Great Ocean Road: 5 day self drive itinerary

    Great Ocean Road

    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.

    Great Ocean Road

    We had our first sneak peak of the coast line when we got to Point Danger in Torquay so we hopped out in excitement and wandered around the headland for about 30 minutes.

    Great Ocean Road

    Bells Beach was next on the agenda and it sure did impress. Every year in April Bells Beach hosts the Rip Curl Pro surfing tournament, making it one of the most well-known surfing spots in all of Australia. Not only does it make it one of the more entertaining spots along the coast, but it’s also one of the most beautiful.

    Great Ocean Road

    We ventured off the main road to check out Split Point Lighthouse and were treated to this little viewing platform.

    Split Point Lighthouse

    Rachel checking out Split Point Lighthouse

    Great Ocean Road

    Before we pulled into Lorne for the night we made a quick stop at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch for both a history lesson and a photo stop. As it wasn’t busy, the girls and I exercised with caution and snapped some photographs standing underneath the ‘Great Ocean Road’ sign.

    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.

    Jucy

    Breakky time at Lorne Rivershore caravan park. We basically lived off muesli for the five days on the road and I LOVED IT.

    Ghanda Clothing

    Super pleased with my buys from Ghanda.

    Great Ocean Road

    Our first stop was Erskine Falls, which is a 15-minute drive inland from Lorne. The walk down to the bottom of the falls only took a few minutes but don’t be surprised when you work up a sweat, especially in summer time. We hung around at the bottom for at least an hour in absolute awe of the power and beauty of the falls.

    Great Ocean Road

    The main street in Lorne is full of cafes, takeaway shops and restaurants. We went to Bottle of Milk to grab a takeaway Iced Mocha for the car ride but ended up returning for lunch to try one of their amazing vege burgers. Could highly recommend the Satay Tofu Burger.

    Great Ocean Road

    Great Ocean Road

    Teddy’s Point lookout was next on the list of places to tick off and it was just as beautiful as everyone says. When we were at the top of the lookout we saw that there was a private cove down below that looked like absolute paradise! Safe to say we got back to the car pretty quickly. There is a small gravel carpark on the side of the road that you can pull off into and then you just walk a few 100 metres along the sand to get to the water.

    Great Ocean Road

    Down at our own little private bay

    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.

    Great Ocean Road

    We bought some bird seed for $2.50 from the Koala Café opposite the caravan park and the fun/scratches began!

    Great Ocean Road

    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.   Great Ocean Road

    Maits Rest

    Today’s leg took us inland, driving through rainforests, farming villages and onwards to the 12 Apostles. After an hour of driving, we stopped off at Maits Rest Rainforest walk, which is a 30-minute circuit board-walk through the dense forest. How impressive is this tree?

    Maits Rest

    Great Ocean Road

    Come 10am, Rachel and I were on the lookout for a café to get our caffeine hit. What we weren’t expecting was to walk out of a café in Lavers Hill with a delicious Apple Crumble donut as well as a really good cappuccino.

    Great Ocean Road

    We had our first look at the 12 Apostles when we reached Gibson’s Steps. I don’t know how, but I managed to get a bird’s eye photo of me laying down on the beach (cheers Jen and Rach) with no-one accidently photo bombing it.

    Great Ocean Road

    Just around the bend from Gibson’s Steps and we had arrived at the insanely large carpark for the 12 Apostles. It wasn’t without a bit of an adrenaline rush however…when we were turning off for the entrance, the van door slid open and Jenna’s big backpack and our bed sheets flew out onto the main road. Thankfully, we retrieved all of the belongings before it became ‘road kill’ and were in absolute hysterics for the rest of the day.

    Great Ocean Road

    The 12 Apostles is where the Great Ocean Road understandably becomes touristy – it’s gorgeous but lots of people in a small space just ain’t my thing. We could have spent a lot of time here marvelling at just how beautiful the remaining apostles are but we decided to move on to Port Campbell – our next camp spot and definitely our favourite.

    Great Ocean Road

    We went for a dip in the bay at Port Campbell and although icy, we managed to spend quite a fair bit of time playing in the water and making sand castles on the beach.

    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.

    Great Ocean Road

    Although we couldn’t see the sun emerge from the horizon or really see any sort of colours forming in the sky, it was really special to have it to ourselves, especially considering how busy it does get later on in the day. We got super soggy, skipped along the boardwalk and sang to our hearts content.

    Great Ocean Road

    Great Ocean Road


    No fences were climbed in order to get this feet picture at London Bridge. We once again beat all the crowds to this spot and only had a few people come and go to take some pictures and marvel at its beauty. No one hung around for long as it was still raining, but we didn’t really seem to care after the soggy morning we had at our attempt to watch the sunrise.

    Great Ocean Road

    Once we got to the Grotto, it started to get a little busier as it wasn’t such a ridiculous time in the morning. This was the one must see spot that I didn’t get to last time I toured the Great Ocean Road so it was really cool to get down and see what the fuss was all about.

    Timboon Ice-cream

    Considering we had such an early start the girls and I decided to head inland to see what the smaller towns had to offer. I read up about a sweet little town called Timboon which was featured on a few blogs. I was so surprised to find out that there was a cheese, ice-cream and chocolate fudge factory as well as a strawberry farm. We didn’t get around to the chocolate factory or strawberry farm but we did manage to whip in for a quick cheese tasting and try the ice-cream at Timboon ice-creamery. I was super impressed and really wish I could have loaded up on more cheese for the road but our esky was already full with goodies.

    Great Ocean Road foodie

    Turns out Timboon was a bit of a foodie destination – so I was in absolute heaven. We were so impressed with our food from Fat Cow Food Co on the main street in Timboon. It was reasonably priced and the meals were so big and fresh!

    Great Ocean Road

    Just as we were entering Timboon we were treated with the most gorgeous arch of trees. We very safely pulled over on the side of the road and snapped some pictures twirling in the middle of the road. It reminded me of the famous Game of Thrones tree arch in Northern Ireland, just without all of the people.

    Great Ocean Road

    Feeling pretty on top of the world after reaching Thunder Point, our end destination on the Great Ocean Road.

    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. Jucy RoadtripGreat Ocean Road Great Ocean Road Great Ocean Road Great Ocean Road Great Ocean RoadGreat Ocean Road Great Ocean Road Great Ocean RoadGreat Ocean Road Great Ocean Road Great Ocean RoadGreat Ocean RoadGreat Ocean Road

    All the love in the world,

    Soph xx

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