Our plans had all changed with the delays due to the Land Rover in Adelaide so we needed to reshuffle things around and work out how we could get back on track. The deciding factor was that the next sailing to Tasmania that had space for us was Sunday 08th January 2017. This gave us a chunk of time to go back to the original plan of heading along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. The issue facing us now was this was peak holiday season so after looking at a few places to stay along the Great Ocean Road and discovering all were fully booked we needed another plan. The visitor information centre at Halls Gap in The Grampians National Park suggested Warrnambool and then onto a place we may like called Forrest which is a little town up in the Great Otway National Park/Forest famous for it’s Mountain Biking. That sounded good to us so we booked the Wonkey Stables campsite in Forrest for 3 nights with a plan to spend 2 more nights elsewhere along The Great Ocean Road. As it turned out we loved it so much we spent all 5 nights there and used it as our base for exploring!
We spent two nights in Warrnambool at the Surfside Campsite which is council run and has literally thousands of sites, although we were still lucky to get a spot. A very well organised capsite with plenty of facilities. It would seem a lot of people had been coming back to this spot for years. We took the opportunity to spend half a day mountain biking up the local rail trail to Koroit and back and then an organising afternoon before heading out to see the laser show at the Maritime Village telling the story of the sinking of Lochard which was a supply and passenger vessel taking the Great Circle Route from the UK to Melbourne, certainly a must see attraction.
Then it was time to set off along The Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell national park which is home to the famous Twelve Apostles and a number of other sea stacks, bridges and arches. Definitely worth a visit although this time of year the attractions are very busy but worth doing.
On arrival at the campsite in Forrest there was nobody in reception and it appears that is is mostly and unmanned and very casual campsite. We called the number on reception and were told to find a spot where we could. We had booked a powered site but it was difficult to find a free one so we went unpowered (with the 4th night free of charge). It was fairly busy on arrival but still spaces available and we found a good spot near the tennis courts.
Forrest is a lovely little town with lots of facilities for visitors. A general store/cafe, bike cafe (hires, repairs and sells bikes/equipment), brewery, restaurant and pub. We tried most of these places out during our stay and the highlights for us was the bike cafe (who repaired my disc brakes that needed bleeding) and the brewery which serves awesome beer and food from breakfast through to lunch mid-week and then Thu-Sat dinner as well. We spent New Year’s Eve in the brewery and then popped in for a cheeky goblet of ale at the end of each day!
The mountain biking in Forrest is superb with two seperate trail areas, one to the north connected by a rail trail and then one to the south end of the village. We completed all but the black grade heading out each morning for a few hours before then exploring other places for the rest of the day. It was great to be able to cycle straight from the campsite and then come back for a nice shower before heading out exploring. After New Year the campsite was a lot quieter with a few people turning up for one nighters but we loved it as a base for The Great Ocean Road.
We used Forrest as a base for heading down to Lorne and along the coast west just before Apollo Bay and back up to Forrest and then on a second trip down to Triplet Falls in The Great Otway National Park and along to Cape Otway Lighthouse, Apollo Bay and back to Forrest. The Great Ocean Road was busy but this enabled us to leave the camping trailer and get parked where we needed to and see the sights along The Great Ocean Road. It was a relief each night to get away from the crowds back in Forrest.
We could have quite happily stayed in Forrest longer with many other sights to see in the Great Otway National Park and a number of 4×4 tracks we did not have time to do. We still had more mountain biking also so a great base.
We finished heading along the Great Ocean Road into Melbourne from Lorne which was nice at first until it started to get very busy and into the Melbourne suburbs and at which point we headed straight for the Big4 Campsite in Melbourne.