The drive on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, Victoria, is an amazing experience that much be surely had at least once in a lifetime.
My Great Ocean Road drive
A few years back, we went to Melbourne to visit close friends. They took us on a city tour which we enjoyed a lot. We also spent some time at the famous Crown casino. (I knew gambling wasn’t the game for me, ended up losing a few bucks there 😀 )
Later our friends suggested that we do the Great Ocean Road drive on the next day. We had no idea what to expect. But now, after doing the drive, I can say this with utter confidence: you will never want to miss this drive, ever.
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Best time to visit: Apparently all through the year. Just avoid holiday season to save on your flights. If you want to do the full length of the Great Ocean Road, it would take at least 4 days (Torquay to Allansford)
Stay: Consider hotel stops at Apollo bay, Lorne and Port Campbell
Things to do: Bell’s beach, Great Otway National Park, Devil’s Elbow, Erskine Falls, Split Point lighthouse, rain-forest , Twelve Apostles
Things to carry: Plenty of water, your jackets, a good camera, map, snacks and your sense of adventure
The drive saw calm, winding roads with peaceful pastures on either side for a while. Then changed to cliffs on one side of the road and the great ocean on the other.
After having donuts and coffee at a Seven-eleven, we rented a car at Hertz rentals.
In case you are wondering about the driving style in Australia, it is keeping left on the road like in India and England, and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car.
By about 8:30 AM we were on the road and made a beeline to the information center on the way to grab a map. The staff at the visitor information center were very friendly and gave us helpful pointers to get started.
We also had a GPS in our car, so following the route was easy with the map and GPS.
Our first stop was at the beautiful Bells beach at Torquay, famous with surfers. We had a great time there just watching the surfers on the water. The atmosphere was so peaceful.
We continued the drive on Great Ocean Road. We were awed by the beauty of the drive. Majestic ocean on the left and towering cliffs on the right, imagine that!
The road curved a lot and the speed limits to follow were displayed at the sides.
Otway National Park
We passed through the vast Great Otway National Park and made a short stop at the Devil’s Elbow to click a few pictures of the seascape.
With so much scenic beauty all around, your camera would definitely be on overdrive on this trip 🙂 Consider getting a great camera that would not let you hang mid-scene 🙂 I used my Canon Digital SLR Camera and took home wonderful picture treasures.
Airey’s Inlet Lighthouse
We also visited the famous Airey’s Inlet Lighthouse (Split Point Lighthouse), and then passed scenic Lorne.
Then we deviated from the road to enter a wonderfully green rain-forest and headed to see Erskine Falls, which was another beautiful spot in the area.
After spending about half an hour at the falls, we got back to the Great Ocean Road and went to visit the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse.
Then it was time to see the world-famous Twelve Apostles.
By the time we reached there, it was 4 PM and it looked like the sky would become completely dark in a few minutes.
It can get very cold, the wind picks up pretty easily making it even colder. I shivered a lot 😛 We had to pull our jackets closer and walk down to the seaside.
Consider investing in a couple of jackets. My favorite is this Whitetails Jacket
There the 12 Apostles (there were only 8, others suffered erosion and disappeared over time) greeted us. It was a majestic scene with the backdrop of the setting sun in a gorgeous orange sky.
It was an unforgettable experience and the beauty the place exuded was simply awesome!
Return journey and the Scare
We grabbed a bite to eat at the Apollo Bay on our journey back to Melbourne.
It was drizzling slightly all through the day which was wonderful. But a one point it got really dark as we were driving on a narrow road.
In the dark, on the new road we did not realize that it was a two-way. We almost ran into a car that was coming from the opposite direction. We literally had the scare of a lifetime at that spot. The other driver seemed to be expecting such things at that curve and was super careful. Thank God for that!
But all things considered, we had a truly amazing experience driving on the Great Ocean Road.
Drive carefully, if it rains heavily, consider pulling over till it clears a bit.
There were not many cars on the road when we took the trip. In fact at some points, we did not see even a single car on the road.
Even after visiting the majestic ‘12 Apostles‘ in Port Campbell National Park, you can travel further down the GOR – Great Ocean Road. That is if you have time and want to visit other wonderful national parks, and other attractions.
If you have more than a day to spare on this wonderful trip and are willing to spend a night or two at motels, definitely do it.
You can also go to Philip Island to watch penguins, which we missed doing because of our limited time.
For a detailed itinerary, check out this cool post for a self-drive itinerary for Great Ocean Road.
If you are in the country for more time, definitely check out these amazing tips to plan your trip.
Have an awesome trip 🙂