A Great (Ocean) Road Trip in Fives

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You might say in your application that your Year Abroad is all about expanding your academic horizons, but we all know that one of the main reasons for applying is to indulge in your wander lust (and possibly fit in another year of career procrastination). Once you’ve caught it, there’s no denying this addictive travel bug, and a road trip is the one of the best ways to embrace it!


Gibson Steps Beach

Here’s five reasons for choosing a road trip for your next adventure:

  1. You see the sights as you’re driving along: the destination really is the journey.

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    Teddy’s Lookout, Great Ocean Road

  2. You have complete freedom and control over where and when you go.

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    Transportation and accommodation in one!

  3. There’s nothing like a road trip for getting closer to your friends / family – probably closer than you bargained for.
  4. It’s cheap! Hiring a car or a campervan can be a great way to travel on a budget, especially if you combine it with camping.
  5. The sense of achievement. This sounds a bit vague, but there’s a real sense of fulfilment (and relief) when you complete a trip, and driving the whole way definitely contributes.

Here in Melbourne we are lucky enough to have a bucketful of road-trippable options, from nearby Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom all the way to Canberra or Sydney. However, there is one stretch of road that surpasses all others (it’s in the name): The Great Ocean Road. Beginning at nearby Torquay and stretching west to Allansford, it’s 243km of Australian National Heritage listed coastline.


Packed with world-class surf beaches, stunning rock formations and verdant rainforest, the Great Ocean Road is a hugely popular destination. The ‘must do’ iconic sights like the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge feature a constant stream of tourists (and rightly so – they’re stunning). However, these are five lesser known gems that get you away from the crowd, and make this trip even more memorable:

  1. Surfing at Torquay beach 

    Torquay is fab for learn to surf, featuring  local instructors (shout out to Curly Kev), gorgeous beaches, and mostly importantly, a great break. It’s also home to two iconic surf brands – RipCurl and Quicksilver – and world-famous Bells Beach is just down the road.


    Plus, the town esplanade is studded with laid-back cafes: grab a delicious breakfast at Cafe Moby before hitting the waves or refuel with a burger at Bottle of Milk.

  2. Koala spotting at Kennet River           

    Kennet River has one of the highest concentration of koalas in the region, which means your chances of spotting one in the wild are pretty good. Some tours do stop here, so the entrance can be a bit busy, but if you hike up the road you’ll find peace, quiet, and plenty of sleepy koalas

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    While you’re here, stop off at the unassuming Wye River General Store, 5km from Kennet River. The french toast is sublime!

  3. Waterfall climbing at Triplet Falls

    waterfall combo

    Triplet Falls is an hour inland from the coast, but it escapes the tour crowds and is well worth the detour: a short hike through the rainforest leads to pretty lookouts over the cascading falls.

  4. Hiking at Cape Otway Light-station


    Cape Otway National Park, in the opposite direction to Triplet Falls, is home to the oldest surviving lighthouse (1848) on mainland Australia. The peninsula is crossed with lovely walking tracks, and the panoramic views from the top of the lighthouse are hard to beat. The history of the light-station and original land (visit the informative Aboriginal Talking Hut) is fascinating, to boot.

  5. Sunset at Bay of Islands National Park


    Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs are towards the very end of the Great Ocean Road, so they receive far less tour buses, meaning you’ll have the stunning sunset all to yourself.

Despite all the awesome upsides of road tripping, there are a few drawbacks: the cramped space and the long hours on the road, for example. So lastly, here’s my five top tips for surviving your ultimate road trip in (relative) comfort.

  1. Spend a little time before you set off becoming familiar with the vehicle (so you can ask questions before you leave). For example: how do I put this campervan into reverse? Or, what type of gas does this take?

    Kombis are classic for road trips, and they all have their own driving quirks!

  2. Make a road trip playlistWP_20170928_003 There’s nothing quite like driving along a beautiful stretch of road with the windows down, belting your favourite tune at the top of your lungs. Plus, it’ll make those long drives go that much faster.
  3. Make regular fuel stops. Just do this. It’ll prevent those stressful moments when you realise you’re an hour deep in the rainforest and your camper is running on empty (definitely not us).
  4. Bring plenty of snacks, a good book and a pack of cards, just in case you’ve exhausted conversation topics on the drive (warning: cards can cause arguments, especially among families).
  5. Pack fluffy socks. This little brain wave made me SO much happier on the trip. If you’re a passenger, they’re perfect for relaxing in the car, but as a driver, these saved me during the nights, which were surprisingly cold. Happy feet = happy traveller.


    ‘One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure’ – William Feather

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