The Great Ocean Road has some fantastic camping, and we spent a night at Aire River West, keen to see more of the amazing region. This was a different camp ground again, and despite this we really enjoyed it.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon and it was relatively quiet, until about 3PM, when the vehicles started rolling in. Being a cheap, national park campground that is easily accessible you’ll get a lot of people staying on the weekend, so be ready!
Where is Aire River Campground?
You’ll find this campground roughly 2 hours from Geelong, and almost in the middle of Port Campbell and Lorne.
Do you need a 4WD to get here?
No, but expect to drive a couple of kilometres on gravel roads that have a number of corrugations and pot holes. Despite this, we saw an overwhelming number of 2WD vehicles at Aire River West Campground.
Aire River West and East Campground
When you go to book a camp site, you’ll probably notice that there’s an Aire River West, and an Aire River East. These are literally 200 metres apart, and only separated by a big wooden bridge. Both are equally as good, but you cannot have fires in the Aire River East Campground.
Now, you can easily drive from one side to the other, with one caveat; the bridge is only rated to 5 tonnes, and that’s not very much when you are talking about a number of camping rigs.
We could easily drive our Dmax over (around 3 tonnes), but in combination with our Reconn R2 Hybrid we are sitting at around 5.3 – 5.4 tonnes, and that’s over the rating. Whilst I have very little doubt that the bridge would be perfectly fine, its over the combination and I wouldn’t take the risk for a huge number of reasons.
4WD tracks to the beach
If you want to do a small amount of 4WDing, you can head over the bridge from Aire River West, and turn right, along the sandy track that is signed as 4WD only. This track is relatively solid and easy with exception of a couple of soft spots, and we came across a Prado who was winching himself out as we arrived.
The track takes you close to the river mouth, and then ducks off towards the beach itself, but stops about 200 metres short of the actual beach in a little sand car park, with a gate.
You can walk from here fairly easily, and the beach would be spectacular on a calm day. It was blowing a gale when we visited, and whilst it was nice, it wasn’t worth hanging around on.
What amenities are at Aire River?
Aire River West has toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, and the usual national park arrangement in Victoria. We didn’t use the toilets as we had our own, but I’m sure they are OK (as were the ones at Johanna Beach).
Boating and Kayaking
There’s a couple of places you can launch a boat at Aire River, on either side of the river. We did see a couple of boats, and even a Jetski (not sure if they are allowed), but the speed is capped at 8 knots (even though most people were hugely ignoring this).
You can kayak out to the river mouth, but if its windy expect some strong resistance!
Is it worth a stay?
Aire River West was another, different camp ground just off the Great Ocean Road. In some ways its even nicer than Johanna beach, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and we’d certainly come here again. The river is a nice touch for when the wind is howling in, and the scenery here is great.
Like Johanna beach there’s a heap of blue wrens fluttering around, which we always enjoy seeing.