Driving the Great Ocean Road, Australia in a 1970’s VW campervan had always been on my bucket list. Well …..in September 2014 I was lucky enough to be able to cross it off my list! As soon as we had booked the international flights from the UK to Australia I started researching VW campervans (kombis) in and around Melbourne so we could take our trip. We therefore hired the fantastic GRACIE!
We jumped on the train from Melbourne to pick Gracie up from Diamond Creek, we headed out of town and followed the signs to Geelong and down to Torquay where we stopped off for lunch and a walk on the beautiful, deserted beach. Torquay was also the place I caught my first sight of surfers indicating that the second you head out of the city you are greeted by the more laid-back Australian way of life the country is famous for.
The awesome thing about the Great Ocean Road is that you can pull over, where safe, when you see something fantastic that you want to take a photo of or simply carry on trucking if you don’t. One of the places we pulled over was Aireys Inlet. Which is a small coastal town and doesn’t have any major tourist attractions apart from a lighthouse. There are many lighthouses down the Great Ocean Road but this one is different….this is the one where the 90’s kids show Round the Twist was filmed!!!! Now anyone under the age of around 30 will probably have no idea what that show is, well let me tell you now it was awesome!!!!
Next stop along the road was Eastern View here you will find the Memorial Archway. It was built as a tribute to the soldiers from the First World War who were engaged in the construction of the Great Ocean Road, the memorial arch provides a great photographic opportunity for travellers. The arch that stands now is actually the third arch. The first arch at Eastern View was constructed in 1939 and weighed 50 tonnes. It stood until 1970 when the Victorian Government announced that they wanted to demolish it, because they believed it was a traffic hazard. There was public outcry over the planned destruction, and so it was cancelled. It was destroyed soon after by a truck that was driving along the Great Ocean Road. 1972 saw the construction of the second version of the memorial arch at Eastern View, but this one lasted only 11 years – it was reduced to charcoal by the Ash Wednesday bushfires in February 1983. At first, the Victorian Government announced that they would not rebuild the arch however they again bowed to public pressure to rebuild the arch on the same spot. Whilst the framework of the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch at Eastern View has been rebuilt three times, the original sign still hangs from the arch.
Our next and final stop on day 1 was Lorne where we checked into Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park (Kia-ora site) for $32 (approximately £16.70 per night) which consisted of a number of static holiday homes and powered sites for campervans. The site was pretty empty, I assume because of the time of year, but there was still enough people around for it not to be ‘creepy’. The amenities block was very modern with everything you need. This site was a good induction to Australian Caravan Parks and was a great example of how Australia are geared up for that sort of thing. A quick smash and grab at the local supermarket was all we could manage that evening after the long drive (172km) before we crashed out in Gracie for a very peaceful nights sleep.