Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Ocean Road Trip

Treasures of Great Ocean Road (clockwise from top left)
Maybe Bay of Martyrs, Loch Ard Gorge, Gibson Steps and

the famous 12 Apostles.
Our trip to Melbourne would not be complete without taking a Great Ocean Road drive and visiting its famous (and less famous) sites along the way. This is Mr H's first trip while it is my second. Hence we made sure not only to stop at "must see" attractions but also places I have not been to before.

Here is a summary of lessons learnt on this trip.

1. Great Ocean Road is worth it.
For those who love the great outdoors and photography, this is not a trip to be missed. Even for a non-outdoor person, you will be able to appreciate the beauty of God's work. Even if you have been here before, a second or even third visit would not be a waste of time as there were many more sights we had to forego due to time constraints.

2. Plan your trip depending on the season. 
In winter (when daylight is short), an early start and early end is recommended. We found this out the hard way - more than 4 hours of driving and 9 pit stops later, we were rewarded with a view of black canvas. Three quarters of the drive was inland while the last quarter was by the coast. Unfortunately by the time we got to that point, it was dark. We saw nothing - not even a silhouette of the sea. Besides missing out on the scenic view, we also had to give the koalas a miss as it was too late.

Looking back, I would tweak our itinerary to overnight in Lorne on our first night followed by Warrnambool on our second night. However if we had gone in summer, I suspect our itinerary would have been just fine.

3. Suggested Trip Duration: 3 Days 2 Night
While most would cover the drive in 2 days 1 night or even the day trip, GOR is not only about 12 Apostles and koala viewing at Kennet River. There were many sights we wanted to visit but could not. You should also take into consideration the traveling time from one stop to the other - not all are next door to one another. We decided to make it a 3 day 2 night trip instead, packing in as much sights as we can. 

4. Make a list of places to visit
With many activities to choose from (some free, some not), we short listed our activities based on
  • type of attraction - natural or man made?
  • cost - is it free or is there a fee?
  • time spent for each activity/location - is there a fixed time or flexible hours, will it take less than an hour, more than an hour, half a day etc?
  • must do/see - 12 Apostles, activities that were paid in advance
  • nice to do/see - things to do if we had the time, what can we give a miss if we are running short of time or see something interesting along the way.

Our final itinerary as below.

Day 1
Walk with Wildlife Under The Stars at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.
Overnight in Warrnambool.

Day 2
Bay of Islands
Bay of Martyrs
The Grotto
London Bridge
Loch Ard Gorge
12 Apostles
Gibson's Steps
Otway Lighthouse
Overnight in Lorne.

Day 3
Blazing Saddles Bush Ride at Airey's Inlet.

5. Trust your GPS or Google Maps but not entirely. 
Cross check with the signboards available. There were 2 instances we ended up somewhere else. One was at Bay of Islands and can't recall the other. 

6. Self drive or take a tour
The latter is convenient although that would mean you would have to abide to the tour company's itinerary. The former gives you flexibility in managing your itinerary.

7. What would we do differently the next time?
We take the coastal road and our first stop would be closest to Melbourne city as opposed to the farthest. 

Another Great Ocean Road trip is definitely on the cards. Till next time...


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  2. Great post.
    Thank you very much for sharing and I love all your beautiful photos
    great ocean road tours 2 days