The Great Ocean Road

There was no better time to head out onto the Great Ocean Road than when we had just got comfortable in our little Airbnb place in Melbourne, or Melbs as it became affectionately known to us.

Staying in a big city is too easy for us. It’s where we always are, what we know and what we understand. Travelling for us has to somehow push us outside of our comfort zone, and throw us some bad stuff, otherwise we genuinely don’t feel like we’ve done anything.

That’s where the Great Ocean Road came in.

We rented a campervan, and when I say campervan I mean an SUV converted into a campervan. The ‘kitchen’, which included a pull-out camping gas cooker and a fridge (a cooler), was in the boot. While the living room (the back seats) double up as a double bed. Luxurious.

To be honest, we did the RV thing in the US (with the hot shower and proper kitchen) and it was a lot of effort. This was a bit more laidback, a bit more Australian, and took the effort out of most things.

The first couple of nights were magically and exciting. We whipped out the red wine and made a fire at our first campsite in Cape Otway, which was surrounded by trees filled with wild koalas.

On our first evening there we went for a walk into the bush, and heard this hideously loud grunt. It sounded precisely like a wild hog (not that we’ve thankfully every heard one). Being completely out of our comfort zones now we bolted back to the campsite in absolute fear.

Later on we asked one of our fellow campsite-ees what that horrific noise was. She replied with one of the most horrific tales ever (**close your eyes if you don’t want your Australian-culture dreams ruined (may happen a lot on this blog**).

It was the male koalas who were making that god-awful sound. It’s mating season, and the males become infinitely agressive in the pursuit of females, to the extent that this lady reported seeing one of the male koalas pin down a female and proceed to… (you know what’s coming).

Scarred with tales of koala rape, we drove away the next morning feeling like we’d crashed back into the realities of travel life.

The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly beautiful. It’s rugged and the ocean is spectacular here. Despite the chilly weather and lots of rain, it still managed to look a lagoon blue that made it feel like a tropical paradise. It’s also ridiculously green – I guess that’s the result of all that rain.

We worked our way along the coast line from Melbs and to the Grampians National Park, a stunning and vast park of mountains and rocks that is feels like you have stepped back in time to prehistory. Huge bolders are balanced on top of each other, and the climb to the aptly named Pinnacle was long and steep. But it was worth it, as every climber told us. The views across the park were phenomenal.

It was here that, at our pretty lakeside campsite, we spotted ‘roos. Not just one, but a whole mob of them (a collective noun I know from my Ripley days). They were grazing on the grass next to the site, and would occasionally hop in their miraculous way across the grounds or scratch themselves. Wonderful.

We crossed the border to South Australia for our final two nights where we discovered giant sinkholes and another incredible national park, Coorong. It was here that we spent our last night (of seven) in our campa and waited out an enormous storm – what an adventure. Until the Outback, where we end up even further out of our comfort zones… Crikey.