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“Waking up in the morning, watching the sunrise from the cliffs and being treated to an inland waterfall in the middle of the day … bliss.”

Jake Mix
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Jake Mix is an agricultural business senior and Mustang News study abroad columnist.

Australian roadways can be quite treacherous, and there are many variables to consider when operating a car here. Cars drive on the left side of the road. The driver’s seat is on the opposite side, so it feels like the car is off-center, causing you to veer toward the left side of the road. It also means left-hand turns need to be made very wide, so you don’t hit street signs and fences. Also, roundabouts are everywhere when you’re not driving in a city. But if you can get past these challenges and a few other obstacles, you are capable of handling the Aussie streets.

Thinking we were culturally competent drivers, 15 of us Cal Poly students to decide to rent three cars and drive them down the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is a highway that hugs the coast and stretches for approximately 150 miles along the southern tip of Victoria, Australia. Not wanting to make the eight-hour drive just to get there, we decided to fly to Melbourne, where we could rent our car and make our way to the scenic highway.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I booked my plane ticket to Melbourne for this trip. I’m not usually a big fan of long car rides, but this was positively one of most enjoyable rides I’ve been on. Cramped into the back of a little rental car cruising down a highway that practically hangs off high cliffs with astonishing scenery, I was both stupefied and terrified — stupefied because very rarely have I had the chance to see something that breathtaking and utterly awesome, and terrified because I realized we were actually driving a car near a cliff on what felt like the wrong side of the road in a totally different country (though we had three great drivers in Sydney Hischier, Marianne Gera and David Albrecht).

It took us an entire day to get from Melbourne to Port Campbell, where we were staying in a hostel for a night. We got there just in time to watch a remarkable sunset over the ocean. A full day of sitting in a car actually takes a lot out of you, and we all opted to hit the hay at 9 p.m. This allowed us to wake up at 5:30 a.m. so we could make it to the Twelve Apostles for sunrise. The Twelve Apostles are a series of rock pillars that rise 100 feet out above the ocean, just a short distance from the shore. They are fittingly named, as I am sure many people have had a religious experience there. The spectacle cannot be done justice on camera; it’s something that needs to be seen firsthand. It is truly stupendous.

After spending well over an hour just sitting, watching and taking pictures at the Twelve Apostles, we hopped back into the car and hit the road. That day, we made the same drive we made the day before, only back toward Melbourne. Since we were on the road earlier, we were able to stop more.

We made one spur-of-the-moment stop for a hike. We saw signs on the road indicating there was a waterfall somewhere nearby, so we turned off and drove straight into a forest-y jungle (fungle?). Sure enough, it led to an overgrown trail that we followed for approximately 15 minutes until we were staring at a big, beautiful cascade of water. We were already having a great day, and this was the cherry on top. Waking up in the morning, watching the sunrise from the cliffs and being treated to an inland waterfall in the middle of the day … bliss. I am very fortunate to be here and be able to experience all Australia has to offer.


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