When you’re about to discover Tasmania, you’re likely to fly in from Melbourne. That’s why we included 1 day to cover Melbourne city before going to the most southern province of Australia and once we were done there, we flew back to see the highlights of the Great Ocean Road, which is located at about 3 hours from Melbourne International Airport.
If you’re like us, 1 day to visit Melbourne is just about enough to see all you need to see. See map below for the route we’ve walked. Highlights include:
• Queen Victoria Markets – try a delicious smoothie in the fruit & veggies section!
• Old Treasury Building
• Walk along the Yarra River from Southbank to Docklands
• Fitzroy Gardens and Melbourne & Olympic Parks exploration
• Street art at Hosier and AC/DC lane
• Cat Café at 30 Guildford Ln
Overnight @ Melbourne: Park Royal Melbourne Airport
Very convenient – right opposite to the exit/ entrance of the airport. Happy with the room, cosy bar and restaurant area, tasty breakfast (choice between continental, buffet or à la carte) and dinner. Great views (if you’re room is at the right side of course – we had room 939): you can see every plane taking off and landing. Only downside are the single glass windows – so you not only see but also hear the planes, which is not so optimal.
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road covers part of the most southern coastline of Australia in the Victoria province. It was an ideal end of our Tasmania trip. At the time of year we went (early March), the warm climate was a welcomed change from the chillier Tasmanian weather, certainly at the Overland Track, which is between 1.000 and 1.500m altitude.
And if the weather is with you, the different lookouts make absolutely marvelous pictures. Considering the location of our 2 nights accommodation, we broke the scenery route up into 2 parts. On our one full day, this is what we covered:
• We started with the scenic lookout at Wattle Hill which is a good one to start with. You’ll certainly like it, but what’s coming is even a lot better, so a good warm-up. When we were there (around 10 am) some surfers were getting their drift on the waves. We had a lot of wind that day, which led to all beaches (except for this one) being closed.
• Just before the Twelve Apostles, there’s Gibson Steps. From here you can actually go to the Twelve Apostles by foot. Or you can immediately go to the parking area at Twelve Apostles (very close by) and walk back to Gibson Steps. It’s little over 2km.
• We didn’t take that walk, but continued to the Twelve Apostles parking area. This is the most photographed area of the Great Ocean Road and it’s evident why…
• Loch Ard Gorge is up next with Bird Island close by. Bird Island would be a good one to do in the evening, as between October and April birds making their way from Antarctica are gathering there, flying around the rock before returning to their burrows.
• Before continuing further, we had a rest stop at Port Campbell, which has a nice little bay where you can relax on the sand, have a swim or stay back on the grass area, if you don’t like to be covered all over in sand. It has showers, so that’s handy. There’s some shops right around the corner, so ideal to get a refreshing drink, have lunch and finish with a delicious ice cream
• It’s worth going just a little further ahead. The Arch and the London Bridge are 2 separate stops and are wonderful.
• But I actually preferred the last one, which is The Grotto. Great shot from the top, but do go all the way down and ask one of the other (many) visitors to take your picture there, it’s amazingly colorful…
On our second half day, we tackled the other side of the Great Ocean Road, as part of our way back to Melbourne International Airport. The views you get while driving on the road itself are a lot better than the ones on the other side of the Great Ocean Road. Here you actually see the water and the beach nearly the whole time – that was not the case for the part we did the day before. On the other hand there are no spectacular lookouts either – no dramatic rock formations. Just great beach views. One lookout we didn’t attend was the lighthouse. But so, if you’re limited in time and need to chose, I’ll definitely recommend to focus on the lookouts listed above.
Overnight along the Great Ocean Road: Cape Otway Cottages
Typically, we want to spend our last night(s) at a slightly nicer location. After searching on the net, I chose Cape Otway Cottages and more in particular the Moonrise Cottage. We were very pleased with it. Totally private, surrounded by trees in which tens of parrots as well as at least 1 koala and possum live, a very neat cottage with a bubble bath looking out on the forest. A lot of windows all around the cottage, so you can check the bushes from all different angles to spot for animals. If you need to get up around sunrise, I also suggest to just leave the blinds open. Nothing better than to be woken up by the first rays of daylight.
It also has a great deck to relax on, ideally in the later afternoon, observing the parrots fighting for the best seeds laid out for them on the bird xxx. You hear animals all around, very much so at night. Beats the noises from cars and traffic. If you’re a light sleeper though, I suggest to bring the wind xxx down for the night. Very relaxing sounds in the day, but as the wind kicks in at night, it might wake you up. When doing so on our first evening, we stumbled into a possum that was sitting very relaxed just above the bird xxx at the corner of the roof over the porch. Not shy whatsoever – just kept sitting there…
The water in the cottage is purely rain water, so be mindful with it. There’s a BBQ available, a larger fridge and freezer, micro wave, oven (but we didn’t get it to work) and even stove for the colder nights (which we didn’t need).
The owner, Sharon, had foreseen some light breakfast items like cereal, milk, a small fruit salad, juice and marmalade.
So, very happy with our choice and if you like the tranquility (it’s about 1/2 hour away from the most nearby restaurants and shops), I would suggest you give it a try!
Price: 490 AUD for 2 nights
One (important) tip:
When you’re booking the rental car for Melbourne and you select the pick-up location of Melbourne International Airport, make sure you take the one in Australia and not in Florida, US. A ridiculous (but apparently common) mistake we made…