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.
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.
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.
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).
It was fantastic to watch his antics trying to break up the fish pieces left by fisherman.
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).
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.
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
To say this a popular tourist attraction is an understatement. Still, there are plenty of vantage points to take in the wonderful limestone formations.
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.
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.
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!
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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