A Four Day Road Trip from Melbourne
From the moody roads of Black Spur, to the amazing landscapes of the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road. If you love taking photos, exploring stunning landscapes and don’t want to break the bank, this trip’s for you.
Over the 4 days we covered over 1200km, with a total drive time of 20 hours. We put the Everest through a broad range of driving conditions and it certainly came out a winner for this type of road trip!
But enough of that, let's get started!
Melbourne > Black Spur > The Grampians
Accommodation: Grampians Eco YHA - $90 a night for twin room (2 single beds, shared bathrooms, cooking / kitchen facilities onsite. Other room types available.)
Highlights: Sunrise and fog through Black Spur, Reed Lookout / The Balconies Lookout for sunset, Wallaby spotting in Halls Gap.
Our journey started early out of Melbourne, packed and on the road by 6am. We had a 90 minute drive to our first location, the famous Black Spur drive. Well known for its lush forest landscape, even more spectacular when combined with moody morning fog. We planned to arrive around sunrise, just hoping to greeted with a bit of morning fog.
On the way there our chances of fog looked pretty slim. As the light began to peep over the horizon it appeared to be a perfectly clear day ahead. As we started to wind through the roads of Black Spur, sadly there were no signs of any fog.
As we finally reached the very end of the road, to our delight there was suddenly a thick patch of fog right through this upper part of the mountain, we were in luck!
We took the opportunity to capture a few shots of the Everest and whatever else we could along the roadside.
After the fog began to burn away we set off on what would be our longest drive of the trip, to the wide open landscapes of the Grampians. With around 4 hours driving ahead, we made a few stops along the way. Firstly to stock up on some food supplies and then for some lunch.
That afternoon we arrived and checked in to the YHA in Halls Gap. A perfect place to stay in the Grampians on a budget. After checking in we went for a bit of a drive and found some locals (wallabies) hanging out near the Halls Gap sporting field. We decided to take a few shots here with the furry friends and Ford in frame.
After saying goodbye to our new friends, we headed up towards Reed Lookout and the Balconies for sunset.
It was a perfectly clear afternoon, meaning we didn’t get much colour at sunset. However, we were still greeted with beautiful golden light at Reed Lookout as the sun disappeared for the day.
As the light faded we headed back down to the Bistro in Halls Gap for an early dinner and that was the end of a solid first day on the road.
The Grampians > The Great Ocean Road
Accommodation: Clifton Beach Lodge - Roughly $100 a night - 2 bedroom lodge with kitchen, lounge room and private bathroom. 5 mins from the Twelve Apostles!
Photography Locations: Sunrise at Boroka Lookout, Sunset at Loch Ard Gorge, Twelve Apostles for astro
For sunrise we would visit another popular spot in the Grampians, Boroka Lookout, which provided panoramic views of Halls Gap and the east of the Grampians area. Probably pushing our luck, again we were hoping for some fog or low cloud at sunrise.
Although no fog, we definitely weren’t disappointed. As the sun rose it spread a stunning morning light across the valley. We took what we could around the lookout and captured a few time-lapse clips before heading back down to the YHA for breakfast and to check out.
After a few slices of nutritious nutella and banana on toast, plus some much needed coffee, we were back on the road. From the Grampians we were making our way to the Great Ocean Road
We broke up the drive by finding a nice spot on a quiet dirt road to get some clean shots of the car, while taking in the picturesque Victorian countryside.
After making our way to Port Campbell we found a local cafe for lunch, before checking in to our accommodation for the next two nights, Clifton Beach Lodge. The accommodation was perfect for what we needed, a lodge with two bedrooms, kitchen and living space. Located ideally, just 5 minutes drive from the Gibson Steps and the Twelve Apostles. Great for a family stay, a small group of photographers and just anyone wanting to visit all the famous spots along the Great Ocean Road.
That afternoon we decided to visit Loch Ard Gorge for sunset, with a bit of high cloud around we were hopeful for a bit of colour.
Once we arrived the colour briefly decided to show, again we couldn’t complain with the conditions we were provided with!
After a nice easy meal at the lodge and some editing, we decided to head out at night to shoot some astro. The moon was very full, lighting up the night sky, so it was far from ideal astro conditions. But it did create an interesting mood, with a star covered sky across what looked more like a blue hour sky than a night sky.
We braved a few hours out in the cold before heading back to get some rest, ready for another sunrise the next day.
The great Ocean Road > The Otways
Accommodation: Clifton Beach Lodge
Photography Locations: Sunrise at the Twelve Apostles, Chasing light in the Otways (Californian Redwoods and Triple Falls), back to the Twelve Apostles for Sunset (as Gibson steps were closed)
We started day 3 at the famous Twelve Apostles Lookout. It was a reasonably clear day with some low cloud around, so we didn’t have much of a sunrise. No matter the conditions it’s hard not to admire this view of the Twelve Apostles and the stunning coastline.
On the short drive back to the lodge, we couldn’t resist a quick stop to get some more photos of the Everest on the side of the Great Ocean Road in the morning light.
After heading back to the lodge for breakfast, we decided to take some time during the day to explore the Otways and Beech Forest. Although we planned to revisit here again tomorrow, with so many great locations and waterfalls in the area we decided to split it across the two days.
Today we visited Triplet Falls, as well as taking a walk through the Californian Redwoods. It wasn’t ideal conditions with some harsh sunlight in the woods. With light rain forecast for the next day we definitely knew we would be back and expected a nicer mood without the harshness of the sun.
For sunset today we were planning to visit Gibson Steps, unfortunately due to high tide and perhaps some pretty extreme winds, the beach was closed. With not much time to spare we decided to head back again to the famous Twelve Apostles lookout. Quite thankful that we did, as we managed to get some iconic shots with a beautiful sunset.
Later that evening the rain began to fall, ruining any chance we had of shooting some more astro. So we had a quiet night, importing all our photos for the day and getting back into some editing.
The great Ocean Road > the Otways > Melbourne
Photography Locations: Sunrise at The Grotto, Hopetoun Falls and Californian Redwoods through the day
Our final day of the trip would begin with sunrise at the Grotto, a little cave along the Great Ocean Road. Jules decided to make his way out towards this little rock (pictured below). The result of the wave you can see entering the cave, meant he would be heading back with very soggy feet.
After sunrise, we packed up and made our way back to the Otways. Thankfully today with a lot of cloud around and arriving a bit earlier in the day, the light was much better in the forest, creating a much nicer mood for photos.
First we ventured back into the Californian Redwoods, carefully climbing across some of the iconic fallen logs, before making our way to Hopetoun Falls. From the car park at Hopetoun falls it’s only a short 15 minute walk down to the falls.
After exploring both these locations, it was finally time to head back to Melbourne for the end of a very successful trip!
A huge shout out to Jules for his planning and hospitality, definitely made it an enjoyable experience and I do hope we can plan another adventure soon! Also to Ford Australia for letting us drive the Everest around Victoria, the perfect car for this type of road trip!