Leaving Melbourne, you can easily access many interesting places, only hours away driving from Melbourne: Of course, the famous Great Ocean Road with the 12 apostles, but also the Wilsons Promontory National Park, the most septentrional point of continental Australia, as well as Phillip island and its colony of small penguins, but also the Grampians and much more…
The famous Great Ocean Road
This long and winding roan along the South Australian coast is a must see. For that, let’s go to Geelong, Torquay and then Bells Beach, Mecqua for surf lovers, where the brand Quicksilver has been founded.
These are the first stops of this long road, as it takes 2/3 days in average to do the whole return trip back to Melbourne from Warnambool. Take your rent car or your campervan and drive along the most touristic road of Australia! Lot of lookouts to realize how big is the ocean, and the pristine beauty of the surrounding bush and maybe see whales as well, during winter times.
In two days from Melbourne, it is possible to do an excellent trip along the Great Ocean Road! Here are my recommendations:
- First spot for the brekkie, Torquay! Not many things to see but this place is mostly known for the surf and appreciated by Melbournian families.
- Still located at the very beginning of the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea is a good spot to spend the first night, although a little bit early according to us, forcing to drive substantially the second day if you want to reach the 12 apostles by end of afternoon the second day. But the beautiful beach and the lighthouse Aireys Inlet near by offers an amazing sunset.
- After a good resting night (nothing special to do in these little towns at night, better to go to bed early), we take the car early morning. We drive through Lorne and stop further at Kenneth river to see some wild koalas before stopping at Apollo Bay for a quick lunch. Quite big and offering a great range of restaurants, Apollo Bay includes as well a magnificent beach, maybe the best one to swim along the Great Ocean Road.
- Finally we arrive late afternoon lo the most beautiful part of the road, with a rugged coast, also called the wrecked coast as lot of ships sank because of this hard and rocky coast in the past. We can see the 12 apostles of course, but also the Arch, the “London Bridge”! After a nice sunset, such a beautiful view over the 12 apostles, we sleep at a backpacker in Port Campbell, not far away.
- The day after, we finish our trip, driving quickly to Warnambool (nothing particular there) but before coming back to Melbourne with the highway, we do a small tour to the national park of Tower Hill wildlife reserve. Not very close, we needed to drive an hour to get there, however worthy to get there, with a lot of wildlife: koalas, emus, goannas…
Many wonderful lookouts along the road!
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park, is the most septentrional point of continental Australia. A wonderful National Park, quite popular during long weekend end and sunny days in summer. Quite far from Melbourne, you need to stay overnight close to the park, in Foster campground for instance, to really enjoy it. Think about hiking till the top of the hill in order to appreciate the outstanding lookout of the rugged and rocky coast of Wilsons Promontory National Park. Be warned, the walk up there is quite long and require a good physical condition but nothing impossible. But it worth climbing up even it can be cold and windy! If too hot, walk down and go straight to the ocean for a little swim!
Penguins at Phillip island
Phillip island, an island with a beautiful wildlife park and a colony of small penguins who chose the beaches as as their homes, offers beautiful coastal landscapes and enjoyable walks around the countryside. The main attraction, the penguins of Phillip island is particular, as we may feel you are in Disneyland over there! Indeed, at dusk, visitors are asked to sit in to enjoy the spectacle of little penguins getting out of the water, underneath huge spotlights pointed at them. Very marketing, we didn’t like that very much, that reminded us Monkey Mia dolphins in WA, almost domesticated dolphins coming to the beach to please the visitors, very touristic as well.
If you have time, come and enjoy a small wildlife park where you have the opportunity to feed kangaroos, of you haven’t do that anywhere before. Finally, let’s admire and have a last look at the rugged coast, before heading back to Melbourne. Just one last word for moto GP fan: An official Grand Prix is taking place each year at Phillip island circuit, check the dates!
Where did we sleep?
- Anglesea backpackers: A good backpacker, the first on the Great Ocean Road! Less than 1 km away from a beautiful beach, in a sleepy quiet small town, Anglesea. Clean, it is maybe too early to stop there when you come from Melbourne as you will have to drive a lot if you plan to get to the end of the Great Ocean Road and come back in 2 or 3 days. Next city is Lorne, 22 kms away, bigger with more restaurants and bars.
- Port Campbell Guesthouse: Here as well, a nice backpacker, very clean even if rooms are little bit smaller. But the location is awesome, 10 mns from the Great Apostle (then possible to skip the crowd and see them early in the morning) and a nice little beach, suitable for kids, even if less beautiful than the ones at Anglesea, Appollo Bay or Lorne.
Bonus, Melbourne & the Great Ocean Rd in video!