Great Ocean Road by campervan

The Great Ocean Road is best done when the sun is shining and the temperatures allow for a swim in the ocean. However, since summertime is limited, I ventured onto this scenic road in autumn. The wind was strong and cold and I was dressed in jeans and lots of layers.

The night before I’d met my travel companions. Via an ad on Gumtree I had found two girls who were travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne in a campervan. German Sanja and Belgian Lila had been driving around for a while and I joined them for this trip, together with another German, Kässy.

After doing some shopping and a hot chocolate in Hahndorf, a long trip along the highway started. On our way to the Victorian border there wasn’t much to see. The sun had started to set when we reached the mountains of The Grampians. While I would have loved to explore that area further, the girls were on a schedule and I could soon tell that there was not much room for discussion. As we made our way along the winding roads it started to get really dark.

Luckily we safely made our way out of the mountains, even passing a controlled bush fire that had us entranced by its intensity. The orange light was so bright I thought the whole world had caught fire and from afar you could see the smoke rising into the night. It wasn’t until late at night that we made a stop to cook dinner and even after that there was some driving to be done. We had to find a spot to sleep. Suddenly we reached the start of the Great Ocean Road. We conveniently ignored the ‘no camping’ sign and prepared for bed.

Kässy and I had to share a space in the top of the van that was meant for one person. Via the kitchen block we had to climb and shove ourselves into the tiny space. It couldn’t have been higher than 50cm. After our acrobatic moves we couldn’t help but wonder how we would even get out of there in the morning.

Morning came after a cold night and we had an early rise. I couldn’t shake the cold and felt uncomfortable for a good few hours. It was cloudy and the shade of the clouds predicted rain. The first part of the Great Ocean Road had lots of natural wonders to see. Whereas everything is packed with tourists in summer, we only had to compete with a few people now to get a good view. The coast was made of high cliffs, the waves crashing into them.

The most famous of the attractions was the 12 Apostles. Why exactly it’s called that I still don’t know, since there have never actually been 12 rocks sticking out of the sea. It was beautiful to see none the less, especially since the clouds broke open and let the sun shine its light on the mighty rocks. It only lasted for a few minutes, but made the sight that much more spectacular. In contrast with the other natural attractions, the 12 Apostles had a gift shop and it was highly commercialized. I could almost see the high numbers of touring cars that would be here in summer.

The next part of the road brought us into small towns. At this point it wasn’t very interesting for us anymore. In summer I would have been eager to stay in one of the towns and explore the beaches, including the famous Bells beach. Now however, we just hopped into a coffee shop to warm up and enjoyed the views on our drive to Melbourne. As we reached Bells beach it started to rain. Not much later we reached Melbourne.


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