When it comes to natural wonders and wide-open spaces, there’s plenty worth seeking out in Australia. With over 500 national parks, the problem isn’t finding them – it’s choosing just one or two to visit. Here’s where we think you should head once you’ve picked up your rental car at the nearest Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch.
With sensational shorelines, breathtaking views, and intriguing natural formations, the Great Ocean Road constitutes one of Australia’s most iconic roadtrips. Whilst it’s possible to make it as far as the infamous Twelve Apostles and back on a long yet wonderful day trip from Melbourne, many travellers take their time and venture all the way from Melbourne – Adelaide. However, three days is just enough time to see all of the top highlights without feeling rushed.
It's time to pack your camping gear into your rental car, turn up your roadtrip playlist, and hit the road. Watch in your rearview mirror as the soaring skyscrapers of the city disappear, and you head to your first stop: Bells Beach. With impressive waves, and stunning scenery, Bell’s Beach is certainly picturesque, but that’s not what it is best known for. In fact, it is internationally recognised as one of the best surfing beaches in Australia and hosts the annual Ripcurl Pro every Easter. Stop to take in the exquisite views and watch the surfers tackle the swells, before heading to your next stop.
Just a 10-minute drive from Bell’s Beach lies the charming seaside town of Anglesea. Take a leisurely stroll along the expansive sand of the main beach, and drive up to the golf club to see kangaroos bouncing along the golf course. Your final stop of the day is a 45-minute drive from here. The lovely town of Lorne offers plenty of photo opportunities, as well as boutique gift stores, vibrant art galleries, and mouth-watering dinner options to suit all taste buds. Wine and dine in an upscale restaurant, or tuck into fish and chips with an ocean view.
Next, it’s onwards to Hammond Road Campground, your home for the night. Detour for 10 minutes up a track that’s suitable for both 2WD and 4WD vehicles to arrive at this free campsite. Here you will discover spaces for campervans and cars, as well as a large grass area for tents. Amenities include drop toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables. Kangaroos may come to join you, and if you look closely you might spot koalas in the trees.
If you're not cooking breakfast on the campfire, the quirky cafes of Lorne provide a tasty alternative. As a bonus, the beach looks beautiful in the morning sun. As you make your way to Apollo Bay, it's worth stopping at Kennett River if you want to spot some king parrots and koalas.
Once you arrive in Apollo Bay, head to Mariner's lookout for gorgeous panoramic views of the town, beach, and ocean. A one-hour boat trip can take you to see a seal colony playing in their natural habitat, or you may opt to simply relax and unwind on the idyllic sand.
From here, it takes approximately 1hr20 to reach the Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Road’s most famous attraction. Read the interpretive signage along the boardwalk, and marvel at the limestone pillars rising majestically from the sea. Whilst this may be the most well-known formation along this stretch, there are several others worth stopping to admire. See beautiful Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, the Arch, London Bridge, and the Bay of Islands.
For the best value camping in the area, head to Princetown Recreation Reserve. For a low nightly fee, you can enjoy flushing toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities, and a campfire.
Rise and shine, it’s breakfast time. Just a short drive from the campsite is the coastal town of Port Campbell, with several delightful cafes to choose from to start your day. Continue a little further before turning and heading back towards Melbourne if you want to see some more Aussie wildlife. Located approximately a one-hour drive from Port Campbell, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is a spectacular dormant volcano that is home to emus, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, birds, and more of the true Australian locals. Choose an easy boardwalk stroll or a scenic climb, and see what you can spot.
From here, the fastest route back to Melbourne takes approximately 3.5-4 hours. However, if you want to break up the journey, or you’re not quite ready to return just yet, why not spend a night in Great Otway National Park? Located on the coast between Lorne and Port Campbell, this magnificent nature park is home to pretty natural surroundings, plenty of koalas and birdlife, and an abundance of campsites where you can rest your head for one more night.