We’re finally here, I said to myself as we pulled up the van by the Surf Life Saving Club at Port Campbell. But, it wasn’t Port Campbell that I meant by here necessarily. We were here – the three of us. Steph, Willow, and I in the van together, living the life we set out to live.
Although we had been back on the road for about 3 weeks before we left Tasmania, there was something exciting about this first stop along the Great Ocean Road, like it was all finally happening, the start of something really special.
Willow stretched out her toe beans as she woke up from her road nap. She jumped onto the kitchen bench before traversing the driver’s seat as she made her way onto the dashboard to inspect our latest destination. Along the beach there was assortment of holiday makers and tourists, though few were wanting to brave the water this far into April.
With Willow content with her surroundings and curled up on her blanket on the dash, I took to the water for a swim, because if our 2 years in Tasmania had taught me one thing it was that cold water is just a state of mind.
The Great Ocean Road is a 243km coastal drive along the south-western coast of Victoria. It’s known for its stunning beaches, limestone formations, and seaside towns. It’s also known for its hoards of tourists – and who can blame them, really?
We have done the road many times before so we weren’t really interested in covering the whole thing again. Instead we picked the most peaceful, chilled out town and spent 3 nights there on our journey through to South Australia. Once a small fishing village, Port Campbell is now one of the sleepier towns along the Great Ocean Road, compared to Lorne or Apollo Bay.
Gone are the days where you can camp for free along this coast. Unfortunately, with the increasing popularity comes local councils banning free camping. Fortunately, there are still some low cost alternatives offered by Parks Victoria. My favourites are Johanna Beach and Aire River West, both at $15 per site per night. However you can’t bring pets to Aire River West and with all these campsites, you have to book ahead (sometimes months in advance if you want to stay in peak season.)
Anyhow, we scored ourselves a campsite at the Port Campbell Rec ground ($16.50 per person per night), which to be honest, was nothing special, so during the days we parked at the headland or down at the beach to really enjoy this little town.
It was spectacular to see the morning sea mist rising up over the waves as they rolled in. I could have sat there and watched them all day.
We took Willow out on her lead and she enjoyed sniffing around.
There are lots of cute cafes in the town, but unfortunately we were very disappointed to discover that the icecream shop was closed!
It was great walking down to the dock and watching the crane they use to get the boats in and out of the water.
Steph and I enjoyed some scenic walks over the foot bridge to the western headland. One evening, we stumbled upon a magical beach where we watched the sun set in awe.
There weren’t any good areas to have Willow off-lead but there was a lovely grassed area outside the Surf Life Saving Club. With Willow needing some outdoor time, I placed her in her adventure bag and we walked down by the beach so she could have a look.
It was a little bit windy so she wasn’t keen to leave the comfort of her bag but she enjoyed seeing the beach and doing some people watching. It’s important that she gets all the outdoor time and fresh air she can, and I’ll be honest, this applies to us humans as well, because we all get very cranky if we don’t!
Port Campbell is a wonderful place to experience all that the Great Ocean Road has to offer and is one of the more peaceful locations along the coast. Yes, it’s not the free camping paradise it once was, but it’s still a worthwhile destination for beach goers and lovers of cute seaside towns.
Although we have now moved on from Port Campbell, the feeling of being here is still with me. We’re finally here doing what we love, the three of us travelling around Australia together. We made it happen.
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Wow! This was our first adventure back on the mainland. I have to say, it was hectic few days as we travelled on the Spirit of Tasmania before catching up with friends in Melbourne. We’re really happy to be out of the city and doing what we love most, spending time with Willow in the wilds of Australia.