7 DAYS ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD - PART 1by TRAVELS OF SOPHIE
Day 1: Melbourne to Cape Otway
We left Melbourne before sunrise on the first day as we had a pretty tight schedule, but this meant we got to watch the sunrise as we drove along the first stretch of the Great Ocean Road. It happened to be a gorgeous one that totally made it worth getting up while it was still dark!
This was our first stop and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It took us about 45 minutes walking each way, but it’s worth it as the waterfall has a real Jurassic Park feel to it (unfortunately there weren’t any dinosaurs). We didn’t make it to Upper Kalimna Falls, but it just gives us another reason to go back.
Re-fueled and contented with full bellies, we made our way to Erskine Falls. We walked all 240 steps down and were rewarded with a gorgeous 30m waterfall nestled into the ferns. This is one of the busiest waterfalls, but it’s not hard to see why.
Cape Otway Lightstation
We planned to stay the night at the accommodation at Cape Otway Lightstation and wanted to be there in time for sunset. So, with the short winter days we didn’t have time to stop at any of the other many waterfalls around Lorne. If you have more time, then I’d highly recommend looking into them!
Cape Otway Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on mainland Australia and interestingly (as we were told by the lighthouse keeper) there were more shipwrecks after it was built in 1848! Although that was due to an increase in ship traffic, but I thought it was an interesting fact nonetheless.
We stayed in the Lightstation Studio and it had the most beautiful views from the window of the lighthouse.
- Here's a list of waterfalls in the region.
Day 2: Cape Otway to Port Campbell
I woke up early for the sunrise (realistically in winter that really isn’t very early – particularly when you just have to roll out of bed and walk outside your front door!). The sunrise we got wasn’t spectacular, but it was awesome to be able to watch the lighthouse catch those first rays all to ourselves with a cup of tea in hand! Don’t miss out on the breakfast at the lightstation cafe; the bacon and egg rolls were epic!
Yep, you read that right! The California Redwoods were planted in the 1930s and, despite being a non-native species, have even been included within the Great Otway National Park. It’s a truly serene and unique experience to be surrounded by such giants (they’re around 60m tall!), particularly in Australia.
This impressive waterfall is a short, but steep (about 200 stairs!) 30 minute return walk from the car park. I seriously couldn’t get enough of all the waterfalls surrounded by ferns, there’s something almost fairytale-like about them.
Ok so I’m going to be honest… if you’re afraid of heights you’re probably not going to love the Otway Treetop Walk. The 600m long walkway is 25m above the ground, and the walkway itself is a grated metal which allows you to see through to the forest floor. But, because of that, it’s amazing! It gives you unparalleled views of the rainforest and allows you to truly appreciate the grandeur of the nature.
We also stopped here for lunch, and seriously the chicken and camembert pie may be one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten – and I’ve eaten a LOT of pies.
12 Apostles/Gibson Steps
I’m not sure how much of an introduction the 12 Apostles and Gibsons Steps (scenic oceanside cliffs with a beach) really need as they are undoubtedly the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road.
We had planned to photograph sunset there and, well, we hadn’t received the memo that sunset was cancelled that night. So we arranged another night at the end of our trip to come back to them.
We stayed the night in one of the villas at Anchors, only 10 minutes from 12 Apostles – the perfect location! I was honestly completely wowed by this place. It has ceiling to floor windows overlooking the hills and I fell in love with it instantly. Even the bathroom has a huge window with a scenic overlook (but don’t worry, each unit is secluded so you can enjoy the view without fear of prying eyes!). It’s the kind of place that felt like home, but with all the niceties of 5-star accommodation.
Oh, and to top it all off, they have a farm with lots of different animals. So of course, I had to go meet them all and help feed them. Don’t worry though, if animals aren’t your thing then you wouldn’t even know they’re there.
Day 3: Port Campbell to Warrnambool
Our plan had been to photograph the sunrise at 12 Apostles but that was also cancelled due to rubbish weather. The plus side – extra time to hang out with the animals at Anchors!
Hopkins Falls (near Warrnambool)
Hopkins Falls is just off the road and is only 12m tall, but it’s 90m wide and flows over basalt rock making for some really cool rock features. They’re particularly impressive in the winter when there’s been some rainfall, so we had a real treat!
This Warrnambool cafe has gorgeous views over the sea and the best coffee I’d had since touching back down in Melbourne. The tempura flathead burger is also awesome and comes highly recommended. On the way out, we got a hot tip on where to watch sunrise on day four (keep reading to find out).
Whale watching at Logans Beach
There is a specially constructed platform at Logans Beach for viewing whales that use this area as a nursery during the winter months and you can often see Southern Right Whales with calves in this area. Unfortunately for us, nature decided not to cooperate and we didn’t see any whales here.
This spot is perfect for sunset. There’s a lot of rocky outcrops and tide pools, making for a really interesting place to photograph and watch sunset. We even got a rainbow amongst it all!
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum
We went to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village for their dinner and lightshow package and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, this turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for me. It was something so different that I wouldn’t have even considered doing, but I’m so happy we did. The show is projected onto a 9 metre wall of water and it was great to learn a bit more about the history of the area in such a fun and immersive way.
Surfside Holiday Park
We stayed in a cabin at Surfside, which was warm and cozy, but we really didn’t spend much time in it as we got back late after dinner, went to sleep and got up early for sunrise. However, it is conveniently situated a short walk from the beach so a great spot to be if you stay a little longer.