We sped off in our rental car just after touching down in Melbourne, eagerly anticipating the wind in our hair and the smell of the sea along the Great Ocean Road.
What we didn't anticipate, or at least not to such a degree, was the oasis of adorable farm animals that awaited us at our first night's accommodations near Torquay.
We spent as much time as we could squeeze in before the sun set petting the horses, calves, piggies, dogs, chickens, geese, goats, and guinea hens around the farm. We even got to meet Oliver, a sweet little steer who's going to have a lot to think over when he realizes he's not a sheep.
We awoke in the morning to a thick bank of fog, which we hoped would burn off by the time we hit the coast. But even if it didn't, we were enjoying the unique experience of cruising between eerie pastures edged with eucalyptus trees, watching kangaroos bound away through the mists.
Hitting the Great Ocean Road
Just southwest of Melbourne, highway B100 skirts the coastline for 243 gorgeous kilometers in the shape of a giant V. We made our way down toward the nadir of that V on our first day, stopping briefly at Split Point's lighthouse to take in the view of the beach below.
The next morning, we made for the Twelve Apostles (or, as Nick was very pleased to learn they were formerly known, the Sow and Piglets), one of the most famous and staggeringly beautiful sights along the Great Ocean Road. These once twelve sentinels of sedimentary rock are being eaten away by wind and water erosion, and four are now collapsed into the Southern Ocean.
You can really see erosion in action a little further up the coast at the aptly named London Bridge. The structure was connected to the mainland until 1995 when the arch connecting it crumbled away into the sea, leaving two tourists stranded for hours on the resulting island.
We had dozens of incredible views along the way, but Nick's favorite came a little later in the trip when we passed by a place called Mariner's Lookout. He quickly popped the trunk and whipped his Mariners gear out to do Sea Town proud.
Back in town
While the sun held out for most of our time on the coast, the rain wasn't about to let us get off the hook that easily. Once we got to Melbourne, our days ranged from drizzle to downpour without many moments of sunny outliers.
We made the best of it with some rainy-day fun at the Melbourne Museum, with its amazing and interactive natural history exhibits, moving WWI feature on loan from the British Imperial War Museum, and fantastic Aboriginal culture exhibit to name a few.
And, of course, eating is an indoor sport. Melbourne is a city with a buzzing, creative attitude that expresses itself in a number of ways, but one of these is certainly the food. We only wish we could've tasted more of what Melbourne was dishing up before we had to catch our next flight.
We're off to fulfill a life goal, pay a visit to some relatives, and explore the sunny coasts around Brisbane!