Melbourne: Great Ocean Road Trip

While writing up my recap for 2016, i realised i never got to doing a writeup on our fantastic Melbourne vacation which we undertook back in end July/early August. Right towards the end of the Aussie Winter season, which meant less crowds and for us warm-weathered living-on-the-equator-folk, a much cooler climate for travelling. Maybe one of you might find this writeup useful for future travels.

One of the highlights of the trip was of course, our Great Ocean Road drive. In a nutshell, this road trip saw us travel from the middle of Melbourne City, towards “London Bridge”, just after the town of Port Campbell. Thereafter we headed back towards Queenscliff where we boarded a ferry for a rather picturesque area of Mornington Peninsula. In total, we spent 5 days out on our road trip which was nice but i think maybe an extra day or two would have made it a more relaxing excursion. Especially given our accommodations.

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Day 1: Melbourne City > Geelong > Torquay > Lorne > Erskine Falls > Kennett River > Apollo Bay

Knowing it was going to be a rather long journey ahead, we started off rather early, setting off first thing in the morning to pick up our Nissan X-Trail from Hertz along Franklin Street in the middle of Melbourne City. I know it sounds rather silly but i was rather looking forward to driving the X-Trail, only thing was, when we reach the rental office, all X-Trails were booked out and i was offered an “equivalent” alternative, a Hyundai Tuscon.

No no no no no… There was no way i’m gonna take a Hyundai Tuscon for my epic road trip! With much to-and-fro-ing and a timely corporate discount option, we managed to get ourselves into an even more interesting car than an X-Trail. A nicely sized Nissan Pathfinder. It was quite a lot of car for just the two of us, perfect!

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With “TEBBEY” the Pathfinder aquired, we quickly made our way back to our Airbnb apartment, checked out and loaded all our luggage into the massive boot. First stop, breakfast at Aucuba Coffee Roasters. Excellent (healthy-style) food, and as always in Melbourne City, great coffee.

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With our tummies satisfied we headed off for our long drive, the weather was somewhat damp and wet but in our warm car fitted with a nice 3.5-liter V6, the going was smooth.

We trundled along the M1 highway, turning off to drive through the towns of Geelong, Torquay and Anglesea, with an occasional stop to take in the lovely views.

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Eventually, we reached Lorne just in time for a late lunch at The Bottle Of Milk. They serve superb burgers and amazing milkshakes. Well worth visiting if you’re ever in the area.

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The styling of the restaurant was some straight out of my interior magazines as well. Lovely.

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The town of Lorne has some interesting Wildlife too.

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Heading inland from Lorne, we drove up Erskine Falls road towards, you guessed it, Erskine Falls. Once we reached the end of the road, it was hiking all the way.

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The cool weather made the hiking and climbing down easy, but we were knackered on the return leg up. The view was totally worth the effort, and with the both of us having fun despite the physical pain, made it a truly memorable experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

With another hour or so of driving to go until we reach our Airbnb cabin in Apollo Bay, we headed off just as the rain began to descend on us. We made another detour along Kennett River, driving up the Grey River Road in search of Koalas and Kangaroos, we did sight a couple but we had to leave as it was getting dark, short winter days and all.

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It was night by the time we reached our “Little beach house” Airbnb cabin, but just look at it! Fireplace and all. It was rather cold so we lit a fire and washed up before heading out for some dinner, which unfortunately given the time of day, meant Fish & Chips takeaway from the Apollo Bay Seafood Cafe. Nothing to write home about, but better than empty stomachs.

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The next morning, we awoke to a beautiful view right outside our bedroom and we could actually see what our cabin and its surroundings looked like… And so begins a new day.

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Day 2: Apollo Bay > Maits Rest Rainforest Walk > Cape Otway > Gibson Steps > 12 Apostles > Loch Ard Gorge > Port Campbell > London Bridge > Apollo Bay

We had a number of stops to make on our list of “to go” places but before we headed back onto the Great Road, it was time for breakfast once again. With the Sun shining brightly, we proceeded towards Hello Coffee, a much raved about cafe on the internets, when we got there we immediately knew why. It was lovely.

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You had me at Hello!

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The food, coffee and really the whole atmosphere was just fantastic. I wish i am there right now.

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Even if it means i sound like one of them ^

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First stop, Maits Rest rainforest walk, just the right thing to get rid of those breakfast calories.

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Sublime, its like those indoor air-conditioned Gardens By The Bay forest enclosures, but for real reals. With no holiday crowds around, we had a really relaxing and peaceful stroll with only a couple of smiling locals passing our way. After we had our “rest”, we continued on towards Cape Otway and appropriately named Cape Otway Lightstation.

The drive towards the lighthouse was nice (with some Koala spotting along the way) but the endpoint felt somewhat touristy, needing a AU$19 fee to get in. Since we weren’t that interested in lighthouses, we visited their washrooms, relieved ourselves and returned back onto the Great Ocean Road, destination 12 Apostles (and everything else around it). Along the way we passed by Aire River, which was one of the places i looked at for our Airbnb stay. I think we made a better choice with our cabin.

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Just before we reached the 12 Apostles, we made a stopover at Gibson Steps, where we yes, used the steps to head down the beach.

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I’m not complaining.

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Neither was this fella.

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Beyond that vast stretch of Ocean, Antarctica. If you shuffle left a little, you might land in Tasmania first. A short drive later, we reached the 12 Apostles viewing area.

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Great weather today. In an effort to outrun a busload of noisy tourist, we quickly made our way towards the next stop, Loch Ard Gorge.

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So named because a ship named the Loch Ard ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island in 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. From Loch Ard, we headed towards the town of Port Campbell for yet another late lunch at yet another unmemorable restaurant. So unmemorable i cannot even recall its name.

Late lunch over and done with we popped over the visitor center to enquire about penguin spotting. Our Airbnb cabin has provided us with some neat binoculars which made for great wildlife spotting.

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A short drive and a couple of rainbows later, we reached London Bridge, our end point for this leg of the journey. It was also where we set up camp for some penguin spotting.

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Lovely and picturesque isn’t it? Then it the Sun began to set and we waiting for the penguins to show up… we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited until the Sun had left us and it was now dark, drizzling and getting really cold. Still, no penguins!!!

With no one else around us and our surroundings going pitch black, we shaked our fists in the air and headed back to the Pathfinder for our drive back to Apollo Bay. Those penguins sure know how to pull a fast one.

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Knowing that the local Pub in Apollo Bay was about to close in an hour, we high tailed Tebbey through the forested roads of the Great Ocean Road and arrived back in town just in time for the kitchen’s last order. It’s been a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.

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Rise and shine! Day 3 beckons!

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Day 3: Apollo Bay > Kennett River > Lorne > Queenscliff > Sorrento > Mornington Peninsula

It’s been lovely and we really wished that we could have stayed another day, but on day 3, it was time to say goodbye to our “little beach house” and leave the Great Ocean Road. Our destination for today? Mornington Peninsula. Of course, we had breakfast once again at Hello Coffee. Because, why not?

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The drive out of Apollo Bay was beautiful with the most amazing views ever. Salt spraying over the cliffs, waves crashing over one another. And tour buses heading against our direction of travel.

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Remember our previous Kennett River Koala spotting detour? Well, we had some time to spare and with the Sun now on our side, we decided to try doing some extra spotting once again!

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This time we saw many! Some were moving about, while others were just lazing away. There were also a couple of Roos bouncing around when we were driving.

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After our wildlife spotting escapade, we dropped by The Little Milk Bottle once again for a milkshake and toilet break. From hereon it was non-stop all the way to Queenscliff where we would catch a ferry that would bring us to the town of Sorrento on the opposite side of the bay.

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On the ferry we went. In good time too! Managing to get onto the 1pm ferry with just 10 minutes to spare.

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A short boat ride later, we berthed in the town of Sorrento.

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No, Tebbey the Pathfinder did not drive off the ferry and cross the water, i just found a nice place to take a cool photo. Careful with the parking brake. The weather over on this side of the pond was much milder with calmer waters and non of the giant crashing waves we saw from our previous days.

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We headed straight into town and had lunch at Nandos. It’s cheaper than what they charge here in Singapore.

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Making a wrong U-turn, we ended up here… Sometimes the best surprises you come across are when you think you’ve goofed up. With evening approaching once again, it was time to locate our next Airbnb.

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Just look at that Sunset…

Eventually we located our Airbnb home and if you thought our previous cabin was good, this new place is on a whole different level.

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It is amazeballs spectacular. I could stay here all day! Central heating, lots of space, a giant bathroom and the most friendly host ever. The is the best Airbnb home i’ve ever experienced, surpassing even some 5-star hotels i’ve stayed in. The host even has a big black lab which we sadly, did not get to play with. I’m two minds about sharing the listing, on one hand i’d love for the host to get more bookings, on another, i selfishly want to keep it all to myself! (I think as a compromise, if you are really keen, leave a comment below.)

With our belongings all shuffled in and having washed up, day 3 has come to a satisfying (but still tiring) end.

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Day 4: Mornington Peninsula

With most of our travelling done, we decided to spend day 4 exploring the Mornington Peninsula region. Taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes along the way. For those wondering what our fantastic abode looks like in the day time, have a look above.

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First things first, we headed over to a local cafe institution, Commonfolk Coffee, for our brekkie and cuppa. They make a most excellent breakfast.

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Right after breakfast, we went over to Heronswood Garden shop where Jamie proceeded to pick out a number of seeds.

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I guess this is her happy place.

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From here on, things became somewhat of a blur as we visited a number of wineries scattered across the entire peninsula, and engaged in the age old sport of wine tasting and cheese eating.

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We finished off day 4 with an Italian dinner in town and headed back to our Airbnb to pack for our return leg back into Melbourne City.

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Day 5: Mornington Peninsula > Murrays Lookout > Cape Schanck Lighthouse > Flinders Blowhole > Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park > Melbourne City

While our objective of the day was to head back into Melbourne City, that didn’t mean we were not going to slot in some additional sights before we left the Peninsula.

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With our suitcases slotted back into Tebbey and a quick breakfast and coffee later, we charged up Arthur’s Seet Road towards Murray’s Lookout and the view from up above was just beautiful.

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We continued along Arthur’s Seet road and eventually reached a park where we spotted some Kangaroos, they were not very big and most of them were rather shy of us humans, preferring to bounce away when we approached.

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The air up here was crisp and refreshing.

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From Arthur’s Seet, we headed for lunch at Foxey’s Hangout. Another fantastic place i’d love to revisit. After lunch, we loaded up Tebbey with wine and drove on towards Cape Schanck Lighthouse. This one was free, so we walked around a bit.

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From Cape Schanck, we proceeded to Flinders Blowhole. It looks a lot better than it sounds.

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On the edge of the World(ish).

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One last shot before we left the beautiful Peninsula.

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Our final stop just before we get back into the City? The Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park. With time not exactly on our side, we didn’t get to stay very long, but we still managed to slot in a show and feed some cute little wallabies and friendly roos. Once done, it was time to jump back into Tebbey and hit the road back into Melbourne City and another Airbnb apartment.

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It might have only been 5 days, but what we saw and experienced on those days will last us a lifetime. Thank you for reading!


5 thoughts on “Melbourne: Great Ocean Road Trip

  1. Beautiful pictures! I can empathise with your incident at Hertz, and I’m glad you managed to secure an upgrade after all that trouble. I was just in Melbourne in December and drove the Great Ocean Road as well. Now I’m trying to work out how to write about it..

  2. Amazing trip! I will be vacationing in March and most probably Melbourne. Would love to know the amazeballs airbnb host listing! Family of 6. 🙂

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