The Garden State in 12 Days

Cumberland River, Great Ocean Road, Sophie McConnell, Kettle Mag
Written by sophiedeedoe

It’s quite hard to fathom really HOW big Australia is. I mean I know people say “it’s a big old place”- but when someone informed me that you can fit the entirety of Europe, Japan and more into Australia, that’s when it sunk in.

So rather than trying to see as much of Australia as we could in 12 days with our broken down camper van, we decided just to take on Victoria.

The Garden State, which is Victoria’s nickname, is situated in South Eastern Australia, and covers a total area of 91, 749 sq miles. So even though we’d selected only one state of Australia to explore, we had to come to terms with still not seeing that much.

The necessity of a road trip

Road tripping in Australia is truly a great experience. Saying that though, I can’t imagine any road trip would lead to disappointment. So if you ever do get the chance to take a road trip for any amount of time, I would highly recommend it. Road trips mean freedom and exploration. They allow for a camping feel with the shelter of a tin roof and the knowledge of discovery the following day, something that can’t be replicated in any other style of travel.

Starting our road trip in the capital of The Garden State, Melbourne, meant that we could experience what the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolitan city had to offer. We made the most of the free tram service that covers the CBD, allowing us to see the main tourist attractions including the Eureka Sky Deck, The Victoria Night Market and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel.

After about 3 days in Melbourne we were in desperate need of swapping city life for The Great Ocean Road. The road was built by returning veterans from the First World War as a means of employment and increasing investment along the coastal route, as well as honouring over 60,000 Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice and could never return to their homeland. It’s the worlds biggest, and most beautiful war memorial.

Our first stop on this historic road was on the Cumberland River, just outside of Lorne, which was the perfect blend of beach and river valley. We were welcomed into a campsite surrounded by dramatic cliff faces with our first “g’day” of the trip, and enjoyed our first traditional Aussie BBQ.

Driving The Great Ocean Road is serious fun. The bends in the road mean you can’t do any sort of speed but that does mean you do see all the jaw-dropping views.

Sunsets while traveling along the road are breathtaking. With many lay-bys along the way, it allows for many opportunities to pull in and take a few snaps of the reds and oranges low in the sky and reflecting down into the sea. These lay-bys also work well as stop off points for cooking up some yummy lunch and eating it on a bench over looking a beautiful and secluded beach. (Sounds dream-like doesn’t it?)

After following The Great Ocean Road to its final resting place, we headed inland to The Grampians National Park, a mountain range which holds host to some of the most amazing scenic views that I’ve ever been fortunate to see. In fact that evening while admiring the sunset, a rather large group of wild kangaroos decided to invade our campsite. At 1am, when I needed the loo, I did have a rather long stand off with one of them, it definitely won as I retreated back into the van.

A place unlike any other

By this point we were about half way through our trip and had already managed to cover around 500 miles. With petrol being about 60-70p a litre we were keen to cover more miles and with the price of petrol being so low, it meant economically we were able to too. So we headed back in the direction of Melbourne and stopped off at a town called Ballarat which was an old gold mining community. So for Australia this place had quite a lot of history compared to the rest of the country.

After circulating the gold museum, we got back in the van and kept on driving down to a town south of Melbourne and on the Bellarine Peninsula called Ocean Grove. The decision making behind this stop was mainly because it was only a 10 minute drive to the ferry port which took us over to Mornington Peninsula.

With only 4 days left in our van we headed to the central part of the Mornington Peninsula and camped on land owned by Her Majesty the Queen, which we thought was rather cool. The campsite was literally on a secluded strip of beach so was the perfect place to relax and get some serious tanning going.

Our last but by no means least stop, in by this point a very messy, sandy and only half working van, was Phillip Island which was further South but over to the East of Victoria. Phillip Island is well known for the “Penguin Parade” which basically is a natural occurrence turned into a tourist attraction.

Maybe my personal view on it is different to others but I just found it all rather strange how you were charged £20 to be packed into essentially a half size football stand to sit until it goes dark and to try and search out tiny little penguins leaving the water and dashing for land. Having said that Phillip Island itself was a beautiful place and was a lovely ending to our 12 day dash around Victoria.

It certainly was a state which covered lots of varying scenery and allowed for us, in our short amount of time, to drive just over a 1000 miles and tick off lots from our bucket list.

What do you think? Have you visited Victoria? Have your say in the comments section below.