Going Deep Into Koala Country on Australia’s Great Ocean Road
There are really just eight Apostles, but they’re still amazing to look at. (All photos: Bill Fink)
The plan: Australia’s Great Ocean Road is rumored to be one of the best drives in the world, with awe-inspiring views, outdoor adventures, and “koalas falling from trees like a rain of coconuts.” Or that’s what the guy in the pub told me, anyway. It sounds good. But is it “great”? I hopped in a rental car to find out.
The route: The Great Ocean Road winds about 150 miles along the southern coast of Australia, beginning south of Melbourne in the surf town of Torquay and ending near the fairyland setting of emus, wallabies, and dollhouse-like cottages in Port Fairy.
The car: A standard rental Toyota Camry. But something is odd about it. Ah yes, the steering wheel is on the right-hand side. I realize it may be a challenge to simultaneously enjoy the views and remember to drive on the left side of the road.
Miss Geelong (at left) and the gang.
Miss Geelong, 1937, welcomes me to the port town of Geelong, the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. Despite her age, she’s still a perky girl, with erect, um, posture, posing next to a few other bathing beauties. She’s one of over a hundred carved and painted timber posts recovered from the harbor to make up the Bollard Trail along the parks of the restored Geelong Waterfront. Bars, cafés, restaurants, playgrounds, swimming areas, and even a vintage steam-driven 1890s carousel create a festive atmosphere reminiscent of the town’s glory days in the early 20th century. The Geelong Wine Region, scattered along the coast and nearby valleys, not only offers up some fun winery tours but also makes sure that local restaurants can provide me tastes of the best of the “cool climate” varietals.
Looks pretty easy to us.