Planning a Great Ocean Road trip

Planning a Great Ocean Road trip

For some reason, even when I’m on holiday or travelling further afield like right now in Australia, the mention of ‘Road Trippppp!’ never fails to excite me. Perhaps because it’s a mini-break within a break? When I travel I’m on a pretty stringent budget: I couldn’t go away as much as I like to if I chose to stay in luxury hotels or dine out for every meal. So a road trip typically signifies good friends, good times, and a wee bit of a splurge! When I lived in Australia 5 years ago myself and 6 girl friends embarked on a Great Ocean Road trip and it was hands down one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on. Totally stunning. So when I re-drove it with another friend, Emma, in January 2016 it had a lot to live up to!

 

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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:

THE DRIVE | I appreciate I’m stating the blimmin’ obvious, but honestly the drive is so impressive that you could opt to whizz down to Apollo Bay from Anglesea (outside of Melbourne) and return that same day with no significant stops and still be impressed. Subject to essential good weather that is…. My parents did a Great Ocean Road trip one summer accompanied by non-stop rain and mist – by no means unheard of in Australia – and could barely see over the dashboard.

great ocean road trip
Jump in the car and keep on drivin’
great ocean road trip
There are plenty of small turnouts to pull over for a photo op
great ocean road trip
Can’t even remember where this spot was, but can’t get enough blue ocean!
great ocean road trip
This phenomenon of pebble towers was apparently started only a few months ago by social-media-frenzied tourists

APOLLO BAY | I toyed between this popular spot versus Lorne for a ‘must do’ on any Great Ocean Road trip. Apollo Bay won out due to it’s stunning secluded bay, quieter vibe, and authentic fishing heritage that’s still very much in existence. The main strip is a bit naff in places, however we stayed about 5 mins drive away from this at a fantastic Airbnb, which also added to the experience.

great ocean road trip
Evening as the sun starts to dip at lovely Apollo Bay
great ocean road trip
The great stretch of beach near our accommodation
great ocean road trip
We booked Apollo Waters Apartment through Airbnb
great ocean road trip
The Apollo Bay Fishermen Co-Op Society has lovely views over the harbour
great ocean road trip
Fresh seafood from the Co-op Society

SOUTHSIDE BEACH | is a gorgeous spot, much closer to Geelong and Melbourne if you start your Great Ocean Road trip from the North. Point Addis seemed to be the best access point, and as a bonus offers it’s own incredible views up and down the rugged coast with it’s looming cliff faces. Southside was very popular with families and at the far end is also 1 of Victoria’s 4 nudie beaches. If that’s your thing.

Also check out: the 1km Koorie Cultural Trail, not for the ‘culture’ – which was a handful of faded Aboriginal information posts – but the outlook reward at the end.

great ocean road trip
The short Koorie Cultural Trail is hot and a little uninteresting…..
great ocean road trip
… but look what awaits you! Southside beach to the right
great ocean road trip
And stretches along to your right too. This far end is the nudie spot.

3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:

LORNE | it’s not hard to see why Lorne is probably the most popular holiday spot along this ocean drive. Great beach, tick. Framed by beautiful pine trees, tick. Plethora of decent food and drink places, tick. We stayed at the highly recommended Grand Pacific Hotel a walk away from the main strip, with beautiful wrap around balcony and at a bargain price.

Also check out: by the GPH, both The Pier Seafood and Lorne Aquatic Club were buzzing.

great ocean road trip
Another stretch of fabulous beach at the charming seaside town of Lorne
great ocean road trip
The pier at Lorne on an overcast day (a few too many of those unfortunately)
great ocean road trip
We loved our stay at historic old Grand Pacific Hotel – really helpful and friendly staff

SPLIT POINT LIGHTHOUSE | if you grew up in the 80s and watched ‘Round the Twist’ then this should be an essential stop on your Great Ocean Road trip! Oh yeah, it’s THE lighthouse. From the telly show! The small town – Airley’s Inlet – is a lovely spot, although we didn’t stop and explore.

Also check out: just south of Airley’s inlet are two awesome stretches of beach called Fairhaven and Moggs Creek. I’d suggest this could be a good spot to use as a base.

great ocean road trip
Have you ever, every felt like this? Do strange things happen, are you going Round The Twist?
great ocean road trip
Fairhaven Beach runs south towards Moggs Creek

OTWAY LIGHTHOUSE | I am not obsessed with lighthouses (although they are cool). In fact this one (south of Apollo Bay) wasn’t worth the drive – on arrival you are asked to pay $19.50. No thanks. However what WAS worth the drive through Otway National Park were all of the wild koalas we spotted! Aww. Why are they so fluffy when it’s so damn hot? Plus the smell (of the eucalyptus trees, not the koalas) is amazing and it’s a lovely winding sun-dappled route through the forest.

Also check out: heading South is a fab lookout at Glenaire. Kennett River is also a renown spot for koalas, but this area and Wye River were sadly most heavily affected by the 2016 Bush Fires.

great ocean road trip
We saw 5 koalas in the same spot just chilling up in the trees
great ocean road trip
The Great Ocean Road only reopened 6 days before we set off, and at Wye River helicopters were still ferrying water from the sea to douse bush fires
great ocean road trip
One man and his dog – a breathtaking outlook near Glenaire

3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:

12 APOSTLES | but it’s why everyone takes a Great Ocean Road trip in the first place, right? Well it shouldn’t be. Yes, the 9 (maybe…) that are still standing are definitely a spectacle. They make a great Instagram post #apostleselfie. However I think the mostly inland last leg (if heading South from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles) is the most tiring, and dare I saw boring. On arrival at the Apostles you meet the stock standard tourist car park and a multitude of people marching to the limestone towers. Positively – and surprisingly – it’s free, however I’d happily pay an entry fee if they’d get rid of the bloody flies! So. Annoying.

great ocean road trip
These 5, 6, 7? towers to the South are pretty impressive!
great ocean road trip
Not sure if these count as another 2 on the North side of the viewing platform! Such a hot and overcast day….

BELLS BEACH | I was underwhelmed by this legendary surf beach, which is home to the yearly Rip Curl Pro tournament as well as famous – in name only – as the final scene from movie Point Break. Yew. I think we hit a quiet day where surfers were obviously catching waves elsewhere. I’d be up for going down on a competition weekend.

great ocean road trip
This is the famous Bells Beach – not a lot of surf today
great ocean road trip
Winki Pop (meaning Uppers and Lowers) is a well known surf break just north of Bells Beach

COLAC AND SIMPSON | as we were driving a round trip from Melbourne, it seemed to make sense after the 12 Apostles to take a quicker, alternative route back to Lorne via the inland. This happened to coincide with a heat wave day reaching 40+ degrees, so it felt like we were not far off cooking in the little hire car or standing under a hot hairdryer if you stepped outside. This route was ‘interesting’ in that we got to see a totally different side of very agricultural Victoria, but there are certainly no significant points of interest!

Also check out: Birregurra was quite cute and restaurant Brae is meant to be well worth a visit if you book in advance.

 

great ocean road
Not a particularly fun drive!

 

1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:

FORREST | is an inland town that’s reportedly gaining some serious traction on the tourist trail. There’s the Forrest Brewing Company (although beer’s not a fave tipple) as well as dawn and dusk canoe tours along Lake Elizabeth to see platypus. Platypus!

AND KNOW THIS: Your Great Ocean Road trip is also honouring the world’s largest war memorial. Returned soldiers from WW1 laboured over this scenic route between 1919 and 1932, connecting once isolated settlements along the coast. You can’t miss the arch just south of Moggs Creek, Airley’s Inlet.

 

5 Responses

  1. […] usually bother to write up two trips to the same destination so close together: I was only on the Great Ocean Road bang on 2 months’ ago, also exploring the towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay as well as around […]

  2. I did this trip years ago, but it’s still one of my favorites. Your pics brought back a lot of memories and made me want to return to do it again. Great post!

    • Isn’t it amazing Maya? I had such good memories of doing the drive in 2000 and it totally lived up to that high bench mark when I went again in 2016. Hope you get to relive it sometime in the future!

  3. I really wanted the plural or ‘platypus’ to be ‘platypi’, but it’s not, it’s ‘platypuses’ apparently..

    Kthanksbye

    • ha thanks Ally Smith. Was that a correction of a typo of mine, or just you brushing up on your animal IQ? The collective noun of platypus is a ‘a puddle’ x

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