Great Ocean Road Trip, Part I: Bermagui, Cape Conran & Phillip Island

Since 2012 my father and I had been on yearly road trips across Australia, visiting the Warrumbungles, the Northern Territory's Outback, and the Snowy Mountains. However it had been a good 18 months since our last trip away. And so with a few weeks to spare between the lease on our Sydney apartment ending and my upcoming overseas travels, I asked him if he wanted to go for a roadtrip down Australia's south east coast. He was keen on the idea from the get go and organised to take two weeks off work with me.

My dad, Craig, is quite the keen photographer himself and we share a common passion for the craft, shooting landscapes and nature, particularly along Australia's coast. And so over the past few months we researched the trip, picking out some of our old favourite locations and some new ones that we were keen to check out and explore.


Bermgui is a relaxed coastal town on New South Wales' Sapphire Coast, situated about 5 hours drive south of Sydney. It's picturesque in its own right, but in recent times has become a hot spot for photographers.

Situated just 10 minutes up the coast are the iconic Horse Head Rock and Camel Rock. A short walk from the beach parking (opposite Wallaga Lakes), Camel Rock is instantly visible, overlooking the beach down towards Bermagui. 

This photo was taken on a secluded beach, nestled between the iconic Camel and Horse Head Rocks. On a tripod, I used a 1 second exposure to capture the motion of the oncoming waves.

Unlike Camel Rock, Horse Head Rock, is somewhat less easy to access, but definitely worth the hike along the coast if the conditions are right.

Only accessable at low to mid tide, be sure to check the conditions in advance. With enclosed shoes a must to make the journey across the shear rocks, I'd also recommend taking a head torch if venturing at sunrise/sunset. Starting from Camel Rock, hike north along the base of the jagged cliff for about 5 minutes. 

You'll know it when you see it. It's a striking natural formation that is worthy of the adventure to reach it.


Cape Conran

After our two nights at Bermgui we set off again down the south coast towards the Victorian border. If you like your coffee and find yourself in Pambula, be sure to pay a visit to Toucan cafe on the Main Street and order yourself a strong coffee. It's one of the finest cups going around, and there'd be no shame in ordering a second for the road.

Into Victoria, we made our way towards Cape Conran, near the town of Marlo on the state's south east coast. After a hot day of travelling and walking, the steps leading down to the beach looked like a path towards paradise, with the calm beach stretching around for miles. We left our camera gear in the car and went in for a quick dip in the ocean to cool off. It'd be a shame not to, right?

That night we sent up camp a stone's through away from the beach, and soaked up the panoramic view with a home cooked bacon and egg roll in hand.  

It was almost the perfect coastal paradise apart from one thing. The mosquitos. They were everywhere on sunset and sunrise, so be sure to pack insect repellent. 

Phillip Island

A quick overnight stay in Cape Conran, before heading off towards Phillip Island where we'd be for the next three nights. The drive through country Victoria was pleasant, with Hamish and Andy and INXS helping to keep us company along the way.

I never quite appreciated just how big Phillip Island actually was. I'd never been, and assumed it to comprise of mostly the famous race track, with maybe a small township on the side. But there were a ton of sights to see, and I'd definitely be keen to return again in the future.

The highlight of the stay for me was Cape Woolami. I'd seen images of the grand Pinnacle rock formations which I was keen to witness and so suggested we make them a destination for this trip. The journey out to the cape is a 40 minute walk from the car park at a good pace. The hike takes you along the beach and atop the the headland where wildlife is aplenty.

We saw numerous sea birds, wallabies and even a friendly echidna right on sunset, who walked right up close to check out this pair of strange photographers. 

It was extremely windy atop the headland when we visited and to access the (rocky) beach below, be sure to wear quality footwear, and take your time down the hillside. Once down, it's a whole other world. It truly is awe-inspiring, with the rock formations jutting out of the sea.  

Next stop, The Great Ocean Road!