A major decision about 12 Apostles

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1. Posted by mparveen (Budding Member 9 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I've won a trip of a lifetime and will be travelling from the UK on the 20th of October, I will have use of a campervan from the 23rd to the 27th of October. My major decision is I have earmarked the 12 Apostles as a major venue to visit but with it being 220km from Melbourne on the west coast

1. Is it necessary to visit it?
2. Could the GOR be replaced on another route on the east?
3. Most of the locations I've earmarked are on the east of Melbourne. Healesville Sanctuary, Mount Dandenong, SkyHigh & Grant's Picnic Ground (Day 1), Wilson Promontory National Park (Day 2), Phillip Island (Day 3 & 4),
4. Would San Remo be the best location to stay as it's quite central to everything else?

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5279 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

My personal opinion: I quite liked Wilsons Promontory; went camping and hiking there, and had a great time. Phillip Island was a letdown; I just found it... uninspiring. And I absolutely love the shipwreck coast part of the Great Ocean Road (that's the part of the road where it closely follows the coast, west of Port Campbell up to the Bay of Islands, and east up to just beyond the 12 apostles) as well as Cape Otway. I'm not aware of any other part of Australia's coastline having anywhere close to similar sandstone formations, arches or blowholes (the 12 apostles are the best known part of it, and probably the most picturesque, but Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and all the lesser known sites are all totally worth it in their own right as well).

Personally, with four days with a campervan around Melbourne, I'd spend a a night near Apollo Bay as a good base for exploring Cape Otway (lots of koalas along the lighthouse road, and make sure not to miss the Maits Rest boardwalk), and before that possibly doing some hiking around Lorne. Then I'd spend a full day just doing the shipwreck coast, stopping at every side track. Amazing caves, cliffs, rock formations etc, ending at the western side. And for the final two days, I'd make a beeline for the Grampians (though you could spend a full week there), visiting MacKenzie Falls, maybe the Pinnacles walk, and definitely some of the aboriginal shelters; the grampians are a great place for spotting wildlife as well; kangaroos are effectively guaranteed, but I also spotted emus here.

That roundtrip makes for a lot of time on the road, though; more than I'd recommend in most circumstances; particularly that drive up to the Grampians is longer than preferable. Having been there, I personally say it's worth it; but chances are that you don't value the same sights and activities in the same way I do.

So, maybe that's the thing to ask: What are you looking for? What is it about your earmarked locations that makes you want to go there? That might help us give you better advice on if it's worth heading west or not.

3. Posted by Peter (Admin 6550 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Yes definitely go to the Twelve Apostles and Great Ocean Road! Sure it’s a bit of a drive, but it only takes less than 2 hours for things to start being pretty and then the drive is half the fun! GOR has a lot to offer - beaches, cliffs, rivers, koalas, rainforests, waterfalls. It’s definitely the best thing to see near Melbourne so you should prioritise it over whatever else you had in mind.

Also why are you talking about basing yourself at San Remo when you have a camper van? You can be somewhere different every night.

My recommendation would be to drive down the GOR one day to Apollo Bay (or there’s a beautiful camp area at Wye River I think it is) as Sander suggested. Then spend the second day working yourself slowly towards the 12 apostles. You’ll want to be there at sunset to see it at its best so plan accordingly. You can spend the night somewhere near there. Booking in advance would seem prudent.

You can then head north the Grampians if you like. Or head back towards Healesville/Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs maybe. I think my preference would be a couple of days in the Grampians then one night near Healesville as the sanctuary there is quite nice. From Healesville it’s only a 90 min drive to the city.

The longest drive in that scenario is the drive back from the Grampians to Healesville (at least 4 hrs). But this is Australia- long drives are par for the course 😁 and if you’re not used to the landscape I think you’ll quite enjoy it.

4. Posted by mparveen (Budding Member 9 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

The reason for the post is my husband doesn't want me to go out of the way out to GOR and Twelve Apostles due to the cost of fuel usage.

We're on a very tight budget.

my husband wants to make sure that we are in a safe location hence the reason to stay at San Remo, we've got to book the holiday park and by next Monday as they won't hold it for any longer period.

I've already organised my itinerary which I will attach when I get home and it is very tight. another thing is I haven't driven for over 2 years and I am having a refresher course in the next few weeks before I fly out.

as my confidence in driving isn't very good my husband would have prefered us to use some form of public transport where San Remo is the best location as it covers a lot of the area's I can travel to!

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5279 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

Hmm, I find it difficult to give advice here.

Based on what you've told, I'd sadly but definitely forget about the idea of the Grampians.

Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory is about the same distance as Melbourne to the 12 apostles, so you could do a great ocean road trip for about the same fuel cost as a Wilsons Promontory trip. Food is more expensive on the great ocean road due to it being a tourist highlight and more isolated - but I'd recommend just buying food at a supermarket in Melbourne before you set out, in which case that won't matter. The great ocean road sights are definitely more varied and spectacular, and to me give a better impression of the mix of amazing scenery which Australia has to offer. If you just take the entire four days for the great ocean road, you can do so at a very leisurely pace, with frequent breaks and as little stress from driving as possible. There's a few windy stretches along the road as it climbs over one hill or another, but the road quality is excellent, and the driving should be pleasant for the most part, since for most of the great ocean road, there's just the road in front of you to follow, with very few side roads or difficult traffic situations. The worst part of the driving will be just getting out of Melbourne, but you'd have that either way, and that's probably worse on the east.

On the other hand, it sounds like you've already planned out most of what you'd see and do on your original itinerary, and with just five weeks and a bit to go before you leave, I can imagine you don't want the added stress of throwing that all away and starting over just on the say-so of some unknown people on the internet.

I would forget about doing both the 12 apostles and your original east of Melbourne ideas. Do the one, or the other. I think that'll take away stress and worries about spending too much money, which will give you the peace of mind to just really enjoy what you're seeing and experiencing. I have no doubt that you'll have a great time regardless of which particular sights you'll end up seeing.

Australia is an extremely safe country, and there's campgrounds everywhere; I wouldn't let yourself be stressed by this one particular holiday park in San Remo. In October, you can just show up anywhere and expect them to have a spot for you. (Correct me if I'm wrong Peter: It's not a special holiday or something in late October, is it?)

If I understand you correctly, San Remo was your choice for being central when you were still thinking about getting around by public transport - but you've since decided to go by campervan, correct? That means that finding a campground closer to Wilsons Promontory, and closer to Healesville, will save you several hours of driving. Oh, and on the subject of driving: drive calmly and safely, recognize that other drivers will be annoyed by a 'slow' campervan, but will also realize that they're probably dealing with tourists unfamiliar with the situation, so will give you some leeway, and you'll do just fine.

Anyway, with regard to the San Remo campground: What I'd do is forget about the pressure from it, and consciously give yourself one more week to just sit back and consider your options. Even if that particular holiday park doesn't have a spot anymore next week (which I don't believe), there's lots of other options!

In that extra week you now have, scout out some campgrounds along the great ocean road. Check if they indeed have availability. Write down the driving times / distances involved if you drive to Port Campbell and back over four days. Maybe do some image searches online for the attractions and sights you'd be seeing along this route, to get more of a feel for what you'd be seeing.
Then do the same for your original plan for Healesville / Wilsons Promontory / Phillip Island, but selecting more local campgrounds.
Compare the options; see what you like about each, and what you don't. Is there any way to improve the things you don't like?

Then at the end of the week, pick one of the options, and be happy with the choice. It'll be a great trip! :)

6. Posted by mparveen (Budding Member 9 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

This is my itinerary which I organised in March!

Monday 22nd October 2018

Enquire about Skybus and if we can get off at Collins Street. Hope we can check in just luggage at Crossleys Hotel. Explore surroundings depending on what time it is! to browse, possible The Edge $29.65, tour of St Pauls Cathedral $10 donation. If enough time Parliament House.

Food locations - Most will be found on Little Bourke Street esp in Paramount

Motorhome - 23rd October 2018

Travel to 12 Apostles Marine Park - 220km (136 miles) - 3 hr drive. Lunch, walks. Drive via Apollo Way to BIG4 Anglesey near torquay 162km (100 miles) overnight stay BIG4 Anglesey, 45 Murray Street, VIC 3230 $50.

Alternative location - Anglesea Family Caravan Park, 35 Cameron Road, VIC 3230 $45

Total Mileage 382 if stay at BIG4 Anglesey -Coles Express next door to complex! Beach a few minutes walk

Wake up 5.30, Breakfast, shower.

Total mileage 382 km

Wednesday 24th October 2018

BIG4 Anglesey to Healesville Sanctuary $56 187KM (116 miles) Lunch at SkyHigh Mount Dandenong 37km (23 miles), Grants Picnic Ground 9.4KM (5.84 miles) where you can feed the birds! tea, refuel at 4655 S Gippsland Hwy, Lang Lang VIC 3984 - travel to Yanakie Caravan Park 112km (70 miles) or Wilson Promontory National Park 142km (88 miles) , stay overnight

Total Mileage before refuel 276 km. Mileage after refuel 142 km

Thursday 25th October 2018

Park at Telegraph Saddle (try & get leaflet for Wilson Promontory National Park most southerly point of Australia, fantastic views, lots of walkways. Lunch at Tidal River camp area, set out for BIG4 Inverloch 93.9km (93 miles) 1 hr 20.

Book 2 Cuttriss St, Inverloch VIC 3996, $108, shower, tea, Leave 5.15 to 6.00 & travel to Nobbies Centre to view penguin march 62.6km () 53 minutes $78.75

Other possible locations, Inverloch Foreshore Camping, VIC 3996. Powlett River Caravan Park, VIC 3995. Kilcunda Ocean View, VIC 3995

Total Mileage after fill up 174.6 km

Friday 26th October 2018

Breakfast, enquire about buses to Cape Woolamai Circuit (need maps) or park at Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club 17.2km ( miles) 18 minutes - 8km 4 hr return - combines all the walks,includes the Pinnacles at most southerly point of Phillip Island. Make sure have enough snacks & drink
There's a shearwater rookery on Cape Woolamai between October and April. Take the Cape Woolamai Circuit to see them.
Cape Barren Geese will be seen grazing in pastures along many of the coastal walks.
Wading birds are easily potted from the boardwalks of Rhyll Inlet and wetlands. They include royal spoonbills, straw-necked ibis, swans, little pied cormorants and the rare hooded plover.
Lunch at The Cape Kitchen (need to reserve) 5.1km ( miles) 7 minutes, Travel to Forrest Caves carpark 1.7 km (miles) 3 minutes, between Cape Woolamai and Surf Beach. Find out low tide times,

Travel to Rhyll and admire scenery plus have tea 9.4km . Back to Seaview Holiday Park to stay overnight 8.4km

Possible amendment as Pelican feeding looks more tempting that having lunch at The Cape Kitchen!

Total mileage 41.8 km

Leave around 9.00, head out to Conservation Hill Reserve, park there 6.7km, walk to Rhyll Inlet and wetlands 2.8km (there & back), pack plenty of snacks and drink. Leave at 11.30 and head out to San Remo, Marine Parade 15.1 km to feed Pelicans. Lunch on Marine Parade. Head out back to Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club 6.8 km

Steady walk 8km over 3 hrs. Head out to Pyramid Rock lookout 16.8 km, 1 hr. If enough time head out to Shipwreck SS Speke 9.4 km. Also see if low tide. Head back to Seaview Caravan Park 12.2 km

Total mileage 67 km.

Also the other reason for staying close to Phillip Island was the MotoGP is on at the same time and we love our motor sports!

We've got roughly $2K in spending money but we've no idea what the cost will be in Uluru foodwise, hence why we're on a tight budget.

You're welcome to suggestions and this has taken me months to get it to a very fine T! plus within cost.

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Sep-2018, at 02:36 by mparveen ]

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by Peter (Admin 6550 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

Well whatever you do don’t just go to Anglesea and then right from there to Healesville. You won’t have seen the Great Ocean Road and you will have just wasted a bunch of time driving around.

I’ll give some more ideas later. Is it really that important to see the motogp? That will bump up your costs considerably.

9. Posted by mparveen (Budding Member 9 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

We;d love to see the motorcade as I've been banned by husband not 2 go there!

I was looking at turning it around by doing the east side and then possibly going on the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff (early Friday morning then driving down the GOR to 12 Apostles). I haven't earmarked anything for Saturday as the campervan needs to be returned by roughly 2.00 p.m. and I'm hoping to meet someone who actually suggested going on the GOR.

I am looking at possibly incorporating some of your comments!

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Sep-2018, at 04:41 by mparveen ]

10. Posted by Peter (Admin 6550 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

If the MotoGP is a must, then leaving Phillip Island on Friday morning makes no sense since that's the day it starts. You're better off trying to get the GOR worked in at the start of the trip (like your original plan), then end up on Friday in Phillip Island (add extra time to your travel as the roads will be quite full for the event).

Personally, I'd pass on Wilsons Prom and add some of that time on to the GOR part. Wilsons Prom is a fair bit out of the way and will add a lot of extra driving. It's best enjoyed by staying a few days, doing hikes, etc.. not just dropping in and having a quick look.

Try mapping out your trip here in on TP so you can get a clear idea of the distances, etc.

My suggestion would be:

23rd: Drive to Wye River (Big4 there is supposed to be great!). Enjoy the sights on the way (Anglesea, Torquay, nice drive, the waterfall in Lorne, etc.). Stay the night there.
24th: Slowly make your way to 12 Apostles. Plan to be there at sunset for the best experience. Lots to see on the way - koalas, rainforest treetop walk, nice beaches, etc. Stay the night nearby
25th. Travel to Healesville. See the wildlife park and nearby Yarra Valley. Stay the night there.
26th. Travel to Phillip Island. Enjoy the MotoGP, see the penguins (probably will need to book in advance if there are a lot of people on the island). Stay the night.
27th. Head back to Melbourne for 2PM dropoff.

That would be about as much driving as I'd like to handle in that amount of time. And it takes in what I think are the highlights around Melbourne.

Good luck :) I hope it helps.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Sep-2018, at 06:05 by Peter ]