The Great Ocean Road – sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? I didn’t think it was great .. It was rather pretty in places, but I wasn’t head over heels in love. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself .. I did, and it’s definitely a good place to visit if you’re in Melbourne.
It was New Year’s Day, and a new adventure had been planned. I was pretty excited about it, as I love new adventures, and I love driving.
I hired a car with my friend I was travelling with – a little Hyundai, pretty swifty wee mover, and a cute colour (ticks all the boxes for a wee girl racer).
We set off around 10am on New Years Day with very little in the car, apart from a sat nav, and a bottle of water. We originally were going to go to a supermarket and grab some snacks for lunch along the way, but decided that we’d stop along the way.
We had the car for two days, as we thought that we would drive to Port Campbell at least and stay the night, then slowly work our way back to Melbourne, and really get a chance to see The Great Ocean Road. In the end, we didn’t – we did it in one day. This wasn’t the best plan.
About 40 minutes into our journey, it started raining – we had got to Geelong, we thought “It’ll pass!” It didn’t, but we kept driving. We got to Bell’s Beach, which is meant to be one of the best beaches in the region for surfing, but by this point we got stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam, so we turned back and decided not to drive to the actual Great Ocean Road, but follow the Sat Nav, and go straight to Port Campbell. This was a long drive, and quite a scary one too – the worst rain I had seen in a long time, it was just bouncing off the windows. The Sat Nav even took us down a few different roads on a number of occasions, so it really was an adventure.
When we made it to Port Campbell, where the famous twelve Apostle’s are, I looked at my friend, she looked at me, we look out of the car, at the rain, then at what we were wearing (summer dresses), and thought “uh oh .. this isn’t going to go too well.” By this point, the rain wasn’t too bad – drizzle, but it still looked pretty miserable. We ran into the visitors centre, were at this stage, it was lunch time, so we bought an over priced hot chocolate and a packet of biscuits (the biscuits were $9!). We then ventured out to the viewing point of the twelve Apostle’s (where I discovered there was only 11 rocks in the sea!)
The walk took about 5 minutes – we saw them, took a picture, tried not to blow away, and then ran back to the car. A little bit disappointing really – I had seen many pictures of this area before, and was really looking forward to walking along the beach and really getting a chance to enjoy the area. Still, when you travel, you cannot control the weather.
So we made the most of where we were, and told ourselves that not everyone gets to see or come to this part of the World, and that we were lucky (which we were!)
We started on the way back along the Great Ocean Road, towards Melbourne, stopping off at random points along the way. At this point, the weather was improving. Driving toward Great Ottway National Park (which we were told was stunning), our first stop was at Gibson’s Steps, where the helicopter tours go from. I have to say, I’d love to fly in a helicopter, but on this particular day, I’d have second thoughts. It looked a bit sketchy on the take off and initial getting balance in the air.
During our trip towards the next National Park, there were many really pretty bays were we stopped and took photos. The colour of the water was stunning.
Coming from the North Coast of Northern Ireland, I wasn’t in awe of the Great Ocean Road. There were some really fantastic little spots, which reminded me of home, or of somewhere like Cornwall, or Devon.
During the drive between the small towns and Bay’s we decided to take some detours off the road every now and again. At one stage we were driving on The Old Ocean Road, and a road called wait-a-while road. During one of these detours to a lookout spot, we headed down a gravel track. The sign said that it was unsuitable for buses. There was two signs on the track, one said lookout point and another said cemetery, but we kept driving, until we got to an abandoned cottage, at that point, we freaked ourselves out and drove back. The 5 minute drive to the main road was the longest 5 minutes (I watch too many thriller movies!)
The trip was a real adventure however – one which I was (again) unprepared and under researched for.
It was a long drive being the sole driver, and I ended up not enjoying it as much as I would have liked to. It turned out to be a drive along, stop for 5 minutes, take a picture and move on. Which has made me think about future travels, and how I need to take time to just be in a place and enjoy it. Rather than rushing to a place, take a few photos and rushing off.
If I get to return to this area of the World again, I’d like to drive it again, but slower and really get a chance to know the area.
My advice if you are driving, is definitely stop for a day or two, bring proper clothing, footwear (there are some really rugged areas where you can hike), food and maps, and do your research of where you want to go and see.
Overall, I think a self drive is a better idea than a tour bus. You get to stop where and when you want, and for an unlimited time. You can air conditioning and music at your fingertips, as well as Bing comfortable and having space. I was quite surprised with fuel usage, we only needed to put $60 of fuel for the return trip, and we did a bi of backtracking and getting lost, so it wasn’t bad.
Although not my favourite place in the World, the Great Ocean Road is definitely worth a visit.