After our two week road trip around New Zealand we returned to Australia for another week of fun down under. This time we arrived in Melbourne and decided to take a road trip on the Great Ocean Road which stretches for nearly 250 km along the southeast coast of the country.
We rented a campervan through Jucy and had a blast. The van was a converted Toyota minivan which had the middle seats removed and replaced by a bench that pulls out into a bed. The trunk was taken over by a mini kitchen set up with a small sink, a mini fridge, a gas stove, and storage space for pots, pans, utensils, and some other kitchen gadgets. It was perfect for us: it gave us the freedom to roam at our own pace and gave us a place to sleep and eat without requiring us to have any of our own equipment – it even came with bedding and towels!
We spent three traveling west from Lorne to Cape Bridgewater before turning around to spend two more days heading back towards Melbourne. We agree this was one of our top trip experiences to date. We absolutely loved:
Australia has some absolutely beautiful beaches and the southern coast is no exception. We spent one night camping right next to the beach at Johanna Beach with crystal clear blue water and a seemingly endless expanse of wide sand beach. We just missed the peak of sunset because we were preoccupied by a game of chess and a bottle of wine but we did see the sky alight with pinks and purples over the crashing waves. The water at the beaches wasn’t even as cold as anticipated and we were able to go swimming on multiple occasions.
The southern coast has dramatic ocean cliffs, sandy beaches, unique rock formations and even ship wrecks. We were able to do several short hikes along the water. It also seemed like there were opportunities for scenic lookouts and points of interest every few hundred meters. The highlight of the coast was the 12 Apostles rock formations towards the western end of the road. There are several (not 12) rock formations standing in the ocean and being slowly washed away by the water. It reminded us a bit of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
Epic Animal Encounters
Before starting the road trip we were hopeful that we would see some of Australia’s famous animals but weren’t sure just how easy it would be. We ended up getting REALLY lucky with some incredible koala and kangaroo sightings! On our first day we were visiting a lookout point and spotted a koala in a tree about level with the viewing platform, making for a unique opportunity to catch it at eye level. We also got lucky and spotted two super cute and fluffy koalas en route to the Otway Lightstation.
We got off to a slow start with the kangaroo sightings. In the first few days, we saw one or two here and there but always very quickly before they disappeared into the woods. When looking for a campsite one night we spotted reviews of one that mentioned kangaroos in the area. Sure enough, we got there and found that the campsite’s was home to a group of about 10 kangaroos! We got a great look at them roaming around the campground and hanging out on the campsite’s cricket field.
This campsite was particularly awesome (because of the kangaroos and also the free hot showers, a rarity) so we went back for a second night. We couldn’t believe our luck when we found ourselves surrounded by 8 kangaroos just munching the grass and minding their own business as we sat and looked on over a game of chess and a bottle of wine.
We also got the chance to see some seals at the far western end of the Great Ocean Road at Cape Bridgewater. While we looked on from high above on the cliffs, we got to watch the seals playing and swimming below and had a really nice hike in the process. We also saw more kangaroos roaming the hills!
The Jucy Campervan Experience
In addition to the awesome experiences of the Great Ocean Raod itself, we LOVED our time in the camper van, affectionately nicknamed Juicy J. We had fun picking up groceries, cooking meals out of the back, dining al fresco with our camping table and chairs, and rolling around with our home on wheels. It gave us so much freedom to come and go as we pleased. This was the first time we went somewhere without making ANY plans – we just stopped at information offices along the way and figured it out as we went. For this trip, this was the perfect way to travel. We might have to make a project out of creating our own camper van one day!
Our Upcoming Travel Plans!!!
We returned Juicy J and headed back to Melbourne for two nights. We didn’t see much of the city as we have been consumed with planning for the next leg of our trip… a month-long overland safari in Africa! We are flying into Zambia and will spend 34 nights heading to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa with up to 24 other travelers in an overland truck. We anticipate wifi opportunities will be few and far between but we will update the blog when we can!
Flights are booked to head back to the US on April 20th and we will spend a few weeks road tripping around the USA and Canada before it’s time to return to the real world. Stay tuned for more updates!