The many wonders of the Great Ocean Road

The many wonders of the Great Ocean Road

Apart from the 12 Apostle Gourmet Trail, the Great Ocean Road is also known for its many scenic and picturesque sights! On my recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, we dropped by a couple of stops along it to enjoy the many wonders!

Our first scenic stop along the Great Ocean Road was The Grotto. A five-minute ride from our accommodation at Peterborough, The Grotto showcases a small open cave that looks into the ocean. The return journey from the carpark to The Grotto, steps included, is about 750 metre. It is definitely worth the walk down the steps as the base of it lies a stunning view of the ocean – it is as though you’re looking into the ocean with a natural photo frame!

The Grotto

The London Bridge was our next stop which was just another five-minute drive away. This single bridge view used to be a double-spanning bridge which linked to the mainland but the connecting surface linking to the mainland collapsed in 15 January 1990 – a good 30 years ago. What used to be a full stack now remains a bridge, with the centre portion of the base being eroded over the years. The return trip from the carpark to the attraction is less than 500 metres and the view is worth the short walk!

The London Bridge

Our third scenic stop was the Loch Ard Gorge. With four trails to choose from, my family and I went for the easiest trail where we overlooked The Razorback – a very large limestone stack with sharp edges and bumps on the surface. The lower section of it is, however, very smooth as it has been well-eroded by the waves that come in every 14 seconds, over a period of about a thousand years. With its straight and smooth top section, it actually looks like a very flat-surfaced cement block!

The Razorback (Loch Ard Gorge)

Our final scenic stop along the Great Ocean Road was the Twelve Apostles. Having been here a good 11 years ago, walking back here brought back memories! Some of these limestone monuments have stood the test of time and remained, but some have since collapsed, the most recent collapse of one was in 2005. The return walk from the carpark to the viewing point is around 700 metres, with the option of walking a little further for an even better view. This attraction also has a small kiosk which sells coffee and collectibles.

Thoughts

Driving along the Great Ocean Road brought back many memories, and it is no wonder how this coastal road welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors annually.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers are advised against visiting these national parks and attractions, and the 12 Apostles attraction is among the list of attractions that have been closed till further notice.

12 Apostle Gourmet Trail

12 Apostle Gourmet Trail

The 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail, as its name suggests, sits along the Great Ocean Road near the 12 Apostles), and was curated to allow visitors to experience the wonderful artisan food and beverage around the area. What’s great is that many of these places offer food tastings (for a fee), and sell local products that are exclusive to the region.

12 Apostle Gourmet Trail

Of the 16 available recommended places (some places are opened only in specific seasons and time), my family and I visited four – Timboon Cheesery, Timboon Ice Cream, GORGE Chocolate, and Apostle Whey Cheese.

Timboon Cheesery

A small set-up with a garden in the surroundings. This is a lovely place to walk around on a cool day. We paid AUD$1/Pax for a simple cheese tasting session. Apart from tasting the cheeses that they produce, they also have samples of jams and sauces that are from the area. The lady explained the different cheeses to us, and it was a pretty good variety – but none really appealed to us, so we left empty-handed, but we enjoyed the experience.

Timboon Fine Ice Cream

Five scoops of ice cream + Toppings + Chocolate Sauce!

A very modern ice cream parlour in the midst of the quiet town of Timboon with wonderful ice cream! From flavours like ginger, to fruity and our regular chocolate flavours, ice cream produced by this ice cream shop was spectacular. It was so good that we came back the next day for another daily dose of ice cream!

GORGE Chocolate

About a 20-minute drive from Port Campbell, GORGE chocolate prides itself for its range of chocolates that are made with Belgium chocolate. There is a very wide variety of chocolate types, which are all sold in small packets. They did have some chocolate-tasting, but it was well-controlled by the staff. The chocolate which I bought – the honeycomb chocolate – was really good – fluffy honeycomb with a good dark chocolate covering. This shop also sells products that are from the area, including llama-related ones.

Apostle Whey Cheese

From GORGE Chocolate, there was a sign that directed us to Apostle Whey Cheese which was a 3-minute drive away! Similar to Timboon Cheesery, Apostle Whey Cheese offered a cheese tasting session at AUD$1/Pax.

This experience was unique and we really enjoyed the variety of cheeses – soft to hard cheeses, that were presented in a very orderly manner. Each party was given a slip of paper with the list of cheeses to which we were going to sample, and it was used for us to circle the cheeses we really liked (helped when we wanted to purchase them!) The cheeses here are very fresh, and all made within the Apostle Whey Cheese compound. There is a small viewing gallery where we saw the owner processing the cheese!

We eventually bought the garlic and herb cheese as well as the brie (which they had recently won an award for). Reasonably priced and really nice, Apostle Whey Cheese is a must-visit!

Thoughts

The Great Ocean Road definitely wins for its scenic views, and the addition of the 12 Apostle Gourmet trail makes this route even more exciting. It is well-curated, and definitely can appeal to people of all ages. If you’re looking to add some spice into your trip along the Great Ocean Road, be sure to check this out!

Top End chicken rice a contender for best Down Under

IMG_20190209_205445_558.jpgBorn and bred in Singapore, I have a biase when it comes to chicken rice, or food for that matter. I’ve yet to taste a chicken rice outside the country, aside from Malaysia, that is good enough for me. Even those recommended by well-thinking friends in their home countries have fallen short.

I’ve tried chicken rice in a few places in Australia, mainly in Sydney, and found them to be different from my preferred taste.

Hence, I was pleasantly surprised when I ate at an Asian restaurant in Darwin. Based on my past experience, I wasn’t expecting much other than to have an Asian meal to fill my stomach on a hot summer day.

On the menu at Fusion Cafe Darwin was chicken rice. It was pricey too at A$17. My wife and I decided to order one portion since she wasn’t really hungry.

The service was excellent was the staff (who looks like she could be the boss) was sensitive to our needs. She asked if we wanted an additional plate to share the rice and even offered us another bowl of soup.

At first glance, the chicken rice’s presentation was nothing to shout about. It looks like what we get from our local hawker centres. The plate came with a generous portion of chicken and char siew.

Even when we divided the food between us, both of us had more than enough.

The chicken was boiled and a little hard, probably because it had been cooked earlier. But, it’s not unlike what we’ve tasted elsewhere in Australia.

The char siew, sliced in thicker chunks than back home, is tasty.

Accompanying the main course was a dip comprising sambal chilli and chicken rice chilli. The mix of spiciness and sourness make for an interesting taste which went well with the meats.

I loved the salted vegetable soup which was rich and tasty.

What is chicken rice without the rice? Made from broken rice grain (which is my rice of choice from chicken rice), it was flavourful and reminded me of home. It’s that good. Now, Australia can claim to have at least one chicken rice that ticks the right boxes for me.

If you happen to be at the Top End, do check out Fusion Cafe Darwin at Shop 18, 356 Bagot Rd, Millner.