Over the past year, I've visited over 10 different countries, slept in countless hostels and met so many incredible people on a daily basis. Every single day was something new and exciting - and then my money ran out. It had lasted me longer than expected and it was always going to happen sooner or later. Lucky enough for me, it happened as soon as I arrived in Melbourne - a vibrant, energetic city in the South East of Australia. Melbourne is full of life and there's plenty of fun to be had here, but three months of week-to-week work and city life had suddenly felt suffocating, after a year of living completely free. Lucky for us, its outskirts are full of adventure. All we needed was a car.
Without much thought or planning at all, four friends and I decided we all needed an immediate escape from the city. That night we organised a car rental and the morning after we were meeting at the airport, cramping our bags into our Toyota and setting off on one of the worlds most travelled roads, with barely any knowledge of what we were going to experience on the way. In the earliest hours of the drive, I really didn't care where we went. It felt so refreshing to be on the move again, driving alongside the ocean, the salty ocean breeze crashing in through the open windows while the world passed us by. Soon enough though, we decided we should think of a few stops to fill our day and after a quick surf online we'd mapped out some stops for our two days on the road. Here are my top three spots from the Great Ocean Road...
1. Erksine Falls
A short drive inland from the beach town of Lorne, you'll find one of the most popular falls in the Otways. On a good day, a strong stream cascades down 30 meters into the fern gully, surrounded by lush overgrow and wildlife. You can take a cool dip in the water or just enjoy some downtime within the cool, jungle like enclosure.
2. LoCH Ard Gorge
Just 8km east of Port Campbell, make sure you stop at this incredible viewpoint and beach cove. From the top, you can work your way round a variety of viewpoints exhibiting a plethora of natural rock formations, and incredible views that stretch out for miles and miles. But the real attraction is the pristine gold-sand beach, with crystal clear, cool waters and an cave you can walk in and explore.
3. The Twelve Apostles
I'd seen so many photos of the Apostles on brochures and postcards, but still, when we arrived I was blown away. Somehow, we had timed it perfectly. The dipping sun set a pink and orange glow throughout the sky, that sunk into the sand and sea, decorating the string of limestone cliff that stretched across the coastline. Every minute that passed, it just got better and better. We'd bought pizza and beers on the way and they were the perfect accompaniment to the experience. After a long day of driving and after a fair few photos were out of the way, we found the perfect spot to sit and really take in this view that was so, so worth the journey.