As an Australian there are a few parts of the country one must try to see once in their life. It’s a big world and there’s lots to see but our country is worth getting about. The diversity of our topography is possibly greater than any other on the planet (United States might wish to challenge me on that) and whilst the distances are large so is the satisfaction barometer.
In my mind, you need to see Sydney, the Whitsundays, Uluru, Kakadu, Byron Bay, Noosa, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road as the must see places. If you’re an overseas visitor these are the places you want to try to tick off. There are obviously thousands of other places to see but as a rock bottom basic list, this is it.
The Great Ocean Road stretches from Torquay to Portland, it is undoubtedly the best coastline drive in the world. You can take a long day trip from Melbourne or you can take your time and stay overnight. Add some walks to your adventure, you’ll thank me for it.
Had to include this shot #sillytouristphotos
We set off from Melbourne and headed out as far as we wanted along the Great Ocean Road, before heading back. I figured we could then take a leisurely drive from there without rushing to see anything. I’m glad I did. We set off from Melbourne and arrived in Warrnambool around 9.00am after an early start on Melbourne. We then drove to Port Campbell after a ‘second breakfast’. Port Campbell is a horseshoe shaped bay and you will feel your appreciation for this special place as soon as you arrive.
You want to walk and marvel at the dramatic coastline along the Great Ocean Road, the turquoise waters against the sandstone formations jutting out of the water. Some places are busier than others but we were often the only people around. Strollers are only really able to be used at the twelve apostles, otherwise you will need a back pack for little ones. Make sure you have snacks and water packed as at many of the lookouts there is nothing. Port Campbell Discovery Walk is one of the prettiest walks I have done. You want to see the Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps, London Bridge, The Arch and The Grotto. Tip – those in italics are pram friendly.
Great Ocean Road is one of those places where I think I am a good photographer, but alas it’s just the spectacular backdrop. On a wonderful spring day it is breathtakingly beautiful. TIP; don’t miss a lookout. They all have panoramic views and each and every one is so different that you will not tire of stopping at each one.
Stop at the beaches and walk down. The surf can be wonderfully powerful and crushing here or it can be calm and peaceful. The power of the ocean is the wonderful creator of all that you see. Take a moment to take it all in. The world is truely wonderful.
We picked Lorne as the place to stay overnight along the Great Ocean Road, as we could drive either way and have a lot to see and do. The Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne has family rooms. It is easy to find and easy to access. I am a sucker for old world charm – hence why I booked here and not the Mantra or the Lorne Hotel. The hotel sits on the point and the views are lovely as the sun sets. Our family room was clean, large and convenient. Trip Advisor is not as glowing with the reviews, but our room sat in a newer building outside of the original building which could be a reason for difference in opinion.
We ate dinner at the Lorne Hotel one night and the pub has play equipment area for kids. The food was great pub food for hungry travellers and a lovely, lively atmosphere. I am glad we didn’t stay here with children, it could be quiet rowdy I imagine. Lorne FoodWorks is one of those smaller grocery stores with some tasty morsels to purchase. Helpful for road trippers. We ordered Pizza Pizza on the other night and I don’t think I have had better Pizza since! Lorne Beach Pavilion is very chic and does an amazing breakfast right on the water.
The park in town is great for kids and useful for letting go of some steam. There are a handful of shops. Allow some time to meander around. The bookshop has an amazing collection of not only books but toys and gifts.
Nearby Apollo Bay, is a great place for families with plenty to do and several options for family suited accomodation. Cape Otway along with Cape Otway National Park mix up the dramatic cliff scenery with lush rainforest and treetop walks at the Otway Fly. The area has several waterfalls and each one has an wonderful Alice in Wonderland type adventure to get to them. Be sure to look up Mait’s Rest, an 800 metre self guided board walk. Easy for the kids. We drove through this National Park for about an hour and didn’t see another car!
Torquay is the home of surfing in Australia and home to all the big brand surf gear outlet stores. I apologise outlet store is not the right word, warehouse is a better fit. Torquay is an easy drive from Melbourne and as such there will be increased crowds. Nearby to nearly every outlet store there are great little Cafes for lunch.
Would I go back? Absolutely, but I plan to drive to Warrnambool and drive towards Adelaide next time.