Can you smell the salty air? The fresh breeze, and the warmth of the sun on your face? This is Australia, and the famous Great Ocean Road. Hugging the coast of the southern end of Victoria, this stretch of highway boasts views to rival any other. While the official starting point of the road is somewhat debatable, it generally runs from the town of Torquay, about an hour outside Melbourne, west to Portland (see map here). This view is of the landmark Twelve Apostles, in Port Campbell National Park. The limestone formations tower out from the water, having once upon a time been connected to the cliffside behind them (20 million years ago to be exact). They were created by the erosion caused by the waves, and continue to erode a tiny bit each year. Several rock elements have already succumbed to this erosion, so the landscape is in a constant state of change.
There are signs posted in warning of this instability in fact. Complete with that good old Aussie sense of humor. A bit blunt perhaps, but gets the point across I’d say.
It is an absolutely stunning view from the prescribed “safe outlooks”. For the more adventurous, you can take the Gibson Steps which take you 70 meters down to the sand. And that sand does look enormously tempting.
There is a rich history of geology, shipwrecks and more on this particular stretch of the Great Ocean Road. A guided tour isn’t necessary. There are self-guided walks providing a wealth of information at Loch Ard Gorge, located about a 10 minute drive from the Twelve Apostles. If you do prefer to have a local expert show you the ropes and provide additional knowledge, there are a variety tours available. You can even take a helicopter trip along the coast. How cool would that be?
If you are a reader of Travel + Leisure, and you just so happened to have seen the November 2013 issue, you might recognize one of these photos. In very exciting news (for me anyways…) my photo of the Twelve Apostles was pictured on page 14! Needless to say, this was a big moment for me. While great photographs are taken everyday all over the world, I just have to thank Australia and the Great Ocean Road for being so darn photogenic.