After one last good night’s sleep in a real bed and a refreshing shower, we got ready for our road trip. On our itinerary was “The Great Ocean Road.” This road is 250 kilometers long and was built by soldiers who returned after World War I. They were given this job to provide them with employment. The road was intended to be a memorial for the fallen soldiers and also a tourist attraction. “The Great Ocean Road” is the largest war memorial in the world. We quickly went to the store to buy some last-minute items and drove towards Torquay, an hour’s drive and also the starting point of “The Great Ocean Road.” We were excited! We also stopped briefly at Bells Beach for a stretch and had a picnic overlooking the sea. We continued driving towards Anglesea, where we were hoping to spot kangaroos at the golf course. It was fun, but we didn’t stay long. Since it was already afternoon, we headed to Lorne. We used the “WikiCamps” app to find a free camping spot, which led us to the Great Otway National Park. At the first spot, only tents were allowed.
So we continued our journey to the second spot, deeper into the forest, and found a small campground for six campers. We were the seventh, but the Park Ranger hadn’t checked in for a few days. We parked our vehicle and cooked a quick but delicious stir-fry meal. We were immediately treated to the sight of beautiful parrots that eagerly wanted some food. I wasn’t thrilled about it because they landed on Ely’s head and foot. It was already freezing, so we quickly crawled into our tent with an extra blanket. Throughout the night, we heard various animal sounds, including what we believed to be wild boars.
We woke up early and didn’t have the best night’s sleep. Sleeping in a rooftop tent was still a bit of an adjustment. Since there were no toilets or drinkable water (let alone a shower), and it was still freezing cold, we decided to fold up our tent and leave. Our first stop of the day was the Erskine Falls. It was still early, so we had the place all to ourselves, which was delightful. We continued driving and enjoyed the breathtaking views of The Great Ocean Road. Stunning
Our next stop was Wreck Beach, once again all to ourselves. Over 700 ships have reportedly sunk along this coast due to the wild weather, human errors, and the rocky coastline. To reach this beach, we had to descend 350 steps (and, of course, climb back up). We walked two kilometers along the beach to admire the anchors of the “Fiji” and “Marie Gabrielle” ships. We arrived at the iconic spot of The Great Ocean Road, the Gibson Steps, and the Twelve Apostles around 5 p.m.
On the way from the parking area to the Gibson Steps, we saw a wild fox, but it was too fast to capture in a photo. The Twelve Apostles and the Gibson Steps were incredibly beautiful to behold. From this point, there were still many more stops with attractions ahead, so we decided to stay nearby overnight. About five kilometers back, there was a paid campground in Princetown. We could set up our tent there for 20 dollars (12 euros) and use the showers, toilets, and hot water. We chose a sunny spot in the huge campground. We set up our table and made fresh spaghetti sauce. Delicious! We crawled into bed early again because we were utterly exhausted. During the night, Ely had to go to the bathroom and saw a breathtaking starry sky. Later, he also heard kangaroos grazing. It was nice to hear that Ely’s brother had camped here a few years ago during his trip through Australia.
We slept in a bit, enjoyed a blissful shower, and had breakfast. We were treated to more stunning natural phenomena throughout the day. Starting with the Twelve Apostles once again. Here, we finally saw our first snake. Woohoo! We walked through Port Campbell National Park, where we encountered two more snakes in the wild.
We were told to be cautious as the Tiger Snake and Brown Snake are among the most venomous snakes in the world. However, we were unprepared as we were hiking in our flip-flops during this walk. Further along our route, we also saw The Razorback, Loch Ard Gorge, Mutton Bird Island, The Blowhole, Sherbrook River, Broken Hill, The Arch, The London Arch, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs, Bay of Islands, and finally ended at Childers Cove. All these natural phenomena were formed by erosion: the harsh and extreme weather conditions cause the limestone to crumble gradually, leaving these formations standing on their own. In 2005, one of the Apostles disappeared, leaving only eight remaining. We were in awe of how nature takes its course and remains indestructible.
Afterward, we bought a dozen fresh eggs from a local farmer for 3 dollars. He had several boxes in a barrel, and we left the money in a small jar and took our eggs. It was evening when we arrived in Warrnambool at a paid campground. It was a bit too crowded and expensive for our liking, but we slept soundly in our tent.
We took another shower (funny how I suddenly became grateful for every possible shower :-D). Ely made delicious fried eggs while I packed up the tent. We stayed at the campground for half an hour longer than planned but had no time pressure there. After two nights of camping, Ely caught a cold, so we looked for a nearby pharmacy. We stocked up on some food supplies and had a coffee and milkshake. The weather wasn’t really cooperating (although it’s still better than in Belgium), but we decided to drive to the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.
The reserve is a crater of an extinct volcano, and you can still see many remnants of the eruption. We went on two walks and were lucky to spot some wildlife: kangaroos, emus, snakes, etc. I had to push my boundaries quite a bit to brave that wildlife. Along our walk, there were three emus on our trail. We had read on an information board to hold our hands vertically above our heads. This makes the animals think we are bigger and not a threat. Ely took me by the hand and led me through. A few beads of sweat later on our foreheads, we finished our walk.
We drove on to Hawkesdale in search of a free campground. We found the first spot too close to the road and drove further into the forest. We stumbled upon an old golf course where no one was parked. We were a bit suspicious because it seemed so deserted. Ely went to the toilet and saw a guestbook, so we stayed there. So much space, yet it was difficult to decide where to park ourselves :-D. It’s wonderful to be all alone in nature like this. We did get some rain on our roof (or, instead, our tent) during the night. Fortunately, it was waterproof.
In the morning, a volunteer from the site came to visit us. For breakfast, we made delicious banana pancakes and then drove to the public showers in Dunkeld. I don’t mind not having a toilet or running water, but I like to shower in the morning. You can live like a woodland nymph here, but we both find hygiene important :-D. Luckily, there are many public showers in Australia, and it’s also quite common to use them. Through our app, “Wikicamps,” we can search for locations with warm and cold showers.
Our trip along The Great Ocean Road was phenomenal. A really enjoyable first road trip. There were some touristy spots here and there (but that’s typical of popular places), and I found myself getting annoyed at the Asians with their cameras, but we just took it in stride. Our next stop: The Grampians. We’ve heard a lot about it, and we’re both looking forward to it.
See you soon for our next adventures!
X Inez & Ely