The Great Ocean Road has got to be one the most scenic road-trips not just in Australia, but in the whole entire world.
I know that’s a huge call, but by the end of this post you will see why. The 243km road hugs the South Coast of Victoria, starting in the surf capital of Australia: Torquay and ending in the small seaside village of Port Fairy. Being just a stone’s throw away from Melbourne, it’s the perfect little add on to your city trip, or long weekend nature getaway.
I hired out my first ever campervan (and definitely not my last), got my two best friends in on the deal and hit the road with our Jucy Champ 4 berth camper, also known as Jucy Jay. Note: we called our camper Jucy Jay (just like the pop singer Jessie Jay) and yes we named our campervan…we even made a song dedicated to her and the memories we made – it was pretty special.
We decided that the best way to truly embrace the van life was to not book any camp sites in advance and just take each day as it comes. Towards the end of the day we would decide on where we should pull up for the night and leisurely make our way there. This allowed us to travel carefree and with so much freedom.
One-day tour vs. DIY
I have now done both the one-day tour from Melbourne and a Self-drive tour and I would always suggest that the latter is the way to go. The only time you should consider doing a one-day tour is if you are extremely stuck for time or if you physically can’t drive a car. With so many tours departing from Melbourne at the same time it’s impossible to be able to marvel at the beauty of the Great Ocean Road without hundreds of other tourists in sight. For me, this is a huge deal breaker and I struggle to enjoy it as much as I should. As well as the crowds, time is extremely limited and with so much to pack into the one day you are always rushed for time and can never just relax and really enjoy the moment.
Day One: St. Kilda to Lorne
We picked up Jucy Jay from the St Kilda Jucy office at midday and after all the nitty gritty we were on the road, singing, grooving and laughing. After an hour of driving we made it to Geelong where we did a grocery shop at Coles to avoid the inflation of prices in the smaller coastal towns. After stocking up our fridge, we drove onwards to Torquay where the adventure began.
As it was our first night on the road we weren’t aware that the campsites close early during off-season and for a very long moment the girls and I thought that we would have to resort to being law breakers and illegally camping on the side of the road. Thankfully enough, the owners came around and let us stay the night.
Day two: Lorne to Kennet River
Day two started off leisurely with a sleep in, breakfast with the ducks and a stroll through the hip, youthful village of Lorne. We did some shopping at a local boutique called Ghanda, which is where I got the colourful dress that I am wearing in today’s photos and then hit the road at around 11am.
We decided to make camp for the night at Kennet River caravan park which was shaded by trees and just a stone’s throw away from the beach. I had been to this spot before so I knew just how much fun we would have feeding the parrots and looking out for koalas and kangaroos.
Come nightfall, the girls and I cooked up a storm in the camp kitchen and headed across to the beach to have dinner listening to the sound of the ocean.
Day Three: Kennet River to Port Campbell
We set the alarms for 5:30am so we could pack up Jucy Jay and find the perfect spot to watch the sun bring in the new day. After driving for about 30 minutes we pulled into a small lookout point. We danced along the top of the wall as the sun rose, sung along to Ben Howard and later ate our breakfast from the back of the van. This was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. I even cried a little bit in pure happiness.
Day Four: Port Campbell to Warrnambool
After such a successful sunrise on day two we decided to wake up early for another sunrise, this time at the impressive Loch Ard Gorge. We had packed up Jucy Jay by 5am and had arrived at the gorge by 5:15 with no one in sight. This may have been because of the drizzly rain and early morning combination.
With our detour inland we were rushing to make it to Port Fairy for the night so we pulled into Warrnambool and found a campsite to pull up for the night. From the get-go we got a bad vibe from Warrnambool but we tried to put it aside and enjoy our last night on the road. We pulled out the ciders and cards and chilled out in the back of the campervan for a few hours. By the time we were hungry, it was 8pm and our hunt for some dinner didn’t go so well. Being a small town, there was barely anything open and we ended up walking about 45 minutes in the dark to get to the main strip in town. This meant that once we had found food we had to walk all the way back at 10pm.
Thankfully we had each other and we got back in one piece but boy did we do a good speed walk back. A stay in Warrnambool wasn’t the best way to finish up the road trip, but we are just grateful that we made it through the night without being too sleepless.
Day Five: Warrnambool to St. Kilda
Somehow we managed to sleep through our alarm and woke up a whopping hour and a half later than planned. If I didn’t have a plane to catch this wouldn’t had been as big of a problem, but we were now on an extremely tight schedule. We had to drive all the way back to Melbourne with the only break being at the fuel station.
We also had to get Jucy Jay back to the depot by 12:30 at the very latest and we were on schedule for a 12:25 arrival…I don’t know how, but we managed to do it and I made my flight with no big rush (just a really expensive uber trip).
The Great Ocean Road was my first taster of what it would be like to live out the whole ‘van life’ and honestly, I AM HOOKED. The 5 days on the road with my two best friends were quite possibly the best five days of my life. I can’t wait to rent out Jucy Jay vol.2 and let the van life continue. But for now, feast your eyes on a little photo diary from life on the road.
All the love in the world,