While I generally prefer to explore places myself at my own pace, when I visited Melbourne, I wanted to see as much as possible in my very limited time frame. Instead of stressing about trying to fit everything into my schedule, I booked Wildlife Tours Australia’s 2-day Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island tour, which truly exceeded my expectations by miles! While I was expecting everything to feel a bit rushed, 2 days was actually the perfect amount of time, allowing us to relax, hike through rainforests, and swim at some of the beaches, instead of simply hopping out of the van for a quick picture and moving on. Our guide Sean picked everyone up between 7-7:30am all over Melbourne, which made it very convenient no matter where you were staying. I was one of the last stops, and when I hopped in, I immediately knew I’d picked the right tour, as everyone was between 20-30 years old, and there were other solo travelers just like me, with probably a total of 23 in the group. It was a perfect sized group, large enough for a good variety of people, but small enough to bond with others.
Our tour guide Sean was probably one of the best tour guides I’ve ever had on any paid tour. He immediately started off the trip with ice breakers to encourage group bonding and by cracking jokes to wake us all up and get us laughing. About an hour in we stopped at a quaint park and he set us up a table with tea, coffee, and biscuits, all of which he’d prepared and packed beforehand. Sean was also extremely knowledgeable and provided us with history and heaps of random facts about each place we visited, making me realize that paid tours can actually be really beneficial, as I learned a lot more about the culture than I would have by simply exploring the area myself. Sean also cooked us the most incredible BBQ dinner I’ve ever had (sausages, kangaroo, hamburgers, chicken, lamb) – honestly, this trip is worth it based on that meal alone!
On Day 1 we saw all the highlights of the Great Ocean Road, including the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Gibsons Steps (oh so many steps down huge cliff faces to the beach), as well as a beautiful walk through Mait’s Rest rainforest, and my first koalas in the wild. Sean actually took us “backwards” along the road, driving straight from Melbourne all the way to the end, and backtracking West to East to stop at viewpoints. This was a smart strategy that helped us avoid the bulk of the tourists, who were going East to West from Melbourne (probably the route I would’ve taken had I done the trip myself). I probably also wouldn’t have seen the wild koalas, as this was one of the “local secrets” – Sean knew just where to go though, as he turned down onto a suburban street in a small town, walked us up a hill and helped us spot koalas in the trees. Apparently we were very lucky to see a couple of the koalas climbing around, as they’re generally only awake for about 4 hours per day!
Day 2 dawned and we headed down to the famous surfing beach Torquay for some relaxation and swimming time before heading to Queenscliff to catch the ferry to Sorrento. What a dream Sorrento was – definitely a more affluent area. We made our way towards Phillip Island, stopping at Maru Koala & Animal Park for an hour of feeding kangaroos, and taking photos with koalas, emus, wombats, and Tasmanian devils. Nothing new to me, but hey, you’ll never find me complaining about stopping to feed kangaroos – they’re just as awesome every time! From there we continued on to Phillip Island (PI, as the locals call it), where we admired the beautiful beaches and rugged coastlines. No wonder this island is known for its holiday homes. Highlights included Wooloomai surf beach, the Grand Prix Track, Nobbies, Seal Rocks, Blowhole, stopping to spot wild wallabies in grassy fields, and of course my favorite – the Penguin Parade. It was amazing seeing the adult penguins waddle up out of the water after being gone for 2-3 weeks to find food for their little ones, and then trekking back to their burrows, some even living 2 km from the beach!
With an overall perfectly planned 2-day itinerary, this trip is also a great price for what you get (especially considering how expensive tours can be in Australia). I can’t speak for the other tours that the company offers, but this particular 2-day Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island tour really ticked all the boxes for me. All in all: fun group of people, breathtaking sights, coolest guide ever… I would happily book another tour with Wildlife Tours Australia!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was a guest of Wildlife Tours Australia. All opinions are my own.
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌