Friday, March 5, 2021

Great times on the Great Ocean Road

Reading Time: 3 minutesANKUR SAINI was unsure about guided tours, but a great experience changed his mind

After moving to Melbourne a few years ago, I had plans to discover all the most sought-after Victorian tourist hotspots. An independent traveller from the start, I overlooked the idea of guided tours and preferred getting behind the wheel and taking off to explore.
When it came to discovering the Great Ocean Road, a friend recommended an Aussizz Travels day tour for the complete stretch of 243 kilometres. Such a long journey sitting through an uncomfortable bus ride and in a crowd of unknown faces – the idea was not very appealing.
I don’t know whether it was the resolve of my wife or the insistence of my friend, but I decided to take the chance. The overview from the tour representative was comprehensive. We would cover a map of attractions including pockets of rainforest, sweet small towns, dramatic limestone formations and close encounters with wildlife. Did all these charms even exist? I started wondering why these things had remained unnoticed on my previous self-expeditions.
The day of the tour arrived and we boarded our bus departing from Federation Square at 7am. The first surprise: I was among other people from the Indian subcontinent! There were Indian families and couples from Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan who were our companions for the next few hours. My excitement started to grow. My second surprise: an extremely friendly and courteous guide interacting in fluent English, Hindi and Urdu was on board with us. Soon, I was amidst the wonderful Antakshri sessions, sharing homeland stories and enjoying a trip down memory lane.

We spent the day meandering past surf beaches, historical landmarks and millions of years old temperate rainforests, taking short breaks at pretty coastal towns like Lorne and lookout points with spectacular views. The rendezvous with the adorable koalas was definitely among the highlights. The scintillating grand finale as we took in the panorama of the 12 Apostles was something I will carry with me to my last breath.
What kept us excited throughout the day was the knowledge our guide shared with the group at every step. A long day that could have been plodding and boring was made absolutely enjoyable! Even the provided foo was good and fuelled us for the journey.

Being on the tour allowed me to spend quality time with my wife. It was a good decision to get out from behind the wheel and share in these experiences. We also found a new circle of friends! As the tour concluded we exchanged numbers and went out for dinner later to reminisce about our tour, but also about our homelands.
This experience with Aussizz Travels changed my perspective towards guided tours. Most importantly, I discovered the world’s most amazing coastal road!
I am looking forward to many more group tours with Aussizz Travels, especially if they offer a lucrative deal like the one I just experienced.

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