Epic scenery, winding roads and a brilliant road trip
18.12.2013 - 21.12.2013 38 °C
Our hope of being able to drive from Adelaide to Perth by securing another relocation campervan deal had sadly not panned out, so we had no other option but to hop on a cheap(ish) flight down to Melbourne which only took an hour. We then collected another hire car, this one a Hyundai I-20 who we named Holly for our second road trip in a matter of days - not quite as far this time, but equally as iconic!
Melbourne - Warrnambool 273km/170m
The Great Ocean Road is one of those "must see's" and is on most people's bucket list and promised us some incredible coastal driving and scenery. After collecting Holly, we set off, again with the aim of getting the big distances done on the first day heading across country on the highway to Warrnambool just past the start of the GOR itself. The drive was simple enough, only taking 3.5 hours with a small stop for lunch in a town called Colac (which Nick is convinced he knows because of some characters from Neighbours!), and we arrived at the Raglan Motor Inn about 16:00. The Motel was really nice, and we got upgraded for free to a larger room with a sea view! Being a Motel it was right on the highway, but it was only a 2 minute drive down into town and to the foreshore.
Deciding to make the most of the evening we drove the short distance to the Lady Bay foreshore, where we strolled along the beach, for about half an hour, reaching the Yacht Club Cafe a few minutes to late.
Walking back along the beach to the car we drove a short way out of town to Logan’s Beach and the Whale Viewing Platform. Unfortunately we were out of the whale migration season so there were none to be seen, the beach was still impressive with large sand dunes and huge waves.
Trying again to find a place to have coffee we drove to Proudfoot Boathouse, a preserved 100 year old boat shed, now a cafe, recommended to us by the Motel owner. Unfortunately this had a large event on so was closed too. Giving up we went to the supermarket to get dinner, before getting an early night sleep, ready for the next day.
Warrnambol - via Port Fairy - Apollo Bay 215km/134m
The GOR officially starts from Nullawarre but we had google’d Port Fairy a little further up the coast so thought we would start our journey from there as it looked beautiful. However when looking for accommodation we discovered it was really expensive, so we stayed in Warrnambool just 27km drive away, settling for short visit it instead. When we arrived in Port Fairy the next day we soon realised why it was so expensive. This Port Side town was made up of old but beautifully restored colonial houses, row after row of yachts and small fishing boats, plus it had a lovely sandy beach, making it a prime holiday spot.
The weather was surprisingly good for Victoria being, in it’s 30’s, so after the small walk around the port and river we were rather hot and sweaty. It was then a great pleasure to see the beach and cool sea which we jumped in straight away (after stripping down to our swimwear of course).
After a drying off in the sun and walking back to a very hot car, we hit the road again for a short 100km drive to the first of many lookout points, the Bay of Islands.
The Grotto, Nick did this one on his own as we thought it was going to be a quick photo stop, however it turned out to be quite a walk down to a lookout, which in the heat was not good.
The London Bridge, so called as it used to be 3 arches looking a lot like the London Bridge, until it finally collapsed leaving two unconnected arches.
It was now time for a lunch and beach stop at Port Campbell, a small town perfectly situated for a holiday. The town was the usual one street, but had lots of nice bars and restaurants, looking out on the sea with a small sheltered beach. Again we had a swim and took the opportunity to soak up the rays, wishing we could stay here forever, but there was more lovely scenery to be seen.
Just 12km down the road and we were stopping again at the stunningly beautiful Loch Ard Gorge. This was named after a clipper which was shipwrecked hear in 1878, leaving only two survivors. Today it is a major tourist attraction due to it’s hidden beach at the bottom of the gorge and again we took the chance to cool off.
It had now reached 38 degrees (dad that’s 101F), melting the tarmac which splashed up the car and Nick accidentally left a footprint in it.
The last lookout of the day was the big one, the world famous 12 Apostles. This is such a big tourist trap it has its own shop/visitors centre with very over priced drinks and food. This has afforded a tunnel under the GOR to the other side making it safe and easy to stop for lots of photo’s. Even though we had to fight past the tour groups, they were very impressive to see.
By now it was getting late in the afternoon and due to all the stopping at lookouts, we were still over an hour away from that nights stop at Apollo Bay. Luckily, the ‘GOR’ takes a large detour inland, however we couldn’t resist some guaranteed Koala spotting. This meant taking a short detour down the Cape Otway Road, which due to it being a quiet road meant we could drive at 20kmph pulling over and running in the middle of the road to take pictures, along with other drivers. It was well worth it as we saw lots of them and did lots of “ahhhh they’re so fluffy and cute” noises.
We finally made it to Surf Side Backpackers on the outskirts of Apollo Bay and were sadly disappointed by the rundown hostel (our room obviously hadn’t been cleaned for a while, as it was covered in dust, dead flies and spiders webs, lovely!). Deciding against using the equally dirty kitchen we treated ourselves to fish and chips. These were soooo good and made better by sitting on yet another stunning beach watching the sun go down.
Apollo Bay - Torquay 92km/57m
After a not very relaxing nights sleep fending off insects, we checked out early not wanting to linger any longer than necessary, so we went for a mooch and a coffee around Apollo Bay for an hour or so (which was much livelier than the previous evening!).
Feeling more alert, we set off for the next leg which is the actual coastal part of the road, and as we had been taking the driving in turn typically Nick got to drive this (the jammy bugger!). Imagine, tight bends, steep inclines, sheer cliffs on one side and amazing scenery around every corner (you could even imagine James Bond speeding along it during a car chase!).
We stopped a few times during the morning at some deserted beaches and some lookouts (Grave) before arriving at Lorne. This is yet another small sea-side town with a nice beach, foreshore and some very nice looking cafes - however it was ham and cheese sandwiches on the beach for us as usual! The sun was just about still shining (it had been getting cloudier during the morning), so we made the most of it by having an hour on the beach, before getting back on the road.
En route we of course had to stop for photos of the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch which pays tribute to the men who somehow managed to build it!
From here we trudged straight through to Torquay which is the official start / finish of the GOR. It was not the nicest town we had seen, but again had a number of nice beaches. We checked into Bells Beach Backpackers, which was really nice and only a 10 minute walk to the foreshore, so we went for a wander along the coastal path to the lookout point at Point Danger (we couldn't resist a name like that!), before sitting on Cosy Corner beach watching the amazing kite surfers do their thing - so cool!
After a nice chilled evening watching movies with everyone in the communal lounge (and being outraged when two teenagers had never heard of Wayne’s World - god we felt old!) we settled into out 6 bed dorm for a good nights sleep.
Torquay - Melbourne 94km/58m
Our final day with Holly and with the Great Ocean Road behind us it was simply a case of getting back to Melbourne. We had not realised when we picked her up that they were charging us a whole extra day because we picked it up 45 minutes early (meaning they wanted us to pay 5 days for 4 days + 45 minutes!). Not wanting to be charged for this we were determined to be back in plenty of time!
We planned to have a quick stop off at Geelong for a look round and maybe a coffee on our way, but got completely lost in the one-way system, and somehow managed to miss the town completely and get back on the highway! Oh well! The whole way back we were also on petrol watch as we had foolishly paid the hire company for a full tank (and paid a fortune in tax on top!), so were again determined to get our monies worth by giving it back to them with an empty tank, so when the light came on with about 50km to go we decided to risk it...thankfully this turned out to be more than enough and we arrived in Melbourne with plenty of time to spare.
We were not doing well that morning though as we had also planned to drive to the hostel first to dump our bags then go and drop off the car, but for the second time in less than an hour we were getting lost in the one way system and could not find out hostel - oh well again!
We said goodbye to Holly, sorted out the issues with over-charges and walked the 20 minuets to our hostel for a couple of days in Melbourne, but that is for another blog...