The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous coastal routes in the world. It spans 243 kilometers along the southeastern coast of Australia from Torquay to Warrnambool. It is built between 1919 – 1932 by soldiers who returned from WWI. Nowadays, it is somewhat of a pilgrimage for travelers who look to visit all the best places. And, where to visit along the Great Ocean Road that spans the coast from Allansford to Torquay. It commemorates the soldiers killed during the war and as such is the world’s largest war memorial. It shows off sheer limestone cliffs, dairy farms and gets you up close personal with the crashing waves of the Southern Ocean.
Find out where the best Great Ocean Road stops are and where to see fabulous views, long golden beaches and more.
Torquay and Bells Beach
Torquay is a pretty little town and home to some nice accommodation, good beaches, and the National Surfing Museum. Bells Beach is close by where the Rip Curl Classic Surf competition occurs annually. There is also Narana an award-winning Aboriginal Cultural Centre offering authentic cultural activities.
It is the point where the Great Ocean Road finally meets the ocean! The local golf course is famous for the plenty numbers of kangaroos hopping across its green. Continuing along the road landscape flattens and a beautiful panorama of the ocean comes into view on the left.
Passing through Aireys Inlet, the long golden surf beaches continue. Look out for the ‘Pole House’ on the right. A concrete building that has survived bushfires and is available to rent on Stayz. Stop by the Memorial Arch to stretch your legs and read the history of the Ocean Road construction. Also, take a few minutes to walk down onto the beach.
Lorne has shaken its old reputation on transforming into a major summer destination. A long beach provides an interface between the town and the ocean, while forested hills provide a scenic backdrop. The pier is well worth a walk. You could check out the catch of the local fishermen, or organize a fun fishing activity for yourself.
Drive through Lorne and turn right at the Lorne Hotel to follow the signs up to Teddys’ Lookout. It is a steep road but vehicles going up have the right of way so you will not need to stop.
Keep an eye out for koalas in the trees around this area.
Kennett River & Koalas!
Kennett River is a popular place to stop, where you are to see koalas up in the gum trees. Take the turn-off on the right, just after the bridge, parking near the café; then walk up Grey River Rd on the left and keep your eyes peeled!
Apollo Bay is a relaxing town. It is one of the Great Ocean Road’s popular mid-point layover for thousands of travelers. The town has a large number of restaurants, cafés, bars and dozens of accommodation options. A Seafood Festival is held every February. Continuing the route, the road curves inland for the next 80 km or so and about 20 minutes out of Apollo Bay, is a turn-off to the left for Cape Otway Lighthouse.
Maits Rest Rainforest Walk
Maits Rest is about 20 minutes drive from Apollo Bay, on the left. Well worth stopping here for this really pretty rainforest walk. Very old Beech Myrtle trees, tall tree ferns, and an easy loop walk.
Depart Maits Rest, the road continues through the forest and open farmland before climbing up the Otway Ranges to Lavers Hill.
There’s an opportunity to take another turn-off on the right and head deeper into the Otways and surrounding hills.
88 steps cut into the limestone cliff face with marvelous views towards two of the famous rock stacks of the 12 Apostles.
The Twelve Apostles
This collection of limestone stacks is the result of thousands of years of erosion of the coastline. It also represents where the coast once extended.Loads of free parking, plenty of space for caravans and motorhomes. This is a busy time of day to be here, but still well worth visiting of course. The walk from the car park takes a couple of minutes to reach the viewing platforms.
Loch Ard Gorge
Named after one of the most famous shipwrecks along the coast, Loch Ard Gorge is gorgeous. Walk to the ‘Razor Back’ formation, follow the shipwreck trail and head down to the Loch Ard Gorge beach. Here, you can find a cozy little beach amongst fascinating rock formations and caves.
Port Campbell is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region. The town is home to a small little beach, which suspends the long rocky coastline of cliffs. Heading out of town, take a left at the intersection to stay on the Great Ocean Road towards Warrnambool. It is a nice little town with some good walks around the coast. It also offers plenty of accommodation and even a microbrewery.
London Bridge, The Arch, and the Grotto
The Arch is a natural rock formation best seen when the waves crash against its foundations. Another minute down the road is, now known as London Arch, but before London Bridge. It connects the mainland as two arches, allowing tourists to walk along the length of the bridge. Another minute up the road is The Grotto, a quiet inlet where a sinkhole has created rockpools.
The marvelous landscape tends to draw the driver’s concentration away from the road. When driving, focus on this task and then stop for nice views. Don’t forget to stay alert, instead of trying to admire the coast while driving in parallel. When walking on paths and to viewpoints, stay on the secure trails and behind any safety barriers.
Please check out another good article from National Geographics.
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