Adelaide to Melbourne Via the Great Ocean Road

On the 1st of March we picked up our Wicked campervan which over the next four days was ours to drive to Melbourne. Before leaving we had looked in to a few places to stay and a rough route of how much we would drive each day. Of course like all planning things came up along the way we hadn’t thought of and some places we planned to stop just weren’t worth it.

The Great Ocean Road was the highlight of the trip and lived up to everything I imagined it would be however before we hit the Ocean Road we took a few stops in SA. Below is a list of everywhere we stopped and what I thought of each place with photographs.

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Coorong National Park

This national park was much, much bigger than I imagined it would be we reached the first town of Meningie with plenty of time to spare before sunset but as we carried on driving through the scenic park we realised it was going to take us a lot longer to reach our planned camp site for the night. Apart from the large driving distance the National Park was beautiful with a huge lake situated in the middle and a beautiful coast. We stayed at the 42 mile crossing campground as it had a honesty box to purchase a permit from instead of having to buy one from the park office – we might not have been checked for a permit but at $13 for the night there was no excuse not to pay. This camp ground also was one of the only ones to be situated just over 1 km walk from the beach which meant we could watch sunset over the sea even if it did mean cooking in the dark!

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Mt Gambier

An old volcano where the crater is filled with water to form what is known as the blue lake and my gosh is it blue. During the summer months (Nov-Apr) the calcite crystals at the bottom of the lake make the water appear a vibrant blue. This little place is worth stopped by just for the lake but don’t panic when you have driven through the town and still not seen the lake it is clearly sign posted you just have to keep going on past the town.

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South Australia/Victoria Border

We worried arriving at the border that it would be manned and they would take all our fresh fruit and veg away like when we crossed over from Mildura to Renmark but we never saw a sole at this border crossing. Like typical tourists we pulled over on the side of the road and took photos of the signs.

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The Great Ocean Road

We had planned to get to Port Campbell on the second day giving us the whole of the third day to explore the sights however the distances and driving time seemed to be more than google advised and we ended up in the small town of Peterbrough.

Peterbrough

This really is the first significant place on the Ocean Road – home to the Bay of Islands and Martyrs Bay it turned out to be the perfect place to stop that night so that we didn’t have to do too much driving back on ourselves. The timing wasn’t great as we arrived after 7 and one of the two camp grounds were closed. Luckily the second wasn’t and despite it being $28 for the night we decided to pitch up as after having no shower the previous night we were feeling a little yuck! The campsite also had free wifi, camp kitchen and much more. For me it was disappointing to miss a beautiful sunset but still there was the following night.

Bay of Islands

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Martyrs Bay

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The Grotto

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London Bridge

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The Arch

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Lord Arc Gorge

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Twelve Apostles

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Gibson Steps

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Seeing how we missed sunset the night before after finding ourselves somewhere to stay early enough it allowed us time to chill out, cook and get back to the Apostles for sunset. Well that’s what we thought half way through cooking the gas canister ran out and being near not shops we couldn’t just replace it. Instead we decided to head for the camp kitchen only to find out one ring was broken and the other in use. Running out of time we abandoned cooking in favour for the sunset. We arrived far too early in the end but that was okay, we just sat around and watched as the sun changed the colour of the sky. It was beautiful. The difference between how it looked back at midday was huge, no more bright blues and solid shapes – just look at the photo below. We eventually got to cook dinner after dark but that didn’t really matter after how good sunset was.

The next morning we set off with plenty of time to drive the rest of the Great Ocean Road and arrive in Melbourne by 3pm. The drive was much more exciting after leaving the apostles. The road gets twisty and the speed gets slow. With hill after hill and turn after turn you really need to concentrate. We drove through forest which turned to farmland which turned to rainforest which turned to cliff edges by the sea – just like the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The road was beautiful despite the twists and turns and once again I felt like we had done the roadtrip right, driving west to east – this really felt like a great end to the Great Ocean Road. Stopping off in a few places – just to get some photos.

Apollo Bay

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Kennett River

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Lorne

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Kennet River was a suggestion from lonely planet where you could spot sleeping Koalas in the trees and sure enough there was 3 sleeping bundles when we turned up. Our last stop was Bells Beach, which disappointingly had no surf still it was nice to tick off on my list of ‘must see’ for the road trip and who knows only being less than two hours away in Melbourne we might get back yet.

The drive back from Bells Beach was easy. We skipped through Torquay as neither of us had money to spend in the surf shops! Still we got the van back on time and headed for the city via bus and train – the Wicked depot is located a long way from the CBD.

If you would like to read more about what I thought of the wicked campervan, check out my review.

As far as the road trip goes, yet again it felt like we did it just right. I was so glad we got to drive through the quiet but pretty Coorong National Park, see the summer bluw hue of Mt Gambier lake and then experience the sights of the Great Ocean Road in all their glory at our own slow pace. There were plenty of free camp grounds along the way it just so happened that none were in the locations we wanted to spend our nights. If I could only recommend one thing doing this trip it would be to give it time we had 3 nights, 4 days but to really enjoy it we could have either done with another night or longer on the first and last day. Having said that the Great Ocean Road is incredible and now sits as one of my top Aussie experiences.

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