After a quick visit to Adelaide (read more about our Adelaide favourites here) we left to drive one of the most famous roads in the world, the Great Ocean Road.
If you Google ‘where the road starts and finishes’ it will say Torquay to Allansford (just outside of Warrnambool). This is the most popular route for a few reasons; the start is close to Melbourne which is popular with tourists and driving this way you are closer to the ocean (better pics when driving along). We obviously did the complete opposite and travelled from Allansford to Torquay and we would recommend it if possible. The traffic was much lighter on this side of the road meaning if we wanted to slow down and enjoy the views, we wouldn’t get any roadrage from other people. It also meant we could get from stop to stop a bit easier and quicker.
Day 1 – Allansford (nearly) to Great Otway National Park
We actually started a little bit outside of Allansford in Brucknell Park Scout Camp. This was another great little find courtesy of WikiCamps (a camping tip you’ll find on our post here). For only $20 we got a nice forest stay with basic but clean amenities.
There were no scouts, or anyone else for that matter, at the camp so we had the entire place to ourselves. After walking the forest trail, it all got a bit eerie and Gabs started to psyche herself out (in my defence it did seem a bit Blair Witch Project after sundown). So with an unnecessarily disturbed sleep in the bag, we headed out to explore the sights of the Great Ocean Road.
It didn’t take long to see the first of many brown signs, this one for the ‘Bay of Islands’. Along this stretch towards the Twelve Apostles, there are lots of viewing points where you can take a walk and see some of the amazing formations. On this first part of the drive until Port Campbell National Park, you will see; the Grotto, London Bridge, Colourful Cove and the Arch.
Port Campbell National Park is where you will find the Twelve Apostles as well as other impressive wave-sculpted rocks. Just before you reach the Twelve Apostles, make sure to visit the Loch Ard Gorge area. This is the shipwreck site of the ‘Loch Ard’ with three walks and lots of information along the way. We particularly liked the Thunder Cove and Razorback formation.
Just after lunch, we reached the Twelve Apostles, the main tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road. It’s best to try and reach here earlier in the day. We arrived early afternoon which is when most of the tours start to arrive from Melbourne. This meant we were sharing the, already busy, viewing platforms with coach loads of tourists. It was a really great sight (and worth seeing before even more crumble into the sea) but make sure you don’t just come for this when there are so many other incredible places along the road!
The roads then became more mountainous giving some impressive views. As you travel up through the forests, make sure to stop off at Melba Gully rainforest, our last stop of day one. Taking about an hour, this was a lovely loop walk away from the crowds. Take your time, listen to the wildlife and try to spot a platypus!
Day 2 – Great Otway National Park to Torquay
We spent the night at Nimbi Park camping under koalas! This is a lovely peaceful spot in the Great Otway National Park and considering it’s just off the Great Ocean Road, wasn’t too expensive at $25 a night (unpowered). We spotted three cute and cuddly koalas in the trees but have read comments of people seeing five or more.
Just down the road from the campsite was Maits Rest, another rainforest walk taking around 45 minutes. This was great to do in the morning to set us up for the day.
Apollo Bay is the next little seaside town along the route and it’s around here where the really scenic, coastal driving starts. Through to Lorne, take your time and stop off at laybys where safe and possible to take in some amazing views.
Lorne is a nice spot to have lunch with many cafes or fish and chips to eat whilst watching the local surfers. It was just after Lorne where Gabs managed to spot a Little Blue Penguin on the beach. From our time visiting Penguin Island we knew they shouldn’t be out in the middle of the day. So we quickly pulled over and called Victoria’s animal rescue. After keeping him safe for over an hour we were told to take him to the local vets, so we packaged him up in a Corona box and went speeding off to Torquay. Make a speedy recovery little Lime!
Due to our wildlife rescue attempt, we drove through a large portion between Lorne and Torquay without stopping. If you manage to get through without any penguins needing rescuing, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea definitely look worth a visit. It looked like there were a few nice cafes and fish and chip shops which we will sample when we head back for some day trips from Melbourne!
If you’re planning to do this amazing road trip and want to spend some time in Melbourne whilst you’re at it, make sure you check out our guide to Melbourne for what to do, where to stay and when to visit.
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