Before I began ranting about my Great Ocean Road tour and all the random things and thoughts that came across my mind, there’s 1 thing I need to say, in case anyone who’s thinking of taking this tour happens to read my blog.
BOOK EARLY AND CHOOSE THE CHEAPEST ONE !
I wanted to book this tour on Viator – the cheapest one was about 100 USD. But I was like, nah, how bad could it be, it was almost winter, who would want to visit the beach at that time, let’s wait and book a tour when I got there.
You know what? It wasn’t that easy. At first I thought I was right.When I got to the hotel, I saw a brochure advertising the same tour for AUD 123, which was about 5 USD cheaper than the Viator option. I asked the hotel to book that tour for me, they were like “You can just call them.” Sure, but your room phone wasn’t working; I didn’t want to be charge like 10 dollars per minute because my cell phone was on roaming services. So I had to go face-to-face to the tour office, which I didn’t even know where it was. While wandering at Federation Square, I walked in the Visitor Center and asked them to help book a tour within the next 2 days. Guess what? “Ooh, that’s gonna be tricky. Every company is sold out. Let me try Gray Line.”
AUD 198 later, I was booked a Great Ocean Road day tour with premium lunch option, which was again a wrong choice. You’d better just go there, buy your own lunch, and pay for it themselves. Because what was the premium part? Unlimited drinks refill. What were the drinks? Water, milk, and tea. I was indeed traveling a Commonwealth Nation, huh?
The highlight of the whole tour on that cold rainy day was the stop at 12 Apostles and other limestone formations along the coast. First stop was for the morning tea, on the side of the road. I thought it was advertised “by the sea.” We had lamington, Earl Grey tea, some regular salty crackers, and vegemite. Holy cow vegemite, I could never try it again. It’s so sour. The lamington was really sweet though. On what is lamington and how to make it, as well as my own try at this “national” dessert of Australia, read it here.
Second stop was a surf beach. On that gloomy rainy day, the view couldn’t be more devastating.
Third stop was the memorial arch. What else can be more disappointing than this “arch”? I thought it would be more like the Gate Way Arch, or like Arc de Triomphe. Sorry Australia!
Fourth stop was for lunch at Apollo Bay. Lunch was nice, in the fancy restaurant of Apollo Bay Hotel and Resort. I got a spaghetti bolognese, which tasted really weird. But the fish and chips mom got tasted awesome. I was surprised it tasted that good too. And the potato and leek soup was A-rated in my opinion.
After a lengthy drive through Otway national park, we arrived at the next 3 stops – the rock formations along the coast, which belonged to Port Campbell National park. After a long day of quite a few disappointments, the view I saw compensated for all. The renowned 12 Apostles revealed themselves in front of my eyes just like in the brochure and poster, glorious and magnificent even in the heavy rain. The ocean, blue and vast, was roaring underneath my feet. The view I was looking at was totally worth this rain, this cold, this long 13-hour journey. I felt inspired, and such a small creature in front of splendid nature, yet again.
The final stop was Port Campbell fishing village – a very peaceful, green, and pretty town that reminded me so so so much of rural Central PA. They really knew the place for restroom stop.
With this itinerary, I suppose all tours must be the same. Maybe the seats would be less comfy. Maybe the tour guide wouldn’t be such a literary folk who could talk non-stop in a melodic voice and flowery expressions like reciting a Shakespeare play. Maybe the lunch would be at a less fancy restaurant. But would I really mind if I had booked a tour like that for 70 AUD less? Absolutely not. I would have been glad, really.
Encounter of the day: The Chinese student sitting next to us on the bus. We talked a bit on the bus. While out at the 12 Apostles, I asked her to take a photo for me and mom. And she asked why my mom looked so grumpy. Mom was simply shivering from the cold and the rain. I told her that, and she kindly pulled out her scarf, tugging it around my mom’s head with a smile “Here, take it, we’re neighbors on the bus, right?”