Top 5 reasons to visit the Great Ocean Road
Bunyip guide Katherine has given us her Top 5 reasons to visit the Great Ocean Road!
The ultimate road trip from Melbourne is waiting for you along the Great Ocean Road. Winding along the coast, the road takes in the Surf Coast, the Great Otway National Park and the Shipwreck Coast, where you’ll find the famous 12 Apostles.
Port Campbell National Park
The Port Campbell National Park is home to breathtaking rock formations and towering cliffs. From atop the cliffs you can take in incredible views of the coast and Southern Ocean. An obvious starting point is the 12 Apostles, as the cliff top lookout offers incredible views of the famous limestone stacks. But to truly experience the coast, you need to get down to sea level. One of the best places to do this is Loch Ard Gorge. The gorge is named after a ship which wrecked along the coast in 1878 leaving two young survivors stranded on the sand. A visit to the gorge these days will leave you breathless, if not by the history, then by the views. You’ll find limestone caves with stalactites and can watch the waves rolling in from the relentless Southern Ocean.
Experience the seaside holiday playground of Apollo Bay. Bordered by the Surf Coast and Otway Ranges, this little town has plenty to offer. Stroll along the beach, or follow the coastal trail from the marina along the foreshore. Similarly, you can take in the surf and holiday vibes of the main street. Or try the local produce served up in the cafes and restaurants, as well as delicious fresh seafood. Save the best for last – head to Dooley’s Icecream Shop where you can try award winning flavours, in addition to some unusual creations including Vegemite flavoured ice cream.
Cape Otway Lightstation
A highlight (pun-intended) of the Great Ocean Road is the iconic Cape Otway Lightstation. Situated 90 metres above sea level on the rugged coastal cliffs, the Lighthouse has been standing since 1848. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia, and is therefore considered the most significant. For many 19th century migrants, the lighthouse was the first time they saw land upon sailing to Australia, which lead to it being known as the Beacon of Hope. Exploring the Lightstation precinct today, you can climb to the top of the lighthouse and gaze out along the cliff and over the seemingly endless Southern Ocean.
Driving through Great Otway National Park
A welcome surprise for many visitors is the section of the Great Ocean Road that passes through the Otway Ranges. The road leaves the coast and takes you up into the hills. Your drive becomes the ‘great forest road’ with ferns and towering eucalyptus trees bordering the roadside. The trees of the Great Otway National Park have an almost prehistoric feel to them and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve entered the set of Jurassic Park.
Surf Coast scenic drive
From Anglesea to Apollo Bay the Great Ocean Road is carved into the cliffs and therefore provides a winding drive with incredible views around every turn. Make the most of the scenic lookouts, where you can pull safely off the road to take in the ocean views. As well as the views out to the ocean, keep an eye on the cliffs. The road was originally built by hand between 1918 and 1932. When you take in the scale of the cliffs, granite rock face, forest and rivers along the coast, the hard work of building the road is made even more impressive.