A Victorian Loop: Pt 2 – Great Ocean Road

by Steven Chater from Trip Plan Australia. Check out Trip Plan’s free Itinerary Planner that will help you make the most of your next road trip through regional and outback Australia.

The Great Ocean Road is often listed in the top 10 of the world’s great ocean drives. It’s there for good reason – fabulous views, interesting towns to visit, fantastic natural attractions and wonderful countryside to drive through.

It’s a 4 hour (243km) drive from start to finish on the Great Ocean Road itself (Torquay to Allansford via Apollo Bay and Port Campbell) and some people regard it as a day trip out of Melbourne – but, boy, do they miss out on some great places and experiences.

So, please, if you’ve got the time, factor in one or two night’s stay (we had a night in Lorne and two nights in Port Campbell). You can then take your time to appreciate a great driving experience, and still allow yourself to enjoy the scenery and stop off for the many terrific attractions along the way.

Road trip planner Australia - Plenty of curves and spectacular views on the Great Ocean Road

Plenty of curves and spectacular views on the Great Ocean Road

Just out of Lorne is the picturesque Erskine Falls. There are a couple of viewpoints and if you can handle some steps then the view from the bottom of the falls is worth the effort.

Road trip planner Australia - Erskine Falls

Erskine Falls

We bought provisions for lunch in the Apollo Bay township and headed round to near the Fisherman’s Co-op at Boat Harbour to sit and enjoy.

oad trip planner Australia - Boat Harbour Apollo Bay

Boat Harbour, Apollo Bay

After a while we noticed a few splashes and so took a walk around to near the launching ramp. Up popped a fur seal that apparently was using the harbor to recuperate from an incident (details unknown – anyway, his progress was being officially monitored).

Road trip planner Australia - Fur seal in Boat Harbour Apollo Bay

Fur seal in Boat Harbour

It was fantastic to watch his antics trying to break up the fish pieces left by fisherman.

Road trip planner Australia - seal breaking up the fish off-cuts Boat Harbour Apollo Bay

Seal trying to break up the fish off-cuts

Out of Apollo Bay on the way towards the Twelve Apostles are a couple of worthwhile diversions. Firstly, there is a great little walk through some beautiful rainforest at Maits Rest (just off the Great Ocean Road).

Road trip planner Australia - Rainforest at Maits Rest on the Great Ocean Road

Rainforest at Maits Rest

The second is a 28km roundtrip diversion to Cape Otway lighthouse. For me, the best part was seeing some of the famous inhabitants of Cape Otway in the wild.

Road trip planner Australia - Koala in the trees along Otway Lighthouse Road

One of the Koalas in the trees along Otway Lighthouse Road

So then it was on to the Twelve Apostles, just over a further 60km west. There’s a short walk of a few minutes under the main road from the visitor car park, with a great experience awaiting

Road trip planner Australia - first impression of the Twelve Apostles

First impression of the Twelve Apostles

To say this a popular tourist attraction is an understatement. Still, there are plenty of vantage points to take in the wonderful limestone formations.

Road trip planner Australia - on the walk around to the viewpoints at the Twelve Apostles

On the walk around to the viewpoints at the Twelve Apostles

Road trip planner Australia - even the end of the viewpoint is spectacular

Even the end of the viewpoint is spectacular

We had noticed back at Apollo Bay that a bit of sea mist had started to build up. It brought its own atmosphere to the limestone formations.

Road trip planner Australia - Twelve Apostles in the sea mist

Twelve Apostles in the sea mist

The advantage of staying at Port Campbell (10kms up the road) was the ease of return at daybreak – with way less crowds and a memorable sunrise experience.

Road trip planner Australia - Twelve Apostles at sunrise

Twelve Apostles at sunrise

Most tourists to this area visit the Twelve Apostles and the nearby Loch Ard Gorge, with some heading past Port Campbell to take in the formation known as London Bridge.

But there are so many more formations to see, with the highlight being the Bay of Islands, which is almost as spectacular as the Twelve Apostles.

Heading west from Port Campbell, the recommended lookouts, in order, are: The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs, Bay of Islands and Boat Bay. You’ll need to take your time to find some of these viewpoints as, even though they are pretty much just off the Great Ocean Road, the signposting diminishes the further west you go – a few u-turns and double backs involved!

Road trip planner Australia - view from one of the two lookouts at the Bay of Islands

View from one of the two lookouts at the Bay of Islands

Road trip planner Australia - Limestone rock stack at the Bay of Islands

Limestone rock stack at the Bay of Islands

To complete the day we had a great late lunch in Warrnambool and then drove out to the historic town of Port Fairy to take in its famous wharf area.

So, our two and half days on the Great Ocean Road was a wonderful sensory experience. Certainly up there with the best Australian drives we’d done.

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Road trip planner Australia - Victorian Big Loop - Black Spur Drive, Mornington Peninsular, Great Ocean Rd, Daylesford

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