I loved my first visit to Australia’s Great Ocean Road so much, I wanted to return and spend more time wandering the area at will. And that meant biting the bullet and renting a car.
I’d always been hesitant to take that step and reluctant to spring for the added expense, but the timing finally felt right. Plus, I’d made a point to observe professional drivers for months and ask them about issues they’d encountered with tourists on the road, especially on the twisty routes so common in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. Since I usually sat behind — or next to — the bus and van drivers, it was a huge eye-opener seeing their pet peeves in action. It was dangerous and nerve-wracking following a car/driver doing any of these things:
- Driving significantly below the speed limit.
- Braking too reactively and/or too often.
- Hitting the brakes whenever a car passed in the opposite direction.
- Not pulling over in designated areas to allow faster vehicles to pass.
- Nervously hugging the center line or the shoulder.
In Australia and New Zealand, there’s also a huge problem with jet-lagged tourists renting cars immediately after landing from long flights. And everyone complained about the “caravan” drivers who forgot to adjust for the added width of their vehicles, particularly the mirror extending from the driver’s side.
Sooooo … when I it was my turn to hit the road in a foreign country, I tried to avoid doing all of the above, while keeping my hands glued to 10 and 2 and constantly reminding myself left left left.
And it was actually a fantastic experience!
The Great Ocean Road is, technically, the stretch of B100 that goes from Torquay to Warrnambool along Victoria, Australia’s southern coast. Picking up a rental car in busy Melbourne would’ve been way too stressful, so I took a one-hour train to the smaller city of Geelong and rented my car there.
I chose a major rental company and booked the cheapest (automatic) car they offered — and the most expensive insurance! I also began my trip on a weekday and got an early start to get well ahead of the day-trippers from Melbourne.
Those first minutes of driving through Geelong were terrifying, especially since I had to immediately merge onto the highway leading to B100. But, soon after that, things got much easier. There was just one, wide lane in each direction, plenty of shoulder space and clear road signage. I even aced my first roundabouts!
Day one of my road trip covered the stretch from Geelong to Apollo Bay. While that’s roughly a two-hour drive, it took me five hours to complete. There were so many places to visit along the way.
Bells Beach. This world-famous surfer’s beach also served as the final scene location for the film Point Break. Although that scene was actually shot on a beach in Oregon.
Next to Bells Beach is Winkipop. And surfers!
Nearby, there’s Point Addis with several different viewing platforms.
And the beach below.
Further down the GOR is Aireys Inlet and marine park.
And the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. I got out of the car, of course, to take this photo. I did not take it while driving!
Lorne is a beautiful beach town that made for a handy lunch stop — and the chance to watch surf school!
Continuing from Lorne, I stopped for a stroll along the moon-like Artillery Rocks.
And took in the views from Cape Patton Lookout.
After I got to my motel in Apollo Bay, I grabbed a bite to eat then settled in to plan day two of my journey. There’s much more to come!
In the meantime, here are more photos from the first day of my Great Ocean Road trip: