Today I woke up early again so that I could get ready in time for my tour of The Great Ocean Road. I took the train into the CBD and waited at the Immigration Museum for pickup at 7:45am. The tour was a medium sized tour with 22 people. I deliberately picked a smaller tour, because I felt it would be a bit more personalized, and I’m glad I did because it was fantastic. Steve, the tour guide, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the grand history of Melbourne and told us all fascinating facts about Melbourne, and various things along the way.
As we were passing over West Gate bridge Steve pointed out that two years into the construction of the bridge that a portion of the bridge actually collapsed, killing 35 workers. It was the worst industrial accident in Australia’s history. He said the bridge has numerous problems and they are working on it nearly every day. The bridge was opened in 1978.
During our commute to our first stop steve pointed out that Melbourne is actually a fairly young town, around a 150 years old, and the gold rush caused expansive growth, with a lot of Italian and Greek immigrants. The gold was about 100km south of Melbourne. The settlers actually had an opportunity to settle closer in Geelong, but the British actually messed up drawing the map and made it seem as if Melbourne was closer, so most people settled there. Steve also pointed out that Avalon airport, the airport I landed at a few days ago, is owned by Lindsay Fox, who is a multi-billionaire. He started his first business (Linfox) as a truck driver delivering lemonade during the summer, and firewood during the winter.
We were almost at our first stop when Steve pointed out the famous Pole House, which stands many metres above the bush. It’s a posh place to stay if you want a romantic weekend for a few hundred dollars. This house survived the great bush fire on 1983 because it was so high above the bushes.
Our first stop was for tea, coffee, and biscuits. Our second stop was the Archway commemorating the workers who built The Great Ocean Road. Originally there was a toll booth to collect toll fares for using The Great Ocean Road, but it is now free. Three archways have been built on this site. The first was knocked down in 1970 by a truck that was too tall, the second burned down in the 1983 bush fire. The road originally was started in 1919 after World War 1, and opened three years later in 1922. Picks, shovels, and Dynamite were used to clear the way for the road. The second phase of the road was built in the Great Depression, to stimulate the economy.
On our way to the third stop we oversaw the Grand Pacific Hotel, which Steve pointed out was named incorrectly, as it should have been the Grand Atlantic Hotel. The third stop was Cumberland River. The Fourth stop was Kennett River, where we saw Koala’s and four types of birds. There was a red bird called Crimson Rosella, a green bird which is some kind of Parrot, a white bird called a Cockatoo, and a black bird which was some sort of raven.
Our fifth stop was Apollo Bay, which was a whaling station. It received its name from a whaling ship that frequently ported there. Right before arriving in Apollo Bay we passed a waterfall on the right side of the bus that belonged to Wild Dog Creek. In Apollo bay a complimentary lunch of pizza was served. I had a Hawaiian pizza, which was actually quite delicious!
The sixth stop was a “cool” rain forest. Most rain forest that we are used to are the ones that we think of in South America which are “hot” rain forests, but this one is a “cool” rain forest. It doesn’t get too hot here all year round, but it does get fairly wet, and rains over 2 metres of rain per year. This rain forest has world’s tallest and oldest eucalyptus trees, with some reaching over 80 metres tall, and some are over 400 years old. There also was some beautiful ferns here!
The seventh stop was Loch and Gorge, which was just amazing!
The eight stop was the 12 Apostles, which Steve told us makes no sense because there was only ever 8, and now they are down to 7.
The ninth and final stop before heading home was Gibson Steps, which we walked down to see two famous rocks called Gog and Magog.
The tour ended at 8:45pm back where I was picked up in Melbourne. I thanked Steve for the great day, gave him a tip, and boarded the train back towards my hotel. I then went to bed at around 11:00pm.
Tomorrow I will be exploring more of Melbourne, before I board a 9:30pm flight to Darwin. Check back soon for my latest blog!