The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is deemed to be one of the best, most picturesque drives in the world. Naturally, finding ourselves in that part of the world we couldn't miss the opportunity to experience it first hand and admire the breathtaking views along the way.
Most commonly the start point of the 244km long round trip is Melbourne. Heading west from the City you will drive along the coast passing multiple seaside towns including Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. Port Campbell technically marks the end of The Great Ocean road, here you can choose to head back to Melbourne following the same route or can opt to take the inland route which passes through the small towns of Colac and Geelong. This route is not as picturesque but it is quicker.
There are many companies offering day trips on the GOR so it can definitely be done in a day (albeit a long one, they tend to leave at 7am and return at 9pm). We however decided to rent a small campervan and take our time, stopping in campsites along the way over a period of 5 days.
A quick online search will grant you a list of the usual popular stops along the Great Ocean Road. Here are my absolute favourites from the trip...some are as cliche as eating croissants in Paris, but others are little gems I stumbled upon by chance (often as a result of giving the wrong directions he he!)
1. WATCH THE SURFERS
It's Australia, of course one of the most obvious and fun activities to take part in is surfing. If getting into the water is not what your heart desires (like in my case) then you should enjoy simply sitting by one of the many surf beaches along the way, watching others do all the hard work whilst you take in the sound of the waves and smell the sea salt in the air. The above pictures are from our stop at Torquay Surf Beach.
2. THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD CHOCOLATERIE & ICE CREAMERY
3. SPLIT POINT LIGHTHOUSE
This is a standard stop along the GOR route and with good reason, the Lighthouse is so pretty and the views to match! The short walk up the hill to get to the Lighthouse is definitely worth it especially to take pictures.
4. THE MEMORIAL ARCH
I was interested to learn that The Great Ocean Road is the world's largest war memorial, built by the surviving soldiers who returned home after WWI.
There is a beautiful monument of two soldiers sharing water next to the Arch. It both immortalises the hard work that went into the constuction of the road and the companionship between the men who survived the War.
5. MAKING FRIENDS WITH PARROTS
We made some feathery friends along the way....also known as Wild King Parrots. There are many of them in the Kennett River area, with tourists often encountering the pretty birds on the Koala Walk. We were fortunate enough to have come across a couple of them at our campsite, they are friendly and LOVE porridge oats so come prepared and they will be all over you.
6. GREAT OCEAN ROAD ECO WILDLIFE PARK
This place was my most favourite stop along the great ocean road!
Bold statement to make, yet it is true. We stumbled upon this wildlife park by chance, after taking a wrong turn. I had been moaning that after spending a year in Australia I still hasn't seen a Kangaroo so we decided to go in and check it out.
The Wildlife Park is a family owned business....and it shows in the most positive way. The owners' desire to transform the wildlife park into an animal sanctuary and self-sustaining farm is apparent from the second you walk in. They take care to explain the purpose and ethics of the park as well as the improvements and developments they are trying to achieve.
With an extremely reasonable entry fee of $17 per adult, you will get the chance to walk through the grounds to see AND pet animals such as Kangaroos, Emus and Llamas!
The second section of the park is made up of large fields hosting hundreds of Kangaroos....I even saw Baby Mamas with little Joeys in the pouch!
Another vast, green field was full of Deer free to roam around and be happy!
The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. There is also a lake surrounded by yet more fields with farm animals.
This little guy really enjoyed the cuddles!
One of the most impressive parts of the park is the new addition of the Dingo Petting Experience. These stunning animals have gained a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive due to misconceptions born out of a few unfortunate incidents.
The Wildlife Park is on a mission to re-educate society and show that contrary to popular belief, although Dingos are not domestic animals they can create strong bonds with man and are very important to the balance of the natural system.
8. THE 12 APOSTLES
A cliche I know, but there is a reason they win a place in every guide...they are simply stunning and in my opinion epitomise the views that the Great Ocean Road is famous for.
9. LOCH ARD GORGE
Another beautiful stop is at Loch Ard Gorge, the views are stunning and the colours are out of this world. There are stairs which lead down to a small beach so a nice place for a picnic (ignoring the herds of tourists coming and going!)
10. TIMBOON CHEESERY
Again we stumbled upon this place by chance, but we were certainly glad we did! Nestled in between vast pastures, this little cheesery offers the opportunity to sample dairy products produced by the very same cows you drive by on your trip!
We sampled a selection of delicious cheeses whilst relaxing in the pretty garden. A very indulgent afternoon break which I would recommend adding to your Great Ocean Road tour! For more information this is their website.
Overall this trip definitely lived up to it's reputation and my own expectations. I would say that 5 days are probably too many and a 3 day trip would be sufficient to see everything along the way, whilst still having the time to enjoy every stop.
And now, my very last Australian stop before flying home for Christmas....SYDNEY!!!