Krabi and Phi Phi

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The Spa Deluxe room at the Centara Grand Krabi

From Elephant Hills it took about 3 hours in total to get from the rainforest camp back to the pier, then onto our road transfer down to Krabi. Our home for the last two nights of the trip was the 5* Centara Grand Beach Krabi. Although not far from the main tourist town of Ao Nang, the resort is set on a quiet bay, a mountain between the busy resort and the hotel. To access it we took the hotel’s own speedboat from the Nopparat Pier in town, direct into a jetty off the hotel beach. As we were travelling during the monsoon season, the journey was a little bumpy and the jetty was rather more of an adventure but there were lots of hotel staff on hand to make sure our luggage was quickly transported to dry land along with their guests.

The picture above is of the balcony of our room. Amazing! Centara had also given us access to their Club Lounge which is worth the upgrade. Two pieces of complimentary laundry per day is much appreciated at the end of a trip, and we certainly took advantage of the cocktail hours in the evenings for free drinks.

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Our chef at Hagi

The Hagi restaurant at the Centara Grand is the only Japanese restaurant in Krabi and should be booked as it only seats 30. We sat at the Teppanyaki counter to add to the experience. The food was amazing: sashimi, wagyu beef, seared tuna…incredible.

We had a (relatively) early night as we were up early for our day trip to Phi Phi. As the sea was a little rough, we took the resort boat back to Ao Nang and met our speedboat there.

To say that the speedboat was an experience… well, the sun was out but the sea was rough! I don’t suffer with seasickness but it was a bumpy ride and a couple of the group have felt better. It was totally worth it though – the boat took us into some idyllic bays on Phi Phi Ley (though there are tourist boats everywhere). We jumped from the boat into water that was so salty that we bobbed. No need for life jackets, or even to tread water. Our next stop was for snorkelling. After our previous stop it was a shock to have to make an effort to stay afloat! A few slices of cucumber brought up a shoal of green and yellow fish that surrounded us within seconds. It was like swimming in a fish tank. The weather was too rough to risk Maya Bay, where The Beach was filmed, so we headed to Monkey Bay to see, yes, monkeys. Monkeys are cute but in my experience will take advantage of any situation. At first glance this bay looked deserted, but a keener eye could pick out the monkeys climbing across the rocks and down onto the beach as they heard the boats approach. We didn’t feed them but the boat next to us did. As they flung food towards the rocks, the monkeys tried to catch it, diving off into the water if they missed. Several immediately jumped across to the boat as it came near enough, taking food and then swimming back to shore. Phi Phi Don is the main island in the area, and the beach at Tonsai port was packed with boats all unloading tourists. We had buffet lunch here which was ok, then had free time on the beach, though it was very crowded by that point. From there we had a brief stop at Bamboo Island for photos and then headed back to the Centara.

The next day it was time to head home. Our flight was not until the evening so we had a (relative) lie in before checking out and taking the boat back to Ao Nang. We spent the day at the 4* Centara Anda Dhevi. A quick site inspection was followed by a huge seafood banquet lunch, then we had some free time to spend shopping or by the pool before our transfer back to Phuket Airport.

Catch up on the rest of my trip:

Karon Beach, Phuket

Elephant Hills

Elephant Hills

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Khao Sok National Park

From Karon Beach, Phuket it was a 3 and a half hour journey by minibus up to the Khao Sok National Park where Elephant Hills, Thailand’s first luxury tented camp, is located. We arrived in time for lunch before checking into our accommodation for the night. Although remote, the camp has all the facilities – ensuite permanent tents, a swimming pool, wifi, bar and shop. The tents have proper beds, lighting etc. and are surprisingly spacious.

Our first activity was canoeing down the Sok River. This was a guided canoe so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the views as our guide did all the hard paddling. The scenery was stunning, although the rain did put a literal slight dampener on things! We arrived close to the elephant camp and then moved on to Elephant Hills most famous attraction: the elephants themselves.

All of the elephants are female since males can become aggressive, and all have been rescued. There is no option to ride the animals – the aim is to keep their routine as close to what they would choose to do themselves. Since the elephants enjoy being bathed and fed, those are the activities that the guests are allowed to take part in. We first watched a couple of the animals playing in the waterhole (above – getting themselves muddy) before we moved to the bathing area. We used a hose and coconut husk to scrub mud from their rough hide. With three of us to each elephant it took a while until they were judged clean (or became bored and wanted to wander off).

 

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Washing elephants is surprisingly hard work!

Then we moved onto the feeding station. We were shown how to prepare fruit, sugar cane and elephant grass, then how to wrap medicine parcels to supplement their diet. Some elephants had a preference of what they wanted to eat, discarding what they didn’t want. My elephant ate everything before it!

 

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Two elephants competing for food

From here it was a ten minute drive back to our accommodation and time for a well-needed shower before the evening activities commenced. These are all optional and so we missed the documentary on elephants but made it in time to see a dance performance (by children from a local school) and a cooking demonstration on Thai curries including a taster. Eight pm was dinner time – buffet style. Guests sit at long tables so it’s quite a social atmosphere. Drinks at the bar are also very reasonably priced.

The jungle is surprisingly noisy at night but the beds were comfortable and so no one was too out of sorts the next morning. Breakfast was buffet again, with a good mix of cooked and cold foods. After getting drenched on the canoes the day before we all invested 30THB (approx. 75p) in plastic ponchos just in case.

We had a 45 minute drive to visit a local market where we had a little free time, before heading on to the Rajjaprabha Dam. The dam was built to help with flood prevention and to provide power, creating the Cheow Lan Lake. It was about an hour by long tailed boat out to our home for the next night – the Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp. This is a floating camp consisting of tents very similar to those in the main camp.

 

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Arriving at the Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp

The whole camp floats on top of the lake, each tent coming with its own two person kayak. Even out here we had power (provided by solar panels) and hot water, but had to do without wifi or phone signal which was quite liberating. After checking in we had lunch and that afternoon’s activity was a jungle trek (which I will admit I gave a miss). Those of us who remained at the camp could take out our kayaks – there are monkeys in the area, wild elephants (though no one saw one) and I even saw a bat swimming in the water.

 

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The interior of the tents

It was incredibly relaxing being on the water. On the following morning we took a guided kayak out further into the lake than we felt comfortable doing alone. At lunchtime the next days group arrived and we left in their boat, headed back to civilisation and then on to Krabi…

Previous post: Karon Beach, Phuket

 

 

 

 

Karon Beach, Phuket

The best time to travel to Phuket is during the dry season – November to April. However, work trips tend to be off-season and so I am here in September, the height of the monsoon. As I type this it’s actually dry and sunny, but it has rained during my trip quite a lot. I have been told though that this is the rainiest September in years and it has not been a washout by  any means. For the thrifty traveller, hotel rates can be around 50 per cent lower at this time of year so you can get a bargain or treat yourself to an upgraded room. I travelled with a group of Flight Centre agents courtesy of Etihad and Centara Resorts.

We stayed at the 5* Centara Grand Beach Phuket, located on the beachfront at Karon Beach. Karon is a tourist town with plenty of shops and restaurants but without being as seedy as near neighbour Patong. There is a good mix of accommodation with the big chains such as Centara, Hilton, Movenpick etc. but also locally owned hotels. From Phuket airport it is around an hour’s transfer south. In Karon itself there is a road running along most of the beach so the Centara Grand is one of the few absolute beachfront hotels in the area.

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Relaxing in the adults only pool at Centara Grand

The great thing with the Centara Grand is that it’s great for families, with kids club, lazy river and waterslides, but for couples there is an adults only pool and the option of spa rooms (with Jacuzzi on the balcony) and pool suites which are more secluded and quiet. The property is a ten minute walk along the beach into town as well.

In addition to the Grand, Centara have two more properties in Karon. We went to see these the day after we arrived.

Centara Villas is a 4* property set into the hillside about 5 minutes drive from the Centara Grand. It’s far smaller, with only around 70 rooms, all in a Thai villa style. All the rooms are the same inside but you can choose to upgrade to Oceanfacing, Spa (again with the Jacuzzi on the balcony) or Pool Villa. This resort is steep with lots of steps so not one for those with walking difficulties. This would be great for couples who want a quiet authentic Thai feel. Although not beachfront, from the pool area there is a path leading down to the public beach, so access is easy enough.

4* Centara Karon Resort is right in the heart of Karon town, less than a five minute walk to the public beach. This is probably more of a family resort but does have four sections: the Terraces, lead-in rooms good for friends and couples on a budget; the Lagoon which has more spacious rooms for families (and the pool here is full of kids! Not for those wanting peace and quiet); the Tropicale section which is much quieter, and The Cabanas featuring pool cabana style rooms. Despite being surrounded by shops and restaurants, there is very much a resort feel and with rooms off-season starting at around £50 per night B&B, it’s perfect for a budget break, and is excellent for families.

 

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One of the three pools at Centara Karon

We only had one full day in Phuket, so what better way to finish it off than with a night out in infamous Patong! Yes,there are ping pong shows and seedy bars. Yes, it is loud and busy, and I wouldn’t want to stay there for long, but a few hours on Bangla Road can be fun. We headed to Monsoon, a bar with live music and cheap drinks (beers for less than £2, spirits and mixer for around £4). Fun was had by all and we headed back home around 2am to get some rest before our next adventure: Elephant Hills (next blog post).

 

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The guys enjoying shots on Bangla Road

 

 

 

 

Travelogue – Bali

Last stop on my six week trip was the island of Bali. We flew from Singapore to Denpasar to KLM (top tip – we only paid £40 more per person to go Business class compared to an Air Asia low cost economy ticket! KLM stop off in Singapore on their way to Bali from Amsterdam and must need to fill the seats so it’s a super cheap option and gives access to the lounge). Arriving in the evening we headed straight to the resort of Sanur, our first of three stops. The first thing you notice as you  get out onto the highway is the traffic – there must be a system to it otherwise there would be accidents every five minutes but between cars switching lane with no warning, the hundreds of mopeds (most with two or more occupants) weaving through impossible gaps, and the general chaos, I would consider driving in Bali to be an extreme sport. We made it to our hotel in around half an hour and were relieved to find our hotel along a quiet driveway. Another note about Bali: security is extremely high everywhere. All the hotels we stayed at have a barrier before the entrance and do a vehicle check on all cars that pull in – even if they are the hotel’s own.

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The pool at Fairmont Sanur

The Fairmont Sanur is fairly new, only two years old, and is an all suite hotel. We had an Oceanview suite but the best views were from the resort pool (see above). For breakfast aficionados, Fairmont offer the best of both worlds: an extensive a la carte menu plus buffet. For anyone on a diet or healthy eating regime, Bali is perfect for you. Everywhere we went offered myriad low-carb, gluten-free, etc options (which I ignored) but there is something for everyone. Sanur itself is pretty large – the resort is based along its lengthy beach with plenty of restaurants and bars. There’s no noisy nightlife here so the town caters mainly to families and older couples. Beaches in Bali are definitely not of the white sand category – as you go further north the beaches turn to volcanic black – but Sanur is the better side for those who like calmer waters. The busier Kuta/Seminyak coast boasts great surfing waves which bring in the flocks of Aussies.

 

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Ubud cocktails

We stayed two nights in Sanur, mainly relaxing by the pool, and then headed up to the centre of the island. Ubud is known as the cultural heart of Bali. Think arts and crafts, rice fields, yoga and spa. Getting there took ninety minutes, mainly due to traffic. The Maya Ubud Resort and Spa is only ten minutes drive from the town centre (there are hotels right in town but the views from the resorts on the outskirts tend to be much superior) and they run a shuttle bus throughout the day (FOC). We stayed in a plunge pool villa which was stunning, and we even had a monkey visitor one day. Again, if you stay in town closer to the Monkey Forest you may see more but they are crafty creatures so I was happy to only see the one!

The town itself is quite sprawling, with little lanes and alleyways running off the main road. Monkey Forest Road is a main thoroughfare lined with shops, bars, restaurants at the top, changing into hotel driveways further down. There is a huge mix of people here from backpackers to young families, and accommodation to match. You can find cocktail 2 for 1 deals from 1pm right up until 11pm if you want to bar crawl, and we couldn’t find a bad restaurant. Local cuisine includes nasi goreng (fried rice, usually with chicken or shrimp) and we also tried mie goreng (noodles rather than rice) and kari ayam (chicken curry).

 

 

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Sunset at Double Six

 

Another ninety minute took us back, further past Sanur and to the extremely popular resort of Seminyak. A favourite with Aussies for many a year, Seminyak is at the northern end of the tourist strip that starts at Kuta (think cheap beer, buckets of cocktails and crazy nightlife), runs into Legian (busy but family friendly) and then up to our final destination. We stayed at the Double Six Luxury, another new hotel just across the road from the beach. This is a modern hotel, again offering all suites, and again we had a plunge pool room. The views at sunset from the rooftop nightclub are incredible, and we never heard music from the club in our room which had been a concern. For more traditional types the hotel also have a prohibition style bar attached to their upmarket Plantation Grill which has enough varities of gin on offer to keep any connoisseur happy.

 

Whilst in Seminyak we booked a tour with Bali Urban Adventures. The VW Kombi Cocktail tour takes guests on a tour of the coastal region, stopping at several beach bars (suitable for everyone – despite the name, since no drinks are included in the price you can still enjoy the sights and drink whatever you wish) and a local temple. Above are some photos showing the view out from a bar at Batubelig and also the Pura Batu Ngaus, a fertility temple near Canggu, just north of the Seminyak area. Off the tourist track, it was an authentic look at the local culture.  The tour finished at Ku De Ta, a well known restaurant and bar overlooking the beach in the heart of Seminyak. At around £9 each and not a drink offer in sight, this was the most expensive place we visited all week but it was worth it – they make their dark and stormys with homemade ginger beer that I’d very much like to find the recipe for!

And that is it – the end of my six week trip. I had a great time but am happy to be home and moving on to my next challenge – an MA in Creative Writing! I am  going to spend the rest of my sabbatical reading and exploring some new spots around London so will update with these asap.

Travelogue – Singapore

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Raffles Singapore

 

After five weeks in Australia I was ready for a change. Singapore is a great city – clean, cheap to get around in either public transport or taxi (our taxi back to the airport was only £7!), plenty of temples and museums for culture vultures and with great nightlife and restaurants on the river for nights out.

For this visit I was lucky enough to stay at Raffles, the most iconic hotel in Singapore (some may argue that Marina Bay Sands is taking over this mantle but having now stayed at both, Raffles is winning the battle in my view). On arrival I was greeted with a Singapore Sling, not my usual type of cocktail but delicious. Raffles has had many famous guests and especially pride themselves on the number of writers and journalists who have stayed there. The Writer’s Bar is by the lobby and is a tribute to such former guests as Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham. This is an all suite hotel, even our lead-in room had separate entrance hall, bedroom and living room. The location is super central – we walked to the river in ten minutes and from there easily across into Chinatown taking in Boat Quay.

A walking tour is the best way to get to know the real Singapore. Ours was through SneakPeek (sneakpeeksingapore.com). We met our guide, Darren, at the Asian Civilisations Museum close to the river. The group was a mix of British, Americans and some local Singaporeans (it’s worth noting that Darren gets a lot of locals on his tours – definitely one for a more authentic feel!). This is a free tour, apart from an optional $5 to access a viewing deck at the end of the tour, and lasts for four hours (there are a couple of rest stops along the way). Darren is a student hence why this tour only runs on a Saturday. He relies on tips and definitely earns them.

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Singapore River

 

The tour began along the river. Darren carries a Mary Poppins style bag with him – it looked like a normal courier bag but during the course of the trip he produced several props to help him explain Singapore history, fans for those who were a bit hot and local snacks for us to try. First we learned how Singapore came to be, along with the story of how Sir Stamford Raffles really managed to set up a British port here by taking advantage of a severe case of sibling rivalry. Darren showed us how the city was built, much of it according to Chinese beliefs, so that Boat Quay sprang up as that section of the river resembled the belly of a carp therefore leading to wealth and prosperity.

Crossing the river, we moved into Chinatown. Many buildings in this district are now heritage listed. Because of this many of the shophouses that Singapore is famous for are still protected. Within reason these can be painted according to the owner’s preference so there are many colourful examples.

We visited a couple of temples here, one smaller one and the much bigger and quite tourist heavy Thian Hock Keng temple. Dating back to 1842, Chinese immigrants came here to give thanks to Ma Zu, goddess of the sea. Around one third would perish on the voyage from southern China and so those who made it to Sinagpore were truly thankful. When Raffles arrived here in 1819 the population of Singapore was only around one thousand, mainly indigenous Malays. Within fifty years the population had grown to over 80 000 and over half were Chinese.

As well as swelling in terms of population, Singapore has also grown in size. At Telok Ayer MRT station Darren showed us old photos showing the old coastline and how land reclamation had changed the profile of the city. Land reclamation is an important part of future planning in the city with already around 20% of Singapore having been reclaimed from the sea. We had a rest stop at Maxwell Food Centre (recommended for anyone wanting to visit an authentic hawker centre for local food) before going on to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) where Darren used to work as an intern.

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Model of Singapore city at the URA

The URA City Gallery may sound boring but is actually fascinating. It’s free to enter and open six days a week. There are several models of the city on three levels. All buildings in Singapore have to be agreed with the URA, down to the colour of the glass used on the windows. In the picture above you can see all the current buildings, then the plain brown buildings at the top which have not yet been constructed. We also saw how the island has changed and grown over the years, and the process used today in reclaiming land for further building.

Our final stops of the day were at two public housing blocks. Darren took us to an older style block where the lifts only stop on every other floor! Following World War II and the Japanese occupation, the severe housing shortage resulted in many Singaporeans living in slums, with several families living on each floor of the shophouse style buildings pictured above. Without proper sanitation diseases such as cholera were rife. These housing blocks were built from the 1960s onwards and are much cheaper to buy than private homes. There are very strict regulations for buyers though – families and married couples are vastly preferred so single buyers would find it almost impossible to access public housing.

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Skyline view from Pinnacle @ Duxton

 

 

From the older style building we went to see The Pinnacle @ Duxton. Only a few years old, the Pinnacle is seven connected towers of 50-storeys with a total of 1848 units! Residents have free access to the Sky Garden on the 50th floor but tourists can go up there for only $5, much cheaper than most other viewing points in the city.

That was the end of our tour. though Darren was happy to take people back to Outram station or point out directions for those wanting to head off on foot. We went back down to Ann Siang Hill and Club Street, still in Chinatown. and had a few drinks. Clarke and Boat Quays are very well known for nightlife but I preferred this area. Drinks in Singapore aren’t cheap – be prepared to pay $80 minimum for a bottle of wine (at the moment the rate is approx. $2 = £1 so…). but the atmosphere was excellent, reminding me of Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. From there we managed to walk back to Raffles fairly easily via the river. Overall a great way to see the city when on a tight timescale.

 

Travelogue – Cape Tribulation and Daintree

From Melbourne I flew up to Cairns and then took a one hour transfer to the tourist town of Port Douglas. For anyone visiting the region who is not sure of the best place to stay, think about what activities you’re likely to do.

Cairns – The main city and gateway to the region. Perfect if you’re a backpacker – there is a choice of cheap accommodation from dorms to apartment style. If you want nightlife and drinking until the early hours then this is the place for you. On the other hand, most of the big 5* chains are represented here: Pullman, Shangri La, Hilton etc so if you prefer big chain hotels then this is ideal. The downside is that there is no beach to speak of (people talk about the lagoon but really it’s just a public outdoor pool).

Palm Cove/Northern Beaches – There are several small towns around 20 minutes north of Cairns which would be good for beach lovers who don’t want to transfer too far. Think low key and quiet, though they have more of a local feel. Trinity Beach is great for families and most accommodation is apartment style. Palm Cove is quite upmarket, mainly 4-5* resorts and apartments.

Port Douglas – A compact town set on Four Mile Beach. There are a couple of big resorts out of town (Sheraton, Pullman, etc) but most accommodation in town is owner-operated giving a more personal vibe. Macrossan Street is the hub – choice of restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shopping. Reef tours depart from the marina in town and you can be in the rainforest in less than an hour.

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Daintree River

I stayed at the 4.5* Shantara Resort & Spa on Davidson St, just a 2 minute walk to Macrossan St. My apartment was a good size with full kitchen and free access to laundry facilities. March is still classed as rainy season so the town was still quite quiet with a few businesses closed until Easter weekend.

The highlight of my time here was a day trip to Cape Tribulation, Daintree and  Mossman provided by Down Under Tours.

Pick up was a civilised 8.20am in a comfortable 4WD vehicle (this tour has departures from Cairns, Palm Cove etc but these will be up to an hour and a half earlier) and it was a leisurely drive with commentary up to the Daintree River.  We had morning tea here and took a one hour cruise along the Daintree River whilst our tour guide took the ferry to meet us at the end. Usually on these cruises you can spot a crocodile or two but as we were at the height of wet season they were all the water. We did see a snake, quite a few birds, and our guide was very knowledgeable about the mangrove ecosystem and the history of the area.

 

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Alexandra Lookout

 

Once on the other side of the river it was a short drive up to Alexandra Lookout – the view above was taken in misty conditions but it shows the Daintree River flowing out to the Coral Sea.

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Cape Tribulation

 

As lunches on group tours go, this was one of the best. We stopped off at Noah Creek, right in the heart of the World Heritage listed Daintree rainforest. There was a short walking trail along the side of the creek before we reached the BBQ area. There was steak, sausages and fish, all cooked fresh (we didn’t have any vegetarians in our group but all dietary requirements can be catered for), plus a range of salads and sauces.

From Noah Creek we weren’t far from our most northerly stop of the day: Cape Tribulation. This headland was named by James Cook after he encountered a number of issues in the area. Although the beach is spectacular it is home to crocodiles and also box jellyfish during the wet season so not really for swimming!

 

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Mossman Gorge

Our last stop of the day was at Mossman Gorge. We drove back south, taking the cable ferry across the river and back into civilisation. We stopped at the visitor centre first, a new development that aims to provide an authentic indigenous experience. The traditional owners of the gorge are the Kuku Yulanji people and we had a short welcome ceremony and talk. After afternoon tea in the café (this is a great place to buy local produce such as tea and honey) we took a shuttle bus into the gorge itself, around a 5 minute drive. Once there we took a short walk on one of the rainforest trails and ended up by the edge of the Mossman River. Currents are strong and although it can be ok for stronger swimmers, on this particular day we had been advised not to swim (due to the high water level), though as usual there were a few people out in the water.

From here it was an short drive back into Port Douglas. I’d definitely recommend this day tour. You could self-drive it as well but for anyone actually interested in the rainforest flora and fauna, and the history of the area, I don’t think you’d have anywhere near the same experience.

Travelogue – Great Ocean Road

Next on my itinerary was Melbourne, Victoria. Again, a city I’ve visited before. The one day trip I was really keen to do was the Great Ocean Road. This drive is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. It starts from Torquay, a surf town around an hours drive from Melbourne, and finishes around 250km west near the city of Warrnambool. I did this as a day trip with Bunyip Tours and there are several other local operators. For those who have more time it’s worth hiring a car and staying in local B&Bs and guesthouses in the pretty coastal towns along the way. On reaching the end of the GOR many people continue on to South Australia to visit Kangaroo Island, Adelaide and the wine regions, otherwise there is the option to loop inland and take in the Grampians mountain range and the Goldfields region.

There’s also a lot of 19th century history associated with this route. Many European migrants travelled to Melbourne as their first jumping off point in Australia. The road itself is also known as the world’s largest war memorial, having been built by those who returned from, and dedicated to those who were killed in, World War I.

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The beach at Lorne

 

The day tour does make for a long day – 7am pickup to return approx. 8pm – but there are plenty of scenic stops. Our first one of the day was Lorne, an upmarket coastal town 90 minutes drive out of Melbourne. There is a wealth of accommodation here so a good stop-off for a self-driver. A good tip would also be to try and avoid Australian school holidays, especially over Christmas/January period which is the long summer break, as these towns become flooded with domestic tourists and holiday home owners. I was here off peak and there were still a fair number of people around!

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Koala hiding in a tree at Kennett River

 

Our second stop was at Kennett River, not the most exciting place, but all the day tours stopped here. I imagine the main reason is so that everyone gets to see a koala as this area is well known for being one of the best spots to see one in the wild.

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View from the top of Cape Otway lighthouse

Our lunch stop was at the Cape Otway lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia, its lamp having been first lit on 29th August 1848. Cape Otway was often the first sight of land for 19th century migrants from Europe after months at sea. The Bass Strait collides with the Southern Ocean at this point, making the waters particularly treacherous, and before the lighthouse was built the many shipwrecks led to hundreds of lives being lost.

 

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Port Campbell National Park – 12 Apostles

 

The highlight of the Great Ocean Road is a sight of the Twelve Apostles (although there were only ever nine and now only eight after one of them collapsed in 2005). They are spectacular, a collection of limestone stacks formed by erosion. Due to the popularity of the site, there is a well-organised system of lookouts here and its possible to take a helicopter to get an aerial view. I’m not a fan of helicopters so I gave this a miss, but there were three or four in the air at any one time and the photos were worth it (prices were also very reasonable).

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Loch Ard Gorge

Our final stop of the day was at Loch Ard Gorge, just five minutes or so down the road from the Twelve Apostles. This spot is named for the Loch Ard,  a clipper ship which ran aground in 1878 on its way from England to Melbourne. Of fifty four crew and passengers only two survived. It’s a beautiful spot with several walking trails and the beach you can see in the picture above. The perfect place to cap off a great day