The Great Ocean Road definitely lives up to its reputation as the best road trip in Australia. While driving along the winding roads of the coast, you are showered with spectacular views of the seaside limestone masterpieces. The path was built not only to link the southwestern coastal part of Victoria with Melbourne, but it was also made to commemorate fallen countrymen who were lost in the first World War.
The first mayor of Geelong, Alderman Hitchcock, is known for creating the Great Ocean Road trust. A total of 81,000 pounds were borrowed from a private entity and three-thousand veterans recruited to construct the road. Once the road was completed a toll was put in place in order to repay the loans. Within four years the loan was paid back in full. As a result of this, the road was gifted to the Victorian Government and the toll was lifted.
The Twelve Apostles is a collection of massive limestone rocks hugging the boundary between coast and ocean. Veiled in 1922, it soon became one of the most iconic places to visit while traveling along the Great Ocean Road. This fact is understandable as it is an unusual natural wonder! Fun fact: the Twelve Apostles were originally called “The Sow and Piglets.”
So, how did this wonderful formation happen? The answer is erosion. The unyielding Southern Ocean produces severe weather conditions, which have over time caused the landscape to erode into nine stacks. People often assume that this landmark’s name means there are twelve viewable stacks. At least three of the stacks have eroded overtime. One of the missing stacks collapsed as recently as the year 2005.
Loch Ard Gorge got its name from the clipper sailing ship that vanished in these waters in the 1870’s. This ship was tasked with bringing passengers and cargo from England to Melbourne. It sailed for three months before entering the Bass Strait with one day to go. During that evening, a thick fog rolled in consequently reducing visibility of the shore and sky. When the fog finally cleared, the captain was able to see that the ship was dangerously close to the cliffs. The captain began to give orders to the crew to no avail. The ship crashed and sank within fifteen minutes. The first survivor Tom Pearce swam to shore before noticing cries for help coming from the wreckage. He risked his life to swim back into the debris and rescue Eva Carmichael. The two took refuge in a nearby cave until the following morning.
Once they were able to explore their surroundings, they realized they were encircled by a massive gorge trapping them in. Resilient in the face of danger, Tom climbed the gorge and eventually reached the top. He found a nearby farmer and sought help. While coming back for Eva, Tom and the farmer also searched the sea wreck for survivors, but only recovered four bodies.
As tragic as these events were, there is something to learn from Tom Pearce’s example of heroism. The fact that he lived to tell his tale for generations to come is remarkable.
Before it was the London Arch this landmark used to be called the “London Bridge.” Previously a strip of land connected the little island to the shore. In January, 1990, the bridge of this rock formation collapsed. Coincidentally, two local lovers were meeting on the bridge at the same time of the collapse. Once the lovers were rescued by helicopter, investigators discovered that the two lovers were actually married – to other people! Yes, these lovers were cheating on their spouses. Karma can be scandalous sometimes!
The Grotto is a geological wonder to me! Estimated to be 10-20 million years old, the Grotto was created by erosion, caused by the ocean’s acidic waters eating away at the formation’s limestone structure.
The views surrounding the roads are spectacular! The natural rock formations, fresh ocean air, and beautiful landmarks make for excellent hiking opportunities.
In the end, the Great Ocean Road is something that absolutely needs to be experienced when visiting Australia. Experiencing the coast while seeing so many natural wonders will leave anyone feeling like a true adventurer!