Do it yourself – driving the Great Ocean Road

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There are many tour operators who offer Great Ocean Road tours and many backpackers who opt for those tours. I, however, did not go for an expensive tour (surprise!) but did the cheap and super easy do it yourself version of this iconic road in Australia!

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First things first, you definitely need a car. Here, you got three options: either you buy a car (if you want to travel a bit more in OZ of course), or you rent one (that’s what I did) or you look for a lift (have a look at gumtree).

Finding a car was quite easy with skyscanne and I quickly booked the cheapest car I could find for two days, looked for some companion to share the adventure and the costs with and started my journey, woop woop!

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Our first stop was the tourism office where we got lots of information. I can highly reccomend going there first as they give you helpful tips on where to go according to your time frame.

Our first stop was Anglesea, a cute coastal town with an impressive beach.

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After the first stop and some impressive road views it was time for the most impressive road view we could’ve wished for: Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne. It’s super easy accessible by car and so worth the quick detour.

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Then, after a fair bit of driving and some more stops on beautiful beaches on our way we stopped for the night in Apollo Bay. It’s not a super exciting town but at least it offers some cheap hostels on your way to the world famous Twelve Apostles.

Our first stop the next day was the Cape Otway Lighthouse as well as the Great Otway National Park – a lush green escape to the hinterland.

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And then, finally, it was time to reach the iconic Twelve Apostles. Oh I was so excited! I can tell you, they’re even more beautiful in real life! And there’s so much more around the Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to see and walk all of the trails of Port Campbell National Park, but at least there was time for the Twelve Apostles, the London Bridge and some other rock transformations.

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I can’t remember all the walking tracks, I just know that there were many tracks and that I didn’t have enough time for all of them. Two days is absolutely okay for a quick and enjoyable visit at the Great Ocean Road, however, if I’d do it again, I would go for three days, especially because many car rental agencies want their car back when they close which is around five a clock (and which means you don’t have a full day when bringing back the car).

Know before you go

  • You don’t need to pay toll when going from Melbourne city along the Great Ocean Road, so don’t worry about that!
  • Visiting the tourist information is always a good idea if you don’t have fixed plans
  • There are always travellers wanting to visit the GOR, so have a look for travel companions for splitting costs
  • Apollo Bay is a great stopover on your way to the Twelve Apostles as there are some cheap hostels. However, I’d recommend doing your grocery shopping on Melbourne as you’ll only find an IGA and a Foodworks (which are the most expensive supermarkets in Australia) in Apollo Bay – might save you some bucks
  • Keep in mind that many car rental agencies want their car back when they close which is usually around 4 to 5, so you won’t have a whole day when returning the car
  • Getting out of the city by car is fairly easy, getting into the city, however, is not as easy as you may think (I speak from experience!) so either get your phone ready for navigation or do your research on how to get back to the city centre. We missed a turn and found ourselves on the wrong side of the Yarra River and couldn’t find our way back to the agency and then almost missed our deadline! And I can tell you, driving around Melbourne lost and without a plan was one of the worst things ever that have happened to me whilst travelling (maybe because I tend to be a horrible driver when I’m stressed)
  • Another REALLY important thing to keep in mind: you won’t find a petrol station in Melbourne city (seems like no one in Melbourne needs petrol) so pleeease refill your car at a petrol station at the motorway shortly before entering Melbs, unless you want to pay a fortune to the car rental ageny for bringing back the car without fuel as I had to do (ruined my „budget“ tour a bit as they charged us at least twice the amount we would’ve paid for fuelling up the car)
  • Have fun and enjoy the trip! :-)

Marlena

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