Victoria’s, Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is a Victorian highlight, a coastal road full of adventure. It’s the world’s longest war memorial and one of Australia’s most iconic road trips.
Road trips equal adventure, with dramatic seascapes on one side and majestic Otway forest on the other, The Great Ocean Road is a feast for the senses.
Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Numerous stretches along this stunning drive remind me of Highway 101 in America, especially in northern California and southern Oregon.
I’m going to assume everyone is self-driving. Day tours are okay if time is of the essence, be that as it may, self-driving gives you freedom.
Freedom is the essence of a road trip, to go right when everyone tells you to go left.
Furthermore, three or five days is better than one.
Take the M1 from Melbourne to Torquay a distance of 100km or one hour, via Geelong. From Torquay, your trip begins.
My hottest tip, be on the passenger or left-hand side of the vehicle you’ll get crazy good views all the way.
Torquay & Bells Beach
Winki Pop Surf Break, next to Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia
Torquay is the first seaside town you arrive at past Geelong. It’s the spiritual home and birthplace of Australian Surfing.
Rip Curl which back in the 60’s in nothing more than a shed started what was to become a global brand in this little town.
Nearby Bells Beach hosts the annual Easter surfing contest, the longest-running in the world.
In a town where life is surfing and surfing is life a wonderful place to grasp an understanding of it all is the Australian National Surfing Museum, located behind Rip Curl.
Departing Torquay, Jan Juc is worth a look and leaving Bells Beach, Southside is also worth a bit of your time
Street Art reflects the culture of the area, Jan Juc, Victoria, Australia
Next town is Angelsea, should you pass through at morning tea or lunchtime be sure to visit the bakery. Some nice foreshore and river parkland is a feature, and it’s a wonderful spot for a break.
Leaving Angelsea, just before Eastern View is Memorial Arch. Pull over and have a look, it’s a fantastic history lesson as to how, when and why the Great Ocean Road was constructed.
Memorial Arch, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Returned servicemen from World War One began construction in 1919.
It’s a sobering thought to have in the back of your mind as you drive along the entire road was constructed solely with picks and shovels, no machinery, no wonder Aussies were called Diggers, during the war.
By 1932 it was completed, the world’s longest memorial to a country’s war dead.
The next little hamlet is Aireys Inlet, Split Point Lighthouse is worth a look time permitting. There is a nice little cafe at the lighthouse and back in Aireys Inlet a beaut Craft brewery.
Summer holidays in Lorne are crazy busy and hideously expensive. Enjoy all this beautiful seaside town has to offer just don’t do it in peak summer holidays or summer weekends.
Situated on Louitt Bay a scenic hamlet, the town has many eateries and two old hotels. Within the town new boutique shops mingle with shops from years past, to create an interesting mix.
Lorne has the ocean at its front door and the bush at its back, this is where the beautiful Otways begin.
An easy 15min drive from Lorne, Erskine Falls is a beautiful half-day diversion. One of many waterfalls in the Otway National Park, however, there are not many that are more magnificent.
A fabulous viewing platform close to the car park enables the disabled to enjoy a view of the falls. A more strenuous, yet rewarding scamper down 200-odd steps will get adventurous bodies to the bottom.
Take some time and immerse yourself in the beauty of this 30m freefalling cascade. The plunge pool at the bottom, surrounded by giant ferns set a memorable scene of this beautiful Otway location.
Erskine Falls, Lorne, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia ↑
A short drive from the centre of Lorne is a splendid lookout. Enjoy sweeping views of the ocean and the Great Ocean Road below.
View from Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Is the quintessential fishing, seaside hamlet.
It’s a beautiful location endeared with rolling hills, pristine beaches, majestic forests and wild surf beaches.
Apollo Bay is far enough away from Melbourne that the masses haven’t arrived yet (except for the peak summer holiday season) it retains much of its charm.
Walking around the jetty will reveal fishing boats and crayfish pots as important today as they were years ago.
Fishing Boats & Crayfish Pots, Apollo Bay Marina, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Apollo Bay is a superb location from which to base yourself for a couple of days. If you are planning on staying a while Mariners Falls is a pretty waterfall close by, it’s time well spent.
Otway National Park
The Great Ocean Road is memorable, even so, no trip is complete without a detour to experience the majesty of the Otway forests.
The views from the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk are nothing short of incredible.
Beechforest is the heart of the Otways a tiny little town, reached easily from Apollo Bay the drive a highlight.
Either drive via Lavers Hill retracing your steps back to Apollo Bay. Alternatively, complete the loop which takes you through Lavers Hill, Beechforest returning to Apollo Bay via Skeenes Creek.
The loop drive is incredibly scenic but be warned it is windy.
The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk puts you right up amongst the canopy, it’s a birds-eye view of the Otway forest.
Options to be considered at the Otway Fly are, the tree-top walk, the zipline and the Enchanted Forest, a loop walk that doesn’t leave the ground.
Unrivalled views of the surrounding bush. This 600m elevated walkway, 30m high spiral tower and counter lever walkway give you a unique insight into the forest that surrounds you.
The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding forest.
Adrenaline junkies step up, zip along the line, 30m above the forest floor, through the trees and often the mist.
Mystical, peaceful and beautiful walk on a well-formed track around the forest floor. Marvel at the grandeur of the Mountain Ash trees and the splendour of the giant tree ferns, as you meander.
The Enchanted Forest Walk at The Otway Fly is fantastic for the young and young at heart.
Not forgetting to check out where the fairies and dragons hang out, special for the young and young at heart.
It does cost to visit the Otway Fly, all are encouraged to pre-book tickets online.
You can pay on the day, however, be aware it’s a cashless facility you will need a card of some description.
Strictly no dogs allowed and there is plenty of parking for cars, caravans and RVs.
Waterfalls abound around Beechforest, there are four worthy of a visit, all spectacular in their own right.
Each hike is different, natural bush tracks feature, others constructed with stairs and boardwalks, and all vary in distance.
One could easily spend a week exploring waterfalls, we chose Hopetoun Falls. Moreover, Beauchamp, Triplet, Stevenson, and Little Aire Falls would all be excellent.
Hopetoun Falls is the most exquisite balance of all elements. Cascading water, fern-lined water course, moss-covered rocks and towering mountain ash trees.
Hopetoun Falls, Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia – Simply very beautiful
Distinctive Colourful trunks of Mountain Ash trees with bark that drapes like decorative streamers demand your attention.
A short 20m walk from the carpark is a viewing platform, for the disabled this is wonderful, for everybody else, it’s off down the track. A well-constructed track leads you down some 200-odd steps to a boardwalk which leads you to the viewing platform.
Ensure you leave enough energy to get back up the stairs and be cautious of the often slippery path. Hopetoun Falls will not disappoint it’s a very pretty cascade.
The base of one of Victoria’s beautiful giant Redwoods
The Redwoods is one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets and greatest treasures. All the Redwood trees in the forest are original saplings from the ancient Californian Redwoods.
Awe-inspiring, Giant Redwoods, Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia
Eighty-odd years ago saplings from California were bought to Victoria in a Noah’s Ark-type project. Insurance against an unforeseen event to the originals in California.
Today the trees are thriving, and walking amongst them has a distinct Jurassic feel to it. Nature humbles you at times, experience these trees, and you would have had one of those times.
Feeling small amongst the giants, Redwood Forest, Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia
Cape Otway Lighthouse
Perched boldly on Cape Otway the lighthouse has been a beacon since 1848. Before then this section of the Victorian coast was notorious as a graveyard for ships sailing from Europe.
Before it was completed, ships sailing from Europe had only basic navigational tools, charts were basic at best. Many captains would rely on the stars to chart their positions.
Often cloudy and in winter stormy, many a night would have been overcast, moonless and pitch black.
For this reason, this section of the coast was well known as a sail-in-daylight hours-only place, those who ignored the warnings often paid the price.
Cape Otway is a complete lighthouse station with many buildings to explore and lookouts to gaze from. There is much to see, read and learn here.
Lighthouse perched out on Cape Otway, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Experience the view from the top of the lighthouse it’s incredibly windy and incredibly stunning. Roaming around I could feel the isolation the early lighthouse keepers and their families must have felt.
Since 1848 The Cape Otway Lighthouse has been guiding mariners. Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.
Entrance fees apply, however, it’s well worth the admission, a quaint little cafe on site is wonderful for morning or afternoon tea.
Should you have planned well enough in advance there is accommodation on site in some of the old buildings, special it would be to be able to wander the grounds after hours, the sunsets.
Want to feel insufficient, small and in awe of the grandeur of nature then go and stand on the beach at Gibsons Steps.
Take a quiet look around. The sea cliffs and rock stacks are dwarfing. Their enormity will take your breath away rendering you speechless, your eyes wide, filled with wonder.
What appears to be inclement weather often produces beautiful light. Gibsons Steps, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.
Should you be lucky enough to witness a sunset, sea mist or a rainbow you’ll remember it for as long as you stand upright.
Always stop and take in the sunset, no matter your age. Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.
This is one of my very favourite locations along the coast. Take care here, there are many steps, they are often slippery the ocean is often cranky.
Remember beach access on low tide only, be very careful.
Every region has its star attraction, the place everybody wants to check out.
That place on the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles.
Sunset, Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.
Although they are only that in name these days as a few have collapsed upon viewing them you get the picture of what would have been.
Regardless of the time of day, the view is spectacular, however, sunrise and sunset are special times of the day and often are memorable.
Sunrise, Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Sunset, Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Disabled people and those with mobility concerns are well-catered for with great walkways and excellent viewing platforms. Getting to and from the carpark is super safe and easy through a tunnel under the road.
Whether you are a first-time visitor or someone who has been a few times. There is something about this location, that just makes you want to go and have a look.
Loch Ard Gorge
Surveying the beach at Loch Ard Gorge you can’t help but think of the two survivors of the ill-fated ship that the gorge took its name from.
The narrow entrance to the gorge is flanked by daunting high sea cliffs. Often wild southern ocean funnelling through at a frightfully furious rate.
With nowhere to go and nothing to hold on to, the best-case scenario was the ocean dumps you on the sand alive.
Today a solid staircase allows free passage to and from the beach. How those survivors got up the cliff to obtain help defies logic and almost physics.
Loch Ard Gorge is a beautiful place with a harrowing story. Be sure to check out all the lookouts and don’t leave without witnessing the Razorback rock formation.
Loch Ard Gorge, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Imagination is required to see London Bridge in this rock formation. Perhaps it has something to do with the children’s rhyme and the bridge falling, as the middle of this formation has.
London Bridge, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Nevertheless, it’s well worth the stop to get out and stretch your legs, the seascape it presents is captivating.
The Grotto is also well worth a visit while you’re in this area.
Go The Extra Bit.
The 240km/150 mile Great Ocean Road officially finishes or starts depending on the direction you’re coming from on the outskirts of Warrnambool at a little place called Allensford.
Continue on through Warrnambool and travel another 30km to Port Fairy, you won’t be sorry.
Port Fairy is the most charming and quintessential old seaside fishing village you are ever likely to visit.
OIdest buildings in the town date back to the 1840s, bluestone masterpieces that have stood the test of time.
Old buildings are a highlight all to themselves. Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia
Port Fairy’s Moyne River is the lifeline of the town, a safe harbour for many boats and the centre of much social activity.
Moyne River, Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia
Gritths Island is a pleasant walk, the lighthouse both a destination and sentinal for all. Flanked by the ocean on both sides this place is incredibly scenic and very delightful.
Lighthouse on Griffth Island, Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia
Eateries, hotels, and different styles of accommodation to suit every taste thrive in Port Fairy and quietly the Norfolk Pines, simply stunning. This little village oozes charm and will leave a lasting memory.
Norfolk Pines feature along many of Port Fairy’s original old streets
The next leg
From Port Fairy return to Melbourne on the Princess Highway via Colac. Alternatively, keep meandering west to Portland and shortly after into South Australia.
Jam-packed with breathtaking coastal scenery, mystical, enchanting forests and quaint and charming coastal towns full of history and great food. The Great Ocean Road is a road trip full of adventure no matter what your tastes are, simply beautiful, and worth every moment you invest to visit.
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