You are spoilt for choice when it comes to staying in picturesque, friendly towns as you travel along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, but we had a tip to definitely stay at Wye River between Apollo Bay and Lorne. Not one of the better known places maybe, and one we might have overlooked for a bigger town, but it all makes perfect sense if you like a caravan park in an idyllic location, teeming with wildlife, across the road from a beach and walking distance to a hotel with magnificent views. What’s not to love?
The Big 4 Wye River Holiday Park is a deceptively huge park, nestled in an elbow bend of the Great Ocean Road which passes directly in front and divides the park and the beach. It has very modern cabins, a large grassed play area with playground and bouncy pillow for the kids and the best bit is the Wye River cuts through the park so there are plenty of riverfront spaces to pull your van up to. You can fish in the river and even put the kayak in for a bit of a paddle apparently but there was only a very shallow trickle when we were there. I couldn’t fault anything about this park with very clean and modern amenities and with a bonus of being able to have a small campfire at your site at the right time of the year. You can hire fire drums from the park or use your own suitable drum.
The park is nestled at the bottom of rugged tree covered mountains which are dotted with houses that look a picture at night when lit up. The caravan park is abundant with wildlife and at your campsite you will be visited by very friendly Sulphur crested cockatoos, ducks and kookaburras. If you take a short walk around the park to the less populated spots you can spot kangaroos and koalas too. There is a river walk you can take to find a secluded lagoon as well.
The beach across the road is a popular spot to surf for both competent surfers and beginners, with surfing lessons held daily during summer holiday time. You can make a booking to take part in the lessons from the caravan park. Also within walking distance of the park is the Wye Beach Hotel which is in prime position overlooking the Great Ocean Road and the beach. We had dinner here and although I thought the food and especially the drink prices were a little bit too expensive to do too often, for a special one off occasion on holidays you’d be mad not to pay up and enjoy. Not your standard pub prices, but then not your standard pub food either.
One other location I would suggest visiting nearby is Kennett River, only a short 6 kilometre drive from Wye River. I had heard that there was a big koala population there so spotting them would be a certainty and we weren’t disappointed. There is a caravan park at Kennett River too and Grey River road that runs behind it is a well-known koala spotting area. As we drove along this dirt road it didn’t take long to spot a tell-tale lump in a gum tree that was indeed a snoozing koala. A few more stops along the road and we had spotted four more, only one of which was being active, well active for a koala that is. It was making a big effort to get more food, have a scratch and then a bit more of a snooze as is the koala’s day.
The trick to spotting koalas in the wild is to go slowly (lots of people were walking the road, although it can get pretty steep in places) check the forks of trees and up quite high, the more you look and know what to look for the more you will see. I don’t think you can ever get sick of seeing these animals in the wild.
Why not stop at Wye River.