From Melbourne, the fella and I decided to take a little 3-day road trip down the Great Ocean Road.
The official starting point is in Torquay. Our first stop was Point Impossible beach, little did I know that I navigated us to the nude-y beach, oops! After that, we drove through town to Bell’s Beach, where (apparently) the closing scene of Point Break was filmed – I have not fact-checked this statement because I’m lazy.
Sketching a beach scene is not my strong point, however, I am super happy with how this turned out. I thought I would get a little help on how best to approach the subject matter, so I turned to the universal teacher…YouTube. I came across this video by British artist, Charles Evans. It really helped me try to achieve a somewhat convincing scene. I watched it through and then watched it and paused it as I was painting Bells Beach. As some of you may know I tend to lean towards using bold black pen lines in a lot of my sketches, followed by watercolour but in this case, I drew some minimal outlines in pencil and then went straight to paint. I had to hide my pens…the temptation to start doing outlines was huge.
I was so happy with how the paint first, or even paint-only approach worked out on the sketch of Bells Beach that I decided to do it my next sketch that way too, and I am happier with how this sketch turned out. This is the Memorial Arch in Eastern view on the road between Torquay and Lorne. This felt more like the official starting point because of the arch, memorial statues and information signs about the road – along with loads of cars stopping all over the place so people could take their selfies in front of the arch (at the risk of being run over in some cases)!
We drove through the town of Lorne but it was so crazy hectic with people, we didn’t stop in the centre. We stopped for some lunch right on the edge of town and then drove off course a little to go find the Erskine Falls. After which, we drove onto Apollo Bay to find our Air Bnb and have a bit of a rest, followed by a visit to the local brewhouse in town for a nice locally made craft beer.
Our second day of travels started with a visit to Cape Otway Lighthouse. The drive to the lighthouse was amazing. We drove through thick forest and saw a koala at the very top of one of the trees (only because other people had stopped to take photos, we would have never have spotted it otherwise) and then once through the forest the landscape opens out but it’s covered in ghostly white trees with no leaves…they look very spooky. Once at the lighthouse area, we paid for tickets and in the grounds, there is this cool monument to a shipwreck which I sketched below. This whole coast is known for its multiple shipwrecks and there is a big map listing how many and the ship names in each of the areas that we would be visiting along the Great Ocean Road.
After a bit of walking and braving the extreme winds, we made it to the lighthouse which I have sketched below. This is the oldest working lighthouse in Australia and considered a significant landmark. Apparently it’s an excellent point for whale watching too. You can also stay in the grounds of the lighthouse (not in the lighthouse itself), there are cottages to rent and a cafe. After the lighthouse, we moved on to the even more famous landmark, the Twelve Apostles, which are famously not twelve anymore, more like four. They have eroded over the years, one of them is almost about to disappear, its just a little stump now. You can also visit the Gibson Steps while at the Twelve Apostles. It was insanely busy when we went (a few days after New Years) but they open up extra fields for parking to accommodate all the cars rolling in.
We then trundled along the coast stopping off at the other famous sites of rock formations and coastline, such as The Grotto, London Bridge, Bay of Martyrs, Bay of Islands. They are all very well signposted, you can’t miss them. We drive through the small towns of Port Campbell and Peterborough along the way, the Great Ocean Road finished and we carried on to Port Fairy which is a very pretty town. We stopped there for the night.
On the third day, we slowly made our way back to Melbourne, through Great Otway National Park. Our sole mission of the day was to visit the Otway Fly Treetop Adventure. We didn’t do the zip-lining (a bit too pricey for our budget) but the treetop walk instead, and it was absolutely stunning. The narrow walkways are almost at the canopy of these insanely tall trees, it’s so beautiful to walk through the forest as such a height. Highly recommend visiting this place if you find yourself in the area.