GREAT OCEAN ROAD & PHILLIP ISLAND 2-DAY TOUR
Be prepared for an early departure to Great Ocean Road with Bunyip Tours around 7:30 a.m. considering you will be going for a long drive from the Melbourne CBD. If you’re staying within the city, it might be possible to be picked up at your hotel and taken to the main office departure point. Also, make note of the time of year you’re traveling in order to prepare for the slight rain during different seasons. My tour with Bunyip was during the first week of September which is also first week of spring in Australia, however, winter weather was still at play. Victoria State in general can be quite rainy and I was already aware that I might have to cope with that.
THE TWELVE APOSTLES/GREAT OCEAN ROAD
On the way to Great Ocean Road, we made a snack stop in a small town for breakfast, coffee, and to purchase lunch. So, if you are interested in packing your meals/snacks, do so in advance including drinks. After a nearly three-hour drive, the main attraction of the Twelve Apostles (see above photo) was in sight. I was happy to be here finally as it was my first time outside Melbourne city. The Twelve Apostles are unique rock stacks created by the continuous erosion of the limestone cliffs. This is likely the most visited location in Victoria State apart from Phillip Island and can been seen as a popular backdrop in tourist photos. Apparently, the Twelve Apostles change color at sunrise and sunset, so it might be worth visiting twice. Next time, I will definitely be going for the sunset tour, which Bunyip Tours also offers.
Following the Twelve Apostles, you will reach another ocean-side, picturesque view of “rockscapes”. There are three viewpoints you can check out, but our guide advised us of the top two sightings which were Loch Ard Gorge and Razorback. I skipped the third spot and visited these two which were still incredible rock formations (limestone stacks) providing yet again a great backdrop for my photos. Back on the road again, you will stop at the Koala Kafe for some local bird-feeding of cockatoos and parrots. These birds are far too friendly and have no problem landing on your head for that matter, which was very amusing. If you’re lucky, you may also see koalas sleeping in trees here.
The tour guide had interesting knowledge and could share information steadily throughout the day and otherwise was really sociable. There were facts being offered about native Australian animals and the history of Great Ocean and small towns within this region. Normally, you might pass through a rain forest en route to the hotel, but the weather conditions were not on are side that day. Alternatively, our guide took us to see the Sheoak Falls (in the town of Lorne) instead which was possibly more exciting anyway. Along Great Ocean Road, there are many beautiful sights for photography and our guide made certain to stop at a few of them. I often found myself jumping out of the tour van to snap some oceanfront photographs.
By evening, we headed to our the Big4 Beacon Resort Queenscliff for an inclusive barbecue dinner. By this time, I had worked up an appetite and was ready for a rest. The dinner was a simple spread of barbecue sausages, burgers, and sides in a buffet setup. There are private and shared room options available which should be booked in advance. I checked out both accommodations and was really impressed. The private double-bedroom I stayed in was cozy and the bed was too comfortable. Even the shared accommodation had a few bedrooms (dorm style and single beds) and a super-sized living room which we gathered together in as a group and played a few games at nighttime.
MORNINGTON PENINSULA TO PHILLIP ISLAND
By morning, we checked out of the Big4 Beacon Resort and dropped by a nearby cafe for our pre-ordered, inclusive breakfast. Again, I found the food to be very basic and not that filling. I ordered a coffee (taste approved) with a bacon and egg sandwich (toastie). It would be nice to see improved meal options and snacks provided in the future. Afterwards, it was time to catch the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento located in the Mornington Peninsula. I actually enjoyed riding the ferry for a short journey (maybe 45 minutes) and visited the top deck of the ship to capture some great ocean views.
Later that day, after checking out a couple of more viewpoints and the famous Portsea Bathing Boxes(see above photo), you will find yourself at a lovely animal sanctuary. The Moonlit Animal Sanctuary was my absolute favorite and most memorable experience of this two-day tour in which you can wander around scoping out native Australian animals like wombats, emus, cockatoos, and of course, wallabies and kangaroos. Once you arrive, you can purchase feed for a mere $2 AUD.
To be honest, I could have spent a half day here feeding and petting the animals at Moonlit. The kangaroos and wallabies were too adorable for words to describe! I liked to be able to get up close and personal with these animals and the fact that they were very adapted to our presence. This was such a great experience and there are also night tours offered by Moonlit as well as a koala experience to literally hug a koala. At different times of day, you can also tune in to learn more about the animals here at the sanctuary and I happened to collect a few fun facts about koalas during my visit.
Once I said my goodbyes to my furry friends at the Moonlit Animal Sanctuary, we changed guides and buses, then continued onward to Phillip Island. After a briefing from our guide regarding the history of Phillip Island, we then continued to the Phillip Island Nature Park. That night it was a cold, rainy evening in which we waited over an hour prior to getting a view of any penguins. Again, you must be prepared to embrace various weather conditions. Take note photographers, that you are not allowed to capture any picture/video of the penguins at it is detrimental to their health.
I can’t say there was much of a parade as I only spotted two families crossing from the ocean to their home on the mainland. Then, we waited a bit longer for more sightings, however, only a few more scurried through the sand one by one to their homes on the island. Not sure if this was due to the climate or time of year, but I was hoping to see more activity during the penguin parade. Fortunately, I was able to see the penguins closely once they safely reached their homes on the way back inside the PI Nature Park. The areas along the fences are dimly lit and there once the so-called parade is finished, you will see them curiously checking out bystanders.
The final, second day of the tour is concluded at Phillip Island Nature Park and thereafter, you will be returning to Melbourne CBD between 9:30 – 10 p.m. Overall, I did enjoy the Bunyip Two-Day Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, & Mornington Peninsula Tour (departs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). I believe that the tour guides were knowledgeable and made certain we got to capture sights along the routes we traveled. I would certainly like to check out more of Victoria State with Bunyip Tours in the future.
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