Along this world-famous coastal highway, you’ll find iconic beaches and surf breaks, panoramic outlooks, and a drive that urges you to continue on the road until it meets its end. The Great Ocean Road is a crowd favourite for locals and tourists alike; dotted with beauty, adventure and both high-profile and low-key gems all along the way.
On track to become Australia’s most populated city in the next few years, Melbourne’s Friday traffic can be nothing short of infuriating, especially in the warmer months when the coast comes-a-calling. Whatever time of the year you choose to make your way down to Victoria’s Surf Coast, the earlier you can leave on a Friday, the better. For the weekends when you can’t afford to take off early, the comfort and space of the Brand-New Mazda BT-50 is the next best thing.
With the M1 extension allowing cars to bypass Geelong, the traffic around you soon begins to dissipate and before you know it, you’re taking a turn-off to the original Surfer’s Paradise – Bells Beach. Not a surfer? The exceptional vantage points along the cliffs make for an ideal pitstop to park the car for 20 minutes to watch the locals do what they do best.
Onwards from Bells and onto the next seaside towns, Anglesea and Fairhaven host two brilliant swimming beaches that are patrolled in the summer months and are a little more protected from the elements. Fairhaven may have the longest beach along the Great Ocean Road, but Anglesea is home to the best fish and chips – Fish by Moonlite. Cooking flake and a locally caught catch of the day, Fish by Moonlite also operates as a small, boutique fishmonger. Grabbing a few flounder fillets to cook up later, a couple of golden potato cakes and calamari rings for the road are a rite of passage before the winding road begins to blend into its famous twists and turns. The spritely engine of the BT-50, and its dynamic handling of the sharp, blind corners take on the winding bitumen effortlessly.
The Surf Coast is home to thousands of accommodation options, from beach-front campsites to million-dollar houses, the latter of which almost all are available as holiday rentals. If you’ve got time for a longer drive or are looking for some time away from it all, Rotten Point House provides sweeping ocean views with peak privacy, in a magnificent holiday home that epitomises off-grid luxury. This weekend, however, provides an opportunity to venture a little further in-land, and The Wensley is a stunning five-bedroom timber home, set on 80 acres of rolling hills. With a fully-equipped kitchen, even the most novice of chefs have a pretty decent chance of making their fresh fish fillets into a tasty meal for the crew.
It may be less than two hours away from Melbourne, but the crisp evening air and sprawling, sparkling night sky feel worlds away from the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the city.
Wake up early. There is a fair bit of driving in the BT-50 to be done today. Load up the tray, head back towards the coast and continue along the Great Ocean Road. Past the tourist hotspot of Lorne is the unassuming town of Wye River, and The Wye General makes a strong case for the best breakfast and coffee along The Great Ocean Road. Whether you’re stopping in for a quick coffee and a pastry, or settling in for a breakfast beef burger (no judgement here), you’ll be set here.
Just past Wye River, past more blind corners and panoramic views, is the equally stunning-but-a-little-more-humble Kennett River. Kennett River hosts Victoria’s largest natural koala population, and driving uphill through the small township, it won’t be long before you spot your first, second, third, tenth, twentieth koala in the wild.
Continuing on a theme of wholesomeness that champions the natural surroundings, it’s time to get back on the road and further down the coast towards Apollo Bay, where the Fisherman’s Co-Op will serve up grilled, buttery, freshly-caught lobster and just-the-right-amount-of-salty chips near the side of the road. Leaving the coast once more, head inland and the striking design of the front bonnet and grille of the BT-50 soon reflects a forest of towering, 85-year old Californian Redwoods in a plantation surrounded by native eucalypts. The enormous trunks, height and spectacle of it all is more than worthwhile bringing the DSLR along, and with the afternoon light you can capture the forest in cinematic fashion.
Before returning to the luxurious comfort of The Wensley, it’s a solid 90-minute drive winding through the Otways backcountry and small country towns. Stop for one of the best greek meals of your life at Lorne favourite, Ipsos. The saganaki with figs and walnuts is not to be overlooked.
With nothing but morning light and the breeze coming off the surrounding hilltops to wake you, a Sunday by the Great Ocean Road hits a little different to waking up at home in the city. Before the long, glorious journey back, the ultimate way to stretch your legs is with a couple of hours spent at Livewire Park, an epic high ropes course with an electrifying 525m long zipline that seems an apt way to charge you back to reality after a weekend spent in a tidy slice of heaven.
As the adrenaline of the weekend’s activities slowly wears off in the comfort of the Brand-New Mazda BT-50, it’s time for one last pitstop in Aireys Inlet at The Lighthouse Tea Rooms. You’ll dine on freshly baked scones with jam and cream, before wandering around the town’s famous lighthouse and enjoying one last lookout to one of Australia’s best weekend views.
This article is part of a series, proudly presented in partnership with the Brand-New Mazda BT-50. Thank you for supporting the brands who support Boss Hunting.