I finally got the chance to travel outside of the Melbourne area this month! It was honestly becoming really frustrating before we left. I got to see so many cool things before the semester started (see koala selfies and the like), but as soon as school began I just felt trapped. Everyone – including me – was too busy getting things under control to leave on any kind of real trip. But occasionally I still saw other exchange students making it out to other cities and areas, Sydney, Brisbane, and even as far north as Townsville and the Great Barrier Reef. I really felt like I was doing the exchange student thing wrong, just staying in the area around my exchange university all the time. But early in September I finally got the chance to get away from Monash and road trip the Great Ocean Road, one of the most visited tourist routes in Australia. Honestly it was really touristy, but so beautiful. We drove along the coast for two full days, stopping at lookouts and beaches along the way.
We also got to see some awesome wildlife on the way, although sadly some critters weren’t interested in posing for any pictures.
Portuguese Man O’ War Jellyfish, these things were all over some of the beaches near the Apostles.
Our Koala buddy, not giving a hoot.
It was pretty cold and windy on our trip, and we even got rained on a few times, but we still got to see some really amazing sights, including a rainforest-like climate in the middle of the temperate southern hills, and just some really incredible lookouts.
Surreal tropical forest on the cold, rainy southern coast.
The most well-known place we stopped at was the Twelve Apostles, a series of pillar-like land forms that stand out in the ocean a few hundred meters off shore. They each stand about as high as the cliffs that back the beaches, but they’re slightly misnamed now. When colonial settlers came across them there were still twelve, but over the last couple hundred years several have fallen, leaving only eight after the most recent collapse in 2005.
Just some of the Apostles. They’re scattered over several miles along the southern shore, so we had to drive to see each cluster of them.
We also took a break on the beach by our first Apostles stop to get some crazy group photos.
The most cliché photo I’d ever taken up to that point.
No, I don’t want to admit how many times we attempted this.
My favorite stop along the way was probably Thunder Cave, although the cave itself wasn’t my favorite. It is a cave worn into a gorge that creates a booming noise as the water comes surging through the gorge and crashes into the cave. It made for an impressive display of nature, but I think the looking down the gorge itself out into the open sea was my favorite view on the trip.
The view beyond (sadly, photo does not do it justice)
It was an awesome experience traveling with people I’ve met since I got here, and the short three day trip was a great warm up into longer trips further into Australia. I can’t wait to for my next journey.
Our very mature driver and copilot at our first meal break.
Side note: I was reminded on this trip of how much freedom is given by having a car. We could hardly bear to part with the tiny compact sedan that had us crammed hip to hip for hours each day.
Quite literally hugging the car behind. I dare say a few tears may have fallen shortly after this photo was taken.