A Tour with a Difference: Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

There’s a rumour making its rounds, and it goes something like this: once you stay in Australia, you don’t want to leave. I know of people who went there about a decade ago with the intention to study or work there for 3 to 4 years, and they’re still there. Though I can’t confirm it, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that they’ll still be there a decade from now.

Last July, Mum and I headed Down Under for a week, and it was a blast. Fresh air, fresh food, loads of space (it’s a sign that you’ve been in Hong Kong too long when you’re practically agoraphobic) – who’d want to leave?

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Not these two. By the way, those brown specks in the background are wild kangaroos. Exciting stuff, but nothing compared to the throngs of kangaroos we encountered the following day! (To be seen in a future post.)

When in Melbourne, Mum and I stayed with Uncle Michael and Auntie Aibee, long-time friends of my parents. (Uncle Michael and Auntie Aibee, if you’re reading this, I can’t thank you enough for your hospitality!)

We also booked a couple of day tours with a local company called “A Tour with a Difference“, and it’s the Great Ocean Road day tour that I’ll be sharing with you in this post. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this tour to anyone who’s interested. We had a fantastic experience, and our guide Ian was simply wonderful.

Also, the convenience can’t be beat – they even picked us up from our doorstep first thing in the morning!

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Started our tour proper at Bells Beach, with seasoned surfers braving what felt like zero degrees out. (Don’t let the sunshine fool you!)

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It isn’t hard to tell that we’re from the tropics.

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We had a “traditional Aussie breakfast” by the beach (well, more like by the parking lot, but okay). Bush Billy tea, lamington cakes, vegemite and crackers… traditional indeed! Friendly reminder – don’t overdo the vegemite, like I did.

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So… my cheapo Taobao trench coat shrank in the wash and became way too short for me. It didn’t really fit right to begin with, but now it looks like it was stolen from the kiddie section. I’m debating whether to let it go, but technically it still fits and ugh, navy blue goes with everything! #vaingirlproblems

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Mum creeping up on an unsuspecting cockatoo.

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There was this really friendly dog who wanted to play fetch with everyone in the tour group. (His owners were chilling at a nearby table.) Unfortunately I threw the stick a lot less farther than he anticipated and he couldn’t find it. Oy, If I ever have a dog (one more reason to move to Australia), I better work on my pitching skills!

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The next part of the tour was super fun – feeding the birds! To be fair, it’s also quite scary, with birds flying towards you and literally clawing at you. Later I discovered that one of my hands was bleeding. T_T

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Is this the bird that scratched me? He’s got a face I don’t trust.

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Mum’s expression here is priceless. Actually I’ve got a bunch of funnier shots, but she’ll never let me off the hook if I put those up.

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I loved that all meals were included – no hidden costs! No scrappy takeaway boxes either – these were proper sit-down meals in lovely restaurants. The food isn’t going to blow your mind, but it’s definitely better than expected.

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After lunch, we got to walk off our meal in a lush temperate rainforest. The pictures don’t do it any justice, and you’ve got to see the trees in person to appreciate their magnificence.

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It isn’t hard to believe that some people live in trees once you’ve seen the size of ’em (the trees, not the people). I mean, I live in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong, so my imagination doesn’t require much stretching.

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True story: we were supposed to see the two of the Twelve Apostles, but Mum and I wandered off and walked around 1.5 kilometres in the wrong direction. D’oh! It sure took us long enough to wonder why there weren’t any other humans in the vicinity.

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We made it eventually. It would have been rather anti-climatic otherwise.

The sun was beginning to set, and the light was beautiful. Again, pictures don’t do the scenery any justice whatsoever. I wonder if wildlife photographers have this thought all the time. The beauty of nature can never be fully captured by a camera.

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We walked down the Gibson steps to get a closer look at the Apostles.

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Golden light!

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“I’ve always heard every ending is also a new beginning, we just don’t know it at the time. I’d like to believe that’s true.” (Source)

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More amateur food photography from yours truly. Um, it’s a cheeseburger.

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Hot chocolate: the best way to start – and end – a day.

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for more posts on the wonders of Down Under!

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