Hire a Campervan and Explore the Great Ocean Road…
Perhaps the greatest short drive in Australia, the Great Ocean Road is a must-see for all travellers. And the absolute best way to see it is to hire a campervan in Melbourne and go, go, go! Bob’s Campervan World has over 10 Campervan Hire Locations in Melbourne, so give us a call or shoot us an email today – if Bob can’t get you the best campervan hire price in Melbourne, he’ll start wearing pants again…
Best Time to Visit Great Ocean Road
In your authors opinion, the best time to visit this region is in the Autumn months of March and April when the weather is still fairly warm and most of the summer crowds have disappeared. It’s generally a dry time of year and if you surf, it’s a great time to catch consistent swells at Bells Beach. Campervan hire will be significantly cheaper in these months than over summer, when most rental companies are booked out. Accommodation in the area also becomes a lot more affordable.
If you’re travelling the Great Ocean Road in Summer, take note to book your campervan and accommodation well in advance as tourists descent en masse to the coast from nearby Melbourne. Expect to pay a lot more for your camper or motorhome rental over the summer months.
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria’s famous southwestern coastal route starts at Torquay, just over 20km south of Geelong, and stretches 285km west to Warrnambool. Built between 1919 and 1932, the idea was to construct a scenic road of world repute, equalling California’s Pacific Coast Highway – and it does. The road was to be both a memorial to the soldiers who had died in World War I and an employment scheme for those who returned. Over three thousand ex-servicemen laboured with picks and shovels, carving the road into cliffs and mountains along Australia’s most rugged and densely forested coastline; the task was pushed on with the help of the jobless during the Great Depression. From Torquay to Apollo Bay, hugging the coastline, it passes through the popular holiday towns of Anglesea and Lorne, set below the Otway Ranges. From Apollo Bay the road heads inland through the towering forests of the Otway National Park, before rejoining the coast at Princetown, to wind along the hore for the entire length of the Port Campbell National Park. This stretch from Moonlight Head to Port Fairy, sometimes referred to as the “Shipwreck Coast”, is the most spectacular – over eighty ships have gone down here, victim of the rough Southern Ocean and dramatic rock formations like the Twelve Apostles, which sit out to sea beyond the rugged cliffs. The often windy and stormy weather enhances the jagged coastline, and even at the height of summer you can’t rely on sun here.
From Warmambool, the small industrial coastal city where the Great Ocean Road ends, the Princes Highway continues along the coast, through quaint seaside Port Fairy and industrial Portland, before turning inland for the final stretch to the South Australian border. If you’re determined to stick to the coast, you can continue along the Portland-Nelson road, with Mount Richmond National Park and Discovery Bay Coastal Park on the coastal side, and Glenelg National Park on the other, ending up at the little town of Nelson on the peaceful Glenelg River, just before the South Australian border and with the spectacular Princess Margaret Rose Caves nearby.
The Great Southwest Walk, a circuit spanning 250km from just outside Portland to the Glenelg River and Nelson, then back through the two coastal parks to Portland is magnificent. There are campsites for your rental campervan all along the route.
Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula
Geelong is not a particularly attractive town, too industrial to appeal as a coastal resort: the fact that the National Wool Museum is the main attraction gives you some idea. You may have heard of it, however, because it’s a wealthy place – on wool money – and site of an exclusive boarding school. Heading for the Bellarine Peninsula, Bellarine Transit buses depart from the railway station (an hour from Melbourne) for Point Lonsdale via Queenscliff and for St Leonards via Portarlington. If you want to explore, head down Railway Terrace alongside palm-filled Johnstone Park and you’ll reach Malop Street, the main shopping strip; there’s a helpful staffed tourist information stall in Market Square. Many of the best of the town’s Victorian buildings are nearby on Little Malop Street. From Malop Street, Moorabool Street leads down to the water, with views of shipping traffic and, across the water, an industrial skyline with hills behind; swimming is permitted on a tiny section of the eastern beach.
From Geelong, the Bellarine Highway runs 31km southeast to Queenscliff through flat and not particularly scenic grazing country. Queenscliff is essentially a quiet fishing village on Swan Bay – with several quaint cottages on Fishermans Flat – that became Melbourne’s favourite holiday resort in the nineteenth century, fell out of favour, and has recently enjoyed something of a revival – a popular place for a weekend away or a Sunday drive in your rental campervan. Its position near the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay made it strategically important: a fort here faces the the one at Point Nepean, defending Melbourne against an enemy that never materialized. Now the home of the Australian Army Command and Staff College, the fort can be visited on weekend tours.
Bells Beach & Torquay
Torquay is the centre of surf culture on Victoria’s “surf coast”, which extends from Point Lonsdale on the Bellarine Peninsula to Aireys Inlet; two local beaches, Jan Juc and Bells Beach, are solidly entrenched in Australian surfing mythology. If you’re not here for the surf, then there’s not really a lot happening: in hot weather the place is boisterously alive, out of season it’s somnolent and low-key. It is beautiful all-year-round however and there’s plenty of great camping areas near the beach to park your hire campervan. Easter is the big event, when the Surf Classic at Bells Beach brings national and international contestants to Torquay, along with thousands of spectators.