the Golfview Hotel in Geelong for the Saturday night of 1 March 1975. While travelling to the venue down the Geelong Road from Melbourne, we passed the turn-off for Little River. From the back of the truck Glenn Shorrock shouted, ‘What about the Little River Band’? And so, that night the Golfview Hotel witnessed the first performance of the Little River Band, albeit advertised on the marquee as Mississippi.” On 20 March 1975 they played their first official gig under their new name at Martini’s Hotel in Carlton. They played a return gig at the Golfview Hotel five days later. “
The rest is history. Possibly the most influential rock band from Australia, in my opinion.
I loved this story and had to include it. The LRB has always been a favorite of mine.
Into Geelong, we had about a 40 minute wait for the bus.
This station is a major intersection for commuters heading to Melbourne for work. Buses are constantly in and out, meeting the trains. We were first in line so Praxy and I scored the front seat. The country rolled by, ocean side.
A lighthouse in the distance
At 61 kilometers, it’s still close to an hour to Apollo Bay from here. The road is twisty and slow. Who wants to hurry? I wanted to see the scenery.
The bus stopped infrequently and only to let passengers on and off. It’s a little over a two hour ride from Geelong to Apollo Bay.
This view shows up constantly on the internet.
Odd plastic statues.
Fires raced through here 2 years ago destroying over 100 houses. This is the aftermath.
Odd rock formations, Apollo Bay in the distance.
This is another Vline bus, but has a different branding on it. Something to do with being out of the Melbourne transit system. We were a little late so we only had about 20 minutes for lunch. We didn’t dare leave the immediate area, concerned the bus might leave without us.
Back on a different bus and off across the toe of Australia.
I have to admit that at this point I was a little bummed out. I’d heard so much about the great ocean road, this was a bit of a let down. Then…the real show began. Back to the ocean and the driver announced “30 minute stop at the 12 apostles”. We jumped out for this.
With the exception of Ayers Rock, this is probably the most famous vista in Australia. I even saw a 20X24 inch blow up sitting at the camera department in Costco two days ago.
The “12” are down to about 7. Storms have been reeking havoc. But this is still a most wondrous site. And very popular.
Nope, that’s not a line of army ants. It’s people. Hundreds of them. Many, many Chinese now visit Australia. Perhaps a third of these people are Chinese tourists.
This was a difficult, hurried shot. The crowds were incredible! People looking out for people walking in front of people trying to take pictures of their own people without any other unwanted people in the way of the people with the cameras and trying to avoid taking a picture with the people in the helicopters in the background. Whew!
Looking the other way. Beautiful, the lighting was better looking south.
Praxy’s turn. There was a line for this shot!
Back in the bus and on to the Loch Ard gorge via Port Campbell. Quick stop here to drop off 3 young adults. Edmund, Praxy, and myself had to bus to ourselves for the rest of the journey.
This looked like a VERY nice place to spend a few nights and explore the area. If we come back, I think we’ll stay here. The bus then continued on the Loch Ard.
A ship named the Loch Ard sank here with two survivors. Another wiki link…
This place was gorgeous as well. We got about 10 minutes here. The driver would not allow us on the beach as he would have to clean up the sand himself.
Fine white sand that gets everywhere. It lines the path as it clings to the visitors even after they walk up these steps.
I didn’t blame the driver.
I could have spent an hour here easily. Maybe some day.
Back in the bus for a 10 minute ride to the next stop, London Bridge.
Possibly a future pair of “apostles” several kilometers away.
The overlook is as close as a person wants to go at ANY of these stops. The edges are rather crumbly. A possible Darwin award nomination goes to the fools that climb over.
A short ride to the next vista, the Bay of Islands’’.
Except for the photo with Praxy, all these photos are pieces of two montages I plan to stitch together. I’ll have to download a program later. Perhaps this means I’ll have another post to show some of the finished work. There are also a couple of videos that I want to post on youtube.
This was the last scenic stop. We continued on to Warnambool for the end of the bus ride.
The train station rests in this little bowl.
Classic late 19th century brickwork. I love the feel of these icons of the past, still in use today.
Our guide, Edmund, sits with Praxy on the platform waiting for departure time. His knowledge made our loop possible.
Diesel electric locomotive for this leg of the trip. Many of the trains in the metro area are run by overhead electric.
Very nice in the first class car.
These trains are a wider gauge than standard, and the tracks are new. They fly along at almost 70 miles per hour, with little shaking or rocking. Still, it was nearly four hours back to Southern Cross. We parted ways with Edmund, he caught a ride back to his home on another train.
A wonderful, long, fun, busy day.
We walked across the street to our motel. Dirty clothes into the luggage, clean clothes in the closet. We were packed and ready to fly out the next morning. That job was done the night before. After all the excitement of the day, suprisingly, we both got a decent night’s sleep. We’d need it for the next day’s flight back to the US.