Almost unnoticed we crossed the border from New South Wales to Victoria and soon came across beautiful white dunes and beaches. Unfortunately, the good weather didn’t stay with us anymore and the rainy and windy days were rather cold, but it was still cozy in our little van.
Lake Entrance and the Gippsland Lakes
As there wasn‘t much to do at the beaches in a rainy weather we basically kept on driving, making our way to Lake Tyres Beach, Lake entrance, and the Gippsland Lakes. A beautiful region, even when it was raining. All the way from Lake Tyres on, there are absolutely stunning and huge beaches and I am sure a perfect spot to spend some time when the sun is out. Reaching the Gippsland Lakes, supposedly one of the biggest lake formations in Australia, we were surprised to see not much else than dry dirt and certainly no water. Coming from Switzerland it is easy to forget about the water shortage other countries suffer from. We were told, that there was no real rain for weeks – until the day we arrived there. Still the beaches there were gorgeous too and it was a nice drive along the coast.
Melbourne with Family visits
Two of my grandma‘s brothers and their family live in and around Melbourne. Of course, we paid at least some of them a visit. First, we stopped at Godi‘s and spent a really nice day with him visiting an animal sanctuary nearby. There are several of those animal parks in Australia, showing native animals. Even though we saw a lot of those animals in nature during our trip, we would recommend visiting one of those parks if you come across one. Australian animals are kind of special after all, aren‘t they?
As my other grand-uncle lives on the other side of Melbourne, we first wanted to pay the city a visit. For that, we could park our campervan in the front yard of Godi‘s daughter Heidi. It did look really weird having a campervan parked there in the suburbs of Melbourne. We took two days to visit the city, which was perfectly fine for us. In the city center, we just took a walk along different roads and explore it like this. We found that Melbourne was a really busy city, with some really nice spots to have lunch or coffee. We were a little overwhelmed by the size of it too, but the riverside was a really nice place to relax a little after the long walk we took. The next day we went to St. Kilda Beach, where we sat at the promenade and observed the people passing by. A great activity, isn‘t it? For the sunset, we headed out to St Kilda pier to see the Penguins getting up. Amazingly we saw two of these little clumsy birds! Too cute! And it was really nice to see the sunset too of course.
The next point of our Melbourne itinerary led us to my other grand-uncle Ferdy, living about two hours west of Melbourne with his wife. Their beautiful house is right at the border of a small lake that can be overlooked from the balcony. In fact, it reminded us a little of Switzerland. Ferdy took us on a drive around the area, showing us a few different things and some great views. The area around Melbourne is really nice in general and totally worth a visit. We didn‘t spend any more time there as we couldn‘t wait to start the drive to the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road
I’ve seen the Great Ocean Road when I was in Australia before and was absolutely stunned by it. Back then I did it on a day trip from Melbourne. This time we took about 4 days for the drive and enjoyed every minute of it.
Torquay to Apollo Bay
This first part of the drive treated us with amazing views of the ocean, beautiful and widespread beaches and gorgeous steep cliffs. The rather cold and cloudy weather didn’t bother us at the time. It actually gave the scenery a mystic touch, which was really nice. As much as we enjoyed this part of the drive, it is not as unique as other parts of the Great Ocean Road and certainly not the main reason to visit.
We didn’t plan on visiting Aire Valley, neither did we know of it. We were just looking for free campsites and as there are not that many along the Great Ocean Road, we picked a free one a little land inwards. As we left the coast we were driving up a curvy road, reaching a forest after a while. As we continued, the forest got thicker and thicker and we soon found ourselves in the middle of huge fern, eucalyptus trees and a lot of other green plants. We did not expect to find a forest like that just off the Great Ocean Road at all! That’s the great thing about exploring, I guess. We stayed at a nice campsite, did a short walk to a waterfall and had improvised cheese fondue over the open fire. What else could you wish for?
Great Otway National Park and Wreck Beach
The next day, we headed back down to the coast and continued our drive. It was raining and grey, what made this part of the drive a little boring. A good thing though we headed down the road towards Cape Otway Lighthouse. On this road, you find yourself in the middle of the National Park that is famous for its Koalas. And after about 10 minutes, we already spotted some sleeping up in the trees. So cute! We didn’t bother to continue the drive to the lighthouse, as friends recommended us not to (apparently you need to pay an entry fee too). But we had the best experience already anyways! What’s definitely worth to have a look at though is the Wreck Beach. Apart from the sandy part, there is a flat rocky part with lots of little pools in it. The waves crashing against the shore further out and the old anchor are easy reminders of how powerful the ocean is. Just remember to visit during low tide to see the most of this beach.
Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and other High Lights
We were kind of taking the drive very slowly by now, as the weather got wroth and we didn’t want the best part of the drive to be wasted by grey and rainy backgrounds. So we stayed at a cheap campground 5 minutes from the Twelve Apostles and wanted to have a look at them the next day. But then, just before sunset, the sky brightened up! So, we jumped in our van, and rushed over to the Twelve Apostles look out to see the sunset. Just in time we arrived there and couldn’t believe how amazing this coastal scenery looked like! Truly unique and definitely worth visiting Australia for. The next day we drove further west to see all the other highlights like Loch Ard Gorge, the London Bridge, the Grotto and the Bay of Islands. They are all really beautiful to look at, and also look similar after a while. Apart from the Twelve Apostles we really liked the Razorback Lookout and the Bay of Islands. But the views on these scenic landmarks really do depend on the light and just look so much more impressive if the sun is out.