Find out what it’s really like to take a tour of the Great Ocean Road – the iconic coastal drive, just a day trip from Melbourne!
Go West intern Jess recently took a tour to the Great Ocean Road and is ready to share all the details!
We asked her all about her experience on the Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne with tour guide Terry – who is the owner and founder of Go West Tours – and here’s what she had to say.
What was your favourite destination on the Great Ocean Road?
My favourite destinations during this tour were Loch Ard Gorge and Kennett River. The beautiful beach and views from Loch Ard Gorge always amaze me. Here you also have the opportunity to walk to different viewing points to see some breathtaking panoramic views. Kennett River has to be one of my favourite stops, since you can see wild koalas and beautiful colourful birds in this location.
Who would you recommend this tour to?
I would recommend this tour to everyone. It is a perfect tour for solo-travellers, because it gives the opportunity to meet some people during the tour. Everyone who loves nature and is visiting Melbourne must visit the Great Ocean Road. It is a location you cannot miss out on. However, the bus ride is relatively long, so it might not be advisable to join if you cannot sit in a bus for 3 hours.
Can you tell us a bit about your guide?
I was fortunate enough to have Terry Smit as my tour guide, who is also the owner of Go West Tours. Terry and his wife Fiona launched Go West Tours in September of 2000. You can see the passion that Terry has for his company during one of his tours. He enthusiastically told us information about all of the places that we visited and he played themed music during the entire trip.
What is the bus ride like?
The bus ride itself is long, however, the seats are really comfortable and there is free Wi-Fi offered on the bus, so you can just take a nap or watch Netflix. Music is also played during the bus ride, which sometimes leads to some sing-along moments. The view is stunning once the bus arrives at the Great Ocean Road. This is my favourite part of the bus ride and the views change around every corner, which makes it an absolutely stunning road to drive on. There are a lot of stops on the Great Ocean Road, so you will have enough time to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning panoramic. When driving back to Melbourne it’s already dark, making it the perfect time for some well deserved rest.
How does this compare to other tours you have taken?
This tour is my favourite tour to go on, because it offers breathtaking views along the Great Ocean Road. It is an absolutely stunning place to visit and a must-see when visiting Melbourne. Besides that, you also get the opportunity to spot some local wildlife, such as koalas and king parrots. If you are lucky you might even see some kangaroos or dolphins. Compared to the other tours, this tour has the most beautiful views and stops, even the bus ride is stunning.
Why would you recommend this tour over the GOR Sunset tour?
I would recommend this tour over the sunset tour, because it stops at the Maits Rest rainforest walk. Here you have the time to take a nice and peaceful walk in the beautiful rainforest. Enjoy the calming surroundings and enjoy a small hike, while your guide tells you about the rainforest. This walk is not included in the sunset tour. Additionally, the day tour offers morning tea, coffee and cake in Torquay. This is a great way to take a small break from the long bus ride. Here you can take a nice walk on the beach while enjoying some nice coffee or tea.
Who were some of the people you met on tour?
During this tour, I probably met the most people. Since this tour is longer than other tours, it gives you the opportunity to connect more with fellow passengers. I have noticed that it is way easier to make new friends during this tour, which is why I would also recommend this for solo-travellers. I met people from all over the world and I still keep in touch with some of them.
Can you tell us a bit about each of the destinations on the GOR Day tour?
Torquay is the first stop during the Great Ocean Road day tour. Torquay is a small seaside town. Here we had the opportunity to drink some tea or coffee and eat some delicious cake. During this break you can stretch your legs and wake up from the long bus ride. You can also walk on the beach and enjoy the seaside view.
The Memorial Arch is the second stop during the tour. It was built in honour of the 3,000 returned soldiers who worked on the road and its creation during World War l. Construction started in 1919 and it was completed in 1932. The Memorial Arch therefore has a lot of historical significance and it is a must see stop along the road. Here we could take some pictures and take a stroll on the beach.
As mentioned before, Kennett River is one of my favourite stops along the Great Ocean Road. Here I got the opportunity to sport some native wildlife, which amazed me, because in my country (the Netherlands) there is barely any wildlife. The tour guide helped us with finding some wild koalas in the trees. I was lucky enough to spot three wild koalas. This location is also known for its king parrots. These birds have beautiful colours and if you are lucky enough they will even fly on top of you, which creates the perfect selfie moment. If you are hungry you can also buy some snacks and a drink at the Koala Café.
We had our lunch break in Apollo Bay, a small seaside town. The town offers a variety of restaurants and bakeries for lunch or you can buy some food in the grocery store and eat it on the beach. The famous scallop pie is available in Apollo Bay Bakery or you can enjoy some freshly made fish and chips at George’s Restaurant or the Sea Food Café. This lunch break has options for everyone.
Our guide took us for a walk in the Maits Rest rainforest. Here you can see beautiful fern gardens and giant rainforest trees that are up to 300 years old. A wooden boardwalk had been built in between the rainforest trees, to protect its delicate ecosystem, while also giving visitors the unique views of the forest. The peaceful walk in this breathtaking location gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the noises of the rainforest. If you are lucky you can maybe even spot some native wildlife.
The main highlight for most guests on the Great Ocean Road Tour is the Twelve Apostles. This gorgeous collection of limestone stacks in the ocean is a must-see. The view from here is absolutely breathtaking. At this stop you will have the most time to take in the beautiful landscape. You can take a walk to a viewing point further down and take some nice pictures here, while enjoying the view and ocean sound.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is one of the highlights on the Great Ocean Road. It is the perfect place to take some pictures and you also have the possibility to walk to different viewing points, which are definitely worth the walk.
Want to take a tour?
If you’ve read this and want to join in a Great Ocean Road Tour – you can book via our website. Here’s our full itinerary, so you know what to expect:
- Enjoy morning tea on the picturesque beaches of Victoria’s Surf Coast
- Scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road
- See the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park
- Visit the Loch Ard Gorge, the site of the Loch Ard shipwreck
- See koalas in their natural habitat in the eucalyptus forests of the Kennett River township
- Visit the charming coastal township of Apollo Bay
- Take a walk through the rainforest at Maits Rest
We hope to see you on tour soon!
On Tour with Jess is written by Jessica Senden – Marketing Intern @gowest.com.au