The Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia is a spectacular coastal highway, most known for its incredible views of the ocean and majestic cliffs and rock formations. It was built in the early 1900’s as a war memorial and as a work project, providing jobs during the depression.
Traveling the Great Ocean Road is best done by private vehicle, although there are tours available. Be sure to plan for a car or campervan hire and start exploring, because this is a coastal drive you have to make if you are visiting Australia! Although the Great Ocean Road is only 243 km (151 miles) long, do not try to drive it all in one day. The freedom to stop and explore along the way will make this a memorable experience. Here’s what you will discover if you make this epic road trip…
Begin the Great Ocean Road at Torquay
The Great Ocean Road winds from Torquay to Warrnampool, and because you will be driving on the left side of the road, it is best to travel from east to west. Torquay is only 35 km (22 miles) from Avalon Airport or 86 km (53) from Melbourne. The speed limit along the Great Ocean Road is 80-100 km/hr (50-62 mph) and 50-70 km/hr (31-43 mph) through the towns. Since this is a very popular route, do not expect to travel fast. At Torquay, you may want to check out Bells Beach, where the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition is held.
The Split Point Lighthouse, built in 1891, and lovingly called the “White Queen”, is still operating and is open for guided tours and amazing 360-degree views.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that all of the beautiful sights are along the beach. At Lorne, you can take a short drive on Erskine Falls Road to a 5-minute walk to the Erskine Falls Lookout. Or takes the stairs down to the base of the falls and watch the water spill into the Erskine River. At Teddy’s Lookout, you’ll stand on a viewing platform with views of the coast, the Saint George River, and the rainforest below.
Wye River and Kennett River
Wye River and Kennett River are tiny communities situated where the rainforest meets the sea. The most notable thing to look for here are koalas in the wild. Look closely, especially at the gum trees, as you drive by. You may be able to spot a koala slowly chewing his lunch in the treetops.
Apollo Bay & Cape Otway
Apollo Bay is the starting point for the Great Ocean Walk, a 104-km (65-mile) walk that takes you along the shoreline and beneath towering cliffs with hike-in campsites at intervals. From Marriner’s Lookout, you can see Apollo Bay and much of the coast. Travel deeper inland if you’d enjoy experiencing Otway Fly Treetop Adventures!
The Cape Otway Lighthouse is another popular stopping point. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia and was built in 1848. There are tours, a cafe and store, a WWII radar bunker, and a whale interpretation site.
Twelve Apostles Marine National Park
The Twelve Apostles park might just be the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road. Eroded by the ocean over time, these limestone rock formations stand as sentinels along the coast. Where there used to be nine, only seven are now standing. Two were victims of further erosion and collapse.
At Port Campbell is a beautiful gorge, known as the Loch Ard Gorge, at the site of the Loch Ard shipwreck of 1878. There were only two survivors of this wreck and there is a sign here as well as a small cemetery where four of the victims are buried. Gibson’s Steps are hand-carved steps in the rock face of these cliffs, and the London Bridge (which collapsed in 1990) and the remaining arch offer photogenic views. The Grotto is a natural open cave, caused by the waves.
Peterborough and the Bay of Islands
Peterborough is a perfect family destination, with a shorefront playground and a riding loop. Here you will also find the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. It’s a stunning view at sunset!
Warrnambool, the End of the Great Ocean Road
While Warrnambool marks the end of the Great Ocean Road, it doesn’t have to be the end of your adventures. Other notable attractions include the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village (a step back into time with a historic lighthouse and village) Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground (great for the kids!), and the Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform, where female whales migrate close to the shore, to bear their young.
I know your Great Ocean Road trip will be an amazing one!
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