Great Ocean Road, located 240 kilometres southwest of Melbourne is the place to begin an Australian adventure. It offers one of the world’s most photographed scenic coastal drives. Admire the cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, golden beaches, native wildlife and the instantly recognisable towering 12 Apostles in the ocean. Great Ocean Road is a wonder of nature and the perfect destination for lovers of the great outdoors.
A great place to begin a Great Ocean Road trip is in the charming town of Torquay. The home of Bell’s Beach is about halfway into the journey from Melbourne. Stop for lunch and take a walk or visit the Surf World Surfing Museum. Continue on to Airey’s Inlet, climb the Split Point Lighthouse steps for the most spectacular views of the coastline. Keen hikers and walkers will enjoy the Great Ocean Walk, with rugged clifftop views, wildlife and eucalyptus forests. Koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, native birdlife and whales are often seen at various stages of the trail. There are walks and guided trips of varying distances, where visitors can learn about the Aboriginal culture and heritage of this area. Visit the town of Portland, Victoria’s first European settlement. Discover the harbour, then jump on a cable tram and explore the foreshore, the World War II Lookout Museum and the Portland Botanical Gardens. Alternatively, continue to the town of Port Fairy with its quaint National Trust cottages and stately buildings. The main highlight of the Great Ocean Road are the 12 Apostles, the rugged needles of rock majestically jut out from the water creating an eerie, yet beautiful scene. Arrive at sunset or sunrise for truly memorable, postcard-worthy vistas.
The best way to travel the Great Ocean Road is by car, but if travellers wish to take public transport, it is available from Melbourne and many towns along the route. The early morning train from Melbourne Southern Cross Station to Geelong is the first stretch of the journey, from here catch the bus service to Great Ocean Road. Trains are also available from Melbourne to the historic centre of Camperdown. Helicopters and private trips can also be arranged from various locations.
It was decided that a coastal road was needed in this area of Victoria so that the isolated towns and villages could connect with the rest of Australia. Soldiers returning from World War I were put into employment and the road was constructed with only shovels, picks and horse-drawn carts. In November 1932, the route was officially opened and the towns began to thrive with many visitors flocking to travel the road and admire the spectacular scenery.