After four months living and working in Sydney, it was time to hit the road again! We are travellers after all! So after a few goodbyes and realising how much stuff we’ve accumulated we were boarding our flight to Adelaide.
Adelaide is often overlooked and other travellers we’ve spoken too don’t particularly rate it. In fairness, we only gave it two days to impress us, and over the Easter weekend when most places were pretty shut up. The botanic gardens were beautiful and we found a couple of nice pubs but other than that, it didn’t exactly wow us. It was also our first realisation that summer is nearly over as we delved into the jumpers section of our backpacks which were starting to grow cobwebs. We were hoping to head to the beach as that is meant to be beautiful, but weather and time didn’t really permit. The most exciting part of our weekend in Adelaide was spotting Kayla Itsines (famous Aussie fitness guru) while we tucked into some coffee and cake.
Day one. 385kms
So after an uneventful pit stop in Adelaide, we headed to the Wicked Campers office to pick up our new wheels/bed for the next five days. Wicked are well known for they’re brightly painted (often rude) vans all over Australia and for – most importantly – being the cheapest! After thanking the heavens that it wasn’t an automatic or painted with swear words, I took first shift at the wheel on our long journey down the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. It took some getting used to driving, it’s a doddery old van, with some dodgy steering, much bigger than the little cars I’m used to driving back in England.
First stop was Woolworths and the bottle shop to fill our Esky with supplies and after filling up with gas and a delicious breakfast at Cafe Paparazzi, we were finally on our way. Not much planned for the first day, it’s mainly about clocking up the Kms on the dashboard. After a long stretch on the highway we reached the Coorong national park. To be honest it wasn’t particularly spectacular but I think it was just too dry, I imagine if there’d been more rain recently, it would have been a lot more beautiful. After some sandwiches sat on the roadside and spotting Australia wildlife in the form of roadkill, it was getting dark and time to pull up for the night. We hadn’t really planned what we were going to do about sleep and were a little naive to how easy it would be to just roll into a campsite. Our first night was spent in Robe on the road outside the campsite as it was shut by the time we got there. Lesson learnt, arrive with plenty of time to find somewhere to sleep!
Day two. 781kms
After a freezing cold night sleep (winter is definitely coming!) where we emptied half the contents of our backpacks on top of us, we had a little lie in followed by a freezing shower. Today is another one with a fair amount of driving so not huge amounts to report. We started with a stop at Mount Gambia, famous for its blue lake. Fair to see with all the grey clouds in the sky, it wasn’t looking at its best. After the rain started to pour it was back in the van for some more driving. By this point we were really starting to feel this camping community, spotting many of the same people/cars constantly along the route, with a friendly wave or nod every time. Early afternoon and it was finally time for the sun to come out so we pulled up to a random beach, which turned out to be beautiful and deserted and went for a cheeky skinny dip!
Despite my ‘lesson learnt’ yesterday and arriving at Warrnambool with plenty of time, we settled down to watch sunset before finding a spot to sleep thinking we’d just park up anywhere like the previous night. However the hundreds of no camping signs around town made this near impossible and it took us several loops of the town to find a parking spot to spend another freezing cold night.
Day three. 928kms
After another freezing cold shower and swearing we’d treat ourselves to a proper campsite, we finally had a full day of activities planned starting with a drive across the border into Victoria. This is the true start of the great ocean road! After getting a smidge lost (how is that possible travelling on one straight road!) we arrived at our first photography stop along the gorgeous coast, the Bay of Martyrs. Closely followed by stops at the Bay of Islands, the Grotto, London Bridge, the Arch, the Lord Arc and finally the famous Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps. I told you, today was a busy sightseeing day!!
Twelve Apostles is everything you expect, vast beautiful scenery with a dramatic sea crashing against the rocks. If it wasn’t for the swarms of (mostly Chinese) tourists it would be spectacular, but it often became a game of battling against the crowd to get the perfect empty photo. It’s crazy that the twelve apostles is so crazy popular and all the other stops were empty in comparison, despite their equal beauty! I loved the Grotto and the Bay of Islands. Simply stunning and they had a real peaceful feeling watching the sea crash against the interesting rock formations with the breeze blowing through you’re hair.
After a drive to Port Campbell to pick up ingredients for dinner and scout out the camping situation, we drove back to the twelve apostles to watch (not the best) sunset.
Day four. 1148kms
After a luxury warm shower in the campsite that we’d treated ourselves to, it was off to our main stop for the day, Cape Otway Lighthouse. Steph was very excited for this as it was the scene of ‘going round the twist’, which we later found out was actually not true, it’s one further down the coast. After a long drive off the main road through some trees we saw a car pulled up with their cameras pointing up. We stopped to join them and saw the cutest koala, our first wild koala!! Finally we reached the lighthouse to find an extortionate entrance fee so we turned straight back around to get back to the Great Ocean Road. Bit of a disappointment but worth the drive just for the koala spotting and scenic road. Next stop was Apollo Bay for a spot of lunch and stroll through town before getting back on the road to head to Lorne, our stop for the night. On the way we made a quick pit stop at a pebble beach famous for the little mountains that people create, looks like some weird alien invasion happened in this place!
Finally we arrived in Lorne to check in at our campsite for the night, fish and chips dinner by the sea and a walk through many of the art installations currently in town. Lorne is a lovely seaside town with an incredible viewpoint called ‘Teddy’s Lookout’.
Day five. 1385kms
Our final day was meant to include a trip to Bells Beach for a surf competition, but due to the conditions it was cancelled so we just went for a look at the beach instead and watched the surfers that had still decided to brave the waves. Before that though we made a stop at the real ‘going round the twist’ lighthouse, and a very happy Steph and I headed to Anglesea golf club famous for its Roo residents. For $20 we got a private tour in a golf buggy to spot and photograph a massive bunch of them. Incredible animals. After quick stops at Bells beach and Torquay it was time to leave the beautiful coastal road and head into our new home, Melbourne. Somehow I ended up with the city driving again and with Stephs dodgy directions we were heading along a six lane road in the wrong direction. After battling our way off that road, dodging the trams we arrived at our city centre hostel, our home for the next month.
In summary, driving the Great Ocean Road is one of the best things we’ve done so far. Nothing beat the freedom of a road trip and it is one beautiful road to be driving on. In hindsight, the first two days didn’t compare to the last three so I can see why many people leave out this past. It was also unfortunate travelling west to east and being on the left hand side of the road wasn’t as scenic as if we were perhaps driving the other direction and it made pulling in for spontaneous photo stops a lot harder. Can’t tell you how many attempts we made at taking photos through the drivers window and absolutely failing or getting my big nose in the way.
I also could have happily spent a few extra days (especially if it was sunny) enjoying the beaches, towns and perhaps do some of the walks we didn’t have time for.
It’s definitely given me a taste for epic road trips. Route 66 is firmly moving up the bucket list!