Kara from Heels in My Backpack took a JUCY road trip along the Great Ocean Road recently. We loved her take on campervan travel - she lives by the phrase ‘girly backpacking‘. You wanna travel the world on a budget, but still look good doing it right? Then you need to check out her website! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us, Kara, we can't wait to have you back in a JUCY soon!
On my recent trip to Australia I managed to pack a helluva lot of awesome activities into the time I was there. Which explains why I’m now exhausted and need another holiday… Well, one of the things I knew I had to fit in was seeing the Great Ocean Road. It’s something I never got around to when I was doing my Working Holiday in Oz a few years back so I was determined to see it this time.
I knew you could experience the Great Ocean Road on a day trip from Melbourne but seeing as I was in Adelaide for a wedding, I figured what better way to see one of the best driving routes in the world, than to actually drive it, on an overland adventure from Adelaide to Melbourne? YES. I’d been told told it’s way too ambitious to do in a day and most people recommend 3-5 days to really experience this beautiful part of Australia. But well, I was limited on time. And I figured if we got the bulk of the driving done on day 1, we could see the Great Ocean Road on day 2 in good time.
So I went on this adventure with Josh and a couple of our besties, Jordan and Lauren, and we figured Adelaide to Melbourne in 2 days meant our best option was a campervan. I mean, we weren’t sure how much driving we could get done on day 1 so you couldn’t really book anywhere to stay if you didn’t know where you were going to be. A campervan meant freedom to change the route at any given moment and hit the deck whenever we were tired.
Well campervan trips in Oz mean one thing to me – JUCY. I’d done a couple of road trips in JUCY campers before when I lived in Australia, so I knew they offered everything you needed – bedding, kitchenware, etc – plus were super cute! Sold.
Anyways, here’s our itinerary for our two day trip from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road! LET’S GO!
Day 1: Adelaide to Port Fairy
9:00 AM – Adelaide
So the original plan for day 1 was to drive from Adelaide to Port Fairy, stopping off at Mount Gambier for a gander at their blue lake on my pal Chris’ recommendation. However we had a bit of a delay on leaving Adelaide…
We rocked up at JUCY at 9am sharp ready to embark on our adventure but there was an issue with the 4 man JUCY Condo we had booked, it had broken down that morning. Just my luck. But the JUCY people were super nice about it and organised two 2 man JUCY Crib campervans for us instead. Along with a load of freebies for the trouble: a camping table, free petrol, phone chargers, AUX leads, a cuddly toy, a bottle of champagne… Okay not the last two.
Anyway it meant there was a delay whilst they finished off checking one of the Crib vans. But it was okay because they let us use the other one in the meantime and we got a chance to check out a kickass brunch place in Adelaide – The Coffee Barun. Seriously, their Mushroom Bruschetta with brie and chorizo is hands down the best breakfast I had in Australia.
12:00 PM – Still Adelaide
We eventually left Adelaide at 12pm which put us a bit behind on our schedule. So we decided to forego Mount Gambier and head straight to Port Fairy, with a pitstop at Coles for snacks, obvs. We also went and bought walkie talkies so we could communicate in convoy. Of course the boys chose the Spiderman ones…
1:30 PM – Tailem Bend
We stopped at Tailem Bend, a random SA town, for lunch. Time was of the essence on this leg of the journey so we pulled over and made some noodles in the back of the van. Quick and easy and delicious, no judgement guys.
2:00 PM – Back On The Road
The afternoon was a LONG drive to Port Fairy. We barely stopped because of the time constraints except for toilet breaks and swapping drivers. But it was SUCH a beautiful drive.
The only thing is, this road is famous for having a load of kangaroos. And sure that sounds cool but when you’re driving and they could jump out at any moment, it’s terrifying. And that’s exactly what they did. Some were just hopping alongside the road so I only had to slow down but once or twice I had to come to a halt because a roo was in the middle of the road. One time there was even a koala, just chilling in the middle of the road, looking at me like – yeah and what?
It was actually quite a funny experience and felt inherently Australian – miles and miles of nature and wildlife. Sorry, kilometres.
8:00 PM – Port Fairy
We arrived at Port Fairy just after 8 O’clock in the evening – we made it!
Port Fairy is a really pretty seaside town with several beautiful beaches. But the thing it doesn’t have? Restaurants open after 6pm. Luckily we found an Italian that was just about to close their kitchen and kept it open for us! We were super tired after a long day of driving so a big ‘ol bowl of pasta and free WiFi to find a camping ground was very welcome.
Luckily there was a spot round the corner at Port Fairy Caravan Park so we parked up and got to turning our back seats into a cosy bed! It was pretty chilly in Victoria but we were warm enough with our duvet and I even put little fairy lights up in the JUCY van to make it homely!
Day 2: Port Fairy to Melbourne via Great Ocean Road
7:00 AM – Port Fairy
It was an early start to make the most of the day so we started by driving around the corner for a cup of tea overlooking the gorgeous beach! If only everyday started like this.
We then drove into town for breakfast at Rebecca’s Cafe and to plan out our route and stopping points. But an old lady overheard us and told us to get going because it was actually the Great Victoria Bike Race that day so it would take us longer than we thought. Of course it would. Sod’s law. Let’s get this show on the road!
10:00AM – Port Campbell
The first stop on the Great Ocean Road was Port Campbell. This was another lovely seaside town with a lovely beach – it seems to be a theme in this part of the world. But it really was beautiful. We had a lemonade at 12 Rocks Cafe and Bar overlooking the beach and took in the pretty view for a while.
11.30AM – Twelve Apostles
The big attraction of the Great Ocean Road is the gorgeous Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the coast. Although there are only 7 left these days, it’s still a stunning view. It’s for sure worth doing the trip just to see these beauts.
We parked at the car park at the Gibson Steps then walked back to the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre and followed the path to the lookout. After a few snaps, we walked back to the Gibson Steps and down to the beach for a different point of view.
I was surprised that there weren’t more people whilst we were there to be honest. I think by doing it on your own you avoid the hoards of people that get off the tour buses so it was awesome not to be fighting people with selfie sticks to get a glimpse of the view.
2:00PM – Lavers Hill
Next on the agenda: find somewhere for lunch.
We were quite a way away from the next big town so we drove a bit, past Princetown and through the winding roads near Otway National Park, and stopped at Lavers Hill Roadhouse and Tavern. It was a bit off the beaten track with not many tourists about which I liked and I went for the open beef burger. It was super Australia with a fried egg and beetroot, and real delicious.
3:30PM – Apollo Bay
The plan was to stop at Maits Rest to check out the Rainforest Walk, but we didn’t see a sign for the entrance. I have no idea how we missed it, it can’t be very well signposted. But it meant we arrived in Apollo Bay at a nice time. The road opened up to an idyllic beach and I could already tell Apollo Bay is a must-see on this route. We stopped to chill out on the beach for a bit and grabbed a coffee at LuvJuice.
This is definitely a prominent stop on the Great Ocean Road and I would definitely recommend it!
5:00PM – Lorne
The drive from Apollo Bay to Lorne was a pretty epic one. We were right up to the edge of the cliffs winding around the coast, and I thought, THIS is what the Great Ocean Road is all about.
Lorne itself was another seaside town with a nice beach but that was getting a bit old by this point. I wasn’t that impressed but that was likely due to the time of day and how much we had seen so far rather than a testament to Lorne itself. Nevertheless we had a wander round and had another drink at a cafe and then hit the road to our final stop on the Great Ocean Road.
7:00PM – Torquay
Torquay is a mecca for surfers with giant Ripcurl and Quiksilver shops and lots of speciality surf boutiques. If you like surfing, this is the place. But we’re not that big on surfing to be honest, we just decided to stop here for dinner.
But the thing is, much like Port Fairy, Torquay closes up shop early. And at 7pm there was nothing open. Like NOTHING, no cafes or restaurants or anything. So after wandering for a while we decided to call it quits and head to Melbourne for dinner.
But not before a wild kangaroo hopped down the street. Hashtag Straya.
8:30PM – Melbourne
The drive to Melbourne was less rural than the Great Ocean Road drive but still pretty cool. Melbourne rises up from the flat surroundings like the Emerald City of Oz and we were lucky enough to arrive at sunset so it was beautiful to be welcomed with such a gorgeous view! But more on Melbourne later…
There you have it, an action packed couple of days that involved quite a bit of driving but was totally worth it to be able to see so much of this awesome slice of Australia. Road trips are always such fun and add a different element of freedom to your travels. I’m already thinking about where I can do my next one…
What do you think of my road trip? Have you ever done a campervan adventure? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!