We hadn’t originally planned on driving the Great Ocean Road in our first month in Australia. But the weather in Sydney was rainy, and there was a cyclone and flooding in Queensland, so we decided to stay down south for the time being. We looked for a campervan that needed to be relocated – so we wouldn’t have to pay – but no luck, so we went for the cheapest one we could find. Needless to say, we got what we paid for – a really old, really dirty van with some mattresses in the back and a whole lot of graffiti on the outside.
Still, we were lucky and had nice weather and great 5 days 4 nights on the road, with lots of stunning beaches, marvellous scenery, and all the classic Australian wildlife we could wish for.
Day 1 Melbourne to Lorne
Day 2 Lorne to Apollo Bay
Day 3 Apollo Bay to Warrnambool
Day 4 Warrnambool to Ballarat
Day 5 Ballarat to Sydney
Read about our highlights below.
Lorne and Erskine falls
The first part of the Great Ocean Road contains a lot of beautiful but dangerous beaches, and pretty little costal towns. We decided to spend the night in Lorne, a beautiful town by the beach, right next to the forest. One of the first things we noticed on arrival were the massive and super noisy cockatoos that were everywhere! They must get fed at the camping grounds a lot, because they would descend in droves as soon as they saw a crumb of bread. Lots of them would even sit on people’s shoulders.
Erskine falls lies a few minutes drive from the town, and with Mike’s love for waterfalls we had to visit. It reminded me a lot of the waterfall inside the Cloud Forest Dome in Singapore!
Koalas and Otway lighthouse
One of my biggest wishes for the roadtrip was to get to see some Australian wildlife. We saw lots of kangaroos already on day one, on the golf course at Anglesea. (Our Lonely Planet guide book mentioned that there’s lots of kangaroos living there, and we were not disappointed.) On the second day we stopped in Kennett River on the lookout for koalas (also on a tip from Lonely Planet) and as we walked towards the camping ground we spotted one instantly! Koalas look even more cuddly in real life than in pictures, if that’s possible.
Our other main stop that day was the lighthouse on cape Otway. The coast in this area is known for being really dangerous, and for being the scene of hundreds of shipwrecks. The lighthouse and the surrounding historical buildings have been very well preserved, and it was really interesting to learn about the history of the area. And the view from the lighthouse was amazing.
The Twelve Apostles are the most famous of the rock formations along the Great Ocean Road, but there are lots of other ones, including the Arch, the Gorge, London Bridge and the Grotto. The Apostles really do look spectacular, and are definitely worth a visit. Mike’s favourite of the formations was the Grotto. I quite liked London Bridge.
Tower Hill Reserve
Tower Hill reserve is a nature reserve in a old volcano crater close to Warrnambool. According to Lonely Planet it’s ‘one of the few places where you can see cangaroos, emus and koalas hanging out together.’ The place is beautiful and teeming with wildlife, and on the nature trails we did indeed see all three species of animals. The view from the edge of the volcano crater is pretty cool too. However the emus in the picnic area were a bit to close for comfort!