Six female journalists, six stops, one Great Ocean Road – this writer relishes the camaraderie of a female road trip on Australia’s most famous coastal route.
GOING on a road trip is empowering. Perhaps it’s the element of free-spiritedness and anticipation of the adventure that lies ahead.
Or, perhaps the fact that you are forced to wing it on your own on a road trip, come what may. There’s just something about road trips that make you feel you are the master of your own journey – literally and figuratively.
Now, what better way to re-create that sense of empowerment than going on a road trip along the world-famous Great Ocean Road in Australia?
Make that six women on the road and that sense of empowerment gets amplified. I hit the road recently with five other female journalists for a two-day drive along the Great Ocean Road.
In our convoy of BMW X2 and MINI cars, we started the journey from Avalon Airport, some 50km away from the city of Melbourne.
For the uninitiated, the Great Ocean Road is an iconic drive for road-trippers. Spanning 243km along the south-eastern coast of Australia from Torquay to Warrnambool, it is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, being home to the spectacular Twelve Apostles rock formations, Loch Ard Gorge and Bells Beach.
The route is also perfect for those doing a self-drive road trip for the first time (read: less daunting for us Singaporeans who drive on the right side of the road).
As the adage goes, the journey is more important than the destination. And a good road trip companion is a welcome respite, especially when you are navigating the bends and corners of the winding Great Ocean Road.
My co-driver was none other than the editor-in- chief of Vogue Australia, Edwina McCann.
Here was a woman, formidable and awe-striking in her field on any other day, chatting about everything under the sun with me – from politics to family to how the eucalyptus gum trees in Australia cause wildfires.
The eucalyptus tree topic came up when we were driving through roads lined with them and the beautiful tree bark details caught my eye. Actually, the Great Ocean Road is a bit of a misnomer – we did not get views of the ocean most of the time.
A farm-to- table dining experience can be had to Birregurra Farm Foods & Provedore.
SPANNING 243KM FROM TORQUAY TO WARRNAMBOOL, THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST SCENIC COASTAL DRIVES.
But, it does not mean the journey was any less scenic. And, I also learnt from Edwina that kangaroos are not the most road-savvy creatures around after she related a first-hand account of hitting one in her family car.
In a nutshell, it is best to avoid driving at dawn, dusk and night when wildlife is most active and might jump out of nowhere onto the roads.
Lunch was at a quaint café that exuded old world charm and a rustic feel. Those seeking an authentic farm- to-table dining experience would find it in Birregurra Farm Foods & Provedore.
It is a café that celebrates the Otway region’s sustainable produce with dishes such as Jubilee Farm Wagyu with pickled vegetables, Halloumi Cheese, and Roasted Broccoli with mint and tarator.
After enjoying our slow lunch, we picked up food ingredients for breakfast at the well-stocked provedore.
It was another four hours on the road – with just a quick coffee stop at Wye River General Store – before we reached Ocean House, our abode for the night.
For a Great Ocean Road trip, you can’t go wrong with a luxury beach house. Ocean House is a five-bedroom coastal property that sits on the beachside property of Lorne, overlooking the ocean across Loutit Bay.
The cold winter winds made us seek refuge indoors with a pilates session with a personal trainer instead of exploring the nearby beaches. In the evening, we were also content to languorously cozy up next to the fireplace whilst our private chef from Inverleigh Cellar and Kitchen served up delectable fare prepared right before our eyes.
Even occasional showers couldn’t put a dampener on the journalists’ sunny moods.
Day two began early with a breakfast made by our private chef. It was hard to believe that the humble local produce we had bought from Birregurra Farm Foods & Provedore could turn into the sumptuous spread before us.
Soon enough, we had to get on with our road trip. Now, a road trip in Australia would not be complete without making a stop at a chocolaterie.
Located between Torquay and Anglesea, the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery makes for a fun stop, particularly for families. Kids and adults alike would enjoy the hands-on chocolate- making workshops and free tastings at the 15-acre space.
The usual popular Great Ocean Road stops like the Twelve Apostles were not on our agenda this road trip. Instead, we had something a little less typical – going on a ferry ride with our cars.
Fresh produce, along with healthy and hearty meals, fuelled the journalists on this road trip.
We found ourselves at Queenscliff Harbour, patiently waiting in line in our respective cars to board a ferry bound for Sorrento. An activity that is probably unremarkable to the locals, it was a cheap thrill to drive onto a ferry for me.
A 40-minute ferry ride across Port Phillip brought us onto Sorrento, where we pulled up our cars for lunch at The Baths, a modern seaside restaurant that impressed diners with a hearty modern Australian menu featuring local seafood and a relaxed beach vibe.
But the main attraction of this restaurant at Mornington Peninsula really is the view – the riparian-blue Port Phillip Bay stretched as far as the eye could see.
At our table by the window, I watched the waves softly creeping up and dousing the beach. A sense of accomplishment also slowly crept up within me – for completing the journey, that is.
Yes, road trips do have this effect on people.
KANGAROOS ARE NOT THE MOST ROAD-SAVVY CREATURES AROUND, SO IT IS BEST TO AVOID DRIVING AT DAWN, DUSK AND NIGHT, WHEN WILDLIFE IS MOST ACTIVE.
PHOTOS KATHERINE GOH