A Travellerspoint blog

The Great Ocean Road

sunny 25 °C

We had a final push for the Great Ocean Road which officially starts just after Warrnambool, if you're travelling from Adelaide.

large_11940FCE2219AC681724DE1E666DCCD4.jpg

So what can I tell you about this famed road, billed as one of the world's greatest drives... well, it's 163 miles long, was built by 3,000 returned servicemen from WWI as both a memorial to those lost and to provide mateship work for those who returned. The back-breaking work started in 1919 and the road was complete by 1932.

It offers stunning vistas of sea-shaped cliffs and stacks, sweeping bays, beautiful cool rainforests, fern gullys, waterfalls, rolling hills, seaside towns and world class surf. Torquay, at the other end of the Great Ocean Road and known as Australia's 'capital of surf', is where two huge surf brands... Rip Curl and Quiksilver started up.

I've broken the trip out into three distinct parts - the Shipwreck Coast, Falls & Forests and Lighthouses & Surf.

The Shipwreck Coast
Driving east, this stretch was first up. Its name due to the fact that over 200 ships were claimed by this perilous coastline between 1830 and 1930.

The main lookouts and points of interest are all clearly marked and we were able to see the Bay of Islands, Martyrs Bay and The Grotto before getting to our campsite in Princetown.

large_1196C7CA2219AC681759AFDF979B13AF.jpglarge_119840A92219AC6817B6A3AE1CB53939.jpglarge_11A18E802219AC6817AB46D7CF90D6A6.jpg

The campsite was picturesque with an elevated view over a meandering river and a field of 'roos. Super quiet too... just how we like it. :)

large_11A2EEB72219AC6817CDA6DCA5BC19C3.jpg

There were yellow-tailed black cockatoos in the trees and blue wrens darting in and out of the hedgerow. A nearby boardwalk which took us out to the river and closer to the roos made for a lovely evening stroll. Lovin' this campervan melarky.

large_11A415672219AC6817D1D462D48DD7ED.jpglarge_11A557E82219AC6817C657FD6F3B3F99.jpglarge_11A65D052219AC6817E5A429208E76EF.jpg
Our van can be spotted - the middle and smaller one of the three

large_11B5291D2219AC681785516D5BB04460.jpg

The next day was cooler by about 18 degrees! Bizarre eh. There's such extremes here - if there's a north wind blowing from the outback then it's roasting and if the wind direction switches from the south (Antarctic) then of course it's pretty nippy. Melbourne is renowned for experiencing the oft quoted 'four seasons in one day'.

We completed the main sites along Shipwreck Coast...

large_11B7C4252219AC6817F1AFBED2DCFBB9.jpglarge_11C1D8062219AC6817D2D74646C012BE.jpglarge_11B92CCF2219AC68177E0A658C9CF4F9.jpglarge_11BAD7F52219AC68173E1EA13D5CFAAE.jpg
Gibson's Steps

large_11C444F12219AC6817E01149FDE8B2CF.jpglarge_11C7DF7A2219AC6817C289393DA71BAA.jpglarge_11D255F22219AC68174CCB9AA69FA0D0.jpglarge_11D399FE2219AC6817A421164B55717F.jpg
Twelve Apostles

large_11D504FA2219AC6817D0FAD63F97846C.jpglarge_11D67D702219AC6817931A459BF0C619.jpglarge_11E3907A2219AC68179D82F429F80867.jpglarge_11E463722219AC6817AF8D12B01395D7.jpglarge_11E7914B2219AC6817359970ACF95232.jpg
Loch Ard Gorge

large_11E916FF2219AC681736F25384140116.jpg
Thunder Cave

large_11F28D802219AC68173A08342083DB2A.jpg
The Arch

large_11F670042219AC6817B6E337EF081A98.jpg
London Bridge

large_11F129692219AC6817AAEEEEAAF400C9.jpglarge_11E618CD2219AC6817396E7135AA76D4.jpglarge_11F3EE052219AC6817410FCDF15F73CA.jpg
large_11E208382219AC6817D3A82B24D17360.jpg
large_11F55F452219AC6817DC94E9EC6F7D05.jpg
Other lookout points on the coast

I'd seen most of these before when I came to Oz in 2009 and did this stretch on a backpacker tour... but as it was a different season it was still good to see everything in another light... and of course to share the experience with Cookie!

We hoped for a good sunset at the Twelve Apostles but it didn't really get going. Still, got some nice pics as the light faded on the stacks.

large_12030BC02219AC681705E8CDE893329A.jpglarge_12051EFC2219AC6817131F6DCAF262F0.jpglarge_120634A02219AC6817FC996DA2DE03E6.jpglarge_12077F612219AC6817DA6C50FD080299.jpglarge_120EF2C22219AC68175577DB735F973A.jpglarge_1210F0902219AC6817CAC6B525347390.jpglarge_120878B32219AC6817F25EF0A1F3B6B3.jpg
A rare photo of us minus the sunglasses. We also had to wrap up warm, there was a really cold wind!

large_120DF7F02219AC68178C7E3E899EF179.jpg

Well there's one thing definitely to be said about this campervan experience... variable sleeping conditions. The second night in the campsite was ffffffreezing! It got down to about 8c and I went to bed with three layers on and still couldn't get warm.

We woke up around 6am probably because our bones had fused in the cold or something... but on the plus side it was quite special to see the early morning mist on the river.

Falls & Forests
Most people power through the GOR in 2-3 days, some even as a day trip from Melbourne, but we had given ourselves plenty of time for a leisurely schedule. This allowed us to head inland and explore some of the other treasures which many tourists don't see.

We discovered a gourmet food trail which took in artisan goodies and local produce such as ice-cream (best ever!), beers, cheeses, chocolates and a berry farm producing strawberries. Not good for our ever-increasing waistlines. We seem to be eating and drinking our way around the world, ah well. Friends may not recognise us on our return home...

large_11F841E32219AC68178C8974693F6522.jpg
Our gourmet booty!

We continued on to discover the walks and waterfalls of Great Otway National Park... and to find the cute little grey fellas up in the trees.

Triplet Falls is the more visited and talked about of the national park's waterfalls, but we much preferred Beauchamp Falls which was both a nicer rainforest walk to get to and more beautiful (in our opinion).

large_126BF17F2219AC6817D2E446CF5FEB22.jpglarge_126FD1B62219AC68178CA3CFCC8B08A5.jpglarge_1275627F2219AC6817A6C8AA5C6E34B4.jpglarge_1282E4DF2219AC6817E4FC4D07825B46.jpglarge_1284DC262219AC6817B42263AC0A8AB1.jpg
Triplet Falls and walk

large_12879C4D2219AC68175D4D76FB5F3C2A.jpg
Beauchamp Falls

large_90_26B64CF82219AC68172405F038CC02E3.jpglarge_26B7F7E52219AC6817576DD9A393026F.jpg
Erskine Falls was the busiest of the waterfalls we'd been to and was probably the least impressive.

The loop we took in the camper took us on Wild Dog Road which was both breathtaking and terrifying (well, if you're like me and don't have a head for heights). The narrow twisty road was so high looking down on the deep valleys below and there were very few barriers. Just us and the endless sheer drop bends. We also had the added frisson of having a lowish fuel guage and were trying to calculate how far it would get us and how many k's to the next town. Cripes. I was like a coiled spring.

It was time for some koala spotting. They're not widespread across Australia and there are only a few (albeit large) pockets across some of the States where you can see them. We even got lucky and saw one running along the ground which is probably a fairly uncommon sight. They're surprisingly speedy considering the rest of the time they're slumped in a comatosed fashion from all the munched eucalypt leaves.

large_1295F4E52219AC68175FC07BA33BE326.jpglarge_12974F8A2219AC681715F74D46F113DB.jpglarge_1298C0522219AC681744647BFAD00FB7.jpglarge_267A95432219AC6817825E92FD2E10AB.jpglarge_267E214F2219AC681741F6F8FEDDF494.jpg
Eerie dead tree forest - complete with one koala

Lighthouses & Surf
We paid for entry to Cape Otway's Lighthouse and braved the blustery top for fabulous views.

large_26805FA02219AC6817C919A28424ADB1.jpglarge_268190502219AC6817F99E95A2CB0782.jpglarge_268862542219AC6817E211F533D963AB.jpglarge_268D41F32219AC68175D3CB1C4E72585.jpglarge_268E3BB52219AC6817D319AB13AB3BE9.jpg
large_268971212219AC68171809CCB5A6E026.jpg

We passed through Lorne, one of the larger tourist places along the GOR. We didn't stop for too long as the town didn't look that appealing (busy, touristy, not much character) so we just picked out a great viewpoint, Teddy's Lookout.

large_26DA1D1A2219AC68170F87569E980163.jpg
large_26B1E9242219AC68176C202678220A50.jpg

We stopped at Split Point Lighthouse for a walk around the base and headland it's located on, and couldn't resist a cream tea in a cute tearoom nearby.

large_90_2703A7682219AC68176F7CE1C0B37D2C.jpglarge_2706B0BE2219AC68178224DD3AAF24E9.jpglarge_2705BD362219AC68171EE33D2260F0EA.jpglarge_270815B52219AC6817CB46A30EF852D4.jpg
large_271E1E2A2219AC6817F179E0A85273F5.jpg
large_271F244B2219AC6817233CFBE2654CB0.jpglarge_272011AC2219AC68175BD223D99A7D6A.jpg
Bells Beach of Point Break fame with a sea mist rolling in

General views from the Great Ocean Road...

large_269821192219AC681725B20930DC5DEE.jpglarge_269923672219AC68171863C752316DF4.jpglarge_269A28392219AC68177838BFA6B7A62D.jpglarge_269BB5792219AC68179CE9F30B810D23.jpglarge_269CB2622219AC6817DE4FDE423F6579.jpglarge_269DBD772219AC68177955D1F1364410.jpglarge_26B048722219AC68177849BD3C424E1D.jpglarge_26DF387E2219AC6817625210E2084EE5.jpg
large_26DC45642219AC68170281604F2FF107.jpg

As it was a Saturday and we were nearing Melbourne, the GOR was quite busy and campsites were looking chocker. We couldn't face the thought of one rammed with tonnes of families so we headed out to the one furthest away from the main tourist spots. The goods news... it was peaceful and out of the way... the bad news... it was more of a trailer park with mostly permanent residencies which had seen better days. Camping options have definitely got worse on the east side of the GOR... for what we were looking for anyway. And to rub salt in, they were more expensive the closer we were to Melbourne.

We consoled ourselves with fish & chips in Torquay (sounds rather British eh) and enjoyed a great view of the beach and sunset from the campervan.

large_26E0FEC32219AC6817A44FDC69E53E2C.jpglarge_26E4034B2219AC68178C086587208F37.jpglarge_27026CBB2219AC6817FF688D4A4749B6.jpg

Great Ocean Road - done!

Posted by Galavantie 19:20 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUponRedditDel.icio.usIloho

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint