After looking at the prices for some Great Ocean Road Camping options, we very quickly booked a couple of National Park stays, including a night at Johanna Beach. This is one of the more popular national park campgrounds along the Great Ocean Road, and despite being out of school holidays, and not a weekend there weren’t too many spots left.
Where is Johanna Beach and how do you access it?
Johanna Beach is 44km East of Apollo Bay, or 64km South East of Port Campbell. You can access it via two ways, and one is no good for caravans. Red Johanna Road is the one you want to take, which comes down from the North East, and is primarily bitumen.
If you take Blue Johanna Road, its much windier, and not suitable for caravans, but people still end up on it!
Do you need a 4WD?
Nope, and we saw plenty of 2WD vehicles at Johanna Beach. For the most part the road in is bitumen, and only the last section is gravel, and they’ve just recently been through and filled the pot holes.
We did see some big rigs come through here (including a big low loader of all things!), and even big American trucks with large caravans manage OK (but pick your sites wisely!).
What amenities are there?
Johanna Beach has the usual toilet blocks, along with taps to wash your hands and even feet. There’s no fire pits (no fires allowed, at any time), and there’s a couple of picnic areas spread around the place.
What is the campground like?
Johanna Beach Campground is actually really nice. Most of the sites have some shade, and there were a lot that are really grassy. Not all of them are the largest sites around, but they are in decent locations, and there’s not much to complain about.
You can walk down to the beach fairly quickly too, which is always nice.
Johanna beach camping cost
Camping here is $15.70 per night, per site, which is pretty decent value. You won’t find anything else along the Great Ocean Road that is cheaper, which is one of the reasons why its so popular. Yes, there are some free camps further north of the Great Ocean Road, but then you have to drive down.
We had quite a lot of March flies along the Great Ocean Road. We noticed them first in Warnambool, but they were worse at Princetown Recreation Grounds, and probably the worst at Johanna Beach. You can spray insect repellent, or I just belt them every time I feel them bite. It wasn’t hugely unpleasant, but its certainly annoying. Interestingly enough they were worst on the beach, even where it was fairly windy.
What is Johanna Beach like?
Johanna Beach matches in with the ruggedness of the Great Ocean Road. Its wild, rough and the waves pump all day, and all night. Despite this, the beach is huge, and really nice for a walk.
We also found a number of pretty amazing rock pools that the kids had fun in, but be on the ball with the waves and water coming in, as it can sometimes come in with a lot of force and would knock a small child over, or give them a major fright in the rock pools.
There’s also a small fresh water stream that runs down into the beach, which is really picturesque and worth a look. Our kids had a lot of fun splashing around in it.
This beach is well known for surfing, and you’d be mad to swim there unless you were very experienced with rough conditions and a seriously competent swimmer. There’s still places you can get wet without much danger though, which is good.
It’s worth noting that accessing the beach is a bit average at the moment too, with a gravel track that drops off towards the end about 70cm, with a big rut in the middle. There are a couple of ropes and straps that you can use to lower and pull yourself as needed, and for most people its a non issue, but if you aren’t good at bending knees, or have access limitations it is worth considering before you head down!
Would we stay at Johanna Beach again?
I really enjoyed Johanna Beach. We had some younger ones (geez, I sound old!) that were pretty loud late into the night (well after 11:30PM), and it didn’t drop below 28 degrees on our stay, but its a magic spot. The camp ground is pretty decent too, and we’d have happily spent another night here if there was any availability. Sadly, we had to move on, but at least had secured a spot at Aire River West Campground, just down the road.