July 8, 2020

A Long and Winding Journey Down Australia's Great Ocean Road

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This week's Wanderlust Wednesday excursion: A stop at Loch Ard Gorge along Australia's famous Great Ocean Road
View from the beach at Loch Ard Gorge as turquoise water rescinds into the Southern Ocean

I’m officially obsessed with TimeHop. My sister turned me on to the app, and for someone like me who is A) a giant sap and B) tends to take a million pictures and videos everywhere I go, it’s basically the best invention ever because each day it pulls old photos and videos from your camera roll and social media platforms and puts together a little album of memories. It makes me happy to look back on beautiful places I’ve been or delicious things I’ve had to eat or drink or special times I’ve shared with family and friends, so it’s as though TimeHop was created just for me. Every day I take a brief little walk down memory lane, and it always puts a smile on my face.

This time last year I was traveling solo through the southern part of Australia, so lately my TimeHop has been full of memories from my time there. A major highlight of that trip was my journey along the Great Ocean Road, which was actually the reason for my entire Aussie adventure. After visiting New Zealand for the first time, I started following a bunch of photographers on social media based in various places throughout the South Pacific. It’s through their photos that I first discovered the Great Ocean Road, and I instantly became enamored with this far away dreamland. The skies. The ocean views. The incredible rock formations. The place was calling my name! So when it came time to put together an itinerary for my first trip Down Under, a drive along this famous road was my number one priority.

View from the top of Loch Ard Gorge looking out on to its giant rock formations and the rough turquoise waters of the Southern Ocean

WHAT IS THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD?

Spanning roughly 151 miles (243 kilometers), the Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage-listed stretch of road that runs through the state of Victoria along the southern border of Australian. The most popular route on this dramatic coastline takes you east to west, and starts about an hour and a half outside of Melbourne. There’s an incredible range of scenery to explore along the way, so the time you allot to it depends on how many of the sights you want to see and how long you want or have to spend at each place. There are all sorts of tours offered from Melbourne – from day trips that include only brief stops at the most popular sights to multi-day trips that are more comprehensive – so if you’re short on time or simply don’t want to do the driving yourself, there are options available that will provide the experience you’re looking for. But if you’re driving yourself and have a bit of time to work with as I did, I highly recommend allowing at least a few days to drive it as every stop along the way is well worth the time!

Selfie of Allie Albanese standing on the Loch Ard Gorge beach

Personally, I like the freedom to be in the moment and to spend as much or as little time as I want in any given place, so I tend to put together itineraries for myself that allow for that. I’ve traveled on my own enough to know what I enjoy and what feeds my soul, so if I have the choice, I’ll always opt to spend longer stints of time in fewer places over shorter bits of time in lots of places. Which is why I chose to dedicate an entire week to the Great Ocean Road. And it’s one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made.

Blue waters and giant rocks on the beach of Australia’s Loch Ard Gorge

Between how I was feeling both mentally and emotionally during that time and my own desire to be fully in the moment, I needed every second of those seven days to really experience that stretch of road in the way I had dreamed of experiencing it. Add to the mix my passion for photography (which I can get lost in for hours upon hours at a time), some weather issues, a few stops to explore cute little beach towns I discovered along the way, and several return trips to a handful of stops that I didn’t get enough of the first time, and my Great Ocean Road experience ended up involving far more than I ever could have planned for.

Two massive rock formations framing the blue water of the Southern Ocean as a wave begins to crash

I’ve loved reliving that journey via TimeHop, and am excited to now share it bit by bit with you! Our first stop is Loch Ard Gorge, the site of the most famous shipwreck along Australia's aptly named shipwreck coast. I first visited Loch Ard Gorge at dusk to watch the sun set behind the cliffs, and then returned the next afternoon in order to appreciate its beauty in the bright light of day.

Windswept trees blown nearly horizontal along the cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge

THE MOST FAMOUS SHIPWRECK ON THE SHIPWRECK COAST

There have been many tragic shipwrecks in Australia’s history, but few have been worse than the Loch Ard Shipwreck of 1878. The Loch Ard, a 263-foot iron clipper with masts reaching nearly 150 feet tall, was en route from England to Australia, and after 17 weeks on the water, drifted 100 miles off course during a night of bad weather and crashed into the jagged cliffs of Australia’s ‘Shipwreck Coast.’ The clipper sunk in only 15 minutes, and of the 37 people on board, only two survived: Thomas (Tom) Pierce and Evelyn (Eva) Carmichael. That's how the small bay surrounding the cliffs where the two came ashore came to be known as the "Loch Ard Gorge," while a nearby viewpoint was named "Tom and Eva" in honor of the two sole survivors.

A gently moment at Loch Ard Gorge as a small wave in the bright turquoise water of the Southern Ocean prepares to reach shore

The ocean views at Loch Ard Gorge are to die for, and some time on the beach looking out over the bay is an absolute must. While I’m a sucker for a pretty sunset, I recommend this stop during daylight in order to take advantage of the surrounding trails, to watch the powerful Southern Ocean converge into incredible blowholes, and to really see the intricate details of the rock formations and plant life that make this place so beautiful.

Two massive rock formations framing the blue water of the Southern Ocean as a wave begins to crash

A Long and Winding Journey Down Australia's Great Ocean Road

This week's Wanderlust Wednesday excursion: A stop at Loch Ard Gorge along Australia's famous Great Ocean Road

Yields:

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Instructions:

Two massive rock formations framing the blue water of the Southern Ocean as a wave begins to crash

A Long and Winding Journey Down Australia's Great Ocean Road

This week's Wanderlust Wednesday excursion: A stop at Loch Ard Gorge along Australia's famous Great Ocean Road

Yields:

No items found.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

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