Australia: The Great Ocean Road
There is one that should be on everyone’s list to do in Australia and that is a road trip; the only trouble is I don’t drive. Luckily I have an amazing friend, Zoe, who not only can drive but also brings lots of smiles and adventures wherever she goes. There are lots of road trip possibilities in Australia; it is a very big country, in fact the UK can fit into Australia 31.5 times! If you only have time to pick one road then it has to be the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives and runs from the township of Torquay to Allansford on the south-eastern coast of Australia. This is the perfect road trip if you are visiting Melbourne, as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road is only 100km from the city centre.
Preparing For Your Road Trip
We decided one sunny day in February that we were ready for an adventure and an impromptu road trip along the Great Ocean Road was our destination; first job was to rent a car. This trip is easily planned last minute, with the route simply signposted and camp spots along the way, we are proof that you can have an amazing trip organised in one morning. My job was to download road trip worthy songs along the lines of Vanessa Carlton – ‘A thousand miles’ and make a list of places we wanted to stop at along the way, Zoe’s job was to find us a car. If you have travelled in Australia you will know there are lots of car rentals companies, it is a driving country and I should have go my license before I moved there for a year but that’s another story. We chose Juicy for three reasons; they have cars available on the day to rent, they have the cheapest rate for a small car, the car we rented didn’t guzzle fuel therefore kept the cost of the road trip down.
The Journey Begins – To The Great Ocean Road
We were very excited to be on the road, the sun was shining, the tunes were on, we had a tent in the back of the car and a road of adventures ahead of us. We began from Melbourne to the official beginning of the Great Ocean Road; Torquay a seaside town to wander around, spend time at the beach and grab something to eat. However we were doing a round trip back to Melbourne and the road was calling so we swiftly went through Torquay and added it to our places to explore on the return journey. The Great Ocean Road is a great journey to do if you are planning on travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide, its much more interesting than flying and you will have an fantastic journey on the way to your destination, we only had a few days and needed to return to Melbourne so we were seeing how much we could fit into four days.
The places that we had on our hit list were:
- Bells Beach – 4km from Torquay and Australia’s most famous surfing beach.
- Memorial Arch – a tribute to those who built the Great Ocean Road.
- Lorne – a seaside town
- Kennet River – Koalas. Take Grey River Road and look up in the trees.
- Twelve Apostles – the famous sea stacks of Victoria’s South West
Information Points and Lookouts
The best thing to do when you arrive in the first town is to head to the Tourist Information, they have thousands of people every year driving this road and are prepared with maps, up to date information and extra activities available in the area. The lookouts are the one thing that we didn’t put on our list but they are what make the trip so spectacular. The road has been built with lookout stops along the whole road, some are a little off road on higher ground to give you perspective of the stunning road you are driving. The one you have to drive up to is Teddy’s Lookout, above the town of Lorne, we were lucky enough to have the lookout to ourselves one morning and took in the spectacular view over the road and ocean.
Australia in general has lots of campsites of different qualities all over the country, one of the best apps for camping is WikiCamps, you can set the filters in the app to sites with toilets, hot showers and free campsites available. Be aware if you are looking to spend a long time on the Great Ocean Road, there aren’t that many free campsites, however there is a great one that makes up for having to pay at others. We stumbled across it after bumping into a friendly chap at one of the lookouts, who informed us that there was a free campsite just up the hill from Lorne, called Big Hill Camping Area. We hadn’t done much research on Lorne but we fell in love with it straight away and it was one of the places we spent most of our time on the road trip. It is a plush town, sitting right on the seafront, with funky shops, nice restaurants and a chilled vibe. We headed up the hill to the campsite and parked up, you have to park and walk with your camping things to the clearing which makes it more exciting, especially when a HUGE kangaroo jumps out of the bush. We pitched out tent, there was plenty of room for everyone and then we headed back down the hill to Lorne to find some dinner. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from but we had our hearts set on fish and chips on the beach and we watched the sun set over the ocean while filling our bellies, a beautiful end to the day. What makes this campsite great, is that it is so close to the town, it is in the clearing of a forest which makes it cosy and the showers at the beach have hot water for free.
The other campsites we stayed at were Bimbi Park Camp, it is in Cape Otway so it’s a prime stopping spot and you are guaranteed wild koalas, I would recommend this campsite for the size and the kitchen and dining facilities too. We also stayed at Jan Juc Caravan Park, we didn’t have much choice as we needed to be near Melbourne and all the others were booked up as it was a Friday night, keep in mind if you are camping during the weekend or holidays campsites get very busy.
The Australian Wildlife
Australia is packed with wildlife and it wouldn’t be a road trip in Australia without seeing wild koalas and kangaroos. The best time to see kangaroos is sunset, we were driving through Cape Otway at sunset and were lucky enough to see a family of kangaroos on the horizon. Bimbi Park Camp didn’t let us down with the wild koala’s either, Zoe and I had a private viewing of a koala crossing the road and climbing up a tree to find a comfy spot. Koalas are only awake for a few hours a day so this is a rare sight, as we were driving out of Bimbi Park Camp we witnessed this koala and it was spectacular to watch how it bound up the tree, we were in awe!
The main thing that stands out from the road trip is the spectacular views, I have never been on a road that hugs the coastline so closely and with every turn you are faced with the beauty of the bush meeting the road and the road next to the ocean. The photos don’t even express how specular it is, so what are you waiting for, grab a friend and start planning your road trip.