Visit the Great Ocean Road

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The Great Ocean Road is famous for its Twelve Apostles that dramatically rise out of the ocean.
Photo: Paul Macallan, Pexels

 

Getting there: The starting point for the Great Ocean Road is a 90-minute drive South West from Melbourne. Drive your own car so you can stop off at all the towns and villages along the way. Otherwise, book one of the many tours. 

The Great Ocean Road takes you along Victoria’s stunning coastline. The Great Ocean Road is famous for the ‘Twelve Apostles’ – which are stunning limestone stacks that sit on the edge of the ocean. Heads up, there used to be 12 Apostles but years of wind and erosion has dwindled them down to 8 apostles.

This 276 km stretch of road also happens to be the world’s biggest War Memorial. It was built by soldiers who returned from World War 1 (between the years 1919 to 1932). There are plaques along the road telling stories of these men who survived war and then built this road by hand. Pack a camera and a jumper - the Great Victorian Road is gorgeous but cold all year long.

The first town on the Great Ocean Road is Torquay, and finishes at the fishing village of Port Fairy (near Warrnambool in Victoria). This journey takes 4 hours (276 km). You can do this trip in a day but we recommend a few days to do this trip so you can explore all the towns to sights along the way.

NOTE: You can start and finish your Great Ocean Road adventure wherever you want….but I’m going to start at Torquay and end at Port Fairy.

 

Visit Geelong & Bellarine

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Visit the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Photo: Tourism Victoria


Before you reach the Great Ocean Road, you’ll go past the seaside towns of Geelong and Bellarine.

  • Take a stroll along Geelong’s Eastern Beach Reserve (the promenade on Corio Bay.) Along the way you’ll see the colourful Baywalk Bollards which are outdoor art exhibition of Geelong’s history and local characters. Other highlights along this walk are the historic carousel and ferris wheel, and the shark-proof Art Deco swimming pool. 

  • For a little local culture, visit the Geelong Gallery, the National Wool Museum, Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, or the Geelong Vintage markets which are open every day and have around 70 stalls selling ‘all things vintage’ - from antiques, clothing, jewellery and furniture.

 

Things to do in Torquay

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Head to Bells beach for some of the best surfing. Photo: Larry Snickers, Pexels
 

Getting there: Torquay is 22 km down the road from Geelong.

  • Visit Bells Beach, which is one of Australia's best-known surf beaches. If you’re here in Easter, you’ll see the annual Rip Curl surfing competition in action. You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy bells Beach. Take a walk and get the sand between your toes, and watch surfers try to tame the waves.

  • Do part of the 44km Surf Coast Walk, which takes you through coastal bushland, beaches and clifftops. (You can do the full walk but you’ll need to factor in a few extra days on your itinerary). 

  • Visit the Surf World Museum that celebrates Australia’s surfing history and champions. 

  • Visit the Torquay Farmers Markets (every Saturday morning). Buy your delicious goodies before you set off on your road trip.)

  • Take a flight in a 1930s Tiger Moth plane and see the Twelve Apostles from above.

 

Things to do in Anglesea 

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Anglesea is a gorgeous seaside town with plenty of fun activities waiting for you. Photo: Rachel Claire, Pexels
 

Getting there: Anglesea is a short drive down the road (17 minutes).

  • Choose Anglesea as your section of the 44-kilometre Surf Coast walk. You’ll walk along the riverbanks and may even spot a kangaroo or wallaby along the way. 

  • Another beautiful walk is the 2.5 km Anglesea Art Walk which takes you past six mosaic art pieces in the town.

  • Go hiking, mountain biking or horse-back riding in the Great Otway National Park. Explore the sandy beaches, ferny gullies, waterfalls and lakes.

  • Take a dip at Point Roadknight beach.

  • For an absolute crowd pleaser, visit the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery at Bellbrae. There’s free chocolate and ice cream tasting, and you get to watch the chocolatiers making magic.

  • Stop at Anglesea Golf Club for a round of golf, mini-golf with the kids, or a bite to eat while you watch the local kangaroos ‘hanging about’ on the greens.

 

Things to do in Lorne 

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See the gorgeous koalas along the Kennett River Koala  walk. Photo: Adri Marie, Pixabay
 

Getting there: Lorne is a 30 km drive along the coast. 

  • Take a hike and explore the many waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park. 

    • Don’t miss the magnificent Erskine Falls with its 30-metre drop into the fern gully. There are lookouts so you can get the best birds-eye view, and if the weather’s warm, take a dip in the waterfall. There’s 2 ways to see this waterfall. The easy way is to walk 80 metres from the car park to the lookout. If you’re up for a challenge, you can take the 8km hike through the national park, down steps and over river crossings. 

    • Sheoak Falls is a 30-minute walk through ferny glades, trees and cliffs. Making this even more beautiful are the birds and butterflies that join you on your walk. 

    • Take the gentle 3.6km walk to Won Wondah Falls. 

  • Head to the popular Lorne beach for a dip in the gorgeous turquoise and deep blue water. 

  • Nearby is the Lorne Sea Baths that really is the whole package. Let’s start with great views (being right on the beach), followed by swimming pools, gym, massage, yoga and fitness classes. And then there’s all the fun-kid-stuff like trampolines, mini-golf, and bumper boats. And all of this can get washed down with some treats from the café or pavilion.

  • Do the Aireys Clifftop walk. This is a gentle 3 km walking track that leads to the Split Point Lighthouse. This 34-metre tall lighthouse still guides ships and runs guided tours.

  • The Great Ocean Road makes no excuses for its stunning coast. Be sure to stop off at Teddy's Lookout for some of the most dramatic coastal views possible.

  • Do the Kennett River Koala Walk where you’ll spot koalas curled up on the eucalyptus trees sleeping, eating and just hanging out. 


Things to do in Apollo Bay

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Take the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

Getting there: Apollo Bay – which is a 50 minutes drive south.

  • The drive to Apollo Bay takes you along cliff tops and past lookouts and beaches. Stop off at the various lookouts – including the Mariners Lookout – for panoramic views over the town and harbour. 

  • Go surfing, swimming or walking on the Apollo Bay beaches.  Hire a SUP (stand-up paddleboard), snorkelling gear, or take a kayak tour to Marengo Marine Sanctuary and see the seals and their pups swimming, playing and lounging around.

  • Take a tour of the Cape Otway light station here you get to climb 90 metres above sea level for outstanding ocean views from the balcony. This is the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia. Nearby is the Aboriginal Cultural Site where you can try your hand at painting, spear throwing, and a few other traditional activities. 

  • Hike the Great Ocean Walk which starts from Apollo Bay. Don’t worry, you can do short sections of this walk or the whole 91 kilometres that ends at Port Campbell. The walk takes you through the Great Otway National Park, along beaches and shipwreck sites.

  • Do the Otway Tree Top Walk. This is the world’s tallest treetop walk (at a whopping 25 metres above the ground), and takes you through the treetops of the Otway Ranges. The walk is 1.9km and takes about 1 hour to complete. For a more thrilling adventure, do the Otway Fly and zipline your way through the Otway rainforest treetop canopy.


Things to do in Port Campbell 

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Do a side trip to Budj Bim National Park. Photo: Visit Victoria
 

Getting there: Port Campbell is a 90-minute drive from Apollo Bay.

  • You have arrived at the home of the famous 12 Apostles. This is the reason for your Great Ocean Road journey. These magnificent limestone rock stacks magically rise out of the ocean and are a sight to behold. I know I said ‘the 12 Apostles’ but there are actually only 8 now because of the wild winds and ocean. Don’t panic! The ones still standing will not disappoint you.

    • OK – time to check these beauties out from all angles. At the visitor’s centre, walk through the 500-metre tunnel to get to viewing platforms.

    • Now time to see these rocks from ground level. At the Gibson Steps lookout, walk down 86 steps to the beach. You can’t help but feel tiny standing near these 45-metre tall rocks that just out of the ocean. Take your time and get lots of photos. If you’re here at sunrise or sunset, you’ll see a kaleidoscope of changing colours.
       

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Head to Gibson Steps lookout for a different view of the Twelve Apostles. Tourism Australia
 

  • Head to Port Campbell National Park for more unforgettable rock formations. (Port Campbell National Park is a few minutes up the road from the 12 Apostles.) I promise you’ll be blown away when you see just how clever mother nature is. In a nutshell, you have Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, the Arch, Thunder Cave and the Grotto. So let me tell you a little more about these incredible feats of nature.

    • Loch Ard Gorge is a spectacular beach framed by yellow-washed cliff faces. The gorge is named after the ‘Loch Ard’ shipwreck. There are several easy Loch Ard Gorge walking tracks with storyboards explaining the area's history. Be sure to stop at the Loch Ard Wreck lookout.

    • The London Bridge is another natural rock formation in the ocean. It did have two arches but over time, erosion caused the inner arch to collapse. Take the short walking track to the lookout for breathtaking views. 
       

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Another marvel of the Great Ocean Road is London Bridge. Photo: Valeriia Miller, Pexels
 

  • Take the short walk to the viewing platforms to see the Arch. You guessed it, this is another rock formation. The cool thing about the Arch is that it’s a work-in-progress. This is the middle stage of an island that’s been slowly eroded into an arch.  The viewing platforms allow you to get closer to the water so you can hear and feel the crashing of the waves.

  • Other must-see things to do in the national park are the Grotto (a cave set into a cliff), Thunder Cave (a gorge with rushing water), Broken Head (a secret beach), and Razorback (a massive limestone rock formation).

  • Not far up the road are the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands where you’ll find secluded beaches, sheltered bays, rock stacks, a coastal reserve, lookouts and walks.
     

Things to do in Warrnambool & Port Fairy 

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Take a boomerang throwing lesson at Tower Hill in Warrnambool. Photo: Tourism Victoria
 

Getting there: Warrnambool and Port Fairy are just over an hours’ drive from Port Campbell (89 km drive along the coast).

You’re getting close to the end of your road trip when you reach the charming maritime towns of Warrnambool and Port Fairy. 

  • Visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village where you’ll see the original Warrnambool lighthouse, and plenty of shipwreck items on display, and mesmerising storytelling of how the Loch Ard ship went down.

  • Go hiking and wildlife watching at Tower Hill Wildlife reserve (which is the site of an inactive volcano). There’s a few different walking tracks to choose from, and there’s a good chance you’ll see koalas, emus, kangaroos and waterbirds roaming among the hills and lakes.

  • Head to Deep Blue Hot Springs for a soak in the thermal baths. These natural springs are said to have healing properties.

 
 
 
 

 

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