Traveling along the Great Ocean Road and exploring Australia’s coast will be one of the most memorable trips you will ever take. It is an approximately 245 km stretch of road that was built by servicemen after the First World War.
The Australian government employed these post-wartime soldiers to construct a coastal road that passed through the forest along seaside cliffs, and it offers some of the most beautiful views in the world. Not only is the drive itself spectacular, but there are many attractions along the way.
From unique geological formations (The Twelve Apostles) to stopping in world-renowned surf towns, to seeing redwood trees, spotting koala bears, seeing whales or staying in a historic lighthouse, the Great Ocean Road is a sparkling gem in a country that has spectacular attractions like the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock.
There are different ways to travel along this famous route. You can travel on a tour coach or rent your own car. It really depends on how much time you have and where you would like to stop along the way. There are also walking options — the trail from Apollo Bay to Gibson Steps takes eight days, or you can go on a guided walk of the last 55 km of the route and stay in luxury eco-friendly accommodation.
This is the kind of traveling that calls for stopping and taking in the breathtaking views of ocean bays or a Southern right whale coming close to shore (during breeding season). During the warmer months, whales leave the icy seas and venture to warmer waters to calve and feed before heading back to cooler climes.
In Easter and at the beginning of the route, you can find the town of Torquay (no relation to a famous British series). It is a famous surfing town and the home of Rip Curl and Quiksilver.
Watch the world’s best surfing professionals take on the famous waves and enjoy the hospitality of this oceanside surf city. If hanging ten is not your cup of proverbial tea, do not fear — there is so much to see and do along this route that your biggest problem will be deciding what to do next.
The koala bear
Besides stopping off in one of the local towns for a taste of delicious local food, you will probably not want to miss seeing one of Australia’s most famous inhabitants: the koala bear. From the town of Lorne, head southwest to blue gum territory in the Kennett River Township. This area is known for the koala bears, so keep your eyes peeled. You can see them in the trees, crossing the road or even near local homes. Once you’ve seen this awfully cute creature, it may be time to head to a rainforest.
Great Otway National Park
A short drive away is the Great Otway National Park. This is inland from Kennett River, and there are tropical rainforests complete with pools, waterfalls (Triplet Falls) and another mystical creature you may not have seen before (or for a long while anyway) — glow worms.
These can be seen on the night walks in Melba Gully. From small creatures to big ones, this stretch of coast offers unique flora and fauna. While you are traveling, you can also pay tribute to the servicemen who built this extraordinary road without some of the heavy earth-moving equipment we have today. Some say it is a war memorial too.
Loch Ard Gorge
The endless vistas and bays that you encounter along the way will make wonderful places to explore. One such famous spot is known for both its unusual rock formations and unforgettable sunsets. Pack a picnic and enjoy the golden-copper sunset at Loch Ard Gorge. In 1878, The Loch Ard Gorge tragically crashed at this point. There were two survivors, Tom and Eva.
There are stairs that lead down to this unique beach formed between two large walls of cliffs. The narrow channel forms a protected small bay. At sunset, the gorge is magically transformed as the sun sets between the pillars, Tom and Eva.
The Twelve Apostles
One of the highlights of the Ocean Road trip is seeing The Twelve Apostles. These are large limestone pillars that have eroded over time. They stand guard and tower over the ocean as a testament to time and tide.
There are only eight still standing today. You can visit The Twelve Apostles Visitors Centre, and a short walk away is the Gibson Steps that take you down to one of the amazing beaches. If you are looking for a very memorable stopover, then perhaps Cape Otway Lighthouse — or one of the heritage cottages on the property — will be your accommodation for a night or two.
The Cape Otway Lightstation
The Cape Otway Lightstation was built in 1848, and the surrounding village makes for a great pit stop to learn about the local indigenous culture. From Torquay to Cape Otway, your trip along the Great Ocean Road will have you wishing you could just carry on driving. Soak in the beauty and step away from the high-tech world…but make sure you have access to Google Maps or a Sat Nav.