Some people meditate… I ride motorcycles. The silence, isolation and focus of either exercise helps sharpen the mind, allowing inner concentration and new perspective… it’s just that on a motorcycle you also get to rip around corners, experiencing G’s like nothing but a spaceship can provide!
When one is in a state of constant travel (as we are) there is a lot of ‘getting from A to B’. My general rule of thumb is that the quickest and cheapest route is usually the best choice. Typically the point of such transitions is to BE at B, with the in-between irrelevant. There are, however, special circumstances when getting from A to B has nothing to do with BEING at B at all… it’s all about getting there instead.
There is nothing particularly extraordinary about Port Campbell (Australia), aside from the fact that it’s ‘Point B’ on the Great Ocean Road. Point A in this circumstance is Melbourne, our start to an incredible adventure along one of the most memorable stretches of highway in the world. This road was made for a journey, and this journey was made for a motorcycle.
We started our incredible adventure at Off Track Motorcycle Rentals. This specialty rental company offers unique BMW rentals (with the largest inventory in all of Australia) and even organizes group rides for those looking for a little more guidance. We were set up on their BMW R 1200 GS and fitted for all the necessary gear (helmets, gloves, pants – safety first!). We brought our own leather jackets, straight from Florence, Italy! The owner of Off Track, Grant Evans, could not have been more helpful. He offered invaluable guidance for the best method to tackle this amazing road, where to stop and what we could not miss.
Heading off in the morning, armed with Grant’s advice…. our first stop was the quaint Victoria town of Queenscliff for brunch. Leaving with our bellies full of crepes, the boring highway was behind us and the fun was really getting started. I was very comfortable on the bike (she’s a big girl, but she handles well), which glided along like a Cadillac, and Andrea was relaxed with plenty of room on the back.
Next stop… Point Break cameo! How can anyone from our generation pass up the opportunity to do their best ‘Bodhi pose’ overlooking Bell’s Beach? We certainly couldn’t! This beautiful, cliff-side setting is a nice stop before the longer ride to come. Check out one of the most amazing surf beaches in the world and hope for better weather than the 100 year storm… we enjoyed beautiful sunshine on our quick visit.
From Bells Beach, we headed out towards Apollo Bay. It was about 85km of the most breathtaking coastal roads we’ve ever experienced. Apollo Bay is the perfect spot to post up for the night, based on a morning departure from Melbourne and breakfast stop in Queenscliff. We arrived at dusk exhausted from the long ride, and checked in at Captains at the Bay. This quaint Bed & Breakfast is run by a lovely couple (Anna and Duncan) whose focus on hospitality is heartwarming. Their friendly demeanor (and wonderful eggs benedict) make the hotel a ‘can’t miss’ for any Great Ocean Road adventure.
Settling into one of their modern suites, we recharged our batteries (both literally and figuratively) and headed out for a wonderful risotto and vegetable plate at Casalingo.
I hate early mornings, but the anticipation of getting back on our bike the next day gave me a jump-start. We were up with the sun, our sights set on Great Otway National Park and the light station along the water. While the lighthouse and surrounding sites are nice, the real star attraction of this stopover is all the wildlife. Though it can be difficult on a motorcycle, make sure to keep your eyes peeled along the way. This wilderness is teeming with animals. We encountered our first wallaby and koala while in the park, definitely an unforgettable experience!
Off again, this time through winding, rain-forest roads that eventually led us to the Twelve Apostles. These rock towers were formed after thousands of years of erosion by the powerful Pacific Ocean, slowly emerging from the coastline. It’s simply remarkable what nature can create! My favorite discovery of this stopover was learning that the apostles used to go by another name… known as the Sow and Piglets until 1922. It’s amazing how pigs can become priests!
From the Twelve Apostles, it’s a short (but incredible) ride to Port Campbell. With numerous lookout points along the way, we found more private spots with views even more remarkable than those near the busy Apostles.
Once you reach Port Campbell, you can either make your way back along the coast or take the more direct route through Victoria’s inland roads. Needing to get back to Melbourne before nightfall, we reluctantly opted for the fastest way home. Though nowhere near as beautiful as the Great Ocean Road, the highways provide a certain meditative element. We were both in a trance as we sped past endless acres of farmland.
In just a few hours we were back at Offtrack Motorcycle Rentals, taking off our helmets for the last time that weekend. This was truly an unforgettable experience, and my favorite of all our Australian adventures.
If you’re visiting Melbourne, this is one A to B journey you cannot miss… enjoy the ride!
If you’d like to follow our route along the Great Ocean Road, use the map below. Click the top right corner to expand, and select the various points for more information.