3 days on the Great Ocean Road on a budget

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

I don’t know any backpacker travelling around Australia who does not plan to travel the Great Ocean Road. No wonder. Some people devote a whole week to this magical roadtrip, others only one-two days, which I consider a serious crime. One of the world’s most beautiful roads deserves a little more respect I guess.
We spent 3 days and 3 nights on the road and we loved every minute of it. It was definitely not the most comfortable trip of my life but I couldn’t have cared less.

As neither Martin nor I am a good driver, we decided to look for travel buddies on gumtree, which is Australia’s most popular website for rideshares, roomrentals, selling goods, etc. As it is off-season now it was not as easy to find people as it would have been in the summer, but at the end the two guys we had found turned out to be the best travel buddies ever. Dirk, an experienced German traveller – we just loved listening to his exciting travel stories –  and Marion, a funny French girl who is the best driver ever: she drove on the left side of the road for the first time in her life and she did it wonderfully.

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We all agreed that we didn’t want to spend too much money on the trip, so staying in a hotel and dining in posh restaurants were no options for us. We ended up sleeping in the car (Martin & me) and in a tent (Marion & Dirk),  having self-made BBQ dinner every night and oatmeal breakfast on the beach every morning, which was amazing.
We had no hot shower and comfy beds, but we had so much more than that. Just highlights without detailed explanation. I let the pictures talk instead 🙂

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♥ our daily treat: beautiful coffee ♥ saving a koala’s life ♥ fondling a koala ♥ autumn sunshine ♥ waking up with kangaroos ♥ BBQ at the ocean ♥ millions of stars on the sky ♥ listening to the ocean ♥ mild night ♥ no rain ♥ unexpected fireplace at a café♥ beautiful parrots eating out of my palm ♥ whale-spotting ♥ Kevin the koala above us♥ Washington ♥ toilet paper at every camping site ♥ roadtripping ♥ beautiful team ♥ new friends ♥ learning French words ♥ garlic bread ♥ outdoor breakfast at an amazing beach ♥ shower ♥ dark gold sandy beaches ♥ “koala trees” ♥ old trees ♥ pure freedom ♥ scenic views ♥ emus showing the way ♥ kangaroos hopping in front of us on the road ♥ the magic forest ♥ campfire ♥ apple & pear cider ♥ teamspirit ♥ grilled sweet potato ♥ free bread ♥ unexpected hot water ♥ friendly locals ♥ upgrade at the car-rental ♥ selfies ♥ tea lights ♥ ciabatta with butter & jam ♥ loads of laugh ♥

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Some useful pieces of information in case you are planning to do the same trip:

The camping sites we stayed at:

We spent the first night is the picturesque little town of Lorne, which is about 2 hours drive from Melourne. We found a free camping site practically in the middle of the forest. It is called Allenvale Mill Site. We got there around 8 pm, which means it was dark already and we had to walk quite a bit from the parking lot to the camping site quite a bit. I would definitely recommend everyone to get there at daylight, because at night the place looks a bit creepy but if you want to wake up with kangaroos and ducks around, listening to all kinds of other birds, you should definitely give a chance to this place.

The next day we found a camping site right next to the ocean at Johanna beach. It’s a great location for surfing and I am sure for swimming too, but as it is winter now in Australia, we couldn’t try the water. But it was so lovely listening to the ocean in the morning. If there were barbeque facilities on this camping site, I would call it perfect.

Luckily for the 3rd night we finally found the best camping site I have ever seen at Blanket Bay (close to Apollo Bay): in the middle of the forest but at the beach as well, literally full of koalas (we even had the chance to fondle one :), toilets are clean, we could have a campfire with bbq (not many camping grounds allow campfires), and the whole site consists of smaller sections ideal for a caravan or a tent, which gives you some privacy. We had a gorgeous starry sky and an extremely mild night. PURE HAPPINESS.

Twelve apostels

Twelve apostels

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Some more tips and recommendations for on the road:

As in Australia generally there are loads of BBQ spots along the GOR. You can make your breakfast tea on them just as well as a proper BBQ dinner. Even the most deserted-looking bbqs work and there is always toilet paper in the bathrooms, which makes the situation so much more civilized.

Along the road there are a couple of supermarkets, but not too many and probably not too cheap, so it is definitely worth doing the shopping beforehand.

Even if you don’t have too much time, make sure you do some hiking in the Great Otway National Park. The best place for koala-spotting.

Although we lived like real nomads, we treated ourselves with a beautiful Australian coffee at cool cafés next to the road every day. This made up for the not so comfy nights in the car. Believe me, Australian baristas know how to make wonderful coffees; which people visiting the country would not expect at all. The usual price for a coffee is between 3,5 and 4 dollars, which is okay for a little treat.

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Cafés I would recommend:
Café Moby in Torquay, the first town on the GOR which is a real paradise for surfers. The café is near the ocean; stylish, cool, and really big but cozy at the same time. It was such a lovely first stop.

Wye River General Store: from the outside it is not very spectacular, but inside the atmosphere is very friendly, they even have a fireplace which is this time of the year priceless. and, by the way, the coffee was amazing too.

Fishtales café in the dull little town of Warrnambool (at the end of the GOR) is a nice place to meet locals and get some insider tips about the area, although they do not have the best coffee.

Phantom waterfalls

Phantom waterfalls

Travelling the Great Ocean Road is truly a magical experience. Give it the time it deserves and just enjoy what nature can give you with all your senses!!

all pics here

One thought on “3 days on the Great Ocean Road on a budget

  1. Hi mate, sounds like you had a great time. Me and my girlfriend have a van to stay in but can’t find places in Lorne other than the one you mentioned, but they do not allow camper vans. I’m curious to know where you put your car for the night and whether or not we could just stay overnight in the parking lot. Cheers.

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