One of the country’s great scenic ocean drives, the Great Ocean Road winds 243km from Torquay on Victoria’s southern coast. The route is flanked by ancient rainforests and meanders over limestone cliffs facing the ominous Bass Strait through to Warrnambool, a city with a proud maritime history. The big attraction, however, is the 12 Apostles, who happily bless all visitors to the region.
What is now a must-do tourist route was originally constructed by 3,000 ex-soldiers as a memorial to the casualties of World War I. Work on the road began in 1919 and was finished in November 1932 with an official opening by Victoria’s Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Irvine. At 243km it remains the world’s largest, and longest, war memorial. While the route remains the same, the road has since been widened in sections and required repairs when natural disasters, such as landslides and bushfires forced its closure.
The journey can be taken year round. However summer is generally the preferred season with temperatures reaching round 23 degrees. In winter temperatures rise to only 14 degrees. Rain is more common in winter, with summer being considerably drier.
The road and the various townships along it host events throughout the year, including the Shipwreck Coast Recreational Ride if you like cycling tours, the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival for music lovers and the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club Surfboat Carnival.
The route begins just outside Melbourne in Torquay. Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine) serves all major Australian cities and many smaller towns. The following airlines fly to Melbourne:
Flying from Sydney to Melbourne takes about one and half hours and Brisbane to Melbourne takes just over two hours. Perth to Melbourne takes just over four hours.
Being a major Australian city, Melbourne features many luxury hotels. For travellers wishing to take the drive over several days, there are quality accommodation options along the route in the various townships including Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Anglesea and Lorne.
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Starting in Torquay, about 100km south of Melbourne, the route veers past beautiful pristine beaches and historic townships such as Lorne. Sights to see along the way include Split Point, Cape Otway Lighthouse and Marriner’s Lookout. Stretch your legs and take a walk through the Angahook-Lorne State Park to break up the journey.
The postcard iconic image of the road is the 12 Apostles. However don’t try counting them because there aren’t actually 12 of them, but there’s no need to spoil the fun. These incredible limestone stacks, located between Princetown and Peterborough, rise majestically from the ocean to provide wonderful photo opportunities.
For a unique perspective of the Apostles, consider a Flight Adventure, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the structures, as well as taking in Apollo Bay and the Otway Rainforest. Mountain biking and hiking are also popular on bush tracks along the route.
The Great Ocean Road officially ends at Allansford, about 10km short of Warrnambool. You can then choose whether to continue on to Adelaide, about a seven hour drive or return to Melbourne via the coast again or take the inland route via Mortlake.
You’ll need your camera for the infinitive photo opportunities the route provides. A packed lunch is a good idea, if you’d like to stop by the road and just enjoy the view as you eat lunch.
Apply plenty of sunscreen when enjoying the plethora of outdoor activities.
The road is windy, so take it easy on the bends.