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the great ocean road
not just the 12 apostles

Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

You have probably seen this picture before because the eight pillars of the misnamed Twelve Apostles grace every guidebook, calendar, and website about Australia.  But, I tell you, people, there is more to the Great Ocean Road than just the Twelve Apostles.  In fact, if you ask us, the Twelve Apostles are the least interesting part of the Great Ocean Road.  Let me take you down our meandering journey from Adelaide through the Otways to the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne.

Black swan Gazebo in Adelaide
Black swan and plastic boats Black swans

Black swans in Adelaide

When we asked Aussies about Adelaide, they immediately dismissed it: "Oh, there's nothing to do.  You better get out of there as soon as you can."  There isn't much, it's true, but the city has its own charm with black swans floating through the River Torrens and parks lining the small skyscrapers.  Can they be called skyscrapers if they are only 10 stories tall?  Or, are they just tall buildings then?

Pink lake

Pink lake

We started driving along the A1 and, all of a sudden, found ourselves staring at a large pink expanse.  The blue sky and white beach highlighted the bright fuchsia of the Pink Lake, created by the combination of the saline in water and a certain bacteria.  The picture does not do this place justice; the lake mimicked the color of a dark flamingo and surprised us with its brightness.

Koala sleeping in tree

Koala sleeping peacefully

And, I know you are probably tired of our raptures over our second favorite furry friend, the koala , but, we saw SIX, six koalas sitting in their trees.  (I just read this out loud in my mind and read "Six koalas sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.  Wow, I'm in a weird mood today.)

Koala in tree Koala in tree

Male koala

We were at the Tower Hill Game Reserve , a park located in an extinct volcano, where we heard a koala bellow before mating and found dozens of emus floating through the tall grass.

Emus in grass Emus in grass


But, what remains strongest in my mind is my face-to-face encounter with the kangaroos. We decided to go off the beaten path and search for some kangaroos in the wild because, up to this point, we had only seen a lone roo with her baby in the Outback .

Blue-tongued lizard Echidna
Blue tongued lizard (we think); echidna (both found by the side of the road)

After a few minutes in the dense bush, Patrick saw a glimpse of a tail.  We made our way into a thicket of trees and bushes and found a kangaroo about fifteen feet from us through the woods.


Kangaroo face to face

Patrick took pictures as quickly as he could using manual focus so that we didn't scare the kangaroos with the camera noise.  Suddenly, I saw something immediately to my left.  I grabbed Patrick's hand and mouthed, "Right THERE!"  He didn't understand, shook me off, and continued taking pictures of the distant kangaroo.  In the meantime, I turned and found myself facing a kangaroo, head on, about two feet in front of my face.


Kangaroo hunched over

I stared at him and he stared at me.  He stared at me and I stared at him.  He took one step closer and we were just a foot away from each other.  I could have reached out and touched him.  But, he gave me this look that was as intelligent as any human I have met, clearly wondering who I was and why I was standing in his territory.  I can only hope that I responded appropriately.  By the time Patrick turned around and took pictures, the kangaroo was gone, fleeing into his refuge of forest and trees.

Lavender field Road curving over hills
Sand and wood near Adelaide Yellow flowers near Adelaide

Scenery from Portland to the Great Ocean Road

If you find wildlife boring, then there is the scenery.  Lavender fields creep across the hills, yellow flowers dot the sheep-laden fields, and the road folds over the land like a velvet drape.

Yellow flowers near Adelaide

Cows and windmills

Scenery from Portland to the Great Ocean Road

After Portland, the Crags greeted us with a more modern version of the windswept cliffs that mark the Great Ocean Road.  We went on and found the Bay of Martyrs, a spot equally beautiful to the Twelve Apostles but unvisited.

The Crags Waterfall near Warnambool
Near Port Campbell Bay of Martyrs

The Crags and the Bay of Martyrs

But, I was most impressed by the Razorback, a ridge of strong cut stone that seemed paper-thin at the top.

Razorback at the Great Ocean Road

The Razorback

At the end of the day, we asked ourselves why we rushed to get to the Twelve Apostles and struggled through the multitude of people to see them, when we had found so much undiscovered beauty along the way.  It is a question we often ponder at "top" tourist destinations but find difficult to answer.

Tourists at the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

The Grotto, Great Ocean Road

The crowds at the Twelve Apostles; the Grotto