The Great Ocean Road

It’s been over three months since I last posted on here, and exactly four months since this trip occurred! So, although I imagine the majority of people who are reading this haven’t noticed or cared, apologies to anyone who was waiting with bated breath for this. I hope you’re still with us! The Great Ocean Road is always listed as one of the greatest road trips in the world, so myself and Saska decided we’d give it a go since we were soon to leave Victoria behind us.

We started our journey in Melbourne, a city I’d been to a few summers ago, and that we had both visited in a flu-ridden state a couple of weeks earlier, so I’d yet to be able to appreciate winter there. As we only had one night, we decided to find somewhere for cheap dumplings, apparently a speciality of Melbourne, and then onto a couple of Melbourne’s famous hidden bars. We opted for Beneath Driver Lane, an atmospheric bar full of candles and warm lighting, followed by Eau De Vie for fantastic cocktails, and as they took so long to be served to us, a free shot as well!

We had booked a camper for $5 a day through, which also turned out to come with $150 of free fuel; a nice surprise. What wasn’t a nice surprise however, was the fact that we basically had a land cruiser with an extendable tent on its roof rack. I should really have noticed in the email that it had be changed to this, but never mind. It was great to drive, less so to set up at night!

We picked our camper/car up from Britz mid-morning, and started on our trip along the Great Ocean Road. We were to follow the road west from Melbourne, and had two nights to get across to Adelaide. Our first stop was in Aireys Inlet, where we consulted the giant map in the car park, and then went on a wander to check out Split Point Lighthouse. This is one of a number of lighthouses along the Shipwreck Coast, so-called for the over 600 ships to have met their end along this stretch of Victorian coastline.

Split Point Lighthouse
Split Point Lighthouse

After wandering around the lighthouse we continued westwards, and were soon met by the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch, commemorating the ex-servicemen who built the road, on their return from the First World War. As we continued our journey, our eyes were always glued to our surroundings (and of course the road!), as the scenery is truly stunning. As well as the landscape, we were also treated to some spectacular wildlife. As we drove along the coast a single dolphin kept up with us for a good five minutes, before we lost it at a headland, but the next place we stopped, Kennett River, was even more special.

Memorial Arch
Memorial Arch

I was aware that koalas were present along the Great Ocean Road, and having googled the best places to see them, it seemed that Kennett River would be our best best. So, not far after Wye River (a familiar name from my time in the West Midlands) we reached our destination. We turned off onto the Grey River Road where I was informed that the koalas would be present. But how far up the road were they? Well, we kept driving uphill whilst looking up into the trees, with the road getting worse and worse as we went. After a mile of two (sorry, kilometre) it was apparent that this wasn’t quite the place we were looking for, so we turned around and tried to avoid the potholes on the way down. As we were getting back into the settlement, we noticed loads of Chinese tourists staring into the trees, and also apparently trying to get run over… This must be the place! We parked up near Kafe Koala (the name really gives it away, doesn’t it?), and wandered over to the gathering crowd. Sure enough, at the very start of the road we had just driven the length of, there were a number of koalas (three or four, I can’t remember as it was so long ago!) doing what koalas do best, sleeping. This was our first sighting of wild koalas, despite Saska having been in Australia for nearly eight months, and this being my second trip to the country. It must be noted that koalas are quite hard to see as they are often wedged between tree branches high up in the canopy and don’t move around much, but they are also really struggling as a species, with habitat loss and recent droughts and bushfires putting them more at risk. It was fantastic to see this iconic Australian species in the wild, even if the cockatoos and rosellas at the same spot were possibly a little more entertaining.

Kennett River Koala

We decided to look up free campsites in the area, and settled on the highly rated Beauchamp Falls campsite, a little inland (or so we thought) from the coastal road. It took so long to get there that we ended up driving down some very lonely forest roads in almost pitch black. When we arrived we were the only ones in the entire campsite, and it was starting to bucket down with rain. I guess that’s winter in Victoria for you. This is where I recommend that you don’t rent a car with a tent on its roof! It took so long to set up, mostly due to the main body of the tent getting stuck in the zip of the waterproof cover. But at least it was comfy to sleep in!

Quite the Contraption!

Day two started with the complex task of trying to put the roof-tent away before heading to Apollo Bay, were we stopped off at the information centre and for a little walk on the beach. We then carried on to the Twelve Apostles, a strange name for a collection of limestone stacks that had only ever consisted of eight structures maximum.

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

After the Twelve Apostles we continued on to what was called London Bridge, but is sometimes now known as London Arch. The huge limestone arch used to be connected to the mainland by a second arch, giving it a resemblance to the bridge it was named after; however, in 1990 this second arch collapsed, leaving the single arch stranded in the ocean, as we see it today.

London Bridge
London Bridge/Arch

We carried on to the Grotto, a strange mix of geological formations which makes it a charming place to visit, but I would suggest the lack of roof doesn’t make it an ideal home for fat men with white beards!

The Grotto
The Grotto

Our final stop on the Great Ocean Road was at the whale nursery on Logan’s Beach near Warrnambool. There is a viewing platform with plenty of information about the whales you could see playing around just off the beach, but unfortunately we didn’t see any!

We were able to have a second night in the camper, but as we had struggled setting it up the night before, we decided to drive all the way through to Mount Barker in the Adelaide hills where we were staying with a family friend of Saska’s. The Great Ocean Roads was great, and we could have spent a lot more time stopping off at every single thing along the way, but feel we certainly got enough out of it. Was it one of the world’s best road trips? I guess you’ll have to make your own mind up!

2 thoughts on “The Great Ocean Road

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