Breath-taking vistas, alluring surf towns, wonders of nature and beaches that call “sunbath, sunbath!” – that’s what the Great Ocean Road is offering. Australia’s most scenic route, the Great Ocean is a perfect road-trip destination. Here’s a list of 8 things you should know before hitting the road.
Introduction Great Ocean Road
Let’s begin with some basic info. The Great Ocean Road, Australia’s famous drive, is a charming meander on the coast of Victoria. The 243 kilometers of beauty stretch from Torquay to Allansford. It’s known not only in Australia, but the whole world; thousands of travelers drive along the route each year. The driving itself is fantastic and so are the road-side attractions.
Many people try to drive all along the road in one day, especially day-trippers coming from Melbourne. Of course it’s possible, but this way you’ll miss most of fabulous highlights, not to mention hidden gems. If you have a chance, make it a longer trip. The more time you have the better, a week would be just perfect. It’s definitely worth taking a few days off from work. Melbourne is about 90 kilometers away from Torquay. To save some time, you can fly directly to the Avalon Airport, its closer to the route’s starting point. If you can’t do this, it’s even more important to have at least two days. The ride from Melbourne, driving the Great Ocean and then back – it’s more or less 600 kilometers.
Getting and managing the vehicle
The most convenient option is renting a car. You’ll be free to stop whenever you want and stay as long as you fancy. You should keep in mind though that it isn’t the easiest road to drive on. It’s narrow, many parts of it have just one lane and it gets busy sometimes, especially in November, when students from Victoria traditionally trek to Lorne (a town on Louttit Bay) to celebrate the end of school. You might hear some horror stories, but don’t panic. Stay cautious, don’t get the turns too fast and don’t stress too much, because that’s never helpful. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t push your limits. You can always drive the nearby freeway, it’s not as scenic, but can also take you to most of the major attractions. For travelers who would rather avoid driving this kind of routes, but still want to enjoy the sceneries, there’s one more alternative – you can leave the driving to professionals and take a couch tour.
243 kilometers doesn’t sound like a lot, right? But it is! There’s plenty to see and do all along the Great Ocean Road. Australia is a fabulous country in general, but this region is especially spectacular. You should prepare yourself a bit before hitting the road; otherwise you might end up with so called vista fatigue and be bothered by dilemmas all the time: should you stop in this little town? But what if the other one is even more enchanting? And this beach? This gorge? This park? You can’t see everything, so make sure you to stop in the places that interest you the most. Yet try not to limit yourself to the most known attractions, the Great Ocean has lots of lovely, secluded spots begging for exploration. Keep some extra time for spontaneous breaks.
The Great Ocean Road is basically one huge highlight in itself, but since you need to set some priorities, it’s good to know its most spectacular points. Here are a few examples:
The Port Campbell National Park and the Twelve Apostles
Located in the Port Campbell National Park, the Twelve Apostles are amazing limestone formations reaching up to the height of 45 meters. Despite of what the name suggests, there are actually only eight of them left now, since the rest have fallen. The views are magnificent and they attract lots of tourists, so it’s better to get there early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
A special jewel for surfers, the Bells Beach has great waves. In the nearby grasslands you may also spot some adorable kangaroos.
Otway National Park
Stunning waterfalls and enchanting rainforest, the nature in Otway Park is a charm. One of the park’s landmarks is the Cape Otway Lighthouse. You can climb to the top of it, the views are unforgettable.
Lorne is a lovely resort town and a perfect place to stop for a while. Gorgeous beaches, crystal-clear water and beautiful views, Lorne has everything one could ask from a coastal town.
A bit quieter than Lorne, Apollo Bay is a pretty village surrounded by stunning nature. There’s lots of restaurants, hotels and a beautiful crescent-shaped beach.
The largest town in the region, Warrnambool is also a great place for surfers. Besides, it offers a unique chance to see whales. You can see them on the Logans Beach from a viewing platform.
The Great Ocean Road is not only made for driving. You should definitely take some walks during your trip. Of course walking on the main road isn’t the smartest idea, but luckily there’s a variety of paths in the surroundings. In the Otway National Park you’ll find lots of great places to hike and the Maits Rest Rainforest Trail (a lovely short walk through rainforest). There’s a route called The Great Ocean Walk, it extends from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles, but you can walk chosen parts of it. The part stretching from Castle Cove to Johanna Beach is especially gorgeous. Surf Coast Walk is perfect for a longer walk, it beings on the Jan Juc Beach and meanders along the coast for 30 kilometers.
All along the road you’ll find plentiful lodgings, but most of them are located in Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay. For more of peace & quiet, stop in some small villages. Keep in mind it’s a famous route and it’s better to book a place in advance, especially if you’re going to travel during the high season. Because it’s such a popular destination for short trips, weekends are also busy and prices get higher during those days.
In larger towns and villages you’ll find lots of eateries, but outside of them you won’t find many restaurants. Plan to stop in a place like Torquay, Bells Beach, Apollo Bay, or Port Campbell. You can also take a blanket, some food and stop somewhere to make a picnic; it’s surely going to be delightful.