The Great Ocean Road is a 243km stretch of road running along the south-western coast of Victoria. It is an Australian National Heritage Listed road that was built by returned WW1 soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and is the world’s largest war memorial.
It is dotted with coastal towns, sandy beaches, sandstone cliffs, forests, harbours and walking trails, as well as a few WW1 historical sites.
Also known as the Shipwreck Coast, this harsh and rocky coastline consumed approximately 638 ships over the centuries. Matthew Flinders once said, “I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline.”
The construction of the Great Ocean Road began at the end of World War 1 to give the returned soldiers something to do. The Great Ocean Road Trust was formed in 1918 and once the project was completed, it was given to the state as a gift.
We experienced a wide selection of weather in one single day! The morning was overcast, midday was sunny and warm while the rain came in the late afternoon.
Points of Interest
Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
On the road between Anglesea and Lorne is a wooden memorial arch that was erected to commemorate the servicemen who worked on the Great Ocean Road. There are a few bronze plaques with information, as well as a great bronze statue of two workers.
The Great Ocean Walk
This is a mammoth walking track that extends about 104km along the coast and passes numerous historical and cultural areas. For more information, visit the Parks Victoria website.
Cape Otway Lightstation
Considered to be the oldest lighthouse in mainland Australia, it has been continually operating since 1848. Tours are available or you can explore the area yourself. It is open every day except for Christmas Day and the entry fee for an adult is $18.50. For more information, visit their website http://www.lightstation.com/
The other (free) option is to take the Great Ocean Walk trail though the coastal scrub to get a glimpse of the top of the lighthouse. If you keep going along the path, there is also a small cemetery that is a little creepy, and if you have the time and energy, you will eventually get to Rainbow Falls.
Great Otway National Park
The Otways is a mixture of beaches, rocky coastline, lush rainforest and cool waterfalls. It sits between Apollo Bay and Cape Otway and there are picnic areas, BBQ and camping facilities available.
We ventured into the park to find the Triplet Falls and ended up getting lost. The upside was that we ended up in a remote area of the park and saw some deer bounding away into the trees as the Troopy came trucking around the corner.
Probably one of the most well-known landmarks in Victoria, the Twelve Apostles are a magnificent sight but a vanishing one too, with only eight limestone stacks remaining. The constant battery from the wind and surf erodes the stone until they cannot stand anymore.
Torquay Visitor Information Centre – Surf City Plaza Beach Road, 03 5261 4219
The official start of the Great Ocean Road and the Surf Capital of Victoria, Torquay doesn’t really have anything else to live for, other than surfing. There is a shopping complex that sells popular surf brands, a surf museum, and the town centre is generally quiet with a few surrounding beaches.
We visited Jan Juc Beach with our mate and watched the surfers catch a few waves. We also stopped past Bells Beach, Australia’s most famous surf beach because of the Rip Curl Pro surfing contest that is held annually in Easter since 1973.
Originally called “Swampy Creek”, Anglesea was renamed in 1884 and is a small seaside town at the mouth of the Anglesea River.
We visited the visitor centre for maps and tips and the nice lady recommended we check out the kangaroos at the Anglesea Golf Club. We swung past only to find a big sign that read, “No Access onto the Golf Course to view the Kangaroos”. We did see some roos lazing on the green through the fence, and concluded that they were pets of the golf course.
We also checked out Point Roadknight and sat down on the beach to have lunch. We were on the south side of the Point and the view towards Aireys Inlet was gorgeous.
Split Point Lighthouse
The biggest attraction in Aireys Inlet is Split Point Lighthouse. A path from the lighthouse leads to a lookout with Table Rock and Eagle Rock as the features. The formations have a black foundation of rock which is the result of volcanic activity.
On the way back to the Great Ocean Road is a small reserve with a great big Bunyip sculpture carved out of a tree stump, as well as a little lake with black swans and ducks.
Lorne Visitor Information Centre – 15 Mountjoy Parade, 03 5289 1152
Home of the annual Falls Festival, this town has a great atmosphere. There are a few pubs that have a view of the beach and the waterfront area has a great park with a playground and friendly cockatoos, but watch out for the scavenger seagulls. Lorne is right on the doorstep of the Great Otway National Park and hosts the Pier to Pub swim – the largest organised ocean swim in the world.
This is a must see for anyone driving along the Great Ocean Road. The views are spectacular and include the valley behind Lorne.
A quick 10km drive north west of Lorne will lead you into the forest towards Erskine Falls, a 30m high feature that plunges into the Erskine River. When we were there, they were doing works on the path that lead to the lower lookout so we could only view the waterfall from the top lookout.
Apollo Bay Information Centre – 100 Great Ocean Road, 03 5237 6529
Also known as the ‘Paradise by the Sea’, this cute coastal town is the host of The Apollo Bay Music Festival, which is held annually in April.
We drove up the mountain with every intention of seeing the sights at Marriner’s Lookout, but with only 20 minutes before Triple J’s call for an on-air radio interview, we decided to head back down into town for optimal phone reception. The view on the return trip was lovely.
Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre – 26 Morris Street, 03 5598 6053
A small town close to all the coastal landmarks. The Twelve Apostles, The Arch and London Bridge are great to check out but the really spectacular sights are at Loch Ard Gorge and the Grotto.
If you’re keen on a scandal, rumour has it that when the London Bridge collapsed in 1990, two tourists were stranded on the newly created island. The scandal is that these two tourists were actually married, but not to each other! They were having an adulterous holiday and during the rescue, they requested to have their faces concealed from the papparazzi (HAHAHA!). This juicy goss has been generously provided by Adrian from Enjoy Adelaide!
If you’re looking for free BBQ facilities, they have a park and playground next to the tennis club and the holiday park opposite the information centre lets you have a hot shower at a very small fee.
Accommodation along the Great Ocean Road