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A Great Ride on the Great Ocean Road

Home > Great Ocean Road > Beaches | Day Trips | Escape the City | Places of Interest
by Archie Ward (subscribe)
I'm an Australian living in Thailand. I like to read, write and travel. I'm currently working on my (commercial) travel website to make more moolah for my trips.
Published July 4th 2015
I recently decided it was time to hit the Great Ocean Road! As an Australian National Heritage site and the world's largest war memorial, this 243-kilometre roadway on the southeastern coast is abundant with history and landmarks. Once I'd picked up my car hire in Warrnambool (I went with Hertz, but you can see a full list of car hire agencies in Warrnambool here), I made sure not to ditch town too quickly for fear of missing out on its many offerings. There is no shortage of Great Ocean Road tourist attractions, but Warrnambool is the road's largest city and thus a good starting point that ought not be neglected.

Tucked into the southwest coast of Victoria, Warrnambool's view is spectacular. Blue ocean and green country provide versatility in beauty and recreational opportunities. Promenades along the shipwreck coast will inspire and maybe even scare you. Flagstaff Hill is a 10-acre maritime village and core piece of the city's identity.

A highlight was my visit to Great Circle gallery, which is filled with shipwreck artefacts that bring the spirit of the city to life. I then headed to the viewing platform at Logan's Beach, where the whales are calving near shore from June through September. I was fortunate enough to spot a southern right whale less than 100 metres from my viewing location.

Pickering Point Warrnambool
View From Pickering Point / Source: Crikey3454 - Wikimedia Commons

The next stop on my Great Ocean Road holiday was less than an hour's drive east to Port Campbell. My adventurous spirit took over as I braved Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. With eight platforms and two suspension bridges, the zipline tour was an amazing way to experience the rainforest and appreciate one of Australia's many natural wonders. Through my research I'd found that it was important to visit the London Arch while in Port Campbell. It was a bit busy upon my arrival, but the view was well worth it. The natural arch formation is a product of erosion that provides happy photographers with a great subject.

London Bridge Arch Port Campbell
London Arch / Source; Wikimedia Commons

Anyone taking the journey down the southeastern coast needs to know that one of the undeniable staples of Great Ocean Road tourism is the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. Its namesake is a collection of limestone stacks, of which there are eight in spite of their title, that feature golden cliffs and pillars that formed from erosion. Witnessing the Apostles was a beautiful and dramatic experience, and I saw the park as a tribute to the ocean's power. Visit it in Princetown, just east of Port Campbell.

Twelve Apostles Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles / Source: Alex Proimos - Wikimedia Commons

Great Otway National Park was my next choice, and it had the wonderful benefit of several koala sightings. The waterfalls and tall trees were added bonuses once I calmed down from the excitement of my marsupial encounters. The nearby Cape Otway Lightstation was a neat piece of history as well. I highly recommend spending some time at Cape Otway to appreciate the fantastic scenery.

Cape Otway Lighthouse
Cape Otway Lighthouse / Source; csett86 - Wikimedia Commons

For my next sight, I decided on Apollo Bay, which is only about 30 km east. I chose to camp out overnight and check out the local cafes and bars. There was also a solid music scene and a lot of outdoor activities. The nearby petrified forest and ocean cliffs make Apollo Bay a cool, coastal pocket where nature meets culture.

The drive from Apollo Bay to Lorne is a beautiful 45-minute ride. Teddy's Lookout is a gem on the outskirts of Lorne that includes a viewing platform where I was able to see the ocean, Saint George River and rainforest, among other colourful sights. While it may sound like this trip involved a lot of similar coastal views, no two were the same, and each offered a unique perspective of Australia's beauty.

Teddy's Lookout Apollo Bay
Teddy's Lookout / Source: Andreas Eldh - Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The route ends in Torquay, and I knew I had to finish this trip in spectacular fashion. While Tiger Moth World isn't for the faint of heart, it certainly thrilled me. I hopped into a World War II open cockpit biplane and my pilot showed off the plane's acrobatics while I tried not to scream. There are milder options for the wary, but I can't say enough about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. After enjoying a trip filled with magnificent views and exciting encounters, all I can say is this: visit the Great Ocean Road as soon as you can!
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