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8 Highlights of the Great Ocean Road

I love a good road trip. Maybe it’s because I like driving. And seeing the beautiful scenery go by. In January, I took my father Thierry to enjoy the sights of Victoria. For long drives and dramatic scenery, the Great Ocean Road seems an obvious choice. In two days, you can enjoy the Great Ocean Road and 8 highlights I selected for you. If you are extending your road trip throughout Victoria, I recommend visiting the Grampians National Park and Sovereign Hill.

The Great Ocean Road officially starts at Torquay, a pleasant coastal town where we had breakfast after taking an early flight from Sydney to Avalon. I know it is synonymous with cheap flights, but Avalon is quite ideal for the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road stretches 250 kms from Torquay to Warrnambool and is one of the must-see destinations when visiting Australia.

Bells Beach

The first sight of the Great Ocean Road has to be Bells Beach, probably the most famous surfing beach in the world, home of the Rip Curl Pro.

 

Bells Beach had been on my list of places to see for some time. And yes, I did think about the movie Point Break.

Photo Thierry Mignon

The surfing culture is very much alive there. The waves weren’t too spectacular that day unfortunately but the location is nevertheless spectacular.

Lorne

A very pleasant coastal town, Lorne is a popular weekend spot for Melburnians. It has a nice range of restaurants. I found the place to be quite busy but it’s a nice spot.

The Lighthouses:

Aireys Inlet: Split Point Lighthouse

Split Point Lighthouse is affectionately known to the locals as The White Queen and has been associated with the TV show “Round the Twist” and even “Masterchef”! Tours are available and the view is beautiful, offering a good idea of what’s to come along the Great Ocean Road.

 

 

Beautiful views from the walkway near the Lighthouse

 

Cape Otway Lightstation:

Cape Otway Lightstation is further along the Great Ocean Road and is considered one of Australia’s most important lighthouse as it sits at the point where the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean collide. The compound visit includes the Lighthouse, the Telegraph Station, WWII bunker and an Indigenous Cultural Centre, it is definitely worthwhile.

 

There is a cafe with tables where you can enjoy great views over the lighthouse.

 

Cape Otway also has a colony of koalas, perched in gumtrees on the way to the light station. With the tourist buses stopping by for photos, it can get quite busy.

 

The Great Ocean Road Drive:

The Great Ocean Road Drive is a spectacular road trip, with some incredible views. In my opinion, the most spectacular section is between Lorne and Apollo Bay. You are right by the ocean, the road winds down along the coast and offers some incredible sights. The road is very good but take it easy, there is no need to rush and sometimes you need to choose between looking at the scenery and paying attention to the road.

Stop at the Cape Patton Lookout for some stunning photo opportunities.

 

Around Wye River, the road is right on the beach, which is amazing. We passed through just after the bushfires of January 2016, the sight of burned trees by the beach was both beautiful and bittersweet.

 

Apollo Bay is a lovely little town, with places to stay, eat and buy supplies.

Kennett River:

Kennett River is a little township near Wye River and Cape Patton. The river bed has an amazing collection of rock cairns, carefully maintained by passing tourists. It’s a fun attraction, with plenty of photo opportunities.

 

Beech Forest

Beech Forest is a nature reserve, between the townships of Forrest and Lavers Hill. The road is very narrow and no trucks or vans are allowed. The sign isn’t too obvious and it may help to check with the locals. The road is quite narrow and large vehicles such as trucks and vans are not allowed. We went there early in the morning and the light wasn’t great but it was beautifully peaceful. Beech Forest is an extraordinary example of temperate tropical forest.

Also, the drive from Apollo Bay to Forrest goes through a beautiful forest of tall trees and spectacular ferns.

 

This was a great surprise: the inland of the Great Ocean Road is incredibly scenic and offers a different vision of the region. I definitely recommend moving away from the coast for a little while and experience something different.

Melba Gully

Melba Gully is an easily accessible walk through the rainforest. If you’re there at night, you can see glow worms. We were there during the day and admired the most amazing ferns.

 

The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks formed by erosion. There are only eight stacks, with one collapsing as recently as 2005. In this area of the Great Ocean Road, the coast is a lot more barren and windswept. The Twelve Apostles are a stunning sight, in any weather. The day was overcast and a bit of sunshine would have been good, but the photos turned out quite dramatic.

 

Along this stretch of the coast, you can also stop by the Loch And Gorge, the London Bridge and the Gibson Steps. There are plenty of activities available through the tourist centre, including scenic flights.

 

 

Travel Tips:

  • Don’t rush, there is a lot to see and plenty of places to stop to explore and take photos.
  • Get off the coast, there is plenty to see inland from the road.
  • If you can, pick your time of day, the light can vary a lot.
  • Celebrate the Great Ocean Road, it’s a must-see destination.

Do you have any favourite spots on the Great Ocean Road? I’d love to hear them!

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