Review: All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne with Escape Discovery Adventures inner banner

Review: All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne with Escape Discovery Adventures

The Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria's biggest tourist drawcards and this epic stretch of coastal magnificence rarely disappoints. Travel in complete comfort and enjoy plentiful inclusions on this small group tour of the region.
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
Review: All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne

At an average of 13 hours in length, doing the Great Ocean Road as a day tour from Melbourne is a big day.

That’s a lot of hours on a bus. However, experiencing the breathtaking beauty of this world-famous coastal drive from the town of Torquay to the iconic 12 Apostles sea stacks in Port Campbell National Park is at the top of the to-do list for most visitors to the Victorian capital. Even those with only a couple of days in the city are likely to spend one of them on the Great Ocean Road.

So, is the Great Ocean Road really that great? You bet it is. Even putting aside the sweeping ocean vistas and the majestic Apostles themselves — giant columns of limestone carved from the shoreline by the pounding waters of Bass Strait over a millennium — the for-the-most-part coastal hugging road is spectacular in its own right. It weaves around headlands, cuts across steeply inclined slopes down to the shoreline, and meanders through quintessential holiday towns and the verdant rainforest of the Great Otway National Park. It’s stunning from go to whoa.

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And it has a history. The Great Ocean Road was constructed entirely by returned service personnel from the Great War. Work began in 1918, and for the next decade, 3,000 men toiled largely by hand to complete the project. The full length of the road was declared open in 1932. It’s mind-blowing to think about the scale of the undertaking as you cruise kilometre after kilometre on the soldiers’ legacy. The Memorial Arch at Eastern View is an appropriate spot to stop and reflect on this incredible achievement — one which followed the almost incomprehensible loss of mates at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

All-inclusive Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne: Memorial Arch. Image: Adam Ford

So yes, the Great Ocean Road is great and well worth doing. The trick is considering how you do it.

Doing a tour is the best option, as someone else takes cares of the driving — leaving you free to give the setting your full attention. And while you are going to get much of the same stunning scenery whoever you travel with, for me, it all comes down to the quality of the transport and the guide. So, I was delighted to recently climb aboard one of a fleet of five magnificent Mercedes 12-seat sprinters for an all-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne with Escape Discovery Adventures. Wow. What a comfortable way to travel! And yes — there’s a maximum group size of eleven passengers. There was close to that number on our tour, but still oodles of room — including plenty of all-important seat pitch.

All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne. Image: Adam Ford

Next, special mention to our guide Paul — owner and operator at Escape Discovery Adventures. Paul was born for this job. He has an affable style and plenty of Aussie banter up his sleeve that literally makes the day fly by. His commentary was full of historical facts and interesting titbits, that even I, as a local, found incredibly engaging.

All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne. Image: Adam Ford

But it doesn’t end there with these guys. Unlike many other tour operators of late, Paul has bucked the trend of limiting the inclusions on his Great Ocean Road tour. Our first stop at Urquhart Bluff outside Anglesea sees us tuck into an included morning tea of Aussie classics — lamingtons, home-baked Anzac cookies, Tim Tams, and even Vegemite and crackers for our international guests to sample (rather gingerly, it must be said). We wash it all down with a choice of plunger coffee, tea or hot chocolate.


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A café/bistro-style lunch is also included in the tour price, and we settle in at Waves in Apollo Bay to enjoy bulging crepes and focaccias served with a fresh garden salad. There are plenty of choices of fillings, and a soft drink or juice is also provided. Paul even arranges an ice cream tasting up the road at Dooley’s (there are no takers this time around for the Vegemite flavour!).

All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne. Image: Waves

It’s often the small touches that make all the difference on a trip like this, and from complimentary bottled water and binocular use, to barley sugars to suck on during the journey, or extra jackets in the back if it gets blowy around the Apostles or down at Loch Ard Gorge, Escape Discovery Adventures is there at every turn. That’s resulted in a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the company every year since 2011.

All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne
All-inclusive Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne. Image: Visit Victoria

You might now be thinking, ‘OK, this doesn’t sound cheap’. Think again. The tour is exceptionally well priced.

If it sounds like I’m gushing, I am. This veteran travel writer has sat on a lot of buses in his day and this is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I’ve had. We return to Melbourne tired but mightily impressed by this great day out on the road.

The writer travelled as a guest of Escape Discovery Adventures.

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Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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