So today started a little different than I had planned. Was supposed to get up at like 6 to catch a train in Melbourne to catch my bus down the Great Ocean Road. Turns out that didn't happen. After a desperate call to the tour company they put me on the later sunset version of said tour. While it didn't end up including meals like the original one I didn't blow my uncle's Christmas present by just not waking up. In the end it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Our tour guide was an awesome guy named Phil. Before the end of the day I had learned that he was an outdoor education teacher in a previous life, had done a yearlong bike trip around Europe, and has the same back injury I do (herniated disc L4-L5). I learned a lot from him but it started with the knowledge that his company sent 5 buses on the early trip and is only one of 3 companies with roughly equal market share. He said that was about 500 people trying to blitz through the same 1 lane. Meanwhile we were one of maybe 2 tours total which led to cool things like this:
Candid parrot shots
This is the closest anyone might ever get to a koala in the wild
There were parrots of many kinds all over the place and the beaches on the drive down were unbelievably beautiful even if I was cooped up in the bus for far far too long. As we made our way into the 12 apostles region we started to do longer walks that were largely self directed (being that I was younger and quicker than the vast majority of the tour bus crew I got to do a lot more running around than most and even had time to help Phil pick up some trash at some of these sights. The pictures from here are really cool.
I think this was called Shipwreck bay
I may have jumped a less than safe fence to take this epic sphere
From Shipwreck Bay we headed to the 12 Apostles proper to watch the sunset. This was something else entirely. The sunset was spectacular despite the sky being largely covered by a wall of clouds. I wrote this snippet on my phone while staring out at the sunset,
The colors are befuddling. The gray greens and blues of the ocean raging around the muted sandstone cliffs under the flat gray clouds lie in stark contrast to the band of searingly hot metal, just pulled from the furnace to separate the sky from the sea. For four brilliant minutes it is like god fucked with the saturation scale of the world. Everything is gray save for this one chunk of slowly fading pink sky. As the last bright speck fades below the horizon I find myself forced to turn back towards the bus.
The cool thing about having made friends with Phil was that he gave me some leeway. The next stop was a beach under a spot called the Gibson Steps. It was only about a mile or 2 away and I was getting frustrated from being cooped up in the bus all day. Since I could move so much faster than the rest of the group he let me just take the trail there and meet up with the group when they filtered back onto the bus and moseyed on down the road.
These pictures are cool but since I can never get a picture of the sunset to do real life justice I'm leaving my failed attempts out.
The 12 Apostles
From the bottom of the Gibson Steps
We eventually headed back to Melbourne after all traces of the sun had disappeared. We finally made it to around Melbourne and I crashed at a hostel because the trains don't run at 1 in the morning.
A truly epic day.