After getting up at an ungodly hour to make our Melbourne to Adelaide tour, we waited 45 minutes for our bus to arrive. Our driver, Andi, later explained that the itinerary from the company told everyone that their pick up was at 6:45 am and she had three different stops. Whatever the reason, this got everyone off to a bad start.
Our first stop of the day was Torquay, a surf town filled with a shop for every surf brand and then some. There were even a couple of outlet stores, but I didn’t find them cheaper than Hawaii. I suppose if you’re from a non-surfing place this would be your opportunity to throw down some cash. For me, it was just another retail stop.
Next we drove to Bells Beach, a famous surf spot that hosted the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition a few days before our visit. Because many of the structures were still up, we were unable to actually go to Bells Beach. Instead, we visited Split Point Lighthouse and continued toward the Great Ocean Road. The view along this coastal drive was beautiful and reminded me of the drive from Hawaii Kai to Waimanalo only it was a lot longer. The water was the bluest of blues as it crashed on the rocks. The weather was wonderful and the sky complemented the color of the sea. People’s moods were beginning to lift, or maybe they were just finally waking up.
When we reached Kennett River, we pulled off to do a short stroll and look for koalas. They were easy enough to spot but could not match the awesomeness of Raymond Island. I felt sorry for passengers who didn’t experience Raymond Island because this stop was just too short to enjoy the koalas. The tour felt very rushed as if we were behind schedule. Well, we were at least 45 minutes behind I suppose.
For lunch we stopped at Apollo Bay and had a picnic in the park fronting the water. Unlike the first tour, we had to prepare lunch for ourselves and the group divided into smaller units to prepare and clean up. It was as if we were children away at camp on KP duty, but it was a new and different way to get to know people as you chopped lettuce or washed dishes. We had barbecue chicken salad, coleslaw and canned fruit for lunch.
Since I would rather clean than cook, I walked out to look at the beach. The water was blue and clear and the sand was white. The gusts of wind coming onshore were pretty wicked though, so I didn’t see any swimmers or sunbathers. There were a few people on blankets enjoying the view, but they were securely wrapped up in sweaters and wore long pants. What an extremely different beach experience than we have in Hawaii.
|Slide Album: Great Ocean Road|
After lunch, we went to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, where we did a 2 km walk that took us from the forest floor to 25 meters above the ground. It was a really cool experience because we got a closer look at different flora and fauna in the rainforest. Giant trees towered above us and ferns and other vegetation surrounded us. This was just another example of the diversity that Australia has to offer.
We only had about an hour to do the walk, and some people were lagging behind. There was absolutely no time to admire the scenery and relax, which bothered me and many other people. Half the group made it within the time limit and we had to wait for Andi to round up the others. It’s unfortunate that we had to rush through this experience as I would’ve liked to stick around longer.
|Slide Album: Otway Fly Adventures|
Once everyone completed the walk, we zoomed over to watch the sunset at Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. Had we missed it, I think people may have rioted because the view was completely mind blowing. We hopped off the bus and literally ran to the lookout where dozens of people were waiting for the life-changing event. It felt like we were witnessing a miracle instead of an everyday occurrence. While hundreds of people were present, the lookout was almost silent as we reverently watched the colors change in the sky. Besides some whispering and camera shutters clicking, everyone had their eyes glued to the amazing beauty of nature.
The Twelve Apostles are limestone stacks along the shore that formed through erosion. The waves and weather slowly ate away at cliffs. Cliffs became caves; caves became arches; and arches fell and left pillar-like rock formations. Oddly enough, there apparently were never twelve stacks to begin with (that’s marketing for you) and the constant erosion is slowly causing the existing stacks to break down. In 2005, a 50-meter stack fell into the water.
|Slide Album: Twelve Apostles|
Despite the awful start this morning and having to rush about at each stop, experiencing sunset at the Twelve Apostles was worth it. Who knew that nature could be this magnificent? Certainly not me. No lighting tricks. No CGI effects. No Photoshop touch ups. This was the real deal. This was Australia.