The Great Ocean Road (B100), was built by returning Australian soldiers of World War I in memory of their associates who had lost their lives in the war. Stretching from Torquay to Allansford, the road spans more than a a hundred and fifty miles; it is the largest war memorial in the world. The Great Ocean Road passes by rainforests, sea-beaches, sea-side settlements. The road itself winds through open stretches at one moment and through dense foliage at the next.
Attractions on the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road winds through some of the most scenic natural spots as well as several man-made entertainment venues.
These are twelve (now seven) 45-meter high outlandish limestone stacks that foreguard the tall cliffs in the background. The twelve apostles are part of the Port Campbell National Park. For an up, close and personal encounter with one of the apostles-the silent apostle- visitors need to climb down the eighty six steps of the Gibson steps. The Twelve Apostles are a part of the Port Campbell National Park.
Port Campbell National Park
The name of the Port Campbell National park is synonymous with the twelve apostles-the major attraction there. The park though, extending from Princeton to Peterborough is a major attraction by itself. In fact, it is the most photographed stretch on the Great Ocean Road. It has several other iconic attractions. Loch Ard Gorge-the site of a 19th century shipwreck, and Razorback trail, rival the twelve apostles in popularity. The park offers some out-of-the-world viewing areas that overlook the twelve apostles and the rough lashing waves below.
Bay of Islands
This is the first important lookout stop on a drive along the Great Ocean Road. Several walking trails are available. Views of sheer cliffs with the crystal blue waters in the distance and pale rock stands emerging from them, are breath-taking. In fact, a helicopter ride over this area and the Bay of Martyrs helps to really appreciate the scenic beauty, while a walk along the shore is ideal to understand the various geological features that are in play here.
The Split Point Lighthouse at the Aireys Inlet is a major attraction since it offers views of the coastal area from a vantage viewpoint. The beaches at Aireys Inlet are mostly patrolled, and water activities like surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming are very popular here. From here, one can also approach the Great Otway National Park.
Teddy’s Lookout at Lorne
The location of Lorne along with the easy availability of amenities makes Lorne a popular spot for a break on the way to the Port Campbell National Park. Walk for a few minutes to arrive at Teddy’s Lookout for a spectacular view of the expansive ocean.
Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground and Logan Beach at Warnambool
Warnambool has a lot to offer to the visitor-in terms of nature, history, as well as contemporary culture. The beaches are clean and have beach shelters. The Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground is such a must-do activities for kids that it remains on top of every parent’s must-visit list. Fabulous botanical gardens designed by Guilfoyle, the man behind the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, Cannon Hill-a hilltop that provides bird’s eye views of the place, several waterfalls, gardens and rivers-all this and much more make up Warnambool. Between the months of July and October, the Logan Beach serves as a whale viewing platform from where to view Right whales. The Tower Hill Reserve, a little way from the heart of Warnambool, is Victoria’s first national park and home to emus, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, black swans and wedge tailed eagles, magpie, geese and several reptiles.
Mait’s Rest at Apollo Bay
Nestled on the lower slopes of the Otway Range, the Apollo Bay is a coastal town popular as the ‘paradise by the sea’. Home to mainly logger and farmers, the scenic town has now attracted a lot many artists. Filled with the promise of fireflies in lush rainforests, bare petrified forests, and steep outlooks, the Apollo Bay is a spectacular stop that easily deserves a day’s stay or more. The Mait’s Rest is a beautiful and popular walk through a rainforest.
Great Ocean Road officially begins here. Torquay, the surf capital of Australia and the birth-place of several surf-brands has the famous Bell Beach-an iconic surf-beach that is the dream destination of every surfer worth his salt. Even a non surfer would do well to pay a visit here, simply to register the popularity of the beach. The Point Impossible surf beach is relatively quieter, but has equally great surf breaks.
Colac is the largest town that falls on the way to the Port Campbell National Park. It lies on the banks of Lake Colac. The botanic garden is Colac, with a heady assortment of colorful plants, is great for a relaxing walk or a bike-ride. The cafe is wonderful. Also the Red Rock lookout affords great views of volcanic craters. Visit the Memorial Square, a well-preserved rotunda with well-cared for gardens. The Memorial Square had been built in the memory of the Australian soldiers who had lost their lives in the WWI.
The Great Ocean Road is bordered by several more coastal towns such as Princetown, Kennet River, Anglesea, Beech Forest, Johanna, Lavers Hill, Wye River, Winchelsea, Timboon, Skeles Creek, Camperdown, Port Fairy and Portland, to name only a few.
As these towns lie so close to the coastal area, and bushlands and rainforests abound too, adventure activities are extremely popular here. Common activities are golf, cycling, fishing, sailing, swimming, scuba diving, boating, sky-diving, camping and four-wheel driving.
Places of cultural interest like museums, historic monuments, theaters and local markets-all this are found here in plenty. Children can have fun in a number of playgrounds along the way. In a nutshell, the Great Ocean Road is straddled on both sides by so much scenic beauty and so many places of interest that a trip along this road promises to be much more than just a scenic drive.
The coastal towns around the Great Ocean Road have several affordable options for stay. Visitors will find very cheap stay options at Anglesea Torquay, Apollo Bay, Colac, Port Campbell, Lorne, and Warrnambool.
Great Ocean Road Map
Facts about Great Ocean Road
- The Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the only five canopied walkways in Australia.
- New Zealand-born engineer William Calder envisaged the Great Ocean Road after having seen the Pacific Coast Highway in California, USA.
- The project however, was taken up, only after Howard Hitchcock, a private the businessman, could raise the funds to build the road.
- The project was scheduled to be complete within eleven months. But it took fourteen years to complete.
Where is Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and ends at Warnambool. It encompasses the coastal region of south-west Victoria in Australia.
How to reach
Reach by Air:
The airport closest to the Great Ocean Road is the Avalon Airport near Geelong. An international visitor may fly to the Melbourne Airport and then take a domestic flight to Geelong. Hire a car from Geelong and set off on your drive of the Great Ocean Road.
Reach by Road:
V/Line buses run to Apollo Bay-one of the major towns along Great Ocean Drive quite regularly. They ply three times a day from Monday to Friday and twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays.
A car is the best option for traveling in the area. Not all attractions on the way are accessible by public transport.
Best time to visit Great Ocean road
The summer months from November through February are ideal for visiting the Great Ocean Road. Not only is the climate suitable for a long drive, but the destinations along the way are also at their scenic best.
- If short on time, take the inland route to the twelve apostles. That way, you can save more time to enjoy the coastal view.
- The sea at Port Campbell has some very sharp rocks just below the surface and some rough waves. Swimming here is not advised.
Image credits: DiliffPublished On: Saturday, February 14th, 2015