By Agnes & Nick Hellwig
Our children gave usTop Tourist Parks gift vouchers for Christmas and as Nick and I, to our shame, have never seen the Great Ocean Road we decided to take a couple of days to explore.
We stayed with Avys and Terry Hope at the Aireys Inlet Holiday Park, a comfortable two and a half hour drive from Chadstone in Melbourne.
We were treated extremely courteously throughout our stay. We had no trouble usingthe Top Tourist Parksgift vouchers at Aireys Inlet Holiday Park. We had two $50 vouchers andwe paid the difference with a credit card.
Avystook the opportunity to do some stafftraining.So theTop Tourist Parks of Australiamanual came out as she showed a staff member how to deal with the gift vouchers.
The Top Tourist Parks of Australia Chain instructions to member parks for useare -
The vouchers are available in $20 and $50 denominations. If the amount for the stay is less than the face value of the voucher, the client receives the difference in cash. The member park then forwards the gift voucher onto the Adelaide head office and is reimbursed the full face value of the gift voucher.
The gift vouchers are limited in use. They can only be used to pay for any type of accommodation and cannot be used to pay for items such as kiosk purchases, bike hire or other similar services.
Avys and Terry Hope purchasedtheir Top Tourist Parks chain member park about six years ago. Avys is an accomplished mosaic artist and her superb, unusual work can be seen around the caravan park on flowerpots which adorn the swimming pool and in the Top Tourist Park reception office.
Avys mosaic hangs in the office
Her work is also on show at the Eagles Nest Art Gallery across the road from the Aireys Inlet Holiday Park, as well as at the Bliss Restaurant and Caf down the road. Nick and I fell so in love with one of her mirrors (a work in progress) in the office, we had to buy it!
We chose to stay in an en-suite cabin which was spacious and comfortable. It included everything we wanted, even an outdoor setting.
We brought our own bedding, but that can be hired from the Aireys Inlet Holiday Park. This immaculate and beautifully presented Top Tourist Park has a variety of en-suite cabins and lovely spacious sites for caravans or campers.
The facilities include a covered outdoor spa heated to 37.5 degrees, a solar heated swimming pool, childrens playground, and two barbecue areas, one under cover, the other with handcrafted metal palm trees adorning it.
On the back of the laundry wall is a mural painted by a guest at the Aireys Inlet Holiday Park some time ago.
Feeding the cockies at Aireys Inlet Holiday Park
Flocks of people friendly white cockatoos and other birds frequent the park on the lookout for a feed.
We met sisters Noreen and Pat who stay at the park as often as possible just to feed the birds! They have recently upgraded from a tent and purchased a Coromal Compac Caravan from Caravans West in Sunshine. They tow with a new Toyota Kluger SUV and love it!
On our first day after our arrival we explored Aireys Inlet. One of the main attractions is the Split Point Lighthouse built in 1891, where tours are available.
The Eagles Nest Gallery specializes in exhibiting the work of local artists of all kinds, they have paintings, sculpture, glass pottery, hand painted tiles and gift cards, jewellery, and of course Avyss mosaic paintings, some which are created for outdoor use as well.
There are several excellent restaurants, a hotel, together with cafes and take away food, and the Fairhaven Surf Club is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights offering home cooked meals with a view of the sea to die for.
Aireys Inlet beach view. The spiders web is optional
The sea, beaches and the cliffs are of course the main attraction all along the Great Ocean Road. On our second day we drove to Lorne, around 15 minutes west on the Great Ocean Road from Aireys Inlet, where we explored the many beautiful shops and cafes.
From Lorne we continued on one of the world great ocean drives towards Apollo Bay.
We stopped to have a look at the Cumberland River Holiday Park, around 7km from Lorne which has the most spectacular views of the cliffs. This caravan park is so beautiful, we will have to come back another time.
Cumberland River Holiday Park has cabins available which have power but no power points, and none of the sites are powered, so you need to bring gas bottles etc. The amenities are pristine, and there are fire braziers on each site. The kiosk is well stocked with necessities and LPG.
Camping at Cumberland River Great Ocean Road
The Cumberland River runs through the caravan park, and the beach is just across the road.
Kennett River is the next place to stop. Next to the Kennett River Caravan Park is the Koala Cove Caf which has nice food and great views.
The Caf is open seven days and is a good place to take a break from driving.
Apollo Bay is as far as we got on the day. We browsed the shops, admired the beach and boats, had another cup of coffee and headed home to Aireys Inlet.
The Great Ocean Road has 80kmh speed limits. It is one lane each way and has lots of curves, dips and sharp climbs so driving concentration is a must.
Around every corner are signs saying we drive on the left hand side in Australia, for the benefit of tourists.
There are lots of places to pull over to admire the spectacular views.
The Great Ocean Road is rightly admired as one of the most spectacular drives in the world.
Aireys Inlet Holiday Park sign with trademark mosiac
Britz, Maui and other motor homes and campers were everywhere.
As it was midweek and the weather was overcast and relatively cool the traffic was light, but in peak seasons and weekends allow plenty of time.
The Great Ocean road is a great driving adventure which is best taken slowly.
Speed limits apply thoughout the Great Ocean Road and drivers must take them seriously to be safe on this road. Dips and curves are sudden. There are many blind sections.
If towing there are many pullovers which allow the courtesy of helping others on their way.
Touring is about good times. If you and your caravan, camper, campervan or motorhome are leading a traffic parade help others to drive safely, stop when you can on one of the many pullovers and let others pass while you take in the view.
Distances and Approximate Travel Times from Aireys Inlet, as per Great Ocean Road Org:
Anglesea 10km travel time about 15 mins.
Apollo Bay 64km travel time about 1hr 10mins.
Deans Marsh 38km travel time about 30 mins.
Geelong 46km travel time about55 mins.
Lorne 20km travel time about20 mins.
Melbourne 122km travel time about1 hr 30 mins
Port Campbell 160km travel time about3hrs.
Queenscliff 75km travel time about1hr 15 mins.
Twelve Apostles 150km travel time about2hrs 45 mins
Torquay 28km travel time about30 mins.
The two nights we had were nowhere near enough of course. Allow at least a week, or better still two to see everything including the hinterland. Our gift of a Top Tourist Parks Gift Voucher was perfect. In fact, I would recommend dropping hints to all your family and friends to buy them for you.
Lady in the Mirror is another example of Avys work
Gift Vouchers are available in $20 and $50 by calling Top Tourist Parks on 1800 353 676. They are valid for two years, and can be used at any Top Tourist Park in Australia. While you are at it, why not become a Top Tourist Park member? Memberships entitle you to a 10 percent discount to a maximum of $25 per stay.
Along the Great Ocean Road Top Tourist Parks include:
Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park.
Aireys Inlet Holiday Park.
Kennett River Caravan Park.
Apollo Bay Caravan Park.
Great Ocean Road Caravan Park in Peterborough.
Figtree Holiday Village in Warrnambool.
Belfast Cove Caravan Park in Port Fairy.
Editor's Note: Here are a range of GoSee features about the Great Ocean Road Experience and Top Tourist Parks approach to helping users get the best from cabin accommodation -
Memorial Arch Great Ocean Road
The Mirror Agnes and Nick could not resist
Making the most of a difficult Great Ocean Road site
Parrot power comes calling at Aireys Inlet