7 DAYS ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD- PART 2by TRAVELS OF SOPHIE
Day 4: Warrnambool to Port Fairy
Watching the horses at Worm Bay
So here’s that hot tip as promised: get up early and watch the race horses train on the beach at Worm Bay (at Warrnambool's Breakwater).
I kind of expected to see five to 10 horses, but there seemed to be a non-stop flow from when I arrived at around 7am until we eventually left at around 8am.
There was something so magical about watching the horses and their riders galloping along the beach and splashing in the water. And after the early start, you can reward yourself and warm up with an amazing coffee and breakfast at Pavilion Bar and Café (order 'The Pavilion breakfast' – it was incredible!)
Yep, we went back! We loved the light show the evening before but really wanted to see the village in its full glory during the day, and it was totally worth it. They even let me dress up in some 19th century style clothing and feed the chickens (or chooks as they call them here!).
If you’re feeling as chilly as we were after a cold morning, then this is exactly what you’ll need… a long soak in a 38.5°c geothermal mineral pool at Deep Blue. It was like heaven.
Once we were wrinkled up like prunes we realised we should probably get going and reluctantly left!
Lunch at Port Fairy
Does being in water make anyone else really hungry? We were supposed to go to Tower Hill next, but my belly demanded we make our way to lunch at Bank St + Co first in Port Fairy.
The special that day was homemade meatballs on ciabatta… seriously they need to add this to their standard menu! It was the best meatball sandwich I can remember having.
Griffiths Island Lighthouse
We didn’t have much time to explore Griffiths Island at Port Fairy, but the lighthouse gave us the perfect subject to photograph from many different angles. In the summer you can also see the shearwater birds return to their nests here!
If there is ONE place I would go out of my way to eat along the Great Ocean Road, this is it! The venue is small and intimate, with a cozy fire which made it feel like we were eating at a friend’s home rather than a restaurant.
The service was above and beyond anything I’d experienced before; both Sarah and Leeroy were able to tell us where nearly every ingredient was sourced from, including the eggs from the “girls in the garden”. This is definitely the first time I’ve HUGGED the servers goodbye! Best yet, the food matched the service (particularly the chocolate brownie which may well be one of the best I’ve ever had.) So, short story… go eat here!
This is the place to go to spot some Australian wildlife. We were greeted with three cheeky emus at the car park (please just be wary of them and don’t feed them, some of them have become aggressive due to people feeding them). We only spotted one koala and one kangaroo, but that still totally made it worth it for me and the actual grounds are stunning for a walk.
That night we stayed at a holiday house right on the beach managed by Hearns Port Fairy Accommodation.
Day 5: Port Fairy to Warrnambool
As we had a beachside apartment, we made the most of it and watched the sunrise from the comfort of the couch with a cup of coffee in hand! My favorite sunrises are the ones I can watch in my bathrobe.
The coastline from Crags Lookout is gorgeous! Think crystal blue water swirling around rugged rock formations. And the best part, you can pretty much drive right up to it.
Round two of whale watching! Definitely take the time to stop by the Port Fairy Visitor Information for information on recent sightings!
We followed their directions to a spot where a mother and calf Southern Right Whale had been seen that day. We were so excited when we finally spotted them. They were about 300 metres from shore, so realistically we couldn’t see much more than the occasional splash of a tail, but it was amazing to know they were there. Definitely take some binoculars with you!
Sunset at Cape Nelson Lighthouse
The sunset here was amazing, we loved the walk around the park, and there was what seemed to be petrified forest around. It made the perfect setting for watching the sunset.
That night we made the most of our spacious room at Quest Apartments in Warrnambool. We knew we weren’t getting up for sunrise the next day so could truly unwind, and made the most of it with some local wines.
Day 6: Warrnambool to Peterborough
This was originally supposed to be our travel day back to Melbourne, but as we had arranged another night on the Great Ocean Road to photograph the 12 Apostles, we thought we’d make the most of it! I’ve grouped the descriptions into parks, as there’s too many stops along the way to list individually!
Bay of Islands Coastal Park
This 32km coastal reserve covers the area between Warrnambool and Peterborough. The coastline is breathtaking, with limestone stacks and ocean views. There are also several areas where you can gain beach access. The best part about this stretch of the coast, is that there are much fewer tourists than the 12 Apostles area. We stopped at Childers Cove, Sandy Cove, Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs, all of which are easily accessible and beautiful!
Port Campbell National Park
This park is most famous for the 12 Apostles, but it’s also home to many other amazing spots, including The Grotto, London Bridge, The Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and Gibsons Steps. I would honestly recommend visiting them all. They’re all impressive for different reasons, and the walking time is minimal.
We finally got a decent sunset at 12 Apostles and capitalized by photographing at both 12 Apostles and Gibsons Steps during sunset, then rushed to Loch Ard Gorge to get some shots during blue hour. We couldn’t have been happier with our decision to come back and try again!
We stayed at Great Ocean Road Tourist Park. We called ahead to say that we would be late for check-in, and they’d kindly already started our fire for us and left the key so we could let ourselves in. Once again, we didn’t spend much time there as we were back late and out early, but it was a really cozy cabin conveniently located 20 minutes from 12 Apostles.
Day 7: Peterborough to Melbourne
Sunrise at the 12 Apostles
It wasn’t the most impressive sunrise and it was FREEZING, but there’s something so magical about watching the sunrise in such an iconic place. Definitely make the effort to get up early for sunrise here. We’d had horses, koalas, whales, waterfalls, lighthouses, and so many sunrises and sunsets, but the Great Ocean Road just felt incomplete until watching the sun rise and set at Victoria’s most iconic spot.
Now I know I said our trip felt complete, but we couldn’t waste our last day, so we stopped by Beauchamp Falls on the way back to Melbourne. It was about an hour and 20 minute return walk. It’s a really impressive falls in a beautiful setting, and we had it all to ourselves for most of our time there. Well worth the walk.
We took the coastal route back to Melbourne, despite it being longer, because it’s just so much prettier. We stopped several times along the way to snap some photos and got our final sunset at Airey’s Inlet.
We finally arrived back in Melbourne around 7pm, exhausted after such a full itinerary, but bursting with excitement after such an amazing trip.