The Great Ocean Road is one of those famous routes that you have to have seen when you are in Australia. The expectations that we had was a coastal route similar to the French Cote d’Azur. Beautiful scenery with a small or bigger ‘tourist’ village every few km’s. We wanted to go to a campsite at the Great Otway National Park, close to the town of Cape Otway, almost in the middle of the Great Ocean Road How different reality was.We did not want to rush this famous route so we had postponed going here until we had more time to spent then just one weekend.
Because of the bush fires the first part of the Great Ocean Road had been closed, so we first went to the Grampians and then we drove in directly from the North. We relied on our navigation. The road became bumpier and then turned into a gravel road. When we stopped on the side of the road to change drivers, another car, coming form the other side, immediately stopped and asked us if we knew where we were going. “Of course we do”, we said in full confidence. After all our navigation was showing us where to go. That is one of the cool parts here in Australia, people are there to help you if you need it. No hesitation.
After about 20 km seeing no other cars, the road got windier and windier and seemed to be never ending. ‘Hmmm, this is a lot more remote then I expected from a very known tourist road’, I said to Oliver. I zoomed out of the map to see where we still needed to go. ‘We need to cross a bigger street, then another white street that seems similar to this one, to the campsite’. Then scanning the area where the campsite was to discover that there did not seem any habitation there. The town of Cape Otway, did not turn out to be a town, but nothing more then a little light house dot on the map.
So were we driving to a campsite in the middle of nowhere, on a one way street, close to the bush fires that are not under control? We had also not talked to anyone about our plans yet, because we were alone at the bush camp. Luckily there was a town at the end of the gravel road. We stopped for a toilet break, to buy a map of the region and to ask if it would be responsible to go to Bimbi Park now. ‘Yes, you will be fine’ was the friendly response, ‘The only thing you need to worry about is the sound of the koala’s that keep you awake.’ So no worries, again!
Although we had read everywhere that you need to book in advance during the peak season, as we arrived at the campsite there were many vacant spots. They even dropped the minimum seven night stay that is applicable according to the website. So I guess a lot of have been put off by the bush fires.
We were about one hours drive over the Great Ocean Road away from the 12 Apostles. The road was very interesting, but nothing that you expect from a coastal route, as we saw the ocean only twice.
The coast on this part of the continent is very rough and the erosion has made a dramatic coastline, which you can just not see from the road directly. Our first stop was at the 12 Apostles:
This is the photo that almost every tourist comes back with.
Usually you are not alone, this is the picture that you do not see very often:
I almost felt like a tourist on the Chinese wall:
It is a place that you should not miss. If you get here very early in the morning, or later in the evening, before or after all the tour buses, it is a lot less crowded.
Lord Arch Gorch
Five km further you get to a beautiful place equally impressive with a lot less tourists:
We climbed down the stairs and spend a couple hours just sitting on the beach enjoying the view and getting impressed by the power of the ocean.
But also here there are tour buses and you have to share the beach, but luckily still a lot less people here.
Between Cape Otway and Melbourne
After spending a week on the Great Ocean Road and Cape Otway it was time for us to head back. There were still bush fire warnings for the Great Ocean Road, since the fire still is not under control. But the fire is far enough away for the road to be opened to tourists again.
From Apollo Bay to Anglesia the Great Ocean Road turned into the road we expected it to be: a winding road next to the ocean with tourist villages alongside it.
Of course with camper vans along the road.
We did drive through the area and the villages that have been affected by the fire. Oliver wrote about how impressive this was in his blog post.
Although some parts are very touristy, they should not be missed. The Great Ocean Road is a lot more then the touristy parts of it. There are many beautiful spots. We have seen the necessary parts and will definitely go back again to discover more of the less discovered.
And maybe one day, I will be able to convince the rest of my family to walk the Great Ocean Walk with me. I did a short inspection at one of the GOW campsites and got even more enthusiastic, roughing it.