Our road trip to the Victorian High Country continues, with next leg of the odyssey covering the spectacular Great Ocean Road (GOR) where waves of the Southern Ocean pound into towering cliffs along Victoria’s coastline.
To start the GOR we travelled down from Mungo National Park, crossing the Murray River at Robinvale then cutting through the Wimmera region of western Victoria, eventually landing for the night at Warrnambool. This part of rural Victoria was quite dry and the air was thick with red dust clouds lifted from the expanses of empty wheat fields, which combined with the many areas of rising salinity to demonstrate the negative effect two centuries of farming has had on these fragile semi arid areas.
Warrnambool Surfside Holiday Park gave us a chance to refill water tanks, have a shower and do some laundry – all important logistics to build into a trip plan when touring mostly off grid. The caravan park was busy but not over full and we managed to get a quiet site with only one neighbour and shrubbery on two sides. After being amused by the cheeky blue wrens hopping around the place we headed into town and found a Mexican restaurant to finish things off nicely before an early night.
The next day was start of the main game, our trip across the Great Ocean Road and we had pretty good weather for it, with some clouds but not the howling wind of my previous visit. Our plan was to spend two days driving the road, overnighting in one of the little coastal caravan parks along the way. To kick things away we swung past the pretty little Hopkins Falls, claimed to be Australia’s widest continuous waterfall, caused by a band of volcanic rock which has formed a dam across a creek.
We were soon back on the coastline and dropped into each of the designated parking bays to check out the iconic GOR sights.
The road certainly deserves the “Great” in its name, with each lookout and vista giving fantastic views to sea and along the rugged cliff faces with beautiful beaches tucked between them.
We found a groovy little place in Port Campbell called the Grassroots Deli Café for lunch which had great food and a nice vibe. Port Campbell itself is a pretty little town, tucked into a protected cove like some seaside village from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel.
We eventually set up camp at the Kennet River Caravan Park, one of several old style coastal van parks on the GOR that is owned by the same regional tourism authority. A highlight of our day was the koala ambling around the place upon our arrival, after we had only been talking earlier about wanting to see one. Although a little unorganised and in need of some maintenance the van park was a friendly enough place with basic amenities and flat grassy sites, and only a short stroll across the road from a beach with great rock pools at its end.
Our second day on the GOR started with post card like views at every turn, following a road that hugged the cliff face on a clear calm morning until we reached the Eastern Memorial Arch that designates start (or for us end) of the road.
From here we continued following the coastal road until it finished at the iconic Bell’s Beach where we stopped to watch the surfers catching the point break and breathed our last lung full of sea air before heading to Torquay for lunch and turning the rig inland again.
Our destination for the night was a Hipcamp site called Mount Hope Vineyards, near Yarra Glen in the very scenic Yarra Valley. To get there we skirted Melbourne city on the ring road, grabbed some supplies and then arrived at the very pretty little corner of the world that would be our home for a few nights. Better still, we were able to buy some bottles of the estate’s own pinot noir and loved how the picture on the bottle perfectly matched backdrop to our camp site…
This would be our base from which we’d visit relatives who lived in the area and to play tourists in the nearby towns of Warburton and Healesville. Oh, and of course it was within easy striking distance of the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie too 😉
We were getting excited now, for main stage of our trip was about to commence – a TVAN tag along trip through the Victorian High Country. From the Yarra Valley we had to head northward to Corryong at top of the Snowy River region to meet up with our travelling companions. Join us on the next blog as push deep into an area rich with tales of gold mines, wild brumbies and mountain cattle mustering.