The 12 Apostles were beautiful and all, but we wanted to see what lay beyond. After all, that singular attraction wasn’t the only reason for our long drives.
Port Campbell’s a Charm
Our first stop was quaint and beautiful Port Campbell. This small town lay shortly after the 12 Apostles, and is a great place to just have breakfast and take a short hike through the bush.
Breakfast was at the stalwart (and some say iconic) 12 Rocks Beach Bar in Port Campbell. This is, possibly, the best location to have breakfast in Port Campbell. It faces a scenic beach that is home to a safe harbour, a respite from the roiling seas just outside. On hotter summer days, this place is good for a swim. The day I went, however, was more of a hoodie and jeans type of day.
The coastline is home to a beautiful, low lying bushland that’s a joy to walk through. We took a 90 minute post-breakfast walk through the area, stopping often to go off-track for photos.
We were both a little worried about poisonous snakes and the like, so we did a bit of bushwacking with every step we took. The payoff, in terms of raw scenery, was well worth the risk and effort.
We had clear blue skies right above us, and a beautiful sunny day so we took the chance to make our way to Loch Ard Gorge.
Tales of Survival at Loch Ard Gorge
The story of Loch Ard Gorge is one of those “made for Hollywood” survival stories. The name “Loch Ard” came from a vessel which sunk nearby, in the tumultous seas. 2 survivors made it to safety in this gorge. Tired, exhausted and without food or water, they were stuck down in the gorge with no hope for survival. That is, until one of them decided to try to climb out of the gorge. Remember, this guy had no equipment, and the gorge is a sheer wall so if he fell while climbing, it would kill him or at least hurt him very badly. Luckily, he made it out, walked a few good miles and got help for the other survivor. That’s pretty badass.
If you ask me, Loch Ard Gorge is a beautiful place, and a reminder that nature can be breathtaking and lethal at the same time.
Without knowing it, we already spent half a day soaking in the sights (and sun), so we hopped back into the car to head to Warrnambool. The (happy) problem with this road is that there are too many beautiful sights. We stopped once in a while, but when we hit the Bay of Martyrs, we knew we had to take a slightly longer moment to just bask in the beauty of that coastline.
Beautiful Bay of Martyrs
The Bay of Martyrs is a beautifully brutal part of the drive. Waves crash hard into rock, wind whips into your face and the ocean roars loudly. It’s majestic, but merciless. I wouldn’t want to be in the waters here at all.
We went further down the road, crossing farmland before hitting endless acres of green meadows peppered with grazing cows. It wasn’t long before we arrived in Warrnambool. We had limited daylight, but we wanted to drop luggage at our lovely AirBnB first. We had an entire floor to ourselves, with a balcony, living space, bedroom AND toilet dedicated just for us. The cost? $80 AUD per night. Amazing right?
Sunset at Tower Hill Nature Reserve
After having a quick chat with the owner of this apartment, we headed off to Tower Hill Nature Reserve, a dead volcano that was brimming with wildlife. Emus ran wild while birds flitted between branches.
It really was awesome that we reached Tower Hill as the day was ending because we got to catch a beautiful view after hiking to a high point. I loved just capturing the sunset here, and spending time with the girlfriend.
Wind down in Warrnambool
As the sun set on us, we headed back to Warrnambool, and the comforts of civilisation. Our host mentioned that we should attempt to go to Pippies by the Bay, a restaurant that was rather popular in the area. Because I wanted meat but we also wanted to try the seafood, we ordered 400g ribeye Steak and a seafood platter, both to share. While we did have to wait 45 minutes to actually get our food, it was worth the wait.
The steak was a succulent medium done grassfed ribeye, and the seafood platter was full of juicy prawns and sweet oysters. For this dinner, we also ordered wine, so we were pleasantly surprised that we spent around $99 AUD for everything here.
I wish we had more time in Warrnambool, but we had to leave early the next day to return to Melbourne for the final leg of our trip. Along the way back, we passed through an eerie twilight zone, hung out with Koalas and saw an entire colony of penguins. Melbourne still had more to give us, and we were going to take it all in….