It only took us about an hour and a half to reach Anglesea from Apollo bay. It was also the most scenic drive we have taken so far. The road wound up hills, and twisted along cliffs right next to the ocean. We had finally seen the real “Great Ocean Road”.
We were on a mission to get to our destination so we didn’t stop to look at the sights, we knew we would be back to do this drive properly in the next day or two.
Choosing to stay at the Anglesea big 4 tourist park, we were pleasantly surprised. It was a great sized park with so many outstanding facilities. Settling in to our oversized caravan spot, we quickly took to exploring the resort grounds. Finding not 1 but 2 playgrounds, an indoor play centre, indoor heated swimming pool with a slide, and the nicest ensuite style bathrooms we have ever seen. Knowing this was home for the next few days made us incredibly happy.
Setting up the van and checking out the park had worked up an appetite. Afternoon tea was on the cards and we knew exactly where to go… The great ocean road chocolaterie and ice creamery. A short drive along the high way, it’s hard to miss the large chocolate factory and café. Walking through the turn style doors, we were greeted with the warm smell of chocolate, bright colours and window displays of goodies. It didn’t take long for us to find the free sample table and test everything we possibly could. Strolling around the tables of goodies we found ourselves in front of large glass windows, looking directly into the working factory. Oompa Loompas as they liked to be called were working away created truffles and sweet treats. It was quite intriguing to watch and countless amounts of melted chocolate was streaming from the vats. Luring the kids away with the promise of ice cream, we headed to the café section of the factory. We had official come to the hardest part of our day… picking an ice cream flavour. Typical Tom style, he chose to taste them all before deciding on his final choice. The kids picked based on flavour and Claire went with a surprise me choice. Happy to say we were all satisfied and completely stuffed by the time we were done.
While Tom rounded the kids up from the play area to take back to the car, Claire snuck in and picked out a selection of truffles for an after dinner treat.
Loving water, waves and surf culture, it was an obvious choice for us to head into Torquay and the infamous Bells Beach. While Tom had visited as a kid, he didn’t remember much about the place but was so excited to take a trip down memory lane.
Our first stop was however, the Australian National surfing museum. We had a fair idea of what to expect but we were greeted with much, much more. Being personally escorted through the museum by one of the original owners of rip curl, a man who knows an incredible amount of surfing knowledge was unreal. The museum starts from the very early ages of surfing history and as you walk through the rooms continues on to modern day surfing and culture. With the largest display of surfboards and surf photography we have ever seen the museum was incredible. We learnt about how surfing started, where it took off, the boards they used, the wetsuits they wore, and the photography equipment used to capture it all. We watched films from the early days, as well as winning runs from some of our favourite current surfers. Whether you are into surfing or not, the surfing museum is a must for any persons visiting Torquay.
Not preparing for a whole day out, we ducked through Maccas to grab lunch and set ourselves up overlooking the beach. Picture perfect day, blue skies, beautiful sun and Claire thought the best way to spend the afternoon would be to hit up the surf shops and do some shopping. Tom and the kids thought otherwise, so they dropped Claire off and went to the local playground.
Being Australia’s surf capital there was of course an entire block of surf stores. It didn’t take Claire long to navigate herself around the stores and pick up a thing or two.
It was time to head back to Anglesea and utilise the caravan parks facilities for the afternoon.
Today was a driving day. We wanted to drive The Great Ocean Road slowly, stop and explore what’s around the area. Heading straight for Lorne as our starting point, we instantly loved this little town. Being winter, most stores close down for a few months, so it was quiet and we didn’t get to experience the best Lorne had to offer, but we enjoyed what we could.
Once again Tom took the kids to the large playground while Claire strolled through the local boutiques. Grabbing lunch on her way back we found ourselves at the waterfront enjoying our picnic. The kids quickly took to chasing away the hundreds of cockatoos who so cheekily come to take a bite of whatever you have in hand. Warning – they are quick and not afraid to come close, hang on to lunch tightly!
With the kids getting sleeping and the weather starting to change, we heading inland for a drive to find a waterfall. We knew Erskine falls was around here somewhere, lucky for us the kids slept while we found it. Parking the car it was now drizzling, and enough to be annoying. Instead of taking the kids out, Tom and Claire decided to take it in turns of ducking down the path to view the falls, after all, the sign said only 200 meters to base of falls.
Throwing on a raincoat, Tom headed out first while Claire stayed with the sleeping kids. After a short while, Tom returns, puffing. It takes him a bit to regain his breath before he comes out with “Sure, its 200 meters… down”. Not quite understanding exactly what he meant, Claire through on her jacket, grabbed her camera and tripod and headed out to see the falls.
Down, down and down. Possible the steepest track and it just kept going. Tom was right, it was only 200 meters but it was vertical. Every step Claire took she hated the thought of taking it back up.
There was no one around, it was now a solid sprinkle of rain and the falls were looking spectacular. Setting up the tripod in a few different spots, Claire took her time and snapped a few shots of the flowing water. It was time to brave the climb back up the top. Step by step she finally made it, out of breath from the cold air an exhausted. It moments like this we wished we were a whole lot fitter!
Heading East, it was time to tackle the official Great Ocean Road without the caravan this time. We drove slowly (lucky for us it was quiet on the road) we checked out the amazing views, crystal clear water and stunning cliffs, pulling over a few times to take a closer look. We found ourselves at Aireys inlet, out of the car and walking towards a pretty iconic lighthouse. For most kids who grew up in the 90’s, we watched a show called “Around the twist” about a family who lived in a not so average lighthouse where strange things happened daily, yes you guessed it, this was the famous ‘round the twist’ lighthouse. With the theme song playing in our heads, we walked around the lighthouse and out to a viewing platform to see the coastline. It was still drizzling so we didn’t spend too much time out, we also missed our chance of heading into the lighthouse but we were satisfied with our viewing.
With the weather really turning on us now, we went home. A few afternoon drinks and the indoor play centre were on the cards.
Deciding on a lazy day in the caravan park, we let the kids loose in the playgrounds and set ourselves to work doing some washing and cleaning. Sometimes down days are the best.
We had been in contact with an old friend of Toms and arranged for Him and one of his sons to come and camp with us for the night. Tom was excited as it was years since he had caught up with him.
With chores done, kids happy an afternoon and night of drinks and pizza planned, we were set.
Anglesea offered the perfect ending to our Ocean Road trip. While we had to battle the weather most days, we were so glad we tackled this road during winter. With less tourist about, we really got to experience the sites thoroughly.
I’m sure we will be back.