Australia’s National Heritage listed Great Ocean Road stretches along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Its 243 kilometres of road hugs the coastline affectionately known as the Surf Coast and is one of the greatest of ocean roads.
The scenic route between Torquay and Cape Otway and the Shipwreck Coast further west of Cape Otway, provides stunning views of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. The diversity of landscapes along this drive switches between rainforests, dune scrubland, endless beaches and cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone.
Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region. However other notable natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto and London Arch (formerly London Bridge).
Historically, the road is the world’s largest war memorial, built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I.
Today many visitors make the drive along the road absorbing in the natural beauty, local hospitality and various attractions along the way. There is an abundance of opportunity to stop and revive along the drive, with a diverse array of things to see and do in the region. From outdoor activities such as surfing, scuba diving and sea kayaking to arts, cultural and heritage attractions to simply admiring the stunning coastline on the Great Ocean Walk and exploring surf towns and seaside villages.
The friendly locals will be eager to offer advice on their favourite spots, and when you work up an appetite, you will find something for every taste from fine dining up and down the coast to stocking up at local winemakers, dairy farms and fresh provedores along the way.
WHERE TO STAY
Make the journey your destination and extend your stay in the Great Ocean Road region by booking accommodation at various towns and villages along the way. The choices are varied, from waking to the sound of waves crashing on the beach, enjoy stunning ocean views from afar or relax in the tranquillity of a secluded cottage in the hinterland. Plan your stay to allow time to explore the region’s natural beauty and visit each destination with plenty of time to relax in between.
Whether you’re wanting a luxury retreat, boutique hotel or B&B, a self-contained cottage or budget accommodation, you will find it in the Great Ocean Road region.
Perched within the backdrop of the Torquay and Jan Juc beaches, RACV Torquay Resort is set on an expansive golf course with spectacular ocean views and direct beach access. This uniquely designed property features a range of facilities including a family friendly restaurant and bar, day spa, indoor pool, children’s playground, conference and meeting facilities, and the picture perfect location for a wedding ceremony and reception. This picturesque resort is ideally located at number 1 Great Ocean Road, Torquay. Prices start from AUD$206 per night
Chris’s is located high above Skenes Creek and the villas are elevated, so the impact of the ocean views is stunning. Recently renovated, the villas are contemporary and well equipped. All of the apartments are self-contained and contemporary, with modern fittings and floor-to-ceiling windows, a balcony and a dizzying sea view. A complimentary Continental breakfast is included in the tariff. Chris’s Restaurant and Villas is an icon of the Great Ocean Road. Prices start from AUD$180 per night
WHERE TO EAT
This region is known for fertile farm country and wineries aplenty, so there’s lots for foodies and wine lovers to get excited about. Also being along the coast means freshly caught seafood straight out of the Southern Ocean. You can sample gourmet delights along the Otway Harvest Trail and the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail, pop into craft breweries and cool climate wineries or check out the new artisanal distillery near the 12 Apostles. Alternatively, there are plenty of seaside cafes up and down the coast to choose from.
A Great Ocean Road icon, Aireys Pub is located at Aireys Inlet near the famous lighthouse. The beer garden is epic, a large grassed area and perfect place to enjoy the pubs’ own brewed beer. For a more intimate setting, step inside where an open fire warms the bar on cool winter nights. The food is hearty and wholesome like it was cooked by your grandma. The micro-brewery is also a talking point for guests.
Located in the beautiful Otways rainforest, in the hinterland above the Great Ocean Road, Forrest Brewery is a mix of micro-brewery come mountain bike hangout come eating place. The owners make you feel right at home the moment you walk in. Its quirky atmosphere is met by some of the most amazing locally sourced produce and cuisine in the area. Wash it all down with a sample of their in house beer, or go the whole way and spoil yourself with a beer tasting paddle.
WHERE TO PLAY
While the locality near the ocean plays a big part of things to see and do along Great Ocean Road, the region also extends inland to some amazing National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. Experience a diverse array of things to see and do in the Great Ocean Road region from outdoor activities such as surfing, scuba diving and sea kayaking to arts, cultural and heritage attractions.
The iconic surfing mecca of Torquay is home to the famous Bells Beach. Enjoyed by many surfers, the beach is also a stunning place for those just wanting to paddle or take in a beach walk. For the serious surfers however, Bells Beach serves up two main breaks, the Bowl and Rincon, both right-handers and at their best during autumn and winter. Excellent right-hand breaks can also be found at nearby Winki Pop and Centreside, with Southside providing one of the few lefts in the area.
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures offers a whole host of experiences. The Treetop Walk is a 1 hour rainforest walk experience that is approx 2km in total and features a 600mt long and 30mt high steel structured treetop canopy walkway that takes you right into the treetops. It’s the longest and tallest walkway of its type in the world and includes a thrilling cantilever. The Zipline Eco-Tour is a 2.5 hour, fully guided experience and including training and simulation, 8 cloud stations, 6 flights and 2 suspension bridges. The ticket price also includes the world famous Treetop Walk.
For more information on Great Ocean Road visit – www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au
Loved your article, Kate. Definitely on our bucket list for next year. Very informative and inviting. Thanks for a great review.
Succinct and informative review.