Mr. Spring and I love a road trip.

Our week on the open road in Tasmania was a highlight of last year and we hadn't managed to get away for a proper holiday together since. So when the G20 came to Brisbane, we made plans to get out of town, explore the Great Ocean Rd, and spend a long weekend getting to know Melbourne.

The Gods were against us getting out along the Princes Highway - a two hour traffic jam and 34 degree heat weren't an auspicious start to the getaway. But our luck began to turn the second we pulled into Torquay. Views over the chilly, inky water and a delicious meal at the local deli set all to right, and we headed out to Bells Beach just as the afternoon sun turned golden.

Keanu was nowhere to be found.

The drive from Torquay to Appolo Bay is nothing short of spectacular - we both agreed that The Great Ocean Rd has it all over Highway One in California. The views, the pretty towns, the wildlife spotting. It seems like every building dotting the route is some kind of scandinavian inspired architectural gem, and we loved the way the moody blues of the ocean change in the light from dark and mysterious to sparkling and delightful.

We stopped for a walk along the pier at Lorne and were charmed to find the little town was in the midst of its very own film festival. By the time you get to Apollo Bay the ratio of locals : Melbournian weekenders is much higher, so as a town it has a more 'lived in' look and feel. We were touched by the friendliness of the locals who were keen to help us find hiking trails, koala colonies, waterfalls, and to point us in the direction of the best places to eat and drink (which admittedly do tend towards the seafood side of things... although vegetarian options were fairly easily uncovered).

Though our first day was sunny and warm, a fog rolled in over night and day two dawned cold and drizzly.

Undaunted, we headed straight for Otway Lighthouse, or rather the dirt track leading up to Otway Lighthouse where wild koalas are so numerous that they've stripped the grey gum forest to a ghostly tangle. Spotting a koala was my big goal of the trip, and Cape Otway delivered in furry spades.

The lighthouse charges admission but does offer spectacular views and some nice walks. After stretching our legs there it was on to the 12 Apostles. Or however many are really left standing. For such a popular tourist attraction, the wild, rugged beauty of the Apostles coastline remains intact and it was definitely worth the drive all the way out to see them.

We took the inland route home because we needed to make good time back to Melbourne to meet our Air B&B host before nightfall.

I'll have much more to say about our time in Melbourne in the next post, but overall if I had my time again I'd have planned to spend 4 days on the Great Ocean Road and 2 days in the city, rather than organising things the other way around. In such a very beautiful place, 24 hours is better than nothing, but it isn't even nearly enough.

Great Ocean Rd
Great Ocean Rd
Catherine Roberts