|Great Ocean Road map|
I'm not surprised Melbourne tops the list for the best places to live in on this Big Blue Marble. Apart from the free tram and tour bus services, the quirky yet fun Fed Square, the esplanade along the soulful Yarra, the beautiful parks and gardens, the museums and historical buildings, the ethnic neighbourhoods and multi-cultural spirit, is the Great Ocean Road.
There were many travel agents offering different packages, along with helicopter rides, but Amy and I went with this Korean agent called Tortoise or Turtle Travel. Unlike its name, its service was prompt and fast-paced. The full day trip started early at 7:35am. A 16-seater van picked us up right at the door of the Central Y. It went down on Flinders St, turned right on to St Kilda Rd before hitting the highway to Geelong. From the industrial suburb, it cruised onwards to Torquay, the seaside resort famed for the growth of surfing sportswear such as Rip Curl and Quick Silver.
As soon as we approached the surfing beaches starting from Torquay, it was miles and miles of winding seaside road leading to more picturesque and up scale resorts - Lorne, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway before it hit the high point of the trip, that is the Port Campbell National Park.
|The long and winding road that lead up to scenic resorts|
and high end holiday homes beyond the reach of ordinary Joe 'n Jane.
|Some of the luxury holiday homes seen from the road below.|
Wild koalas blend in with the eucalyptus or gum trees.
Originally called the Sow and Piglets, the Twelve Apostles are the star attraction of the Port Campbell National Park. They are giant rock stacks created by erosion of the limestone cliffs some 10-20 million years ago. The strong winds and waves of the stormy Southern Ocean eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs. The caves then became arches and, when they collapsed, rock stacks of up to 45 metres high were left stranded on the shore.
Loch Ard Gorge (left) also showcased some stunning rock formations such as the Island Arch, Muttonbird Island, the Razorback and the Dumpling Pots. Within the gorge itself are caves and stalactites. It is named after the three-masted clipper ship, the Loch Ard, which wrecked against the cliffs in 1878. Fifty-two passengers and crew lost their lives on the last night of its voyage from Gravesend, England, to Melbourne. Only two 18-year-olds survived to recount their amazing ordeal, now immortalised as walking trails around the gorge.
This is the London Bridge (right) which inspired stories about the English selling their iconic landmark to the Ozzies. The London Bridge formation was a natural archway and tunnel in an offshore rock formation caused by waves eroding a portion of softer rock. It, however, collapsed in 1990 and became a bridge without a middle. The affable guide enthralled us with gossip about a couple, both married to other people, who was trapped on the land bridge when it gave way.
A giant tree (left) at the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk at Cape Otway National Park. The Rainforest Walk here is as pleasant as the one in the Blue Mountains. There are clean, broad wooden board walks and dry paths to guide us around.
A mischievous parrot (right) perched itself on a traveller's head. Seeing so many colourful parrots in their natural habitat reminded of the lone green parrot being chained to a cage on the pavement of a pet shop in Sunway Damansara.
Meeting so many young Germans and Koreans as well as working class Britons who can afford overseas holidays goes to show that the youth and blue collar workers from industrialised countries have more disposable income than their Malaysian counterparts. Perhaps if the young, working and middle classes in Malaysia can budget for annual vacations abroad, they may not readily take to street demonstrations. Haha!