The Great Ocean Road is a must-do for those visiting Australia and an easy introduction to life on the road for first-time road-trippers. Here I’ve put together a few tips on how to have a smooth-running trip down the GOR, hope it helps a few travellers out there!
Plan your route
As much as road trips are about getting out onto the open road and driving without a care in the world, a certain degree of organisation is a necessity for a good trip! Check out my Great Ocean Road Itinerary and plan your stops. It’s easy to get sidetracked, so highlight what you want to see most and make them a priority.
Manage your time
There’s so many things to see on the GOR, it can be easy to loose track of time! We spent so much time walking through the forest oohing and awing and the koalas up in the branches, that we missed check-in for a caravan park and were left to sleep in the forest!
Travel East to West
The drive is best experienced when you’re driving on the left, with the ocean by your side. You can easily see the amazing views the cliff-face had to offer and can pull in easily also when something catches your eye.
Monitor your fuel
This can be a tricky one. My advice, if you see a stop with cheap fuel, stock up. The fuel gets more expensive as you travel further on the GOR. If at all possible, avoid Lavers Hill, it was 30c extra per litre here! Make sure you’ve a full tank going into the national parks too, the dirt tracks and steep hills here burn a lot of fuel.
The best place to see wild koalas is straight up the Grey Road River in the tiny town of Kennett. Take a left at the Koala Kafe and carry on up the hill. You can also spot them on the drive to the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Find a spot to pull in, and hop a few wire fences to get in at the trees. For wild platypuses head in to the national park to Lake Elizabeth, best seen in early morning or late evening.
This is easily the most breath-taking stop on the drive. I suggest viewing them in full sunshine, and then returning, either at sunrise or sunset to get that once-in-a-lifetime view.
Keep your car comfortable
The key to a successful road trip is not to get sick of your car. There’s been times where I’ve stormed away from my car cursing that I never want to step foot in it again. But after some fresh air, a clean-out of rubbish and coffee cups, and a quick vacuum of sand, it feels like a brand new car again!
Don’t rush your trip
So many people and tour groups finish the GOR in less than 12 hours! We took three days and I feel like it wasn’t enough time. Stop, get out of the car, photograph everything, take it all in, feel the fresh ocean air on your face, and just enjoy every minute! It’s likely you will never be here again so take your time and see everything you can!
Be prepared for crowds
The GOR has over 7 million visitors each year, and each visitor is a snap-happy, selfie-stick loving, backpack wearing, classic tourist who all want the exact same picture. It’s so important to keep your cool, understand you’re visiting one of Australia’s largest attractions, and embrace the crowds. I felt like hanging a sign around my neck scrawled with “Yes I do mind taking your picture, STOP ASKING ME!!” Byte centrally I got used to it. If you want to escape the crowds, try the Cape Otway National Park, it’s less crowded and has some beautiful hikes and waterfalls.
I may sound like my mother here but, make sure you bring a coat! After escaping the 35 degree heat in Sydney, I had to stop and buy some jeans on the way passed Melbourne! I didn’t have a heavy jacket and spent my time wrapped in a beach towel at the Twelve Apostles!