Last week I flew to Melbourne to tick off one of my big Bucket List goals here in Australia: to see the incredible Twelve Apostles and the scenic Great Ocean Road.
The Twelve Apostles were recently named in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel as number 12 out of 500 of the top sights to see around the world – which is a pretty big deal!
Doing some research, I came across Go West Tours – who were voted this year as the number one Great Ocean Road tour and is Melbourne’s most highly awarded tour operator.
They offered everything I was looking for on a memorable day trip with many top sights and stops along the way to the Twelve Apostles in an all-included day trip from Melbourne.
I had such a fantastic day on the tour and it lived up to my very high expectations! Read on to find out what we got up to on this remarkable 14-hour road trip.
All aboard & Torquay
I was warmly greeted and picked up bright and early at 7:20 am, right on time by the lovely tour guide Michelle. The mini-tour bus was already half full and we promptly whipped around town and picked up the rest of the passengers.
It was a full group that day but with the bus holding a maximum of 24 passengers, the group was relatively small and cosy.
Once all on board, Michelle gave us plenty of tour information and what to expect that day. She also entertained us with interesting facts about Melbourne as we drove out of the city centre.
About an hours drive away was our first stop at Torquay, a cute little surfy beach town at the very start of the Great Ocean Road. What’s cool about Torquay is that it’s the birthplace of the famous Australian surf brands Quicksilver and Rip Curl.
We spent half an hour there for morning tea. There were three types of yummy cake to choose from as well as tea, coffee and milo. We got to take our time and enjoy it on the beach watching the surfers which is something I love to do.
The Great Ocean Road
We were now on the Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage that stretches 243 kilometres along the south-eastern coast of Australia.
Michelle told us about the history of the road and how it took 14 years to complete.
The 3000 men employed were ex-war servicemen from WW1, making it the longest war memorial.
We had a quick stop at Memorial Arch for a photo opportunity. It decided to bucket down with rain, only temporarily thank goodness.
We passed through some really cool beach towns such as Lorne, and amusingly Michelle played some Beach Boys tunes which put a smile on all of our faces!
The drive along the coastline was absolutely spectacular and it stretched on as far as the eye could see. Clear skies opened up for us and the water was a beautiful mixture of blues that literally sparkled. We had another quick stop for a photo at a stunning spot overlooking the water.
Lunch, Koalas and a Rainforest
It was now time for lunch and the chance for a bit of koala spotting! We stopped at Koala Kafe in Kennett River, where there are wild koalas that live in the area.
We got to pre-choose our lunch and a drink on the bus from a large selection of choices and when we arrived it was conveniently ready and waiting for us.
I opted for the fish burger and chips and it was very fresh, filling and tasty. We then had time to walk around and see one of Australia’s most loved animals.
I managed to spot a couple of them sleeping at the tops of trees. There were also plenty of Australian native birds hanging out around the park.
We were treated to more beautiful coastal views stretching along the highway before making a quick pit stop at Apollo Bay. While the bus was being refuelled we got to look around the local information centre where I picked up a few souvenirs for the trip (I love to collect fridge magnets and postcards).
It was time to leave the Great Ocean Road for now and head more inland to our next stop.
We went for a lovely twenty-minute rainforest walk called Mait’s Rest, located in the Great Otway National Park. It was a very cool contrast from the rest of the sights we were seeing that day.
It was so lush and green and also very nice to have a walk after that lunch! The native wildlife was beautiful, it reminded me of where I’m from in New Zealand.
Next, we got to sit back and relax as it was an hours drive to the next but most anticipated stop:
The Twelve Apostles
We were dropped off at the Twelve Apostles Visitor’s Centre and eagerly followed the signed pathway leading to different lookout points and viewing platforms.
The iconic Twelve Apostles are magnificent limestone rock stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. They tower 45 metres above the Southern Ocean on Victoria’s dramatic coastline.
We got to spend a full forty-five minutes here so there was plenty of time to really soak in the surroundings and enjoy the incredible formations that have been there for 6000 years.
Since their discovery, only eight now remain due to erosion and the forces of nature. The most recent one collapsed in 2005.
It was extremely windy and being a very popular tourist attraction there were quite a lot of people around but that didn’t spoil the atmosphere at all. There was still plenty of chances to get your photograph taken with no one else in the shot.
They are a truly wondrous sight and I absolutely loved seeing them in real life. Big bucket list tick!
Gibson’s Steps & Loch Ard Gorge
Next up, we were dropped off at the nearby Gibson’s Steps which led to a beautiful beach to see two of the apostles from ground level.
It was pretty special to see them from a different perspective.
Our final stop along the Great Ocean Road was Lock Ard Gorge, and Michelle told us this was her favourite of all the stops. She told us a historical story first about a famous shipwreck here in 1878.
The picturesque gorge is home to a beautiful bay with clear, blue water and it is absolutely breathtaking. There are three easy walks you can do to see the area’s natural treasures and the gorge from different views, including walking down to the hidden beach.
It was incredible to see these natural rock formations and the power of nature up close.
There are detailed signs along the walks that share the fascinating stories about the area’s history, geology and natural features.
I couldn’t believe it was 5 pm already – the day went so fast, probably because it was so enjoyable! It was time to head back towards Melbourne, stopping for a bite to eat in a small country town along the way.
We got to witness a beautiful Victorian sunset out of the window and see the Melbourne city lights come to life before we were each dropped off home at the end of a long but very excellent day.
Times: Pickups are between 7 – 8 am, drop-offs are between 8:30 – 9:30 pm
Dates: The tour runs daily
Reviews: 4.5/5 stars from 1910 reviews and a certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.
Price: $130 pp, including pick up, drop-off, morning tea and lunch.
I honestly couldn’t have enjoyed the Great Ocean Road tour more. The entire day was very well organised, well thought out and executed.
What made the tour all the more special was our guide Michelle, who was an absolute star. She remembered every single person’s name, which was very impressive and interacted with everyone all throughout the day. She was enthusiastic, approachable and demonstrated great safe driving.
Go West has been taking guests on tour since 2000 and are clearly leading experts in their field. I can imagine all of their guides, not just Michelle, are professional, warm and friendly, showcasing true blue Aussie hospitality.
There was a large range of people on board from all around the world, from couples, a family, friends to solo travellers like me. One couple from Brazil was even on their honeymoon!
Even though you do spend many hours sitting down travelling, there are plenty of opportunities well spaced out to walk and properly stretch your legs; it didn’t even seem like we were stuck on a bus for that long!
Go West offer a number of fantastic tours from Melbourne and I would have loved to do them all if I had the time (especially their Yarra Valley food and wine tour).
Driving right alongside the scenic Great Ocean Road and seeing the Twelve Apostles and other natural wonders was a huge highlight of my time here in Australia and an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend Go West to everyone!
If you would like to see a bit more I made a short travel vlog from my day trip for YouTube:
Hands up who has now put the Twelve Apostles on their bucket list??
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