Sunday, August 24, 2014

Great Ocean Road: Rock Formation Series

One good reason why one would drive along Great Ocean Road is to view the 12 Apostles. In fact I would not be surprised if some people thought that Great Ocean Road IS 12 Apostles and nothing else. They are wrong of course. 

In our quest to view the famous rock formation formally known as Sow and Piglets, we decided to visit its lesser known rock formation "friends" too since they were located along this famous road. We began our journey from Warrnambool, hence our first stop was Bay of Islands.

When on our self drive (or even walking) trips, we depend heavily on Google Maps. This time was no different. What we did learn that from this trip though, Google Maps is not entirely reliable. If there is a signboard on the road, we should trust that first. If there are no signboards and you think Google Maps is pointing you towards the wrong direction, trust your instincts and make a u-turn.

Departing Warrnambool at 10:00am, we arrived at Bay of Islands in no time except it was the wrong one. Hahaha. We did wonder if we were on the wrong track when we were driving in between farms and cows from both sides of the road were giving us (and our car) the look. Ignoring looks from the cows, we finally reached the end of the dirt road. From what we saw, it confirmed our suspicions that this was not the Bay of Islands we wanted. Perhaps it was probably a small hang out spot for the local anglers who decided to name it such. There was a signboard on the limit of the type of fish one could bring back from the day's catch. It had a great view of the ocean tho which of course got us snapping away.
View of the beach from Bay of Islands we were not looking for. Be careful not to select Bay of Islands, Warrnambool when using Google Maps.

Without wasting much time, we drove out and went looking for the real Bay of Islands. This time we relied on the signboards that were available along the way, relegating Google Maps as a back up instead (which did not make sense it is not to be trusted entirely in the first place right?). Anyways after about half an hour, we found what we were looking for. Yay!


This is more like it. The "original" Bay of Islands. Right hand view from the deck. 
Left hand view of actual Bay of Islands when standing at viewing deck.

Next in queue was Bay of Martyrs. This site was not part of the plan but since it was part of the route, we made a stop anyways. There is not only a viewing deck for you to view the sea stacks but walking trails for you to take to nearby areas of interest. Unfortunately, due to possible time constraints (we do not know how many unscheduled stops we could make before reaching 12 Apostles), we skipped the walks. If we do go back in future, we will definitely make time for the walks. I mean how many pictures of the same thing could one take right?


View from Bay of Martyrs
We then stopped by London Bridge. Mr H decided to wait in the car while I walked out to snap a picture. He got tired of getting in and out of the car every 15 minutes, putting on thick jacket (it was too cold to go without), walk to the viewing deck and take pictures of something similar to the previous one. To him, all formations were the same (after visiting two sites) and he was only going to come out again for 12 Apostles. I disagreed and thought to make the best of this trip. I do not know when I would be back again. After all, it took me nearly 10 years to come back for my second trip. With these formations exposed to the natural elements, you know it will not be around forever. Might as well seize the chance now while you can.

The London Bridge today. It was not always like this.
Looking at the picture, you might wonder why is it named London Bridge - it does not look like its namesake nor there is a bridge visible. Well, part of that bridge collapsed in 1990 leaving two people stranded on the island and had to be rescued via helicopter. Prior to the collapse, visitors were allowed to walk to the end of the bridge. This is how it looked like before the collapse.


Of all the places visited, the Grotto is my favourite. Perhaps the formation and movement of waters in and out of the cave has something to do with this. It makes a dramatic backdrop too. 
The Grotto, makes a gorgeous backdrop to any selfie.


video


Next on our list was Loch Ard Gorge. Not knowing what to expect from this sight, we did not plan to spend much time here, just enough to take some pictures and be on our way. Upon arrival though, we discovered there is so much to do. In fact it is recommended you spend at least 2-3 hours here! There are 4 main trails for you to take ranging from 200m to 3km. We only did the necessary - walk down the steps and took pictures before making our way back to the car.


Loch Ard Gorge: view from top of the steps.
Go down the steps and walk towards the left, to view the "tunnel" of Loch Ard Gorge.
Turn around and there is the cave at Loch Ard Gorge which I did not enter.
Finally, the moment we have been waiting for - 12 Apostles. As mentioned earlier, the original name of these stacks were Sow and Piglets. It was renamed in the 1950s to The Apostles for tourism purposes. Somehow it was commonly referred to 12 Apostles and the name stuck. If you are hoping to find twelve stacks, you will be disappointed. When I first visited this sight, there were 9 stacks visible. However since then, one stack collapsed and today there are 8.

12 Apostles, the most popular of them all. Only 10% of visitors to the 
12 Apostles actually make time to visit the others.
A few hundred metres away is Gibson's Steps. Visitors are able to walk down the flight of stairs and walk on the beach. Turn right to walk towards the 12 Apostles. 

Walking down Gibson's Steps.

Gibson's Steps: Walking towards 12 Apostles via beach. Be alert of the tide. This area might be covered with water. You might have to swim back.
With that, we come to the end of the Great Ocean Road: Rock Formation Series. These pictures might not do justice to the actual beauty of the rocks and I strongly suggest you make the time to see them yourself with your own eyes if you have not done so.

Do your homework before making the trip. There are several websites dedicated to the Great Ocean Road with suggestions of things to do, places to stay and places to eat. I found this site very helpful - Great Ocean Road Australia (http://www.greatoceanroad.com/). 

There is also a phone app you can download that will help with planning.

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