The Great Ocean Road and Victoria in general is a pretty spectacular place. Seriously, say “no thanks” to that Contiki tour (where let’s be honest you were just going to get drunk across multiple continents) and travel the motherland instead.
Today I thought I would impart my Great Ocean Road (affectionately known as GOR) knowledge on you all. Spoiler alert: stay the hell away from the 12 Apostles.
GOR Wisdom #1 – Do not pass go and do stay at The Grampians
The highlight of my trip? The Grampians. Is it even remotely Great Ocean Road-esque? Well sure, if you count 160km inland part of the #GOR? As you can see in the map we started at Melbourne and looped inland to Ballarat and Halls Gap before heading to the coastline to start our GOR adventures and I am so glad we did!
The Grampians is all the beautiful parts of Australia (minus the not so good stuff). I became obsessed with the Australian native plants (and you will too if you go there), the mountains, the people, the wildlife and the Aboriginal history. We hiked from Halls Gap to the peak of The Pinnacle, no easy feat at a steep and life-questioning 12km hike but the views….. I could have spent the entire trip at The Grampians hiking all the trails.
GOR Wisdom #2 – You got a van, you got a bed
I am so glad we opted for that sweet #vanlyf instead of booking hotels/motels/AirBnBs. Having the van was both the most humbling and the most liberating thing. It literally stripped us back to the bare essentials; no water on cue, no toilet on cue, no electricity, no aircon, no warmth, no comfortable bed, no escape from dirt or wetness (that Victoria rain and chill was inescapable). Does this sound like torture to you? Even more reason for you to do it! It really makes you grateful for small things and makes you think about how lucky you are to have a van when people around the world literally have nothing. Plus it was super liberating, we weren’t bound by check-in times or certain locations. When we were done for the day we simply pulled in wherever we wanted.
Ps. We did the Jucy vs. Wicked debate (this article really helped) and after reading an abundance of travel blogs we chose Jucy and my lord are we glad we did! The cleanliness, reliability and features of the Jucy are well worth the few extra $$$.
GOR Wisdom #3 – Pack all of the clothes, for all of the seasons.
Oh Victoria, you aren’t known for your predictable weather. And do not trust the ‘I will check the weather when I pack’ trick because their weather changes, every single second!
GOR Wisdom #4 – Stay away from the 12 Apostles.
If you are anything like me and hate crowds/people the 12 Apostles (or any other landmark along the GOC for that matter) is not for you! You know those hectic Black Friday stampedes you see in America? No? Well, that is what I felt like at the 12 Apostles! They don’t show you that in the brochure do they? Go there, take your pretty shot for Instagram and then RUN before you are knocked over by the crazy self-stick-carrying mob of humans.
GOR Wisdom #5 – Talk to all of the people
I am trying to recall but I do not think we spoke to very man Aussies (besides for employees of places). As far as other travelers…. not very many were Australians. And to be honest it was super freaking cool. Mainly, because everyone loved us (we were two Aussie chicks, that is cool to foreigners apparently) and two, we got to meet a diverse range of people. I live in the Carly-bubble when I am not holidaying; between work, home, life admin, boyfriend, friends, blog, my cat and family I find it super easy to forget about that massive thing out there called the world. My goal is to make non-holidaying Carly talk to more strangers, I feel like I can always take something away from those conversations.
GOR Wisdom #6 – Take the Phillip Island detour
My two main highlights of the #GOR2017 trip where The Grampians and Phillip Island, neither of which are remotely near GOR…..fascinating.
Phillip Island is this sleepy ol’ island (bar when the Grand Prix is there) about 2 hours south of Melbourne. As a serious animal-enthusiast this place was like a freaking theme park to me. I spent 30-45 minutes photographing Scottish Highlanders (to Rachelle’s pleasant frustration) and we got to watch wild fairy penguins arrive home after a long day at sea! The. Freaking. Dream. We also got to check out the koala sanctuary and just relax before returning to the scary craziness of Melbourne.
GOR Wisdom #7 – Stop at all of the brewery/winery locations
This one will require the presence of a responsible adult who is:
- Not on a provisional license
- Understands how to stop drinking after a responsible amount of alcohol
The GOR is a foodie wonderland so make sure you stop and get your drank and food on! The beers and ciders are incredible. Next time I will make sure I go with a wine-lover so we can do a big wino day. The wineries looked BEAUTIFUL.
GOR Wisdom #8 – Choose your company wisely
A van is a very small space to be trapped with a person for days upon days. You are going to get to know them on a whole new level and you will most definitely run out of things to talk about at some point. But do you know what? If they are your best friend it doesn’t matter. My girl Rach, albeit a pain in the booty at times, is my absolute main girl and I couldn’t imagine doing this trip with anyone else. And yes, that includes my boyfriend. Living in a van with someone requires a certain level of intimacy that being in a loving relationship simply does not (I am joking, kinda).
Anyway that is my wrap up of my Great Ocean Road trip, sorry to anyone who was expecting a serious itinerary.
Thank you so so so much for reading. I really do appreciate it,
Now go smile at a stranger, or talk to a stranger, or seriously improve someone else’s day. We could all add a little extra kindness into our daily routine.