Great Ocean Road – Trip Report

This is an old one, I found a copy of it on an old hard drive, so I have ressurected it. It was a great trip…

Kelly’s sisters were hosting some events. Heidi was having a birthday party and Trudy a baby shower so a trip to Melbourne was on the cards.

We looked at flights, but with the cost of a hire car while there, there wasn’t enough value, so I looked at driving, that could easily be done with some accommodation thrown in, for at least the same price and we would get to do stuff on top. I started planning and soon realised I would not be off-road or camping the whole trip, and got the idea to see what the price of hiring a car for the whole trip would be, based on some differences with fuel prices. I had the planned trip at about 5000klms, so basing the cruiser at 14l/100 and the hire car at 9l/100 I got about 250 litres less fuel, so the math basically worked out that the hire car would be about $50-100 more to do than the cruiser, not including an oil change or other wear and tear, not to mention the extra comfort and power on the highway, as well as cruise control… Anyway, it was a good choice, removed all worry over the vehicle and was quite comfortable. It was strange driving out knowing there was some good k’s to cover and leaving the cruiser behind.

We left the first day and went to Grafton to stay with Malcolm Powder, Kell’s step-father. It was a pretty small day, just to cut some k’s off the next day. got in mid-afternoon and feed the goats and got set in for the night, no fire because of the rain.

The Three Sister from the lookout

We left his place at 4:30am, for a couple of reasons, first, we were planning on making it to Katoomba in time to do the things at scenic world before it closed, and two, I wanted a fresh crocodile pie from Freddo’s famous pie shop in Frederickton (just nth of Kempsey), and it opened at 7. We got to the pie shop at about 10 past, but the croc pies weren’t ready, so brekky was a Kangaroo pie. We then pushed on for Katoomba, getting there about 2:30 in the arvo.

We looked at the three sisters and did the scenic railway (worlds steepest railway), the cable car and the skyway (with a glass bottom). I would recommend doing that pack if you find yourself there. We then went back down into Sydney to stop the night in Parklea, in what was the old Olympic Village.

We had an early start the next morning, driving into the city with the peak hour traffic (or just before apparently), to park up for the day there. we walked down to Circular quay and caught a ferry to Taronga Zoo and spent the day there. It is a great zoo, probably just shaded by Western Plains, but still good. we got the ferry back in time to drive out of the city and start heading south. The plan was travel the whole coast all the way to Melbourne, so we travelled the Princes Highway, rather than the Hume. We made a quick diversion off the highway to drive the Sea Cliff Bridge (from the Shell and Ferrari ads), which is pretty cool. before getting to our cabin on Kiama point.

Kiama Blowhole

It was getting dark when we arrived, but I took the girls for a walk to the Blow hole, which, thanks to the big storm just south of NZ the week earlier, the swell was perfect and it was working well. Lucy was quite amazed at the pool that went up in the sky. In the morning we checked it out and mucked about there a bit before heading further down the coast. We stopped in at Mollymook for some lunch with my grandfather and a bit of a play on the beach, but it was getting too cold for swimming already. We kept heading south before stopping the night in Eden. we stayed at the Big 4 there in a cabin. we didn’t go into town, just ran around on the beach and the kids played on the jumping pillow.

The next day we entered Victoria and sticking on the Princes made it to Pakenham (where the in-laws live) by mid-afternoon. We stayed here for 3 days. One of those days was the baby shower, so I took the kids to the Melbourne show which was on, and left the womens to their business. The Melbourne show is basically the same as the Ekka.

The real Bay Of Islands.

On the Monday we left up through the city and North West into Ballarat, but in my efforts to beat the morning traffic, we got there too early for sovereign hill to be open, so missed the Eureka stockade show. We kept heading in an arc and eventually hit the coast at Portland, where we were staying that night. We had some time to kill and ended up visiting a wind farm and a couple of landmarks just west of town at cape Bridgewater called the Petrified Forest (not really a petrified forest) and the blow holes (funnily enough, not really blow holes either). We also did a lighthouse tour, which was great. It would have been an interesting life running one of those back in the day.

The Twelve Apostles

In the morning we headed east to Warrnambool and the start of the Great Ocean Road. Really, what can be said about this road that hasn’t already been said. It is fantastic. For those who haven’t done it, it runs from Torquay to Warrnambool and was built by returned diggers as a memorial to the fallen from WW1. it really has three distinct parts, we did it backwards, running from Warrnambool back toward Melbourne.

London Bridge

The way we drove, you head into dairy farming land, before popping out on the coast on top of cliffs, and you keep on driving along those, there is a lot to stop and see along the way, Bay of Islands, London Bridge, The Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and of course, the Twelve Apostles. You can stop every couple of klms and walk to a lookout platform and just be blown away. The days we were there the sea was angry, so it was easy to see how this coastline has been carved out. Quite spectacular.

After you hit Port Campbell, the cliff running is over and you head into the mountains. Winding through the bush, you climb quite high. It is a great contrast to the cliff hugging you just came from. Before you emerge from the bush into Apollo bay, which is a nice little coastal town. We had lunch here, at the Apollo Bay hotel, it was a good feed…

Great Ocean RoadApollo Bay to Torquay changes it up again, this is classic beach hugging driving, wrapping around the headlands weaving in and out of little pays, some really spectacular scenery. Quite amazing how different all three “zones” are.

We stopped off at Bell Beach after finishing the road, and got a photo of Maya on the “wave”, we have one of her as a baby sitting on it. After that we headed straight to Queenscliff to get the vehicular ferry across the mouth of Port Phillip Bay to head back to the In-laws place. A couple of days there, including the Birthday, before we headed up the Hume stopping in Sydney for the night, before running back up the Pacific into Brisbane.

It was great to get away, and was different to be just us and no camping. Most of our road trips have been in a group. You miss something without the others there, but it was a good time. I think I pretty much had the schedule right, while we were busy, we were never rushed. Probably the only thing I would do different would be to take the first day further south than Grafton, but that was because of family.

The schedule was:

Date Day From To Comments


Monday Brisbane Grafton


Tuesday Grafton Sydney Leave Early and get to Three Sisters mid afternoon.


Wednesday Sydney Kiama Zoo during day, then onto Kiama


Thursday Kiama Eden Blowhole and see Clarrie


Friday Eden Pakenham Make our way the rest of the way to Melbourne


Saturday Pakenham Pakenham Baby Shower and Melb Show


Sunday Pakenham Pakenham Melb


Monday Pakenham Portland to Portland via Ballarat and Hamilton


Tuesday Portland Pakenham Great Ocean Rd


Wednesday Pakenham Pakenham Melb


Thursday Pakenham Pakenham Heidi’s Birthday


Friday Pakenham Sydney


Saturday Sydney Brisbane Trip Home

Wow, that was a lot, any questions?