Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Great Ocean Road Adventure

I have always considered solo traveling. I have done it once six years ago but failed miserably. To think it was just only a local trip up north. At 22, I wasn't ready to face the reality and the ugly truth about life. I was very much dependent on my support systems. I know it sucks, but maturity doesn't really come with age.

I fell in love with Australia after I traveled there late last year. For four days, I explored Sydney and the nearby towns of New South Wales. I know four days was too short, considering that Manila is 8 hours away from Sydney by air. Traveling there was already a huge deal for me, and I made a promise to spend more time in the land down under. Suddenly, Melbourne crossed my mind.

Weeks before my flight to Sydney, I bought a roundtrip ticket to Melbourne and booked a place to stay for two nights at the central business district. On my first day, I strolled around the city all by myself. Basically, I was having a great time. Traveling solo wasn't really that scary after all. But, the fun doesn't stop there.

There are so many places to discover in Melbourne. Since the city is huge, three days isn't enough. I decided to skip everything and booked a day trip out to the Great Ocean Road. And you know what? I regret nothing. It was the best decision ever. For only AU$105, you don't only visit the iconic cliffs and crumbling limestones of Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park, but you also have the chance to visit nearby coastal towns and national parks.

I woke up at around 5AM. The cold and balmy autumn weather of Melbourne made it harder to get out of the bed. LOL! I forced myself to get my lazy ass up because I can't afford to just throw away a hundred and five bucks on the drain. I rode a tram and alighted at Flinders Station. From there, I walked all the way to Immigration Museum, one of the designated pick-up points of the tour. I know I am not the friendliest person in the world, and I find it really hard to initiate a meaningful conversation with people whom I barely know. I thought I was going to be alone the whole time.

Meet Adela, my new friend. Thanks for being a sweetheart throughout the trip. I hope to see you again in Canada, perhaps?

Minutes went by, as more and more people started to gather at the facade of the museum, a young girl approached me and asked whether if I'm also joining the tour. She was bubbly, confident but not cocky, and a very great conversationalist. Her name is Adela, and she's also a Filipino! She was born in the Philippines but grew up in Canada. Immediately I found a connection, and I was genuinely happy that finally, I have someone who shares the same heritage and ethnic background. At some point in our conversation, she always assumes that I'm Fil-Am because of my accent and fluency in the English language. I just told her that watching too much American TV shows made me speak like this. Hahaha!

We left Melbourne at around 7:40 AM. The sun was already up, and the weather was just perfect for the tour. The weather gods were with us during the entire trip.

A quick stop at Anglesea, Victoria

After two hours on the road, we had a brief stop at Anglesea, Victoria, and had a cup of coffee and a handful of biscuits. We continued our journey and stopped by at the famous 'Great Ocean Road' sign where the road officially begins. Just right across the highway is a pristine golden sand beach. It's a long stretch of beach surrounded by towering landscapes.

The coastal highway has occasional sharp curves, but the view was just scenic. We passed by the town of Lorne and Kennett River Park to spot some sleeping koalas. Too bad, I only saw one, sleeping high above the Eucalyptus trees.

Can you spot the lazy koala?

I'll take you to my secret spot.

The sand, the waves, and the sun.

Such a beaut!

We had lunch at Iluka Restaurant at Apollo Bay. We strolled along the shops. It's where I bought my 'Australia' sweater. So cliché.

Before reaching Twelve Apostles, we stopped by at Maits Rest Rainforest, located at Otway Ranges. Here, we saw several tall eucalyptus trees and other species of ferns. Phil, our guide, had a mini-lecture about the geological time scale of the forest. I was such a nerd after answering several trivia questions correctly, like the names of the landmasses after the supercontinent, Pangaea, broke down a hundred million years ago, the ancient seas, the tallest species of trees, and a whole lot more. I'm pretty sure my Geology and Evolutionary Biology professors were proud of me that time. At least the knowledge I gained during my uni days didn't go to waste.

My lunch. Kulang pa rin kasi walang kanin!

A walk to Jurassic Park LOLJK.

As we neared the Twelve Apostles, I could no longer contain my excitement. This was the moment that I've been waiting for. I can't believe that the photos I used to see online are just right before my eyes. It felt surreal as the famous landmark started to unfold from the horizon. It was a sight to behold, not to mention that the weather was perfect when we were on the lookout. I was out of words.

Originally 12, there are only eight of them left standing as of this writing. The faith of the other four wasn't that strong, so they were swept away by the wrath of God. LOL, just kidding. Due to weathering, it is possible that these eight limestones won't last long in the near future, so I suggest that you should visit this famous landmark in Victoria, Australia as soon as possible. Time is running out, mate!

Obligatory selfie with the last eight standing.

Perfect weather.

I am out of words.

I will never get tired of this view.

We drove another three kilometers to Loch Ard Gorge. The beach is surrounded by towering cliffs and limestones. We stayed there for quite some time, enjoying the sun, the sand, the waves, and the company of my newfound friends.

The secret beach.

Loch Ard Gorge.

The tide is getting higher.

At around five thirty, we went back to our tour bus and bid farewell to this magical place. We had a 30-minute stop at a town named Colac and ate quick din-din at Maccas. The sunset was just stunning. It felt bittersweet.

6:28PM sunset at Colac, Victoria.

This solo travel of mine made me realize a lot of things. I know I still struggle with meeting new people, but I guess this is a great start. I made new friends along the way, and I got swept away by the stunning wonders of nature.

I regret nothing, and I look forward to future trips like this soon.

Here's a vlog I made during Great Ocean Road Tour. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed editing it.

When in Melbourne, don't miss the Great Ocean Road day tour!

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