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One of the things we like to do to get to know an area and make the most of our time is rent a car and plan a road trip. Long or short, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about the freedom to stop wherever you like and find hidden gems along the way.
So when we visited Melbourne and learned that we were near the start of the Great Ocean Road we had to rent a car and plan a road trip to the Great Ocean Road. You could drive all the way down to Adelaide if you have plenty of time and follow the entire Great Ocean Road.
Either way, you won’t be disappointed. Even in bad weather, the views are still spectacular. Stop as many or as few times as you like. But make sure to enjoy the adventure. Australia is pretty amazing and driving around gives you a chance to see highlights off the beaten track.
Where to rent a car
There are a lot of rental car companies in Melbourne, so you have plenty of choice. But sometimes is easier to check rentalcars.com because they collect a lot of different offers from a lot of rental car companies. Even if you don’t end up booking via rentalcars.com at least you have an idea as to where you could rent a car.
Play around with different areas because renting a car at the airport is usually a lot more expensive than picking up a car in the city center or the outskirts of town. If you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road you might want to pick a remote location to give yourself a chance to get accustomed to that.
And most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to sort out your rental car. It’s usually a lot cheaper to book beforehand and you don’t risk the chance of not being able to get the type of car you want.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
Bring a credit card because almost all rental companies charge a deposit as a damage waiver/extended protection. Make sure you read the small print and know what is covered and what’s not. You don’t want to end up in an accident and lose a lot of money.
Some companies have unlimited mileages which is great if you’re planning a road trip. You don’t want to calculate how much you’ll drive beforehand or have to skip a detour because you’ll go over your miles. The charge for extra miles is usually pretty expensive and not having to think of this gives you peace of mind.
Most rental car companies in Australia require the driver to be 21 years or older. A few companies may charge you extra fees if you are under 25.
About the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road runs along the south coast of Australia, a beautiful road of about 240 kilometers. The road starts in Torquay and continues to Warrnambool. During this route, you will see beautiful cliffs, beaches, small coastal towns, and breathtaking views. The most famous stop on this route is “The Twelve Apostles”, a formation of boulders rising out of the sea. Of course, there are many more stops along the way that are worth your while. Because we only have one day, we drive part of this route.
Construction of this road started in 1919. The soldiers who returned from the First World War were put to work here. It was a social project to ensure that the soldiers did not run out of work as they were paid for their work. Great Ocean Road was built in memory of all the victims who died. This makes it the world’s largest war memorial for victims of the First World War. On the Great Ocean Road, you will also find a monument explaining the history of the road.
Off to Torquay
We get into ‘our’ Swiffer and head for Torquay. This is not yet part of the Great Ocean Road, we follow the highway very boringly. It is about an hour’s drive to the start of the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. When we are a bit further from the city we pass fields of bright yellow flowers. The combination between the dark gray skies, the sun that also comes out, and the yellow make a spectacular whole.
In Torquay, we stop at one of the many beaches. Despite the weather, it is super busy because there appears to be a surfing competition taking place. You just have to feel like it; it is not even 15 degrees and it is raining. But maybe you don’t have that much trouble in the water since you are already wet.
We had hoped more for a nice sun to be able to walk around on the beach. Now we quickly look at the beach and quickly crawl back into the car. We make it an ‘indoor’ picnic and eat our sandwiches. But at least our road trip on the Great Ocean Drive has begun!
The Split Point Lighthouse
We continue on the Great Ocean Road in the direction of Lorne, a stretch that according to navigation should be an hour’s drive. But of course, stops are not included. We are now actually on the Great Ocean Road and we have a beautiful view of the ocean.
There are several places along the route where you can park your car and take pictures. It is a good thing that you are not allowed to drive very fast here anyway, because often you see such a stop just too late. Fortunately, it has stopped raining, the clouds have broken open and the sun is actually shining.
At Aireys Inlet, we see signs for a lighthouse, the Split Point Lighthouse. We park the car and see that there is still a whole nature reserve around it where you can walk. Because we love viewpoints, we first walk towards the cliffs.
The view here is beautiful and we see the lighthouse in all its glory. If we look closely we see a couple on the beach playing with their dog. The dog is playing with the waves and that is very nice to see. We have never seen this kind of cliff before during our trip.
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We walk further to the lighthouse itself, you can also do a tour, but we think that is a bit too pricey. There’s plenty to see here that you don’t have to pay for. We walk to another viewpoint where you can see the other coast. When we’ve had enough, we settle down in a cute little tea house. We warm up with a cup of coffee and a cup of tea.
Great Memorial Arch
It is now almost three o’clock in the afternoon and we also have to drive back to Melbourne. And so we make one last stop before returning to Melbourne. We must of course have seen the monument of the Great Ocean Road.
Fortunately, this stop is easier to recognize in advance by the huge sign above the road. For the last time today, we park ‘our’ Swiffer. Next to the large recognition sign is a large monument commemorating the construction of this road. There is also a monument with the complete route. It’s a nice end to our ride.
We don’t feel like driving back the same way, because the surprise is now gone. And so we go inland with Lorne. A smart move, because it is a beautiful road. Very different from the coast, because we suddenly drive through the middle of the woods.
We turn off the navigation because she always wants us back to the coast. But luckily we can also read a map and so we find our way back to Torquay. From here we follow the highway back to Melbourne. It was a beautiful ride and luckily it cleared up during the day. If you have time to spare, be sure to drive (part of) the Great Ocean Road!
Plan your road trip on the Great Ocean Road
We didn’t have the chance to finish the entire Great Ocean Road because of time constraints. But we would definitely recommend this if you have the time. From Melbourne, you’ll make it to the Great Memorial Arch, but the Twelve Apostles is the highlight of the Great Ocean Drive.
There are a lot of signs pointing out stops along the way, but don’t stop at all of them. Pick a couple and let the road surprise you. The views are amazing but at some point, it becomes just another view. The drive itself is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve been to the Great Ocean Road and what your favorite stop is. Inspire other travelers to visit the Great Ocean Road themselves.
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