Great Ocean Road and Grampians

I’d like to share my itinerary for this famous road trip to make your life easier!

Tip: It tends to be gloomy in the morning with really blue skies 12pm onwards, so keep this in mind for your photos.

Day 1:

Pick up car from Melbourne Airport, drive to the Great Ocean Road putting in Torquay as you first stop. The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives whilst fighting WW1. From here, head to Bell’s beach known for its surfing -> Anglesea -> Memorial Arch -> Lorne -> Eskirne Falls > Teddy’s Lookout -> Apollo Bay for lunch and grab takeaway dinner here -> Otway National Park for Cape Otway light station (this is a paid activity and closes at 5pm with last entry being 430pm. If you miss this, you can still do a free walk on the side to see the lighthouse from a distance). Check in to 12 Apostles Inn and drive to Gibson Steps and the 12 Apostles for sunset.

This sounds like a lot in one day but keep in mind it’s all about the drive and view points so nothing took up too much time other than the lighthouse walk. Of course we took the first flight that got us into Melbourne ASAP.

Day 2:

Continue along the Great Ocean Road and ensure plenty of time to stop at the lookouts along the way. There are short walks at Loch and Gorge -> Bay of Islands -> Logans Beach viewing platform for whale watching (May-Oct is best) -> Warrnambool for lunch and cheesy factory-> Tower Hill State Game Reserve for multiple walk options -> Port Fairy for Griffith Island lighthouse (nice gentle walk) -> Stay the night in Warrnambool Redwood Manor Motel Apartments.

 

Day 3:

Drive to the Grampians! First stop Dunkeld where you will find The Old Bakery known for its croissants (opens 9am) -> Boroka Lookout especially stunning at sunset if you wanted to do the drive here the night before instead (90m from carpark, best view) -> Reeds lookout (100m from carpark) -> The Balconies (Easy 2km return walk) starting from the Reeds lookout carpark -> Mackenzie Falls 2km return to the base of the falls (there are also other short walks to other falls from here) -> Beehive falls which is almost the highest point of the Grampians National Park (there wasn’t any water when we went, seasonal, 2.8km return therefore not worth doing) -> Pinnacle Lookout (2.1km climbing rocks too, best hike, starting from Sundial Carpark). Stay at Halls Gap, The Grampians Motel and eat at The Views Bar and Restaurant. Food around this area is pricy because there isn’t much choice. Halls Gap is the base for the Grampians. Sunset is best from The Balconies and Reeds Lookout if you want to catch this.

We initially thought we needed to split all these across two days but it is absolutely doable to see and hike everything in the one day as long as you stay the night because you will need the rest!

 

Day 4

Grampians to Ballarat exploring the town known for Gold. From the information centre in the city centre, pick up a free walking tour guide so you can read up on the historic buildings you will see everywhere you walk. Definitely visit Sovereign Hill and the gold museum. Drive back to the airport to return the car and fly home.

Faro and Lagos, Portugal

Faro and Lagos are part of The Algarve, with Faro being the capital and where the airport is. You can see Faro in half a day so feel free to explore the rest of the Algarve, in particular Lagos which was beautiful! To get to Lagos, it would be best to pre-book a shuttle from transfer ( I used Greenbus costing 25euros, you can probably find something cheaper as I didn’t realise I needed to book in advance). This will save you time because if you wanted to take a public train or bus, you would first have to get to Faro city centre to then wait for specific set times and public transport stops at more places. A bus from the airport to the train station cost about 2euros and the train to Lagos costs 7.50euros or 5.50euros for students.

Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Walk around Lagos within the old town walls which is a tiny area so you can easily do in a few hours. There is a church, the fortress, a unique male statue and on a Saturday, the fresh fruit market is fantastic for cheap and good fruits. Spot all the art work too!
  2. Walk along the boardwalk, using the footbridge to see the Marina and Meia Praia beach. Consider taking a boat tour which departs from the boardwalk to see the caves, or kayak tour which departs from the fortress. 20180208_113555
  3. Walk from Praia Da Batata beach all the way to the light house to see sun set. You will pass by Praia do Pinhao, Praia Dona ana, Praia do Camila and Praia grande as you follow the walking path, stopping by each beach as you wish.
  4. Surf in Praia Porto De Mos known for good waves
  5. Take a day trip to Sagres, the extreme southwest of continental Europe (7.50euros return bus ticket from Lagos bus centre) and use the Tuk Tuk Sagres service which is 100% electric, therefore you won’t smell awful fumes and you’ll easily access all the main tourist spots rather than the usual huge tourist coaches. The Tuk Tuk shop is just outside the only tourist information centre in Sagres (18 euros for 1 person but the price decreases the more people there are, up to 5 people). The 2h tour will take you to Baleeira Harbour, see a view of Mareta Beach, Tonal Beach and Belich Beach, visit St. Vincent Cape (lighthouse), visit a fishing harbour and you can either return to the starting point or be dropped off at Belich Fortress to enter and explore at you’re own leisure. You’ll learn how fisherman catch all sorts of seafood!
  6. Faro is extremely walkable, especially with its designated pedestrian only shopping area, and the small old town still surrounded by a wall. Consider visiting the chapel of bones if you are interested in seeing a cathedral known for a wall of skeletons (I didn’t do this). I did enjoy taking photos of the beautifully designed and colourful doors around the city.

    Extra note: Make sure you have a nata or two! 20180211_091229