Em Rusciano: Getting social down the Great Ocean Road

Em Rusciano







When I was contacted to take part in an “Instameet” I initially thought it had something to do with online dating and I had visions of speed dating over Skype with men who have glamour pictures of their mothers behind them.

Turns out an Instameet involves getting a whole lot of people together – who have a bit of social media cred – and getting them to take photos of a particular subject matter. They then post it on their Instagram for their followers to enjoy/be envious of. We had a few communal hash tags going and it was all in the name of encouraging you lot to look at “Monday as the new Sunday”.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is brought to you by our partners at Great Ocean Road marketing. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Our subject matter was the Great Ocean Road. I know.. I hate me a little bit too.

We had three days of road tripping ahead of us, which would involve wineries, hot springs, nature walks, gourmet meals, horse back riding.. I’m not helping you like me again am I?

As we  board our white Europcar people movers, I heard a very distinctive voice say “G’day love, I’m Lynne and this is Ada”. All of a sudden I was at the diner in Summer Bay because… yes friends, Home and Away royalty sat before me: Lynne McGranger who plays Irene and Ada Nicodemou who plays Leah were my car buddies.

We were also joined by Melbourne-based DJ Andy Murphy, Melbourne artistic duo Melissa Findley and Steen Jones, model Alex Davis and talented photographers and Instagram super stars Pauly Vella, Lauren Bath, Matt and Mia Glastonbury. Our combined Instagram following and audience for our weekend: more than 600,000 Instagram users.

DAY ONE: Melbourne to Timboon to Warrnambool to Port Fairy (and back to Warrnambool)

Em at the spa

Our first stop, after two hours of Ada threatening to chunder every five minutes, was the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. We were served one HELL of a tasting plate/anit-pasto, we were able to legitimately do day-time whiskey shots (Lynne was VERY good at this) and ate home made ice cream.

Once the eating Olympics finished we rolled back into the cars and headed toward Warrnambool. On arrival at the hotel I was faced with three difficult choices in the activities department. 1. Horse-back riding on the beach. 2. Sunset at Tower Hill nature reserve. 3. Geothermal mineral hot springs conveniently located at our hotel.

While I’ve always loved the idea of donning a white chiffon gown, growing my hair long and delicately galloping along a stunning beach atop my pure white palomino, it was bloody cold and so it will come as no shock that I chose the in-house geothermal spa.

In “Warrnie”  we stayed at the  Deep Blue . It was perfectly lovely, the aforementioned in-house hot springs is a pretty big bonus.

After my taking giant bath I was pretty hungry so we all headed into Port Fairy to visit Victoria’s oldest Inn, Merrijig Kitchen. We ate for Australia there; three courses off their local seasonal menu and a few local bio-dynamic and organic wines.

DAY TWO: Warranmbool to Port Campbell to the Otways then to Lorne


I woke up to find Mother Nature completely showing off, as I witnessed a magical sunrise over the Southern Ocean. Glorious.

When the road started to twist and turn was when the destination lived up to the name. The limestone cliffs, some almost 100mts high, create the most dramatic coastline and then there’s the Twelve (er, seven) Apostles.

These babies are phenomenal. Half the group went up and saw what’s left by helicopter and I took 86 steps down to the beach.


We then go to the Otways. Think Ferngully – the greenest place on earth. I was disappointed at the lack of garden fairies but I pressed on.

Here we took a tree top walk above the rainforest canopy and meet one of the most passionate guides you’ll ever come across, nature boy Nath. I mean it, Nath LOVES the stuff, can’t get enough of it.

Next stop, Lorne’s Cumberland Lorne Resort. My room again overlooks the ocean and after a spa in my hotel suite (I can’t believe this is work) it was time for rooftop drinks and an amazing Argentinian feast.


It’s time for home. The Instameet is almost over and our photos have generated over 500 000 likes. A few more stops past the Split Lighthouse and Bells Beach until we reached our last destination: lunch and some more wine at the Jack Rabbit Vineyard in the Bellarine.

This experience not only reminded me about the rad stuff on my doorstep, it pulled me out of my comfort zone. I met amazing people, I laughed, I indulged, I learnt, I jumped around, did handstands and took selfies. For three days. And I want to do it all again.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the trip:

From July to November this year, tourism operators throughout the Great Ocean Road and the hinterland are offering special deals on accommodation, food, wine and activities encouraging couples and families to enjoy a long weekend in the region. To plan your long weekend away and to take advantage of great specials, head here.

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Win the Ultimate Great Ocean Road Long Weekend  

You too can win the Ultimate Long Weekend down the Great Ocean Road valued at $3000. To enter the competition, head to the Great Ocean Road Facebook page. The campaign and Instameet was hosted by Great Ocean Road Marketing.