Driving along the Great Ocean Road is probably on your bucket list of things to do and places to see in Australia. If it is not, it really should because the natural beauty encountered along this scenic drive is one to remember. Along the Great Ocean Road, the green-covered abrupt cliffs become a masterpiece painting with the rough Southern Ocean.
This famous road lies along the coast of the state of Victoria. Beginning at Torquay, it stretches for 244 kilometres towards Allansford in the West. The initial section is well-known for being Australia’s surfing birth-place and mecca. Even if you are not a surfer yourself, take some time to watch the courageous surfers in action as it is a real spectacle! Approximately mid-way is the Great Otway National Park with thick green bush and bamboo trees hosting wild koalas. It is a nice change of scenery worth exploring.
HOW TO VISIT THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Coach – There are plenty of coach tours departing Melbourne en-route the Twelve Apostles through the Great Ocean Road for a one-day scenic drive. With similar road itinerary and timings but varying passenger capacity, choose the most suitable one for you. You can get information and make bookings from Melbourne Tourist Information Centre or online.
Helicopter – There are helicopter tours available to fly over the Twelve Apostles, its surrounding dramatic coast and Port Campbell National Park. These depart from the Twelve Apostles information centre, so you will first need to get here by car or coach.
Car – Renting a car in Melbourne and driving at your own pace gives you the flexibility to stop wherever you want for as much time as you want. Although this is my preferred option, I only recommend this for confident drivers as there are many narrow winding cliff road sections. Especially dangerous for those foreign visitors not used to driving on the left side of the road.
Pro tip: Leave Melbourne before the morning rush hour starts to avoid highway traffic. Make the Twelve Apostles your last stop of the scenic drive before hitting the highway straight back to Melbourne.
BEST VIEWPOINTS AND PLACES ALONG THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The best part of this road trip is the continuous beautiful scenic views from the car. How the green bush meet the abrupt limestone cliffs constantly splashed with the strong ocean’s waves.For you to see this, you just need to drive through the winding road that borders the coast. Though there is no need to stop, I am sure the driver will enjoy the moment better from a still point at a lookout. There are many of these view points along the Great Ocean Road. While some are on the road’s side, others require a slight detour. We did not stop at every single one because we were doing a roundtrip to Melbourne on the same day. However, we made enough stops to enjoy the coastal scenery from different angles. These stops are my most recommended ones:
- Bell’s Beach at Torquay is a great place to watch surfers ride the big waves.
- Point Addis
- Split Point Lighthouse and lookout
- Memorial arch at Eastern View
- Teddy’s Lookout at Lorne
- Mt. Defiance lookout
- Cape Patton lookout
- Great Otway National Park
- The Gables
- Twelve Apostles
- Gibson Steps to reach the beach near the Twelve Apostles.
- Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch and the Grotto are both near the remarkable Twelve Apostles. If you take a helicopter tour, you will surely see these from the air also.
DO NOT MISS THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF AUSTRALIA
The Twelve Apostles, located near Port Campbell, is likely to be the highlight of your road trip along the Great Ocean Road. This natural formation has become one of the most renowned landmarks of Australia’s tourism. Although it is crowded and highly touristy, it is indeed a pretty site with spectacular cliff views.
The Twelve Apostles are nothing more than a few large limestone formations charmingly scattered along the Port Campbell’s cliff shore. They are the result of thousand of years of the Southern Ocean waves battering the cliffs and the wind eroding the rocks. With time, caves were formed in these limestone structures, which eventually developed into the Twelve Apostles known today. Around 2 centimetres per year are eroded around the rock formation’s base.
Watch out for the venomous snakes and wallabies at the park.
Pro tip: The Twelve Apostles look great at sunset hour. Just keep in mind, the Information centre closes at 5pm. Also, if you want to see both Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge, you should go there before stopping for sunset at Twelve Apostles.
HOW MUCH TIME TO SPEND ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Depending on the purpose of your road trip and time available, you can visit the Great Ocean Road in different ways. One option is a return trip from Melbourne, which can be done in one full-day. Although the entire length of the road will not be covered and the stops will be somewhat limited in time, this one-day road trip is worth it if one day is all you got. This is what I did as I enjoyed it a lot. Another option is to do the road trip at a more leisurely pace, spending a few nights in small coastal towns. Surely, this will give you ample time to enjoy the different viewpoints, countryside and beaches along the way. As you can see, the time to spend here is really up to you but I would consider 10 hours to be a minimum.
Pro Tip: Allow 2 full-days on this road to enjoy the Nature walks on the forest and beaches.