Article by Laura Coolen – What About Her (Travel Blog)
Because New Zealand flies around 928982383 hours, we decide to split the flight with Cathay Pacific in a smart way. Life well travels, as Cathay Pacific says so beautifully! It was so nice this way, I will soon write more about these flights. On the way up we plan a stop in Melbourne and we stick for eight days to take all the time for the Great Ocean Road, and on the way back we stick a few days to Hong Kong. A fantastic idea, even if I say so myself.
Road trip through Australia: the Great Ocean Road
In New Zealand we rent a Land Rover Defender with roof tent to be able to camp there for 2.5 weeks and we therefore decide to rent a comfortable car in Australia and to sleep in special hotels. We rent our car as always at Sunny Cars and go on a real road trip along all the highlights of the Great Ocean Road! Sunny Cars remains a favorite car rental organization, especially because they use an all-in formula and you never get surprises. We were allowed to pick up the car a day earlier because the arrival late in the evening went so smoothly and we happened to see that they were still open.
Most people drive this route in about three days, we decide to spend a full week so that we can sleep two nights everywhere and have time to explore this part of Australia. Our first time is Australia! I do not like to travel quickly through a country and that’s why I find my own car to ride along so fine, especially when you have enough time. It gives such a sense of freedom to just drop off somewhere and discover small roads without being in a hurry. Today I share my personal favorites and highlights of the Great Ocean Road in Australia, including a shitload of photos. Enjoy!
The Great Ocean Road: our route
After a night near the airport, a full day and night in Melbourne, we get on our second morning in our rental car. Great Ocean Road, here we come! Our global route runs from Torquay along the coast to Port Fairy, with trips to the Otway National Park and Lake Elizabeth. We have taken a lot of side roads everywhere and drove around aimlessly, that was so nice. It really surprised me that we have found many abandoned places and infinite unknown roads, despite the fact that this is a huge tourist route. From Port Fairy we finally drive back to Melbourne Airport in one day via the inland to catch our night flight to Christchurch.
Our first stop is of course Melbourne and I think it’s a nice city to wander around. We sleep here in the beautiful Adelphi hotel which is located right in the center. We eat delicious dumplings in China Town and enjoy the sun at the various roof top bars and on the beaches. Our first and last days of sun by the way, as you are used to, I have arranged a typhoon and a lot of rain in the always sunny Australia. Cheers! By the way, I have not seen enough of Melbourne to write an article about it, but it is certainly a nice city to stay for a while. Who you can tell more about is my former trainee and fellow blogger Leonie , she lived here for six months!
The surf villages
This bohemian girl is very happy with surf villages! As soon as we leave Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road appears on the signs, we take almost every turn to the small surf villages full of shops with beautiful brands in abundance – just like tanned surfers, trendy restaurants and endless hidden beaches. I like! My favorites are Torquay, Bell’s Beach, Lorne, Fairhaven, Blanket Bay, Princetown and Shipwreck Beach.
Great Otway National Park
So we chose to drive the Great Ocean Road, this route is winding its way along the ocean and the beautiful views are innumerable. Yet my favorite spot on the Great Ocean Road is the Great Otway National Park … The Otways. A huge primeval forest full of giant ferns, tall trees, koalas, wallabies, waterfalls, hills … I’m a forest & mountain child or girl! I think it’s so beautiful here. There are countless hikes through forests and waterfalls. My favorite is the Henderson Falls track. We sleep in Qii house, a wooden forest villa from the 70s in the middle of nowhere. I could have stayed here all week! You feel so small here, really a part of all that green around you and it was also very quiet. “Some people look at me strange when I say tree talk, but I walk among them and look uo I feel them watching me, and I listen.”
12 Apostles & Lord Arch Gorge
The entire Great Ocean Road is full of exits to all kinds of beautiful viewpoints, rocks in the water and beaches. If you want to choose (at one point I had already seen those bows in the water …) choose in terms of famous highlights for the 12 Apostles and the Lord Arch Gorge and do not forget to also take the turns where there is no sign . So we happen to find a lovely quiet spot with beautiful views after a somewhat unclear exit after the 12 Apostles. Just take all the turns that lead to the sea! The 12 Apostles are very busy but very beautiful and I think the Lord Arch Gorge is beautiful because you can walk around here for hours. I end up on a rock with high waves behind me and you can probably already guess what happened next …
Watching koalas, kangaroos and other beautiful animals
Yet one of my most beautiful moments in Australia: for the first time in my life wanted to spot koalas and kangaroos! This proves to be something that I have missed in New Zealand, that eternal search for beautiful animals. I think this is really a sport, koalas are pretty hard to see in the trees and when you spot them that really gives a kick. And I also find it so nice to see wallabies and kangaroos everywhere! We spot about eight wild koalas, a lot of wallabies and huge kangaroos with a tough, broad chest. Pretty scary sometimes! And besides that a lot of nice birds such as the Kookaburra and the Cockatoo (cheeky dude!) An ante and even a platypus.
One evening in our forest house in the Great Otway National Park we are googling for special animals in Australia and thus we find out that this is the only place on earth where platypus live. Platypus! LOVE IT.Coincidentally, there is a lake nearby where a real platypus colony lives, Lake Elizabeth. We have to see that, and off we go. The lake is not too easy to find, it rains a lot and you have to hike to it, but it is such a special place! The lake is full of dead trees, it reminded me a bit of a Deadvlei in Namibia in water form.Platypus are incredibly difficult to spot but we have such luck: the moment we arrive at the lake after the most challenging hike, a platypus swims by, right in front of our noses. We walk for hours around the lake and just stare at the water, but they have not shown themselves afterwards. What a luck!
The General Stores
It sounds crazy but this is really worth mentioning: just about every village and town on the Great Ocean Road (and perhaps in the whole of Australia?) Has a neighborhood store called the ‘General Store’. They often have a small assortment of products such as bread and canned food, but also always a small café with delicious homemade sandwiches, tarts, coffee, juices … So tasty and very affordable! Fine tip for breakfast and lunch, so they are pretty much everywhere. Our favorite is in the village Princetown and in the remote village of Forrest I eat the tastiest sandwich with homemade chutney ever. Opposite this General Store is also a super nice brewery, the Forrest Brewery, where we have bought delicious beers on the go. To do!
The roads – go home!
If there is something that I like, it’s just going to turn around and discover a country outside the cliché, beaten track. I get lost, I love that and that’s what we do regularly. In the Great Otway National Park we take mountain roads that are not even on the map and we meet no one for hours and we regularly drive from the Great Ocean Road to follow farm lanes. Here we see more koalas and kangaroos than along the famous road and we even spot an echidna! We drive back from one of our final destinations, Port Fairy, to Melbourne and take the inland roads. Unexpectedly we even see a pink salt lake between the infinite valleys! So just do it.
Port Fairy & the Tower Hill Nature Reserve
We end our route in the small fishing village of Port Fairy, where we sleep in the special Drift House.Stéphanie, a Dutch girlfriend, has lived in Adelaide for a long time and she comes to visit us here with her boyfriend. SO MUCH FUN! Very nice to see her again and the four of us wander around in this cute village on the coast. We eat the best pizza EVER at Coffin Sally and chat for days on end. We also walk around for half a day at the Tower Hill Nature Reserve, where Robert learns boomerangs from a real aborigine and where two emu’s accompany us for miles on our walk. Nice end of a nice trip!