We did a trip down to Melbourne/The Great Ocean Rd this week. The verdict? Not with kids again. So help me if I hear “Are we there yet?”, “Why are we still driving?”, “I’m bored” or “My tummy hurts.” Or if I have to say one more time, “Stop looking/glancing/singing to/talking to/touching your brother it just makes him scream.” I forgot I really don’t like road trips with young kids.
Don’t get me wrong Melbourne was beautiful. I seriously loved the city. We had a fabulous time in the city itself wandering the gorgeous botanical gardens and Chinatown, eating some fabulous Dim Sum, and seeing the sites. However I can’t say I would ever do The Great Ocean Rd again with 2 young kids (5 1/2 and almost 2), or if I did it would be over a week or more to do it “right”. We did 4 days total, one day in Melbourne, one day down, one back and one in Geelong/Melbourne. It wasn’t enough time for both breaks for the kids and breaks for us to really go hike and explore. So if you do it give yourself 3-4 days to drive down from Melbourne to Warrnambool. Spend 2-3 at the end and then drive back inland to get back to Melbourne.
We stayed 3 nights (Melbourne, Warrnambool, and Geelong). All three places we stayed were great especially the last two which were both really kid/family friendly.
Tips for the trip:
- BRING CAR SICK MEDS!!! – My daughter doesn’t get sick much in the car (Tasmania was her other time she complained of nausea) this time we were stupidly unprepared and didn’t have any meds for her. Well good luck getting any in the middle of no where. And yeah that made for a really bad experience for all of us about 5 km outside of Apollo Bay. Bring the meds. You will be happy you did. The road is VERY windy.
- Google lies, a lot. Sure you could in some magical world do this trip in 4 hours but in the real world, NO. Too windy too many places you need to slow way down. So much like Tasmania in the mountains or NZ double the time.
- Bring an Ipad or something really interesting for the kids cause even with frequent stops they are gonna be bored, to them it’s just more of the same.
- Stop in Lorne to play at the awesome park. It also has an outdoor trampoline park, mini golf and baths all in the same area so prepare your wallet appropriately.
- Stop at the Kennet River turn off near the carvan park for a quick way to see some wild koalas. There were 3 within a 5 minutes walk around the park. Having never seen a wild koala we were pretty excited.
- Stay a couple nights in Warrnambool. It’s a super cute town with some awesome cafes, bakeries and some amazing parks/playgrounds to explore. The foreshore is also absolutely gorgeous there. The whole place feels like a great place to go with kids and have a fun week together.
- Be sure to hit the Twelve Apostles at sunset. Obviously they are amazing anytime but then they are truly at their best.
- Don’t plan on eating dinner in Port Campbell after 7pm cause pickings are THIN, and by 8:30 there’s literally nothing. So plan wisely and either eat an early dinner there before sunset or buy some food back in Apollo Bay or plan to have a hungry night.
Places we stayed and ate that are absolutely worth going to:
- Old Mariner Hotel – Warrnambool – we stayed in a family mezzanine suite which worked great for providing a bit of separation when we needed it. The staff was friendly had helpful when we rolled up exhausted and smelly needing a laundry room badly.
- Barwon Valley Lodge – Belmont/Geelong – this place was perfect for families. It’s 1-2 bedroom apartments, all ground level, has a really nice playground of it’s own, duck pond complete with lots of baby ducks and sits next to a gorgeous reserve with a fantastic playground not far away.
- The Bohemian Cafe – Warrnambool – OMG! Eat all the food. Seriously just eat it all. We left here practically waddling we were so full but couldn’t stop ourselves. The stuffed Nutella French Toast was to die for, the scones amazing, and the chocolate muffins yummy. Their spin on eggs benedict and smoked salmon Florentine were also delicious. Portions were generous, food was fabulous and the ambiance was fun and quirky but comfy.
- Two Sugars Cafe – Belmont/Geelong – Yummy, not as amazing as the one above but fabulous in it’s own right. The Nutella Stuffed doughnuts were yummy as were the apple cinnamon muffins.
If you go on a road trip down The Great Ocean Road, give yourself plenty of time, it’s gorgeous but probably a lot more so if you have the time you really need to enjoy it. Hope this helps anyone thinking of going on a road trip this spring/summer!