8.01.2014

The Great Ocean Road : Melbourne's Best Tour Review




You have not been to Melbourne if you have not visited The Great Ocean Road. This is the road to take which will bring you to the famed The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks by the Great Ocean Road.


This was actually my second trip to Melbourne and the Wackies. Since I missed The Great Ocean Road for my first trip, it was a good opportunity to share this FIRST with my family. For this trip, since we decided to opt out of self drive, we took the day tour with Melbourne's Best tour . This is the same operator for our Puffing Billy day trip. The tour is officially known as Great Ocean Road & Twelve Apostles ( MBT 1) .

Tours departs 8 am daily from Federation Square.

Let the tour begin
Our tour bus was similar to the minibus we took the last time. The difference was that this time round, it was packed. As we had a stroller with us for this trip, we were 'reprimanded' by the driver for not informing them earlier. Compared to the last outing, it was not a good start. The family had to be seated apart for the next 13 hours on the bus, with mommy and the boys seated at the back, while I ride shotgun next to the driver.
Will this marred the rest of the experience?

Torquay
Stop at Torquay
Our first stop was Torquay about an hour plus away from Melbourne city. Torquay is famous for its surf beaches and a well known Mecca for surfers. However since we are not here to surf, this stop is mainly for toilet breaks. We recommend you to take advantage of all the toilet breaks as the distance between each break can be erratic.

Great Ocean Road Memorial

After another 10 km on the road, we finally reach the start of The Great Ocean Road.
We stop at the iconic Great Ocean Road memorial arch for the 'must do' touristy photo. There is a small beach where we were allowed to explore for about 15 minutes. Since this stop was not listed on the itinerary, it would most likely be unscheduled.

Thereafter we were off on this Australian National Heritage listed 243 km stretch of road en route to The Twelve Apostles.
Great Ocean Road Memorial
For the record , the following are what we were suppose to cover during the trip ( from Melbourne's Best tour website) Unfortunately there were stops that we missed during this trip.
  • Views from Westgate Bridge
  • Pass the city of Geelong and Corio Bay
  • Stop at Anglesea
  • Drive through the coastal towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay
  • See koalas in the wild
  • Spectacular coastal views
  • Magnificent rainforest walk
  • Experience the stunning Otway National Park
  • Complimentary lunch included
  • Superb photo opportunities
  • Follow the Shipwreck Coast
  • Travel through Port Campbell National Park
  • View the spectacular Twelve Apostles
  • Visit Loch Ard Gorge
  • Walk down Gibson Steps to the beach
  • Pass through Port Campbell
The lighthouse
First time to note, on any trip that promises views from xxx or pass through xxx, it just simply means you can see the views from inside the bus as it passes by a certain road or landmark. Compared to self drive, you do lose out if you are looking for fantastic photo opportunities as stops are limited on this tour.

The above lighthouse shot was actually taken when the bus passed by it in less than a minute.

Lorne
Lorne
Lorne was a toilet break stop. Lasting no more than 15 minutes. Other than the views, there was not much to do here.
Hello Melbourne
Soon we are back on The Great Ocean Road. Being in the front seat, I get a taste of what 'driving' on The Great Ocean road felt like. Being a city boy, the view itself on the is refreshing.

However the roads do twist and turn at certain places, so do not go on the road with a full stomach if you are prone to motion sickness.

The Great Ocean Road
Grey River Road
The next stop was probably one of the better stop. Here we can see parrots and wild kolas. However if you are thinking about a grand park, you may be disappointed. It is just a stop next to a petrol kiosk. There is a stretch of road leading to wild kolas, but due to time constraint, we walked less than 50 meters of the road.
Lunchtime
Fish and chips
Lunch was provided during this trip. Here you can have standard Australia fare such as Fish and Chips and Lasagna. We did have a decent 40 minutes to finish up the food. Quality wise, it was as good as what you can get in the city.

Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles ahead!
The Twelve Apostles was the highlight of the trip. Finally we get to see it up close.
The Tweleve Apostles
Do you know that there were initially 9 rock formations instead of 12 ?
12 Aposotles
Currently here are only 8 left since one of them collapsed back in 2005. It is said the base is eroding at 2 cm per year. With that in mind, these wonders of nature may not stand forever.
Wackies @ The 12 Apostles
When the Wackies heard about it , they were determine to protect the rocks with all their might. Either that, or they were simply taking to pose for the camera.
Take a walk
You can walk further out to the sea on another platform if you have the time to catch another view of The Twelve Apostles.
Another view
If you think that is not enough, you can opt to take one of the 12 Apostles helicopters near the carpark. Our guide did tell us that there is a special fare for the guests of Melbourne's Best tour. However judging from the time we spend there, if you had taken the helicopter, you probably have to miss the walk to view the 12 Apostles as we did.
Helicopter ride anyone?
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge
Our last stop for the trip was at Loch Ard Gorge. This stop is just 3 minutes away from the 12 apostles. Here you will get to see more rock formation that some said are much nicer than the famous 12.
The gorge is named after the ship Loch Ard that sank within the vicinity. The 2 main rocks Tom and Eva are named after the 2 main survivors.
Tom and Eva
There are a few walkable paths . You can either explore from the top or a walk down the beach. However due to time constraint, we can only opt for one or the other.
Razorback and the Wreck
And if you can't walk anymore after a long trip, there is always Mommy to carry you, especially if you are a 3 year old toddler.
Hugs
So what is the difference between Melbourne Best Tour and the other tour groups such as AAT Kings?
  • The biggest obvious difference would be the size of the bus. Our ride was 'mini, in comparison to AAT kings bus. Comfort wise, a bigger bus may be better for a 12 hours bus ride.
  • In terms of pricing Melbourne's Best Tour cost AUD 120 per adult, AUD 89 per child. A competitor such as AAT kings charges AUD 150 per adult and AUD 75 per child.
  • For itineraries, Melbourne's Best Tour includes extra stops such as Gibson Steps and rainforest walks. On the surface it seem more value for money . However for our particular trip, these stops were omitted. We only found out about that after the trip. It was a tad disappointing as we had read other reviewers account and these stops were made on their trips. So for those making a booking, the actual itinerary will be very much dependent on your driver.
Which tour to choose
Nonetheless it was a good experience for the family. To witness one of the wonders of the world and sharing this moment with the family will be a highlight I will remember for this trip.

Till the next world wonder !



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