Recently, for a much needed change of scenery, my husband and I took a road trip down to the Victorian Surf Coast. Being Melbourne born and spending my early years in Victoria, I am sure that I visited this region as a child, but I have no clear memory. After travelling through Sydney, we had a couple of nights in Albury and Melbourne before heading to the coast. Only an hour and a half from Melbourne is Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road. We decided to base ourselves there for a few days.
From Torquay it is an easy drive to the local beaches and surf spots. There is Jan Juc, Winki Pop and Bells Beach or you can venture further along the Great Ocean Road. Along with Torquay, the Surf Coast beaches are all internationally known surf spots that are on any surfer’s radar. Pre Covid and for the last 60 years, Bells Beach has hosted the international Rip Curl Pro, which is an iconic stop on the World Surf League Championship tour for all competitive surfers. Hopefully the competition can return in 2022.
If surfing is not your thing, then maybe all things chocolate and ice cream are! We stumbled upon the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. Oh my goodness, it was only around 11am (and a very cold day!) but we had to stop and have ice cream because that is what you do when on holidays. Only 10 minutes from Torquay, it is located on the Great Ocean Road between Torquay and Anglesea. Entry is free along with chocolate and ice cream tastings if you don’t know which flavour you want. Set on beautiful grounds, this is a recommended stop on your driving itinerary.
A couple of days into our Torquay stay, we were watching the weather to see which might be the best day to visit the 12 Apostles. We wanted to visit at sunrise to hopefully see the stones in all the beautiful light. From Torquay there are 2 road to get out there, via inland or the coast.
We left Torquay at 4:30am and took the inland M1 which is mainly freeway. Taking us around 2hrs, we arrived at the viewing site for the Twelve Apostles at 6:30am and it was still dark (May 2021). There is a large car park with an information centre and then a couple of walking paths to get down to the viewing areas. The paths are wide and very well lit. The information centre is not open at this time of the day.
To my amazement we were the only ones there! It was so so cold, but it was also fabulous to be there on our own for the first 20 minutes or so. Apart from the crashing of the waves below us, we could hear the chirping and squawking of penguins. The penguins were leaving their nests and heading off into the chilly ocean to catch their food for the day. In the picture below you will see some track marks on the beach, this is the path the Penguins took. Was a shame it was too dark to see them, but we could definitely hear them.
As the sun began to rise and the sky got lighter, the beauty of the 12 Apostles was breathtaking. By now there were around eight of us enjoying this beautiful scenery but it was still so very quiet. We were all just taking it in. In summertime, I would assume that the boardwalks and viewing platforms would be noisy and crowded. We virtually had the whole place to ourselves, and this enhanced our experience. It was awesome and definitely something that I have now ticked off my list.
The Twelve Apostles are limestone stacks that have been formed over time by constant erosion and weather. They are located off the shore of Port Campbell National Park alongside the Great Ocean Road. Even though they are called the Twelve Apostles, I believe that there are now only 8 still standing.
The Twelve Apostles are one of Victoria’s most iconic natural attractions and are popular for visitors at sunrise and sunset. This is when you will see the professional photographers set up with their equipment to catch the stacks in all their glory during the different stages of light. My photos were all taken with an iPhone 12, so your trusty smart phone will be enough to capture the experience.
You can also reach the Twelve Apostles via the coast on the Great Ocean Road. This route is more scenic, but it is slower as you pass through all the local towns and the windy roads. We travelled back to Torquay via the Great Ocean road as there are many lookouts and towns to stop at along the way. Driving without stopping would probably take around 3hrs, but we took around 4.5hrs by the time we had a few stops and had some lunch as well.
If travelling from Melbourne, you can still visit the Twelve Apostles as a day trip. At around 275km’s west of Melbourne it is around a 4 hour drive each way. There are day tour companies if your itinerary is tight or if you would rather sit back and have someone else drive you.