We had two full days of incredible views, sunsets and hikes, and now it was time to drive back through the Great Ocean Road back towards Apollo Bay. We left our tin hut at 5:00 am chasing the sunrise over the 12 Apostles. I far preferred the 12 Apostles at 5 in the morning, as opposed to the afternoon. Less tourists = happier Kelly.
The sun had risen over the 8 (remaining) Apostles, and we drove to the lesser known but most beautiful Wreck Beach. If you get the timing of the sunrise and the tides right and not mind walking down 400 stairs, it’s the most stunning part of the Great Ocean Road. With giant anchors and wreckage from a shipwreck long ago, at low tide, the anchors emerge from the ground with the reflection of the tide pools against it. It was stunning… Except when the tide came in.. quickly. We had to hightail it out of there after 15 minutes of being there, because had we not, the tide would have blocked our path back. No bueno.
Near death encounter aside, we headed back into the rainforest to hike through the Triplet Falls and Aire Falls. Thousands of stairs and spiders later, we sat over the canopies watching the powerful and beautiful waterfalls. We spent almost four hours hiking, staring in awe of the giant redwood trees.
After trekking through the canopies, we drove through the most dangerous and scariest rode I’ve ever been on. Turton’s Track was a one way road with no barriers on the edge with sheer cliffs off the sides. With every turn, there was a chance of a truck flying past, making it a close call to the cliff. Needless to say, I was on the verge of tears and couldn’t have been more relieved to get back out on a main road.
With my heart rate at a (semi) normal resting beat, we finally made it to Apollo Bay, and spent the rest of the day just relaxing on the beach. It was the first time in the trip we actually had a relaxing moment. It was very much deserved.
The next day, we made the 3.5 hour drive to Phillip Island, where I surprised Sam with tickets to the Churchill Institute, the Koala Conservation and best of all, a private tour on the beach to watch the fairy penguins leave the water to find their penguin boxes. This was turning into quite the animal lover’s trip.
We also spent half the day at the Phillip Island Wildlife Center where we could feed kangaroos and wallabies just free-roaming around the zoo. In theory, kangaroos are super cute. When they’re hopping towards you with their powerful (and dangerous) legs, you start to get a little antsy. Some of them would even grab your hand to get to the food. The coolest part was seeing the joeys climb in and out of the mom’s pouch. It was such a unique experience that only a few places in Australia, and the world, can offer.
The best had finally arrived. We walked up to the extremely crowded Penguin Parade with thousands of people streaming in. We flashed our “Ultimate Adventure Tour” tickets and immediately was ushered to the VIP zone. Our group was just us and three other older couples and an amazingly knowledgable tour guide. We got night vision goggles and chairs and made our way to our private beach away from the thousands of people trying to look at the penguins from the grand stands. We were quite literally feet away from these adorable penguins in their natural habitat, making their way back to their penguin boxes. It was well worth the exorbitant amount of money. Especially because Sam is such an animal lover.
It was a great way to end the trip. 4,500 kilometers, hours upon hours of the same CD, countless animals and endless incredible views. It was such an amazing road trip with such an amazing guy. Just proving to me more and more how incredible of a country Australia is.