Bid farewell to our Melbourne hosts and hit the road at 8:30am, heading west to Torquay where the Great Ocean Road begins.
Our first stop was Addis Point, where we managed to nab our first avian lifer for the trip, getting a brief look at Rufous Bristlebird in the car park. Oh yeah, and a nice view of the ocean too.
Back on the road we wound our way along the coast, admiring the dramatic coastline and azure waters of the Southern Ocean.
At Apollo Bay, the road heads inland. We stopped at Melba Gully, a little hidden gem in the rainforest. We did a 1.5km hike around the gully, admiring the vivid greens of the rainforest plants, and listening to all the birdsong. One call in particular caught our attention, a melodic two-tone whistle. It belonged to Olive Whistler, a new bird for us but a difficult one to get views of considering he was across the gully and up in the canopy. Luckily for us, the walking track took us right up to where we'd heard the call and we managed to get great views of another lifer as he sat up and sang for us.
Melba Gully was a nice change of pace along the busy Great Ocean Road
Back on the coast again, we headed for the most famous attraction of the GOR.
The Twelve Apostles themselves are lovely, but the experience is not. The car park is barely big enough, we spent over ten minutes driving around looking for a space, and the whole place is swarming with tourists. We tried to enjoy the view, but it was difficult with so many people jostling for photos.
Back on the road we visited Loch Ard Gorge. We climbed down to the beach, though this too was quite crowded. Next we visited London Bridge and finally the Arch which was our favourite, both because of its natural beauty and because the hoards had thinned considerably.
The Great Ocean Road is of course very scenic, but driving it in the summer was probably not our smartest decision. We had lots of crowds to contend with, and the high number of international tourists can make the road a little dangerous because these people are not always aware of Australian road rules. Fifteen years ago, we visited in late September and had the Twelve Apostles all to ourselves. If we ever feel ready to tackle this arduous journey again, we will definitely not be doing it in January.
A quick dinner in Warrnambool, and quick look around Port Fairy, before finally rolling into Portland at 9:00pm just as the sun was setting.