TRAVEL DESTINATION: Rock formations of the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I remember my first encounter with the internet. As I am quite a visual person, I was mostly and first of all drawn to the overwhelming amount of images I could suddenly search and browse through the world wide web. I would flick through piles and piles of them, mainly looking for beautiful inspirational landscapes. All along dreaming, imagining and hoping I would one day visit those near and far places.
Whenever I would come across exceptionally inspirational landscape images, I would save them to floppy disks, CDs or DVDs, so I wouldn’t forget those places. Of course, with so much time passing by, they were eventually forgotten. When I now look at those files, I am literally shocked and perplexed, because I recognize so many of them from my real life adventures! How could it be that I was somehow able to manifest those travel dreams into reality! How crazy and mind blowing is that!?
Images of the rock formations from the Great Ocean Road were regularly saved to that ‘dreams folder’. It’s been on top of my travel bucket list ever since to be able to experience the landscape near Melbourne and to be one day a part of it.
So here I am now, in this moment, after visiting the area twice so far. 12 Apostles are without a doubt an iconic feature of the Great Ocean Road. However, I was so surprised at how many other amazing and jaw-dropping rock giants I came across when exploring this coastal landscape. I’ll share some interesting facts about them all here, and hopefully at least slightly ignite the travel desire in you to go and explore this beautiful part of the world.
In part 1 I will focus on 3 main rock formations that can be found further down the road from Port Campbell: The Grotto, London Arch (Bridge) and The Arch.
The Grotto is the last attraction of this bunch if you’re coming to the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. Many times it gets left out from viewing for the time constraints or by simply thinking one has seen everything that is to be discovered along this beautiful long stretch of coastal landscape.
I found the Grotto to be quite a peaceful and calm place, full of energy. It’s also a bit different to other formations. It’s actually a naturally carved out sinkhole on the bottom of the limestone cliff face, reachable by stairways. You can make a stop on a few different viewing areas while on your short stroll down to the base.
Once you reach the lowest viewing platform, you’ll be standing in front of the rock pools and smooth boulders on the other side of the cave. It’s amazing how you’re also able to view the ocean horizon through the sinkhole in a distance on a low tide. You’ll most likely be welcomed by the sea spray or a fine mist from the crashing waves when the tide is high. Such power of nature!
The Grotto is definitely worth the extra few kilometers by car and half an hour of your time for a stopover. It’s a little gem, slightly hidden, but easily discoverable to those who want to find it.
Current London Arch formation is somewhat the remnant part of the formerly known London Bridge. In 1990 the arch connecting the bridge to the mainland cracked and collapsed into the sea. The views here are quite expansive in both directions and you get the sense of the power with which the ocean reaches these shores.
London Arch formation stands a bit further out in the ocean and cannot be walked to/on nor can it be seen directly from the nearby beaches. The ocean here got me dreaming about jumping in for a quick swim. If there is a path down to the shore, it must be well hidden. The info certainly needs to be shared, right? Still, there are a couple of viewing platforms along this part of the coastline, so you get to see the London Arch from slightly different angles.
As this is one of the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road, do expect it to be a bit busier than The Grotto. I decided to move to the lowest viewing platform on the left side, which took a bit longer to be reached compared to other ones, but it was well worth it as I got a cool lookout place all to myself.
This place really does invite you and tries to pull you closer. I can only imagine how amazing it must had been back in the days when you were able to walk on top of the formation. Today we can only stand here in awe of the majestic nearby cliffs and rolling waves that tirelessly form the future of this landscape. London Arch that was once a natural double-span bridge still captures the beauty of the Great Ocean Road. For me it personalizes an immense perseverance against the continuous erosion from the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean.
Further down the road towards Melbourne is the next quiet location of yet another beautiful rock formation named the Arch. It is just what the name suggests – an arch. There is a great chance you’ll be having this place all to yourself if you’re visiting during the morning hours. That’s probably why I enjoyed being here so much, apart from the enormous amount of energy I could feel while staying around this area. I could hang here for hours if there weren’t so many other giants I wanted to give my attention to.
Natural arch formation of the Arch is approximately 8 meters high and began forming between 10 and 25 million years ago when this whole area was still under water. Later, when the sea started retreating, vertical joints and cracks began to form from all the erosion. Eventually, the Arch and other similar arches were formed along with many other cliffs by rainwater, spray and a constant erosion of the soft limestone rock. Softer layers got eroded first, while harder rocks persevered for the longest time, today forming caves and arches like this one. The long process of the wind, land and water erosion shaped this coastal landscape as we know it today.
The area offers two viewing platforms that let you quite close to the Arch itself. It only takes a couple of minutes down the sealed path to reach them. From these viewing points, you’re truly able to witness the rough sea drama and from a distance experience the force with which the waves keep crashing against the rock foundations. If you linger around here a bit longer, you’ll notice how heavy waves glide through the hole opening in the limestone rock above the platform and come out on the other side. A wonderful play of nature.
For sure, this rugged and mesmerizing coastline is always evolving. It’s slowly but surely getting reshaped in front of us. Stay tuned for the second part of my Great Ocean Road adventure, where I’ll be exploring all the remaining limestone giants that have been on my mind for such a long time.
TRAVEL TIP: Although I didn’t come across any snakes myself while exploring the rock formations along the Great Ocean Road, be careful and stay safe as there are numerous warning signs put out near all the major attractions.