Australia, the country where being stuck in an office is truly a punishment. So much amazing nature around, it is simply impossible to fight the urge to go ‘walk about’.
Or… drive about in this case.
Just ‘around the corner’ from Melbourne, this scenic route makes for one hell of a road trip!
We had been thinking about going away somewhere for a while now, but since both of us are currently very busy with work (lucky really!), we decided to ‘settle’ for a short weekend getaway. Not a week in Darwin this time, but instead a quick road trip from Melbourne to Warrnambool and back. Warr-nam-where?
Warrnambool. The town whose name seemed impossible to pronounce or even remember for Will.
“W-town”, as he liked to call it, is the largest town at the end of The Great Ocean Road.
After doing a bit of comparative research online, we rented a car with Redspot, and decided we could totally make it back and forth within 24 hours. And we totally were. All we needed to do was drive all day, lose the race against the clock, and sleep ever so uncomfortably in the car. Easy peasy. 😉
A pleasant chat and a laugh with the lovely lady called Debi at the car rental place, and we were on our way.
We left Melbourne around 10.30 am and were surprised to already find ourselves in the Geelong area by midday. We were making good time!
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km scenic route, starting at the coastal town of Torquay, Surf Coast Shire, Victoria.
Coming from Melbourne, it will take you approximately 2 hours to get to the first turnoff towards the Road. Or was it a roundabout?
Either way, as soon as you are presented with the road signs for B100, or “Great Ocean Road”, you will find that little Anchor icons are used to indicate special sights, lookouts, monuments, and hiking trails along the route.
And there are plenty of those!
In fact, if you want to stop at all of them, make sure to plan at least 2 full days on the Great Ocean Road.
Our goal today was not to see it all, but to see as much as possible in one day.
And make it to the Twelve Apostles around 4 – 4.30 pm.
[Spoiler alert: We did.]
Seven years ago (really?!), my friend and I drove the Road in the other direction, but I correctly remembered the first half (coming from Melbourne) having more scenic lookouts, and the second half presenting more rock and cliff formations. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the incredibly curvy and mountainous stretch of forest in between. Like driving a roller coaster!
Split Point Lighthouse
Our first stop served a double purpose. A bit of stretching our legs, with a little stroll down to the beach, as well as eating one of the sandwiches I had prepared at home. Lunch time!
Meanwhile, we enjoyed the view of the cliffs leading up to the Lighthouse standing right at the point: Split Point Lighthouse.
The weather was still a bit rough at this point, with strong winds and rain seeming to move in. But hey, we are in Australia, where that can only be seen as an advantage to some! The ocean below was full of surfers trying to catch the right wave.
Between the lighthouse and Port Campbell we made quite a few spontaneous stops for scenic lookouts or other recommended sight, but our main goal was getting to the Twelve Apostles in time. In other words, before sunset.
And boy were we lucky! Just before we arrived, the sky opened up and the sun seemed to be welcoming us with a smile. “Look how pretty I can shine though these thick clouds and light up the shores!”
The result of the sun’s unexpected appearance? The most amazingly lit photos, in all shades of yellow and orange. I absolutely loved seeing the Apostles again!
Especially in such a different light. Literally, and figuratively.
[My previous visit was in 2008, on the morning of a sunny day with blue skies, in the company of a university girlfriend.]
After the Twelve Apostles, you’ll hit the town of Port Campbell. A small and lovely coastal village, and the perfect place to stay the night if you were not able to contain yourself, and felt the urge to stop at every anchor sign on the way down. 😉
After this, the route is packed with great sights that are worth stopping at, so be sure to make a wise decision when it comes to saving some for tomorrow, or trying to rush your way to the “end of the road”.
[Says the girl who rushed her way to the end of the road… 😉 ]
We left the Apostles around 5 pm, so we were a little pressed for time when it came to daylight. (Understatement!)
Although still determined to make it all the way to Warrnambool, we couldn’t resist making a quick stop at the Arch.
The London Bridge
No longer a bridge, since the structure collapsed in 1990, but you can still see one of the arches popping out of the ocean. Funny story is that there were actually two people on the end of the “bridge” when it collapsed. Who knows how long they had to wait for help, but they were eventually rescued by helicopter. And miraculously, no one was injured in the event.
What I do know?
With the romantic afternoon light of the (almost) setting sun, what an amazing sight.
The last stop on our Great Ocean Road adventure.
The sun has disappeared, the jacket has made its appearance. Brr… a bit of a chilly spring wind along this coast line!
But again, what a view.
I am glad we still decided to climb down into the Grotto. Not sure what to say as to its shape and size, but I can tell you that this interesting rock formation was all shaped by the ocean not so gently smashing its waves into the cliffs.
Years of erosion turning this sinkhole into a marvelous piece of art!
Surprise surprise, we made it to W-town!
Not really, of course, since that was our plan all along. We just got there about 3 hours later than expected. 😉
What really was a surprise is the fun vibe that hangs in the city of Warrnambool.
All sorts of restaurants and cafes to be found!
We parked the car, walked around for a bit, then decided that our tummies were rumbling way too heavily.
It didn’t take Will long to decide what he wanted to eat. He’d been eyeing this dish ever since we got to Australia, so “Fish & Chips” it was!
Before we knew it, it was 11 pm, and we hadn’t made any arrangements for the night.
With the ‘roos’ hopping around the rural route we had planned to take for the drive back to Melbourne, we ended up going only as far as the nearest gas station – just out of town – flipped back the chairs and called it a night.
Have you ever been to the Great Ocean Road?
Did you take your ‘sweet time’ or rush on through?
I would love to hear about your favorite spot along the route!