Recommendations for travel on the Great Ocean Road

Old Jun 1st, 2014, 10:31 AM
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Recommendations for travel on the Great Ocean Road


In August I will be traveling to Australia for 2 weeks. I'm traveling with my sister (mid-50s), my nephew (mid 20s) and I'm in my late 40s. This will be our first time in Australia and we are counting down the days with excitement!

We are working on our itinerary and are considering driving from Melbourne to Adelaide. The Great Ocean Road sounds beautiful. Is there plenty to see and experience in that drive? How may days could that drive take? Or should we consider driving just a portion of the road and planning other day trips for the other days?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 02:20 PM
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Yes there is plenty to see along the Great Ocean Road. You can do it in two days Melbourne to Adelaide but three days would be better. The scenery is beautiful, lots of nice small towns to visit. En route, look for the Anglesea golf course - usually lots of kangeroos. Do stop at Loch Ard and find out what happened there. Make a point of visiting Port Fairy - very pretty town. If you have time, drive inland from there to Mt Eccles national park to have a look for koalas.

If you don't want to drive to Adelaide, head back to Melbourne from Port Fairy via Ballarat - lovely Victorian-era buildings and once one of the richest cities in the world during the gold mining period. Sovereign Hill folk museum is well worth a visit, as is the gold museum across the road.
Hope you enjoy your visit.
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 02:37 PM
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Marg's advice is excellent. The GOR from Melbourne to Warrnambool or Port Fairy is a beautiful drive but given that you only have two weeks I wouldn't push on to Adelaide. The stretch from Port Fairy to Adelaide is scenic but not spectacular and I think your extra day would be better spent at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, soaking up some Australian history.

You can do the drive to Warrnambool in one day but two is better. You can break the drive at Apollo Bay and perhaps detour a little bit inland to the Otway Fly. I would stay one night in Apollo Bay and another in Port Fairy then head back to Melbourne via Ballarat. If you have the time and the $$, stay at Sovereign Hill itself and watch the Blood on the Southern Cross light show at night (you will have to book well ahead for this though).

It will still be whale watching season in Warrnambool so if you're lucky you'll get to see some at Logan's Beach.You can also drop into the Tower Hill wildlife reserve between Warrnambool and Port Fairy to do some koala spotting. The weather in August will still be refreshingly chilly down here in the south west but that makes the coast line all the more spectacular. Don't forget your coats!
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Old Jun 1st, 2014, 08:01 PM
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Thank you both for your replies and recommendations. Very helpful! It sounds like we should at least do the drive to Port Ferry. I'm going to look at the different cities/sites you recommend and plan out the days.

Another consideration is heading to Kangaroo Island, taking the ferry from Cape Jervis. Would it make sense to just drive there from Port Ferry? Or is there a better/faster way to get there?

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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 01:30 PM
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I appreciate the advice on this thread. We have almost the identical questions for our trip in November.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 07:45 PM
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I don't think there would be any other viable way than to drive.

If you do continue the drive to Cape Jervis, a great stop along the way is Robe (crayfish capital of the world they claim) with lovely Victorian cottages lining the road into town (and fantastic local seafood).

Mount Gambier is worth an hour or so, lovely blue bottomless lake with a walking track.

From Port Fairy to Cape Jervis would be doable within two days, assuming overnight in Robe. This allows for some breaks along the way.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 02:08 AM
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You could drive to Cape Jervis but again, it's a long drive with not a lot to see. Yes, Blue Lake is worth an hour and Robe is lovely but no lovelier than many seaside towns. It depends how much time you have in Aus, where you're flying in and out of and what your time frame is.
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Old Jun 8th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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Hi Carm - we did the GOR in Nov 2012 - check out my trip report linked below. It was a great trip! We flew in and out of Melbourne. After diving along the GOR to Port Fairie, we cut inland to the Grampians Ranges, which is an excellent area for seeing Aussie wildlife and rugged scenery. I would highly recommend an itinerary similar to ours. I had also done the GOR all the way to Adelaide previously, and from what I can remember, it was not particularly scenic past Port Fairie. Sure there are wonderful places to see in and around Adelaide, but with just 2 weeks, you could end up being pretty rushed.
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Old Jul 19th, 2014, 07:45 AM
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Thanks so much Ralph! Great information. I'm getting excited for my first trip to Australia.

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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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If you're nature/scenery lovers I highly recommend the GOR and the Grampians. It took MUCH longer to drive the GOR than I anticipated, because I was constantly jumping out to take photographs. It's a truly spectacular area.

Thought this excerpt from my trip report might be helpful …

From SYD we flew into Avalon (close to Melbourne, but closer to the GOR), picked up a rental from Europcar, and drove about 90 minutes to Colac where we’d spend the night at the Otway Gate Motel. We had about an hour of daylight left, and the motel proprietor suggested we check out the views at the Red Volcanic Rock Reserve. It was quite chilly, but the beautiful views were worth it. 

The next morning we headed for the Great Ocean Road via a back route that would take us on Grey River Road, where we’d done some good koala spotting on our previous trip—a few years ago. It was a pretty drive, and lots of wallabies were along the roadside (and hopping across it), but alas, our only koala sighting was comprised of one barely-visible, fuzzy butt very high up in a tree. 

But … someone on this forum had posted that he’d seen “dozens” of koalas on the road to the Otway Lighthouse. It was only about 20 minutes out of the way, so we decided it was worth a shot. Wow, was it ever!!!

We literally did see dozens of them, including a baby (!!!), and I got some great photos. The sound they made was amazing—nothing like what I would have expected; something in between a bark and a growl. It was awesome to be so close to so many koalas in the wild.

Along the way, we had stopped to pick up sandwiches in Apollo Bay at George’s food arcade. My chicken sandwich was excellent—made from fresh rotisserie chicken. We wound up eating it on the side of the road while koala-watching.

This report will soon rival “War and Peace” if I don’t pick up the pace, so just the highlights … Loved the Gibson Steps (one mile from the 12 Apostles). Gorgeous views & great photos were the reward for the steep stairs down to the beach. The late afternoon light was mostly wrong for photos at the 12 Apostles, but we still enjoyed the stunning views. Morning would be the best time for photos—as long as it’s not fogged in. 

As much as we enjoyed the iconic 12 Apostles, we liked some of the other rock formations even better. Heading west from the 12 Apostles we stopped at the Arch, and the Grotto, and we took some of our favorite photos there. We shared those views with only a handful of people, as opposed to the tour bus hordes at the 12 Apostles.

On a previous trip we’d also enjoyed the London Bridge, and the Loch and Ard, but it was getting late and we hoped to make it to Port Fairy (where we had a reservation) before sundown. 

Our hotel, the Pt. Fairy Boutique Accommodation was very tough to find, but well worth it. It was a big cut above the budget motels we’d been staying at—very romantic. We had an excellent Turkish-influenced meal at Ramella’s Café. 

Enjoyed Port Fairy’s beautiful 1800’s architecture, and strolling around Griffith’s Island.

The views and the bird watching were excellent—and we spotted several wallabies. Lunch and coffee at the Belfast Café (established in 1864) was good—but the scones we took with us were fabulous! 

The next morning we drove the short distance to the Crags. On the way we saw the cutest little lambs nursing on their mummies. The views at the Crags were very pretty, and we enjoyed them—but the rock formations were similar to, but not as dramatic as those we’d seen the previous day on the Great Ocean Road.

For those with a limited amount of time, who want only the highlights, Port Fairy’s not a “must,” but we did enjoy it.

 From Pt. Fairy we had about a 3-hour drive to Hall’s Gap in the Grampians. We had been there several years ago, and enjoyed it enough to schedule a return visit. For those hoping to glimpse kangaroos and kookaburras the Grampians is the place to go. Kangaroos were everywhere—lounging on lawns, hopping around the park, and lazing on grasses patches outside the restaurants.

A kookaburra greeted us with a song as we pulled into our motel, Kingsway Holiday Flats—where we’d booked a self-contained one-bedroom unit. The unit was fine, but we preferred the Kookaburra Motel where we’d stayed previously, because it had great views, and lots of ‘roos & cockatoos. We passed on it this time because we wanted a self-contained unit. For such a long trip we like to be able eat some healthy meals on our own. 

We had perfect weather to enjoy the stunning views. It was a short hike from town to the gorgeous rock pools known as the Venus Baths. I took beautiful photos of the mountains and sky reflected in the clear pools. Beyond the pools, the hike got pretty strenuous, but the scenery was so breathtaking we didn’t mind. 

The next morning was quite cold and windy when we visited the Boroka Lookout, but the sky was a brilliant blue and views were “WOW.” Loved the walk to “the Balcony” lookout as well. 

We had a fantastic dinner at Livefast Lifestyle café that offered free Internet—which was a big plus because our hotel did not offer Internet, and there were no Internet cafés. The chef made a special effort and created something exceptional and quite artistic when I asked if he could incorporate vegetables into an existing dish. It was very impressive. We enjoyed it so much we returned for lunch. 

* * * *

I hope this helps!
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