Along the southeastern coast of Australia is a stretch of road called the Great Ocean Road.
This picturesque stretch of highway is also known as the Surfcoast Highway.
It was constructed after World War I, predominantly by war veterans. once you have seen it, you can imagine that building the Great Ocean Road was an incredible accomplishment, especially in those days.
Today the Great Ocean Road is a main tourist attraction because of the beautiful setting, the quiet beach towns, great nature and the incredible Twelve Apostles.
With the ocean on one side and the hills on the other this two lane road, stretching for 160 miles, has speed limits of 80 to 100 miles an hour. The road winds and curves making this speed virtually impossible along most parts.
How to get there
The Great Ocean Road stretches between Torquay and Allansford where the Great Ocean Road joins the Princess Highway near Warrnambool. Torquay is about 90 minutes from Melbourne via the West Gate and Princess freeway. Parts of the road wind through the rain forest of Otway National Park.
Port Campbell National Park is about a five hour drive from Melbourne if you take the Great Ocean Road and approximately three hours from Melbourne if you take the Princess Highway. This national park is known for the Twelve Apostles, stacks made of rock shaped by the sea eroding over time.
These rocks are probably up to 20 million years old. The area is also known for the many shipwrecks that have occurred there. The Twelve Apostles are one of the most spectacular natural sights in the world.
I highly recommend taking two minutes to watch this Great Ocean Road video by the BBC with commentary from the great David Attenborough
Otway National Park
One of the most interesting parks, which part of the Great Ocean Road winds through, is Otway National Park. If the rainforests intrigue you, this is a must see. This area has some of the most beautiful waterfalls, one of which is Triplet Falls.
This area has recently undergone a 2 million dollar renewal, which included putting in a loop walk, raised boardwalks, and a platform. These renovations have improved the scenic quality of the falls and opened up areas of the rainforest that had not previously been open.
When you have got the time, you should include a visit to Otway National Park in your trip. Visiting the falls will take 1-2 hours out of your day, but bush camping overnight is the real way to discover this area!
I have camped there with my family.
Getting to the camp site is best done in a 4WD; we nearly got stuck with our small regular car.
The next day we hiked down (15 min walk) to wash ourselves in the ice cold ocean; a great way to wake up and nature living at its best !
Relax in Lorne
Lorne is a seaside town that is one of the top beach towns to go if you plan to travel the Great Ocean Road. Settled in 1849 by a European named William Lindsay, a timber cutter, the area began growing and was visited in 1891 by Rudyard Kipling.
He was so impressed with the area he wrote the poem Flowers, which included a line about Lorne. On New Years Eve Lorne is host to the Falls Festival, featuring the Lorne Pier to Pub Swim, the Lorne Mountain to Surf Run, and the Lorne Surf Race. These events are annually visited by approximately 20,000 people.
Lorne’s main strip along the beach is filled with restaurants, little shops and hotels. Lorne gets visited all year round, but is rather busy during the summer months.
When you drive out of Lorne, in the direction of Otway National Park and the Twelve Apostles, make sure you pay attention to the trees the first 30-45 minutes.
On both of our last trips there we were lucky enough to see koalas sitting in the trees by the side of the road!
Other Towns and Places to Visit along the Great Ocean Road
With so much to do, at any time, catering for any kind of person, the Bellarine Peninsula is an excellent traveling spot to see and enjoy. The peninsula offers plenty of water activities like snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, sailing and swimming, but there are also opportunities for hiking, shopping and relaxing. Many people go here for longer than one day. They have a vast range of accommodation options to choose from.
Geelong is Victoria’s second largest city after Melbourne.
Geelong is close to the start of the Great Ocean Road and situated on the bay. The Barwon River flows through the city making numerous parks spring up on each side.
Some of the popular tourist attractions here are the National Wool Museum, the Old Geelong Gaol, the Ford Discovery Center, botanic gardens, galleries, historical buildings, and beachfront areas with swimming. Also check out some Geelong Hotels.
Torquay is a beach-front town along the Great Ocean Road. It is famous for its’ surfing industry. In addition to surfing shops and manufacturers, they also have the world’s largest surfing museum. The coast is lined with lots of shady trees, making for a great drive. You can witness fantastic views from Yellow Bluff and Point Danger with its Anzac Memorial.
Port Campbell is situated along the Great Ocean Road just around the corner from the great ocean sculpture of the Twelve Apostles. It is surrounded by the smaller towns of Princetown and Peterborough.
Port Campbell was once a sleepy fishing village but it has grown and is now a small tourist town which hosts a vast choice of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and craft shops. It is a good base to explore the surroundings. Port Campbell is situated only a short drive away from the Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs.
You will really enjoy a trip to Apollo Bay as it’s a great coastal resort which is packed full of exciting and fun things to do and see. Whether you go here for Apollo Bay itself or use it as a stop in your journey along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is sure to please.
Apollo Bay has a great deal to offer and you are sure to enjoy the surf beaches and the safe swimming beaches with clear blue water, boating harbour, fine dining in the many restaurants and the many eco tours including seal watching.
Warrnambool is the only city on the rugged Shipwreck Coast.
It overlooks the Southern Ocean and to its rear are endless dairy pastures.
Because of its extensive history with the sea, Warrnambool has restored lighthouses, ship ports, and museums to visit and explore. The museum contains many shipwreck relics that have washed up over the years.
This coast is also known as a whale nursery. Whales return to this area twice a year and can easily be seen from the shore.
There are some penguin colonies in the area and lots of great places to fish.
Great Ocean Road Events
Port Fairy Folk Festival
Port Fairy is an old farming and fishing village. The town offers beautiful views of the ocean waves drifting down the south-west coast of Victoria. The Port Fairy Folk Festival brings together more than 100 acts and plenty of visitors to Port Fairy and the Great Ocean Road.
Apollo Bay Music Festival
The Apollo Bay Music Festival is an annual event held in the quiet little town of Apollo Bay. Apollo Bay has always been a bit of a tourist attraction. But the town really comes alive during the annual music festival.
Warrnambool May Racing Carnival
One of the most anticipated events of the year in Warrnambool is the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival. The Warrnambool Racing Carnival lasts for three days and is popular with local and international travellers. Australia loves their horses and what better way to showcase these fine animals than through an annual carnival?
Australian International Airshow
The skies will tremble with military technology as they take off, land and fly over head… The Australian International Airshow has been designed to show off the military aircrafts of Australia. It is one of Victoria’s main events in March each year.
Rip Curl Pro
Surfers get together at Bells Beach annually for the Rip Curl Pro surfing championships. The professional Rip Curl Pro event was first produced in the early 1970s and with the help of the Australian Bells Beach it has been part of life ever since.
Toast to the Coast
The Toast to the COast is an annual festival, completely dedicated to wine, music and great food. The Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong region is proud of its wines and local produce and shares it with you in one special weekend. You can enjoy wine master classes, vineyard tours, gourmet dinners and local food, as well as music to liven up or calm your spirit.
A trip to the Great Ocean Road is a treat to young and old.
There is simply something for everyone.
Taking a trip to the Great Ocean Road is a definite must when you are visiting Melbourne.
It is the most beautiful coastal road in Australia and probably the world.
Great Ocean Road
Twelve Apostles | Bellarine Peninsula | Building the Great Ocean Road
Accommodation: Apollo Bay | Bellarine Peninsula | Geelong | Geelong Hotels | Lorne | Port Campbell | Torquay | Warrnambool
Events: Port Fairy Folk Festival | Apollo Bay Music Festival | Warrnambool May Racing Carnival | Australian International Airshow | Rip Curl Pro | Toast to the Coast (Geelong)