I'm a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Victoria.
When you think of Australian beaches, what comes to mind? Is it the snow-white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water of White Haven Beach? Is it tourists sunning themselves and the iconic lifesavers on Bondi Beach? Or is it a remote beach somewhere along the 50 000 kilometres of Australian coastline? Whatever vision springs to mind at the mention of an Aussie beach, chances are it involves a pristine shore and clean blue water.
So, what about the vision of the 130 000 tonnes of plastic that makes its way into the ocean each year in Australia? Or the marine birds and animals dying after consuming or suffocating on plastic waste? Or of the microplastics being consumed and pushed up every level of the food chain? Not such an appealing picture, but unfortunately it is as much a reality of Australian beaches as surfers hitting the waves.
Luckily, there is a way to help!
Sightseeing Tours Australia are combining forces with Trash Bags on Tour to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans. The tour will follow the regular Great Ocean Road Tour but includes beach cleanups at important places that need our help.
The Tour itself
The renowned Great Ocean Road is spans along the Victorian Coast of Australia, stretching 243km from Torquey to Allansford. The highway winds through jagged cliffs and lush bushland, with many iconic attractions scattered along the way. The Great Ocean Road Trash Bags on Tour starts off in Melbourne, picking everyone up at Immigration Museum early morning. The tour will travel to some of the best stops en route, passing breath-taking ocean views and lush rainforests. You'll have the chance to learn about the natural history of the region, as you visit the pristine beaches and charming towns.
The memorial arch of the Great Ocean Road was done to honour those who died in World War I. Most of the workers who built the famous road were the returning soldiers of World War I, wanting to build it as a permanent memorial to those who died. The road started construction in 1919 and didn't finish until 13 years later in 1932. The present arch is the third built in the existence, the last arch being destroyed in the 1980's Ash Wednesday bushfires. Learn about the rich history of the area, as well as the individuals who sacrifice themselves for their country. Take the time to read the Plaques that commemorate the three arches built, as well as the 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary of the opening of the road.
Rogue Wave Brewery
Lunch will be held at the wonderful Rogue Wave Brewery, located in the charming town of Aireys Inlet. This restaurant and brewery gives you both an informational guide through the beer-making and local produce used, as well as a delicious mouth-watering lunch. Try out the tasting paddle to taste a variety of brews made, tucking into the delightful lunch that compliments the beers perfectly. Enjoy your meal with a view, as Rogue Wave offers spectacular sights of spanning green grass, lush bushland, and striking blue sea.
One of the best attractions on the Great Ocean Road is Australia's eclectic selection of wildlife. This includes the much-loved koala, the iconic animal seen as Australia's favourite. In the small hamlet of the river, you'll find the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of these cute critters. Simply walk along the bushland walking track and keep your eyes peeled for the grey tuffs of fur, as you'll find hundreds of koala colonies lurking about. These koalas are wild, making your experience in seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is a magical opportunity. Keep a lookout for other Australian natives roaming the area, including the colourful lorikeets and the laughing kookaburra.
By Hshook - Own work, CC BY 4.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44307602
Apollo Bay is one of the best towns along the coast, as it promises a wide selection of activities for visitors. Famed for its local flora and fauna, venture to see the lush rainforests within or the popular colony of seals that call it home. Take a stroll down to the foreshore to check out the markets that are bursting with local crafts, art, and fresh produce.
By Richard Mikalsen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9891096
By far the most popular attraction along the Great Ocean Road is the world famous Twelve Apostles. The exceptional views out across the limestone rock formations bring around about 1.7 million visitors each year. Estimated to be at least 60 000 years old, these incredible rock stacks have withstood the test of time. Being a part of the mainland as far back as 10-20 million years ago. Walk the five-minute walk from the car park to view these incredible natural wonders at the viewing platform. These rock formations will eventually disappear due to the continuous sea and wind cutting away at them, so they are well worth the visit while they are still in prime
Venture to where the Loch Ard shipwreck took place, and where the two young survivors made it to shore. Marvel at the spectacular views and visit the nearby cave where the duo took shelter. The rugged beach offers the ideal backdrop for watching the crashing shore.
The Trash Bags on Tour
Trash Bags on Tour is a not for profit enterprise that aims to educate and raise awareness of the impact our reliance on single-use plastic is having on the environment. The company will incorporate educational talks and beach cleans at Sightseeing Tours Australia's natural destinations to highlight what we can all do minimise waste and take care of our natural environment.
The beach clean will be held at Memorial Arch in the morning. Once the hard work is done, you can enjoy the rest of the day guilt-free, stopping off at the many iconic attractions the tour offers. A Zero Waste Talk from Madeline from Greenspectrum will also take place after you tuck into some delicious lunch. The tour price is only $50, from a usual $105 cost. The price covers your lunch at the Rogue Wave Brewery and a $25 donation to Tangaroa Blue Foundation, a not for profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris. These two incredible companies have come together to make helping the environment a little bit easier. So why not grab a ticket and make a difference to the beautiful beaches that make the Great Ocean Road drive famous.