We bid ado to Adelaide and continued our Australian journey with a road trip to the Great Ocean Road. The route from Adelaide to Melbourne takes you along some of the most scenic landscape of the Southern Ocean and Australian coastline. The drive from Adelaide to Melbourne is over 600+ miles so we found a very nice rental on a farm in a small village called Kirkstall, just outside the town of Warrnambool or essentially where the Great Ocean Road begins. The drive to that place felt like an eternity. First, we got a late start out of Adelaide and didn’t leave until 2 and the trip took us over 7 hours along the same road. What was interesting though was the change in climate along the drive. We left the dry, maritime climate of Adelaide to a more wet, temperate climate on the other side of the mountains. It almost felt like we were in Ireland with everything so green (and tons of sheep farms) About 150 miles outside of our destination, we spotted, for the first time ever, real wild kangaroos! As night fell, they were feeding along the road. Their behavior reminded us a bit of the deer, since both type of animals seem to blindly go as they please. We had to drive super slow to make sure that none of these jumpy friends won't attack our car : ) We arrived in Kirkstall at 10pm and were greeted by a lovely couple, originally from Tasmania, who for the last 6 years, have been traveling around Australia in their RV and occasionally house sitting (our real hosts were currently on a six month RV adventure along the west coast of Australia - they did it with their three kids, 10, 8 and 4 years old). We were so tired, we did not even eat dinner, just cleaned up a little and went straight to bed.
We woke up early in the morning to the sound of roosters. I forgot to mention that we were staying on a farm and it was amazing. Right outside of our bedroom windows we have sheep, alpacas, goats, roosters, chickens, peacock, cows, cat, dog and best of all, a koala bear! We opened our door and he was sitting right in front of us on an eucalyptus tree and sleeping (koalas sleep for 23 hours a day, must be nice, haha). It was our first time seeing a koala (well, we have seen them at the zoo but never out in the wild). Both Leo and Mila were so happy and excited to have their own personal zoo. Right after breakfast (made from the fresh eggs from the chickens), they ran outside and made friends with all the animals. It was so cute. They walked around, waved to them and said hello. Since our hosts have three children, there was a small playground in the backyard, a trampoline and plenty of things for Leo and Mila. What made this place even better was the comforts of our flat. Great eat in kitchen, hardwood floors, super comfy beds, and lots of space. For the first time since Europe, we had space! It felt like the comforts of home. I couldn’t wait to make some magic in the kitchen : )
After lunch we drove to the coastal town Warrnambool, about 15 miles due south. This town marks the western end of the Great Ocean Road. We headed to Logan’s Beach and watched some very skilled surfers catching some waves. The views were spectacular, beautiful stormy ocean with yellow sand and stunning green landscape. This beach is a popular blue whale watching spot but we just missed their migration back to Antarctica. They migrate north to Aussie on the winter (June-Sept) to feed then head back south. We visited the tourist office and gathered way too many booklets : ) We spotted an awesome playground and of course had to stop. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store and stocked up on plenty of food. For the rest of the day, Leo and Mila played outside, while Rick and I cooked and planned the local excursions. Leo also helped Ian (the house sitter) pick up eggs from the chickens. He was so proud of himself, he brought back 8 eggs : ) It was a super fun day!
The next morning we visited Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/tower-hill-w.r which is a beautiful park with an inactive volcano and many typical Australian animals. There are several short treks and we decided to do one of them. As soon as we started to walk we spotted a cute koala bear walking between the bushes - he looked like a lunatic troll, hahaha, I wanted to run to him and give him a hug. Later on we also saw several emus, but no kangaroos. It was a beautiful nature walk through very scenic and green landscape. We passed two different kindergarten groups who were having a day out in the wild. They walked through different trails and learned about the local flowers, trees and animals - how cool is that?! Apparently this type of a school activity is very popular on this side of the world.
The rest of the day we spent driving The Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles visit12apostles.com.au We’ve had some pretty amazing drives on this trip; Back Roads France, Corsican Mountains, Switzerland, & The Outback, but this one was pretty special. It was probably one of the best drives ever. For a good 60kms, we moved along stunning coastline and very dramatic cliffs. The weather was perfect that day and the sun made the water look almost turquoise color. The Twelve Apostles sit in Port Campbell National Park, a protected reserve of over 50 miles of coastline. Currently, there are only 8 apostles left, since the rest of them collapsed from erosion over the years. The view were breathtaking! It was almost surreal being there and seeing it with our own eyes. I remember being a young child and dreaming of coming to America - it felt so far away and almost unreachable. So, when I finally made it to The USA, I probably looked like someone who just won a lottery ticket. I had the same feeling here looking at the Twelve Apostles…I just could not believe I was there, it was one of the best feelings ever. As they say, its better to see something once than hear about it over again.
We decided to take a short trek down to the beach, about 2km, along the Gibson Steps. It was so cool so see the cliffs from up close and the waves crushing against them. Mila was so hypnotized by the sound of the ocean, she felt asleep on Rick’s back - this girl has it made! We chilled at the beach for a little and admired the spectacular scenery. On our way home, we also stopped at few other scenic spots - London Arch, Grotto and Loch & Gorge. It was definitely something on our Bucket List and I am so happy we soaked it all in
Our last day in this part of Victoria was spent in Grampians National Park www.visitgrampians.com.au- it was located almost two hour drive from our house, but we decided to go there anyway. We preplanned this trip the night before, so as soon as we arrived there, we knew exactly which trek to do. We chose a hike to MacKenzie Falls which was about 7 km long. The trek was a bit boring but as soon as we saw the amazing waterfall, we immediately forgot about it. It was a gorgeous cliff drop with a dramatic waterfall, simply stunning. Leo and Mila right away started to climb on all of the boulders, with Mila eventually taking a bath in the small pond, go figure! It was another day spent in the wild nature - typical style for the Hermans.
When Rick announced this trip at his work, one of his co-workers Janie “Jake”, who was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia (and has a deep Polish heritage), was gracious enough to contact her mum and invite us into her home for a week. In addition, her Aunt & Uncle, who live in the beach side town of Jan Juc opened their home to us for an evening together. We were so thankful of their generosity and arranged two visits with her family. Thanks again Jake!!!!!!!!
First, we drove to her aunt and uncle - Miss Wanda and Mister Eddy. This took us along the rest of the Great Ocean Road, where the views were just as awe inspiring as the previous day. We passed through the beach side town of Apollo Bay, meandered through Otway National Park, and on to Bells Beach & Jan Juc. We were greeted by Miss Wanda and her husband Eddy. Lovely people with big and warm hearts. Miss Wanda prepared for us a delicious dinner and served us a wonderful dessert called Pavlova. One of their neighbors, who used to live in America, Miss Lee, also joined us at the dinner table. We talked the night away, ate amazing food and laughed like there was no tomorrow. It was such a memorable night, learning about their story, how they escaped communist Poland over 50 years ago and made a new life in Australia. Sometimes we forget we’re all immigrants and those who paid their dues many years ago to make our lives better today. Leo and Mila had no problems at all making themselves comfortable :) It was an unforgettable evening and once again, we experienced one of the best hospitalities by people we just met.
The next morning, right after breakfast, we took a short walk to a local playground and then visited Torquay Beach. Jan Juc is a vacation town for Melbourne people, who seek some peace and quiet during weekends and holidays. Right after lunch, we said thank you and goodbye to this lovely Polish family and headed towards Melbourne, where we will be spending the next week..