48 Hours on the Great Ocean Road
We've teamed up with Converse to embrace the elements in an all-weather travel guide series.
Just two hours from Melbourne to Lorne and spanning a glorious 243 kilometres, the Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria’s wild beauties, pretty in the sunshine but unbelievably stunning in the elements. Whether you’re braving the winds to spot pirates on the Southern Ocean from Teddy’s Lookout, soaking up a gloriously rainy bushwalk in Grand Otway National Park rainforests, or embracing a casual zenith rolling in over the Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Road is ten times better in stormy weather.
We’ve teamed up with Converse to hit the Great Ocean Road in the pouring rain, as part of our all-weather travel guide series, showcasing Australia and New Zealand’s next-level destinations which are more beautiful — and more adventure-packed — in extreme weather conditions, whether that be coastal rain, desert dryness, or fresh powder snow. We’ve mapped out a weekend’s worth of outdoor activities for you. So pack your appropriate wet weather gear (like the Chuck II Shield Canvas, they’re water resistant and made for rain) and hit the road for to explore this Victorian gem. Pray for rain.
Set off from Melbourne just before peak hour hits and arrive in Lorne. Check into your accommodation, the Lorne Bush House. Stay in a spa suite or go for a glamping experience with a stay in one of their Eco Suites. Don’t worry about stormy weather giving you a chill, they’ve got central heating or open fires in every room — depending on the type of accommodation. Lorne’s a well-loved tourist spot so there is a multitude of accommodation available, no matter if you’re after backpacker lodgings or something a little more luxe. If you’ve got time before dinner, take the short walk up to Teddy’s Lookout for an expansive view of the ocean from on high — if a storm’s rolling in, you’re in for a treat.
Head down to the Lorne Hotel for a pub meal and a brew tonight. Established in 1876, this old watering hole has seen her fair share of traffic and makes for a welcoming spot to while away an evening. Perhaps grab a warming bowl of gnocchi with meltingly soft osso bucco, or steer straight for a classic with a giant T-bone steak. Between drizzles, rug up warm so that you can sit out in the beer garden and enjoy a sea breeze after dinner.
Still misty in the morning? Take in a sweet soggy sunrise with some curious kookaburras for company before grabbing a coffee and some breakfast at The Bottle of Milk. This popular spot can get pretty crowded so maybe grab a takeaway and head down to the park to enjoy your caffeine hit — courtesy of Melbourne’s own Seven Seeds coffee. If you’re feeling up to it why not take a bounce on the trampolines by the foreshore? After breakfast you might take a short detour out of town for a look at Erskine Falls, before it’s time to hit the Great Ocean Road.
Enjoy the sights and stop for pics at the many sightseeing spots along the way (be sure to stop in at Wye River General Store for some gourmet takeaway sangas for lunch) before heading to the Great Otway National Park. Choose from walks ranging between one and two hours as you stroll under lush canopies and enjoy the natural surrounds. Drizzle activates a rainforest like nobody’s business, so fingers crossed.
If you have time after your walk, head down to the Cape Otway Lightstation, the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia and a heck of a spot to watch a sea squall. This spot closes at 5pm (with last entry at 4.30pm) so be sure to leave time to take the short strut down to the main attraction. On the short drive back into Apollo Bay keep an eye out for whale watching flags along the way. The folk behind Great Ocean Road Tourism keep a record of whale sightings, so if you time it right (June to August is peak migration period) you just might see some of these gentle giants flipping around around and doing their thing in the water.
You’re probably hungry after all that tramping around and exploring, so head to La Bimba for some of their truly tasty and seasonal dishes, or opt for the comfortable warmth of the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. The Birregurra lamb shoulder at the Brewhouse is a triumph of a dish, flawlessly smoked and roasted to perfection. If meat ain’t your thing, opt for a most excellent combination of vegetable moussaka with tender chat potatoes. Spend the evening in one of the many motels or backpacker-style lodgings in town, or snaffle a cute Airbnb for the night.
Coffee time at Sandy Feet Cafe. Foodwise, their tofu scramble is pretty spot on, or you can go the whole hog with the Big Foot Breakfast — a plate brimming with eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, beans, chipolatas and toast. After breakfast set off to the star of the trip — the Twelve Apostles.
Originally dubbed ‘The Sow and Piglets’, the more graceful moniker of the Twelve Apostles came about entirely for tourism purposes and refers to these limestone rock stacks as they exist in their current state. There were only ever nine (rock) Apostles, but twelve obviously had a better ring to it. Take all the time you need to soak up the sight of these imposing monoliths, and be sure to take some obligatory shots of you grinning like a loon with the Apostles (and fifty other tourists milling around) in the background. Here’s hoping a tempest rolls in while you’re there, there’s nothing like witnessing the natural impenetrability of these icons in a shower.
Stick around for dusk and you may just be treated to the sight of some teeny fairy penguins frolicking on the shore. These tiny creatures emerge from the water after a hard day of fishing and head home to their sandy burrows. Bless. After you’re all penguined out, it’s time to head for home — keeping a good eye out for native wildlife as you travel. Roos and koalas alike favour early evening as the perfect time to cross the road. From the Twelve Apostles it might be best to travel back to Melbourne via the inland route, which takes you through Colac and Geelong and is substantially shorter than the Great Ocean Road.
Ready to tackle the elements? Pack your wet weather gear and hit the road for to explore this Victorian gem in all its rainy glory. We spent all weekend in Converse’s new weatherproof Chuck Taylor All Star II Shield Canvas — can recommend for rain, hail or shine.
Words: Laura Dawson. Images: Cucombre Libre, Luca Bravo, Rexness, Shubham, Ed Dunens, Cole Bennetts.