The Great Ocean Road is quite possibly the most soul-stirring jaw-dropping drive Australia — or even the world — has to offer
243 scenic kilometres. And more than 243 breath-taking sights to see. From high-adrenaline surf breaks to cascading falls, scuba diving and sea kayaking to arts, cultural and heritage attractions, the stunning and winding stretch of two-lane Great Ocean Road, that runs along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford offers a little something special and exciting for every traveller.
And it isn’t just one of the world’s most beautiful drives, it’s also the world’s longest war memorial.
Since its official opening in 1932, the Great Ocean Road – which 3000 returned Australian soldiers began building in 1919 – has become an iconic international destination, traversing rainforests, beaches (check out the surf coast and shipwreck coast) and near-vertical cliffs.
For those looking to delve head first into the story behind the creation of this historic memorial, you can check into the Great Ocean Road Heritage Centre, located in the Lorne Visitor Centre, where through interpretive displays visitors are given the back — and back-breaking — story of the road.
For those making a run of it, the Road is famous for playing host to several races over the years.
A 45-kilometre section of the Great Ocean Road, between Lorne and Apollo Bay is the location of the annual Great Ocean Road Marathon. First run in 2005, the marathon, celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, promises, as always, panoramic views of the Southern Ocean. Six events will be held between 16 and 17 May across of range of distances — 1.5km through to 44km (check out www.greatoceanroadmarathon.com.au for more information).
While the drive itself is magnificent, there is more than a sprinkling of things to see all though your journey. The world’s largest surf museum for instance. The Australian National Surfing Museum, Torquay, charts the nation’s contribution to the development of surfing around the world through vibrant permanent displays, artefacts and memorabilia. Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of surfing. Also, check out Bells Beach for some truly spectacular surfing.
And once you’re cruising down the road, don’t forget to call in on the White Queen — Split Point Lighthouse, Airyes Inlet – that made a cameo in Masterchef season 6. Stop by for a 45-minute guided tour.
While in Lorne, the fully restored classical Grand Pacific Hotel & Resort, and Maple Tree restaurant, celebrate the heritage and local produce of the region. Stay over, survey, and savour the region.
So, what are you waiting for, get behind the wheel. Spectacular Australia’s just down the road.
~ The Great Ocean Road starts at Anglesea and travels 244 kilometres westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road.
~ Port Campbell is famous for its natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch(formerly London Bridge) and The Twelve Apostles.
~ In the 1960s, the road was considered a challenging drive; the Victorian Police motor school even using it for training around 1966.
~ In 2011, the road was added to the Australian National Heritage List.
Planning your trip from Melbourne
A few stops and sights along the road
First stop Torquay [should get there two hours from the time you depart]
Site: Australian National Surfing Museum
After lunch leave Torquay for Aireys Inlet [where you will see Split Point Lighthouse]
Allow 30 minutes driving time
En-route: Bells Beach
Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet
Depart Aireys Inlet for Lorne
Allow 30 minutes driving time to Lorne
Looking for accommodation? Grand Pacific Hotel & Apartments Lorne
Spend the night and explore the village of Lorne including the boutique shopping, Erskine Falls, Edge Art Gallery and the Lorne foreshore all through the day.
Enjoy a meal at Maple Tree Lorne
Once you drive out of Lorne, stop at Kennet River for some koala-spotting (this is also part of the Road Marathon course)
Explore the villages of Apollo Bay and the township of Forrest to sample some of the finest brews.