Travelling the Great Ocean Road by Campervan – Victoria, Australia

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After road testing our Britz campervan rental on beautiful Phillip Island, we doubled back and passed Melbourne, on the way towards Torquay and the start of the legendary Great Ocean Road. We spent the night in Geelong, some 20km away, so we could get an early start for the day’s driving ahead.

The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km (150 mile) coastal road, hugging rocky cliffs and passing spectacular beaches. It was built by hand by returning World War I veterans during the Great Depression, and took 16 years to complete. Nowadays, it is one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions, drawing millions of foreign visitors and vacationing Aussies.

Just in case anyone forgot...Just in case anyone forgot...
Just in case anyone forgot...13-Jan-2012 18:14
 

The bad news for us was we were visiting during the peak holiday season. With “schoolies” (summer school holidays) in full effect, it would require a lot of effort and expense to find a campsite. While we were equipped with a camper, unfortunately there are no free camping spots along the way, meaning we can’t just pull off into a parking lot or side road to spend the night.

Unfortunately, you can't just (legally) spend the night anywhere you want with a campervan.Unfortunately, you can't just (legally) spend the night anywhere you want with a campervan.
Unfortunately, you can't just (legally) spend the night anywhere you want with a campervan.13-Jan-2012 12:55
 

We pulled into Torquay and the official start of the road undeterred.

The official start line in Torquay.The official start line in Torquay.
The official start line in Torquay.13-Jan-2012 12:50
 

Here, we pulled into a rest area and put together a plan of attack. Realizing that campsites were either completely booked out or insanely expensive, we decided to just drive as far as we could the first day and try to find a campsite before nightfall.

Westward ho!Westward ho!
Westward ho!13-Jan-2012 18:13
 

So, we started making our way west, soaking in the beautiful scenery and stopping every once in a while to snap a photo or take a break.

A kite surfer preparing his gear.A kite surfer preparing his gear.
A kite surfer preparing his gear.13-Jan-2012 15:39
 

In Airey’s Inlet, we took a little walk to Split Point, where we admired the attractive lighthouse and striking cliffs.

Built in 1891, some call the lighthouse at Split Point the White Queen.Built in 1891, some call the lighthouse at Split Point the White Queen.
Built in 1891, some call the lighthouse at Split Point the White Queen.13-Jan-2012 18:33
 

Back in the car again, and we continued on. Clouds started rolling in and rain looked imminent. With the skies darkening and the evening approaching, we started focusing on finding a place to spend the night. We looked around at a few beachside campsites which were completely jam-packed with vacationing Aussie families. Most were full and the few that were willing to squeeze us in (usually next to the toilets or on an uneven plot), wanted to charge extortionate prices. Looking at a map, we noticed the Cape Otway National Park. Figuring at the very worst we could illegally camp somewhere quiet on the park grounds, we pushed on.

Local officials enforce policies prohibiting free camping on the Great Ocean Road.Local officials enforce policies prohibiting free camping on the Great Ocean Road.
Local officials enforce policies prohibiting free camping on the Great Ocean Road.13-Jan-2012 18:28
 

As we pulled into the National Park and started driving under a huge cover of gum trees, we noticed something a little odd. Yes, up in the trees…a bunch of fuzzy bottoms. Hold on a minute! Those are koalas!

14-Jan-2012 12:14
 

We were absolutely delighted to be seeing so many of these cute guys in the wild. To make matters even better, we then spotted a sign for a camp ground called “Bimbi Park – Camping Under Koalas”.

One of the many koalas inhabiting the gum trees at Cape Otway.One of the many koalas inhabiting the gum trees at Cape Otway.
One of the many koalas inhabiting the gum trees at Cape Otway.14-Jan-2012 12:22
 

Luckily, they had a fantastic, quiet, unpowered campsite available for us. And true to the name, there were koalas all around us, including in the tree we parked directly underneath!

Our campsite...under the koalas!Our campsite...under the koalas!
Our campsite...under the koalas!14-Jan-2012 11:57
 

We celebrated our good luck with a campervan dinner of Indonesian Mi Goreng noodles and delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

13-Jan-2012 23:47
 

The next day, we took some time to walk the campsite and spot as many koalas as we could. It was absolutely incredible how many of them were in the trees.

A mother and baby koala.A mother and baby koala.
A mother and baby koala.14-Jan-2012 14:43
 

From there, we jumped in the campervan and scooted down to Cape Otway and its famous lighthouse.

A desolate beach on Cape Otway.A desolate beach on Cape Otway.
A desolate beach on Cape Otway.14-Jan-2012 15:19
 

Continuing on, the road led inland a bit, and away from the coast. After a hairy ride down a gravel road, we stopped near a waterfall.

A waterfall which turned out to be a huge detour.A waterfall which turned out to be a huge detour.
A waterfall which turned out to be a huge detour.14-Jan-2012 16:36
 

Back on the Great Ocean Road again, we approached one of the most famous sights, the magnificent Twelve Apostles.

The Twelve Apostles - a huge tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road.The Twelve Apostles - a huge tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road.
The Twelve Apostles - a huge tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road.14-Jan-2012 18:37
 

These natural limestone stacks, standing up to 50m (150 ft) tall, can be enjoyed from a few different scenic lookouts.

The stacks start as caves and arches, which eventually collapse.The stacks start as caves and arches, which eventually collapse.
The stacks start as caves and arches, which eventually collapse.14-Jan-2012 19:23
 

Since they are exposed to the raging Southern Ocean, they are extremely susceptible to erosion, and a number of them have collapsed over the years.

The limestone stacks are subject to constant erosion from the pounding ocean waves.The limestone stacks are subject to constant erosion from the pounding ocean waves.
The limestone stacks are subject to constant erosion from the pounding ocean waves.14-Jan-2012 18:45
 

Finally, with the sun setting on the day, we reached the official end of the road at Warrnambool. Once again, we found ourselves in a fight for a decent campground spot. Unfortunately, we weren’t as lucky as the previous night, and ended up shelling out AUS $52 for a loud and busy campground.

Crammed in at the busy Warrnambool holiday park.Crammed in at the busy Warrnambool holiday park.
Crammed in at the busy Warrnambool holiday park.15-Jan-2012 12:04
 

The next day, we checked out Warrnambool’s Maritime Museum. It featured items recovered from some of the shipwrecks on the nearby Shipwreck Coast.

This stunning ceramic Minton Peacock was salvaged from the Lord Ard wreck.This stunning ceramic Minton Peacock was salvaged from the Lord Ard wreck.
This stunning ceramic Minton Peacock was salvaged from the Lord Ard wreck.15-Jan-2012 13:16
 

Later in the morning, we hopped back in the campervan and continued on, hoping to make it to the state of South Australia before sunset.

4 thoughts on “Travelling the Great Ocean Road by Campervan – Victoria, Australia

  1. Simone Chalkley

    We love your story! Can’t wait to see the Koalas. What month was it when you travelled here? Thanks!

    Reply

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