The Great Ocean Road
Australia's Most Beautiful Coastline..........
The Great Ocean Road..........the drive from Melbourne to Adelaide includes a picturesque tour of some stunning coastline along this aptly named road.
We threw our bags into the boot of our rental car, and following the simple directions given us, headed out onto the Princes Highwaytravelling south west.
Just over an hour later we were negotiating our way to the impressive newly revamped Geelong waterfront, parking near the huge steel and glass building housing one of a very few steam driven carousels still in use around the world. Built in 1892 and hand carved, it is open every day for visitors for a small fee.
The waterfront is beautifully designed, encompassing 100 bollards carved into two metre high creatures – all different. An Art Deco swimming pool and park complex, a theatre, restaurant, café and kiosk, with the wharf nearby, spread along the waterfront, creating a diverse playground for young and old.
Having settled the hunger pangs with salt and pepper calamari.......an Australian specialty, we took the B110 through the picturesque seaside town of Barwon Heads
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Torquay-the Great Ocean Road begins!
What a wonderful name! Conjuring up images of vast expanses of sea, the horizon stretching forever, blue, blue and more blue, it is something of a disappointment to be traveling inland most of the way to Torquay, where we discovered was the official start of the Great Ocean Road.
Torquay is................ according to the Tourist News for the area, Australia’s surfing capital. Bells Beach is famous for it's surf.....and international competitions are held here. The beach with challenging surf coming in at odd angles was...... even in mid winter, dotted with large numbers of wet suited bodies.
The town is a colourful, surf oriented mix, set back a block from the sea. The local hotel we booked into had pleasant, private motel rooms within walking distance of a range of eating places. Being winter, many motels were closed.
Day Two saw us back on the Great Ocean Road heading for a late breakfast in Lorne. ..... a popular holiday destination .Sporting golden, sandy beaches, Angahook Lorne State Park only minutes away with over 100 kilometers of
- walking tracks
- a selection of day trips within easy reach
- 5 camping grounds
- a range of motels
- excellent cafes
in other words.............it has everything for a good family holiday!
20 kilometres along we detoured off the Great Ocean Road to the historic Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Point.
We were fortunate to have struck International Lighthouse weekend. (20th-21st September)This classic old lighthouse was adorned with flags and the locals had created a carnival atmosphere, giving out pamphlets, offering guided tours, games for the children and selling crafts from tents. Open daily- Guided tours are by appointment on weekdays and in weekends and school holidays. Bookings are essential .
Great Otway Park
Back on the Great Ocean Road and travelling on through Apollo Bay into the Great Otway Park we visited the famous Cape Otway Lighthouse. A larger version of Split Point, it costs($15 per adult?) to go into the lighthouse grounds.
Cape Otway Lighthouse – Australia’s Oldest
These old lighthouses are distinctive with their white concrete towers topped with the rounded domes that house the huge crystal reflectors, valued at over $5million in today’s terms. Ships have relied on their powerful 46 kilometre range lights for over 150 years, to help steer them through the treacherous “eye of the needle” ........the strip between Cape Otway and King Island less than 90 kilometres away.
This lighthouse was built in 1848 making it Australia’s oldest. We were fortunate to do the tour with a great grandson of the original owners of this land .The old stone buildings house the original, still functioning, telegraph station built in 1859. One room stone cottages that the keepers and their families lived in, were humbling in their basic simplicity and lack of home comforts.
You can stay overnight in Heritage Lightkeeper’s cottages on site.
Climbing the narrow spiral staircase up the 80 metre historic lighthouse, we were treated to some stunning, expansive coastal sea views. While no longer in action, it overshadows the small computerized new lighthouse sitting in front. So underwhelming it would be easy to miss, yet so vital to the many ships that still ply this difficult, dangerous stretch of coastline. You can read more about Cape Otway Lighthouse HERE.
Having decided we didn’t have time to venture off the Great Ocean Road, inland to the Otway Fly – a treetop walk which is the longest structure of its kind in the world at 600 metres long and 47 metres high we left Great Otway Park and ventured on to Princetown .
The Twelve Apostles
This next stretch of the Great Ocean Road is surely some of the most beautiful Australian coastline. The area - famous for The Twelve Apostles, attracts tourists year round.
Driving into the parking area on the opposite side of the road, there is a small display building from where you take a beautifully constructed pathway, suitable for wheel chairs as well as walkers, under the Great Ocan Road and out to the cliff edge to view the Apostles. The sheer pinky - gold cliffs edged with the white of breaking waves, joining a never ending expanse of sea in every shade of blue, aqua through to indigo, dotted with the majestic apostles – pinnacles of layered earth, rising haphazardly out of the sea....... are the reason for being here.
They are not all visible in one view as the headland breaks up the Apostles, but this does nothing to spoil the sheer beauty they present.
Arriving just before a rather disappointing sunset, and as two bus tours dispatched their herds, we decided to drive on to Port Campbell located just off the Great Ocean Road,and return the next morning, when the crowds were gone.
We were struck by the quaint setting at Port Campbell A small bay edged with Norfolk pines, fishing boats tied up at the wharf, the town nestles into the curve of the bay.
Our motel, Loch Ard Motor Inn ( remember to mention you have an AA card for a discount) was comfortable, reasonably priced......... with priceless views across the road to the Bay.
The township has a real ambience in which we indulged, sitting out on our patio area, glass of wine in hand. With a good selection of cafes and restaurants we followed the recommendations of our host and enjoyed a superb meal at the Port Campbell Hotel where fresh fish is the popular choice.
Port Campbell to Port Fairy - the end of the Great Ocean Road
Day ThreeArriving back at the Twelve Apostles early the next morning, we were a little surprised to have to wait for the fog to clear.
But it was worth the wait, and we wound our way around the pathways along the cliff, using up a large chunk of camera space.
With many pathways for walks, and spots for keen photographers to record
- Gibson Beach
- Loch Ard Gorge.......... of historic interest, where the survivors of The Loch Ard shipwreck came ashore
- The Arch
- The Grotto
- London Bridge ........this coastline is magnificent .But it is not safe for swimming – It is known as Shipwreck Coast and has claimed more than 80 ships wrecked in these dangerous waters.
- You can see a display at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village in Warrnambool - nearby Allansford is the official end of the 243 kilometre Great Ocean Road
Warrnambool to Port Fairy
From Warrnambool we went on to Port Fairy..........a very picturesque little town with boats moored along the river, and historic buildings giving the town an old world atmosphere.This seemed a fitting end to a truly beautiful journey of the Great Ocean Road stretch of the Melbourne to Adelaide journey.
NOTE: This area is good for Whale Watching from June to October. You can also see whales close to shore in Port Victor south of Adelaide.
From here you have the option of travelling on to Adelaide inland, or continuing around the coast. We travelled via Mt Gambier, where the Blue Lake in an extinct crater is worth a stop for views from a stone lookout. There a nice walks to stretch the legs! The Umpherstone Cave is a huge sinkhole.
A little further on from Mt Gambier we went into a
volcanic crater, that is home to koalas, kangaroos, cassowarries and many other native Australian birds and animals. It was a rare treat to walk around and see them in their natural habitat.
The Coorong to Langhorne Creek
Leaving the beautiful little historic coastal town of Robe, it is a fairly barren area through the Coorong until you cross the Murray River on a small barge and are suddenly into Langhorne Creek wine country. We were served by a 5th generation family member of Bleasdale Winery – one of the oldest Australian vineyards !
From here we travelled through vineyards and extensive wine country to Port Victor.
MELBOURNE and VICTORIA GUIDE - Lonely PLanet
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