Koalas and storm on the Great Ocean Road

We pick up the trail of the Great Ocean Road just west of Torquay. From our campground in the north of Melbourne it is still a bit of a drive before we are on the G.O.R. (Melbourne is pretty sprawled out!). We are heading for Broken Hill, so we are taking the long way round.

Close to Melbourne is the town of Werribee. The beachside of Werribee (Werribee South) is actually a nice jumping off point for the G.O.R.. Ibis and ospreys circle over the small fishing harbor where bearded old fishermen drive their boats on and off the ramps at the jetty.

At Anglesea we get our first views of the ocean on the G.O.R.. Groups of youngsters are dressing for surf lessons. A seasoned white van pulls up next to us. Two guys and a girl hoist themselves in their wetsuits and walk out to the beach across the inlet, checking out the waves. The wind is probably a plus for them, while we take shelter in our tiny campervan and drive off. Clouds packed with rain sweep towards us.

We look at our Alert App for Victoria and see, a bit late, that a weather warning has been given for a serious bit of storm. It’s going to be a wet first part of the drive. With quite a bit of forest en route we feel a bit dim. Branches as thick as our arms fly across the road. But we get through safe. So some advice: look at your apps before you leave, not only when you already see the branches coming off the trees…

Not long after Anglesea, the road follows an arched beach and then starts winding itself between hills and sea. It’s slow going. We almost miss a bend while looking left over the ocean. Numerous coves with small beaches and tracks leading into the hills provide for entertainment on the way, but it doesn’t  feel spectacular yet. And if you are prone to car sickness… These very scenic winding roads are not necessarily a pleasure! So don’t forget your pills, as we learned just in time!

Our first of two overnight stops on the Great Ocean Road is Kennett River Caravan Park. After the kangaroos of Depot Beach, our second icon of Australia is supposed to live here. And they do live here! Koalas are lazing in the trees right above our heads! Some napping, like little balls of fur. Everybody loves a little ball of fur.

Others are actively browsing and gnawing away at the eucalyptus leaves. They look at us slightly curious, but only slightly. The leeches that sprawl over the showers in this caravan park, are much more interested in us… We decide we are not that dirty and skip a possibility to take a shower.

In the morning, we take a short drive up the hill to spot more koalas. Tourist groups are dropped at the bottom of the hill and feed the Australian King Parrots.  We understand now why we were both being attacked by these birds on the campsite. They thought we had food as well. Please do not feed the wildlife!

Some of these tour groups never get beyond this point, but further up on the Grey River Road, we get some private time with a koala. And after staying with him for quite some time, we see several more of these little cuties. This really is koala heaven!

Our second day on the Great Ocean Road winds through the gorgeous forests of Great Otway Park and then plunges back down to the coast. The wind has died down.

We get to the Twelve Apostles together with at least five tour buses and two hundred other couples, some with kids. Some old, some young, and at least one school class. We take our pictures and make our escape.

We like London Bridge a bit more. There are less people here. Although the ones here are not necessarily sane. One guy chooses to climb over the fence to take a suicidal selfie (and this wasn’t the only suicidal act of selfie-taking we have seen…). In the ages before selfie taking, when the connecting bridge to the mainland collapsed, a couple was trapped on the now self standing cliff. They had to be rescued by helicopter. This may still happen any day!

The road west of the London Bridge still holds the name of the Great Ocean Road, but goes inland through quite boring fields. When we reach the ocean again, we find a great little place at Yambuk, to set up camp. Just past Port Fairy, behind the dunes, a very nice couple runs a campsite at the end of the road. We spend the night staring out over the dunes, a wind farm on the horizon (the first we see! Sustainable energy is not big in Australia, it seems…). From within our campervan though, because the wind picks up again.

In Portland, the next morning, we drive to our westernmost point on the Great Ocean Road: Cape Bridgewater. It seems fit that we are again met by a school class getting their surf lessons on the beach (such a cool thing to learn at school!), while the other half plays cricket. That’s Australia for you!


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