5 days, 4 nights, 3 mates, 2 Sharks and 1 car...
Sooo, starting in Port Lincoln with only 5 days until new years eve in Sydney, 2000km and 3 states to cover this was a bit of a rushed road trip! It sounds a lot but being short on time really pushes you to get as much out of a place as you can. Unlike most of my travels which tend to be unorganised, turn up and see what happens kind of affairs, this road trip was semi-planned in advance because of the time constraints.
Day 1: Port Lincoln
Still a little jet lagged and spaced out from my 26 hour flight to Australia from the UK and after taking two further internal flights we finally arrived at Port Lincoln airport which i can best describe as a large shed in the middle of nowhere... Me and my two mates, Garry and Warwick took a taxi into town and got to our first YHA. The hosts were more than welcoming and the hostel was fresh, clean and set up really well (working air con a massive plus!!) We were given a full run down and tour of the hostel and made to feel right at home they even ran us into town for the afternoon.. Port Lincoln as a town was nice enough even though it felt like going back in time 20 years.. That didn't matter though as we were there for one reason and one reason only... Sharks! As soon as you enter the YHA you cant help but notice big Bruce up on the wall which kinda lets you know what the main tourist attraction is here.. We were booked for a day trip with Calypso Star Charters to get in the water with arguably the most famous fish in the sea.. the great white!
Day 2: Hello Bruce
It was a very early start but it was a long boat trip to the Neptune Islands and Great White territory. Boarding the boat we were given the usual safety brief and a run down of how the day was going to go, the crew were awesome, up for a laugh and I was super excited! Anyone who has taken 10 minutes to have a flick through my site will see that this is one of my bucket list experiences so I was sooo ready for it! It was about a 3 hour boat ride out to the islands and fortunately it was a calm sea. We even spotted a few seals and dolphins on the way..
Once we were at the dive site and geared up, it was time to jump in.. I was in the first group of divers which in hindsight wasn't the best choice as we only saw two sharks on the day and only one shark while we were actually in the cage. Later groups saw two while they were in the cage and then the afternoon charter had four sharks doing the rounds. I certainly wasn't disappointed though! The shark I saw from the cage was a 4m male called Imax and I couldn't believe how graceful he was for such a big lump of fish! He literally floated by silently before accelerating up to the surface in a burst of sheer power and jumping for the tuna bait. I had 45 minutes cage time but i could have stayed down there for hours..
Once back on deck and dried out i thought it was going to be a bit of a long day waiting for all of the other groups of divers but the sharks came out to play and there was as much of a show above water as there was below seeing the sharks breach and jump catching the bait that was thrown out. A brilliant day out and a awesome tick on the bucket list!!
Day 3: To the Mountains
Day 3 of the trip but day 1 of the actual road trip and after a short flight from Port Lincoln to Adelaide we picked up our car to hit the road and head to the mountains. Our second YHA of the trip was in a tiny town called Halls Gap in the heart of the Grampians National Park. It was a 6 hour and 500km drive to Halls Gap which flew by with a good playlist and a ton of snacks!
It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at the Hostel and i have to say I was very impressed. The building itself was a modern glass and wood Eco lodge with plenty of trees and outdoor space. The hosts were really friendly, gave us a full run down of the hostel dos and dont's and even pointed us in the right direction for a good walk we could squeeze in that night.
We dumped our bags and headed out to climb up to Boronia Peak. A 10km round trip which took us around 3-4 hours with absolutely stunning views from the top and plenty of wildlife to spot on the way. For those who have no problem with heights and enjoy a bit of bouldering it's definitely worth tackling a few of the ridges next to Boronia Peak like we did for those extra Insta worthy pics. The only negative thing I found with hiking is Australia is that I spent more time looking at the ground on snake watch than I did taking in the scenery..
Day 4: Great Ocean Road
The following morning was another early start to get to Boroka Lookout to catch one of the most impressive sunrises I have ever seen. We were told about the lookout and given directions from our hostel hosts and I can totally recommend it if you can bare the 5:00am start and watch out for suicidal kangaroos on the road up there!
Following a beautiful sunrise we headed over to MacKenzie falls... baring in mind the time is only just 6:30am. Hands down it was the best time to visit, it was cool and there was absolutely no crowd whatsoever so we could take pics, piss around and scramble around on the rocks as much as we wanted, which as you can see the boys took full advantage of... Representing. After a quick brekky it was time to take to the road again and head back towards the coast and The Great Ocean Road.
The drive out of Halls Gap was stunning, a roller coaster of a road through the mountains and out on to the flat Victoria farmland (not so stunning). It was just under 200km to The Twelve Apostles and when we finally caught up with the Great Ocean Road I must admit I was slightly disappointed. What is billed as one of the greatest drives in the world was actually an overcrowded tailback of tourist buses and people who REALLY couldn't, or shouldn't drive. I shouldn't have expected any less to be honest but at least we were there, and I was about to see what I hoped would be some pretty spectacular scenery.
Our first stop was the Loch Ard Gorge... it was a bit of a fight to get up and down the steep wooden steps past the crowds. The gorge was pretty impressive and the history and stories of ship wrecks were good to read up about but I would suggest if you're going to visit to get there really early to enjoy it without being suffocated by crowds and deafened by screaming kids.
We jumped back in the car and shifted the quick 4km down the road to the 12 Apostles visitors center. The air was buzzing with helicopters and I got talking to my friends about how i'd never been in one, joking that was one way to avoid the crowds... Well... after crossing the road and taking one look at the queue to even get a look at the 12 apostles we had what I like to call a "fuck it moment" turned around and headed for the 12 Apostles Helicopter hanger. I was trying not to get too excited because as i said, i'd never been in a helicopter before and i already knew it was going to be too expensive so i didn't want to get my hopes up! Massively to our surprise when we got the the hanger it was $145AUD each (affordable) and then even more to my surprise my friend Garry turned around and said he would pay for all 3 of us to do it as his treat!! It was an amazing gesture and I cant say how grateful I was for the experience! My first time in a helicopter and in such a beautiful place, I was blown away and honestly cannot thank him enough for that. The view of the coastline from the helicopter was way better than i could have imagined and a gazillion times better than what my short arse would have seen from the ground!
Back on land and we had to carry on to our third and final YHA stop of our little road trip. The Apollo Bay Eco YHA, a beautiful large hostel just one street off the front in Apollo Bay in an excellent central location. Even though we spent very little time in this hostel, the facilities we did use I cannot fault. It was very clean, the host was friendly and waking up to a big Koala right outside my bedroom window was just the best!
Day 5: New Years Eve
Heading back to Melbourne Airport was a bitter sweet feeling... I was super excited to be spending NYE in Sydney but this little road trip was so packed with experiences and with two excellent travel buddies, I dont think any of us were ready for it to be over. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better start to my trip. Below i have added a few links to the companies I used and the YHA's we stayed in. Give them a look, I can highly recommend them all.