Australia was on my bucket list since I learned how to speak and definitely way before I even knew what a bucket list was! I always wanted to go there. A combination of kangaroos, Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, surfers and majestic beaches and probably million other things just kept on pushing Oz further up and up the list until it hit the top and became an obvious next
holiday adventure destination! I do not think I was looking forward to any of my previous trips as much as I was for this one. I knew I was going about a year before and I literally counted months down! And then weeks, days and hours (I worked on the day I started the holiday! The flight was in the evening! And… of I went!
You can get to Oz in various ways from Europe. The biggest ones are Emirates, Qatar Airways and Australian Qantas. I used Qatar Airways for this trip. I had a long stopover in Doha which you can read about here. Wish I could say the flight was a pleasure like I usually do. I normally enjoy flying but this was just a bit too much! 7 hours flight time to Doha, 11 hours of a stopover and another 14 (yes, fourteen!) hours down to Melbourne (it was 16 hours on the way back as you fly against the headwinds). As you can imagine I was destroyed by the time I got there. But at the same time I was so excited to finally make this little dream come true! My exhaustion did not matter that much after all. Australia! ❤
I landed in the evening just after a mega-storm. Apparently it was one of the biggest and half of the city was paralyzed (which I was to find out later myself). I was so tired I do not remember going through border control and customs, but it must have been super easy and quick and not like some other I’ve been through (I am looking at you, Toronto!). Just after passing through the arrival gates you can buy a bus ticket in a vending machine (I loaded $10 on a MYKI card) and look around for a sim card. Luckily there are plenty of shops selling data sim cards (Melbourne is 2nd biggest airport in Oz). I was lucky to find a super half-price promo one, $20 for 40GB data allowance. Cheaper than home! Just shop around and don’t buy off the first stand. And the customer service is usually amazing – and in my case they took care of everything including all the checks to make sure I left happy. And I did! Ace 🙂 And so my little adventure in the Down Under begun!
You can get to downtown Melbourne by using an express bus or regular public transport. It’s not complicated and I suggest you take the airport bus. I didn’t! I decided to take a bus with a transfer to a train. And I found out at the train station that the train service had stopped working due to the storm earlier and a bus replacement had been installed. So I waited and took that one. As it happens a group of punks sat next to me, on the back of the bus and started a chilly conversation. Until the bus driver suddenly hit the brakes and the back of the bus all went flying forward spilling beer all over me and my luggage and everything else on the way. What a great start it was! I was alright myself but smelled of beer badly! So badly I was worried I wouldn’t be accepted in the hostel! As bad as it was that was the worst thing that happened to me on this trip and everything else was just better going forward! 🙂 I was supposed to do one of the greatest and most beautiful road trips this world has to offer the next day, so who cared about being dirty and smelly and tired?! Ready?
The next day started off amazingly. Perfect mood, perfect weather, perfect trip, perfect city. Melbourne has been voted one of the most livable cities on the Planet and for a few reasons. It’s got great architecture (colonial influenced architecture from XIX century mixed with modern towers), wide roads allowing for smooth transport, amazing sport venues (Australian Open anyone?) and pretty decent climate. I wish I had spent more time in the city itself. I think I might have to go back one day to cover the city better! 🙂
There are a few day trips outside the city you can choose from when in Melbourne. Great Ocean Road is definitely the most famous and recommended. Just make sure the weather is looking good. All in all it’s Southern Ocean you would be driving by and that one can be unpredictable and can bring some miserable weather. The coastal views would still be amazing, but the colour of the water is best appreciated in full sunshine as you will see here later on. If you decide to go and plan your trip in advance – make sure you check the latest discounts on Viator.com – I booked both of my Mel trips with a 50% discount (the second trip to Philip Island will be in the next post). So… shall we leave already?!
This Great Ocean Road trip is a full day one where you leave early (*cough*) in the morning and come back late in the evening. You spend most of the time on the bus as the distance you cover is significant. There and back it’s about 350 miles (500km) so be warned. But if you ask me it’s really, really worth it! You also do get to see some pretty villages like Anglesea on the way (not to be confused with Anglesey in Wales 😉 ).
Fancy buying a house? The cheapest on the list was a bit short of half a million $.
A bit past Anglesea we had another stop. This time to have a wee walk around this magnificent beach and a short photo session with the official entry gates to Great Ocean Road. I wasn’t fussy about the gates, but the ocean… this open space, huge beaches and a pretty cold water! I do not think you could swim in the ocean without a swimsuit, or maybe you could? That girl below did not mind that at all I guess!
Brrrr, it was really cold!
The Great Ocean Road is a long stretch of a road running literally by the ocean. It’s one of the most scenic coastal drives. Thinking of a similar Garden Route in South Africa comes to my mind. Both are pretty epic!
The Great Ocean Road was built by returned war soldiers between 1919 and 1932. A pretty clever idea to make men busy that otherwise would have ended up unemployed. Created by soldiers for soldiers as the road became a memorial for all killed during World War I. What an amazing tribute! If you do take this trip just make sure you sit on the left hand side of the bus going from Melbourne!
Every turn was a wowzer! Such a beautiful coastline. And the weather helped a lot (yes, that’s why it’s important to go on this trip when the weather is great!). Unfortunately we did get a little bit of fog as well. This came as a surprise to me, but this area is also called a shipwreck coast and that’s due to the unpredictable ocean, fogs and rocks. Them poor ship captains that realized they were heading towards rocks but it was already too late… luckily we were on the land when we hit the fog (pardon, the mist!).
Interestingly, many locals put their houses for sale for inflated prices just before the season starts. It’s a tricky way of getting extra money when the holiday rush is about to begin and visitors to the area might be tempted to get their perfect holiday home. It’s a bait that you best not take! (if you have the money that is).
Luckily in our case the fog had cleared before we hit the main viewing point on the Great Ocean Road. A viewing point I could classify as one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. And the weather helped big time. It was just splendid and colorful, and breathtaking. Considering I booked the trip about a month before I went – not knowing what the weather would be like I can consider myself very lucky. Like very, very lucky! I got to see Twelve Apostles in it’s full glory!
The viewing platform will be another apostle one day.
Going, going, gone!
A little bit further down the road there is a few more formations equally interesting. The destructive force of the ocean is constantly working so the landscape is ever changing. It’s not millions or even thousands of years. There are photos on the internet from couple of years ago showing archways that no longer exist. Like this one below. There was a bridge between the two rocks… where is it now!
And again a little bit further nature created a small bay of some sort that back in the age of ships and colonial voyages became a trap for 2 survivors. Their ship got destroyed and they were the only 2 ones that managed to make it. Unfortunately they were thrown into a bay with steep walls and no escape! Locked miles and miles from the nearest town they had no chance to be rescued by strangers passing by. A man and a women spent couple of nights trying to figure out how to get out. The man finally made it and went looking for help to save that poor lady. Apparently she wasn’t quite in a shape… but she got rescued! You might think a man saving a woman would end up in a happy ending? Unfortunately not. I guess their fate was never meant to be crossing each other ever again.
Note the guy’s head to the right? The water was bloody cold!
The last but one point in our trip was so called London Bridge. As the title says it used to be a bridge that collapsed couple of years back. Luckily noone was hurt but 2 people got trapped on the “island” and had to be rescued by a helicopter. The story got a national coverage and as it turned out the two strained on the rock were a married couple that went together on a trip. Married, but… not to each other! 🙂 Call it lack of luck!
Almost there. We traveled a bit further west to a nice village called Port Campbell to rest a little bit before our way back. A nice, quaint place. Good for them lazy holidays. It was just what I needed after a long but very, very exciting day!
And off we go back to Melbourne! I did look around for some wildlife but I could not see any. Or maybe my eyes were just too tired. But I was guaranteed to see some the next day! Oh boy what a solid dose of nature it was!
Check the below gallery for more pictures and stay tuned for another feed from Melbourne, ‘stralia!