Words by Rishad Saam Mehta
Sassy, energetic, good-looking and game for anything ”“ if Melbourne was in the dating game this is how her profile would read. Besides being pretty and lively, with fantastic entertainment and food to boot, Melbourne has two great reasons as why you should arrive here. The first is that it’s the gateway to Tasmania, and the second is that it’s the gateway to the B100.
And, here are eight great reasons why you should drive the B100.
The road best travelled
More popularly known as the Great Ocean Road, the B100 deserves this adulation. Running along the Southern Ocean, this tantalising strip of tar takes the wonderstruck driver along huge cliffs, raging surf, tranquil bays, beautiful beaches and lush forests. It has delightful straights with stunning ocean views, as well as sections that are more curvaceous than Kylie Minogue. Victoria is very proud of this road because it was hacked out of inhospitable terrain by Aussie soldiers back after the First World War as a memorial to their mates who had perished in battle.
Hit the surf in Torquay
The sea first comes into sight at Torquay which is where one goes to ride the waves. Fantastic surfing beaches dot the area, and this has led to a blossoming of a surf culture. Shops sell and rent out everything from skin suits to surf boards. And surfing is not as difficult as it looks. In fact there are plenty of surfing lessons available.
Fabulous Sea Views
From Torquay the sea is a constant companion till Apollo Bay and the road is well demarcated, and bordered by the tempting blue sea and sandy beaches that are contrasted by the lush green of the Otway ranges that run along the opposite side. A complete driver’s delight accentuated by the uncluttered horizon that stretches out beyond the windscreen.
Somewhere over the rainforest
From Apollo Bay the B100 goes inland through the Otway National Park for 78km, and here you can partake in the world’s highest treetop walk. The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is a 600 metre long 25 metre high elevated tree top walk. Accessible to all: both young and old and all levels of mobility. The tree top walk ascends at a gentle grade through a magnificent stand of cool temperate rainforest featuring Myrtle Beech, Blackwood and Mountain Ash. For the thrill seeker a 45 metre high lookout is ascended via a spiral stairway through the understorey to emerge amongst the crowns of the giants of the forest. For the more adventurous souls, there is also a zipline tour 30 meters above the forest floor.
Then there are the 12 Apostles
After going through the Otway Ranges the B100 gets back by the sea at Princetown. After forests and pastures the eyes are treated to that most famed tourist attraction of the Great Ocean Road – the 12 Apostles. Standing like artful sculptures, the 12 Apostles are actually the remains of an extended cliff line that has been crafted into stacks of rock by the constant pounding of the sea and the abrasive caress of salt laden winds. 8 remain and stand tall and ready for tourist cameras. The best way to see them all is to book a helicopter ride, and drink in the sight of the Apostles as well the surrounding rock formations.
Never has a wreck been more beautiful
The 12 Apostles stand as pretty sentinels to the Shipwreck coast, and though today these natural splendours are very famous tourist attractions, 150 years ago for captains of sailing ships approached them with trepidation and prayer. Setting off from Europe, this coast was the first sight of land after months and 15,000 km at sea the surf was infamous for grabbing a ship and smashing her hull against the jagged shore. Today, over 700 ships on the bottom of the Ocean along this coast as a grim justification to those old mariners’ fears.
Drive on past the other rock formations too
After Apollo bay the B100 get even better with the road being a ribbon of black that runs along the coast and you can stop and look at the rock formations you say from the air. The London Bridge, so called because of the natural arch it forms from the mainland to a rock stack. In fact in perfect tune to the famous nursery rhyme, a part of this formation did fall down a few years ago, leaving a few tourists marooned on it who were later rescued by chopper. But the most awe inspiring of them all is the Loch Ard Gorge. Named after the iron hulled three-masted, ship that went down here in 1878.
Head back to Melbourne via the Grampians
To head back, turn off the Great Ocean Road at Warrnambool and head north to the Grampians National Park which is famous for its rainforest and natural rock formations. Hall’s Gap, in the Grampians, is where you’ll almost certainly see big brown marsupials with impossibly long tails bouncing across the roads – Kangaroos!
Bold and carefree these roam across the main thoroughfare of the little hill station of Halls Gap.
Should you hire cycles to explore the environs of Halls Gap, they will bounce along with you as you pedal along.
Find a great flight and take a trip of a lifetime along Australia’s Great Ocean Road. You’ll find the best airfares from India to Melbourne here, and flights from Singapore here, and our Malaysian friends can get the best deals here, and begin your journey.
Words by Rishad Saam Mehta, images courtesy of Tourism Australia.