The Great Ocean Road is, as the name suggests, a road – but it’s truly so much more than just that. Located along the south-west coast of Victoria, the route transcends along gorgeous scenery for just under 250 kilometres, beginning in the town of Torquay and finishing in Allansford.
Image credit: Bells Beach by Visit Victoria
But before we start day-dreaming about all the stunning things to see and do, let’s begin with some history, because who doesn’t love a bit of history, right? Travelling between the towns on the southern coast was very difficult, and there was a push for a central highway to connect them all: thus the idea for the Great Ocean Road was conceived!
The plan proposed to hire returned WWI veterans to build a road as a memorial to the soldiers that died in the Great War, and so, around 3,000 ex-soldiers set off on construction through tough terrain and perilous weather. They used explosives, picks and shovels to carve the cliffsides; setting up camp as they progressed along.
But alas, all the hard days were worth it when a section of the glorious new road, between Eastern View to Lorne, opened up in the March of 1922! 10 years later in the November of 1932, the entire road was complete and had its official opening. A finished road also came with a new name, and hence the route was known as ‘Great Ocean Road’ thereafter.
Image credit: David Reed
As beforementioned, the Great Ocean Road begins in the east end of Torquay and finishes in the west end of Allansford. Along the way you’ll come across several charming townships, the main ones including:
- Apollo Bay
- Port Campbell
- Port Fairy
With a plethora of things to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that you’ll absolutely come across some pretty spectacular natural attractions. The 12 Apostles is arguably the most famous, with the rugged limestone cliffs basically a symbol for the famed route. Just off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, the limestone cliffs were once upon a time attached to the mainland; but natural elements took their course, and the cliff was transformed into caves, then arches and ultimately the pillars that we see today. In contrast to what the names suggests, there are actually only 8 pillars left standing!
Image credit: 12 Apostles by Visit Victoria
Nearby is the incredible protected beach of Loch Ard Gorge. Nestled amongst imposing cliffs, this unique sandy beach is picture perfect all year round. The beach is named after the famous 1878 shipwreck; and it’s here where you’ll see the power of the ocean as the waves come crashing in. It’s truly an enchanting spot!
Image credit: Loch Ard Gorge by Visit Victoria
With the route following stunning coastline from start to finish, there’s bound to be some epic beaches along the way. Perhaps the most famous are Bells Beach and Apollo Bay. One of Australia’s best surfing beaches, Bells Beach is located near the town of Torquay. With striking cliffs lining the beaches landscape, gorgeous views can be seen from both the sand and atop the rock-face. Thanks to the mountains of the Otway Ranges, the stunningly rugged coastline of Apollo Bay is a big draw card with locals and visitors alike. Not only is the beach world-class, it’s also pretty popular with a colony of seals that call it home.
Image credit: Apollo Bay by Visit Victoria
Perhaps one of the most memorable, and a little crazy, experiences along the road is the chance to see the adorable Maremma dogs! These gorgeous dogs are used to protect the colony of little penguins that call the Middle Island, just off the coast of Warrnambool, home. If this story sounds familiar to you, that might be because it was the plotline of the 2015 film oddball starring Shane Jacobson. Definitely the cutest guardians we’ve ever seen!
Image credit: Maremma dogs by Visit Victoria
Even if the beach isn’t your jam, the Great Ocean Road is full of other nature too! Just take the gorgeous Otway National Park for example. It’s here you can explore spectacular cascading waterfalls, boardwalks that take you through lush rainforests and perched atop on a cliff, you’ll even find an incredible lighthouse that was built in 1878!
Image credit: Otway National Park by Visit Victoria
There’s also plenty of delicious food options along the route which is guaranteed to satisfy. From tasty Thai food and quaint bakeries, to classic cafes and breweries serving up local concoctions. And the best bit? Most have incredible views of the spectacular beach or sprawling forest! Food and amazing views; what could honestly be better?
Image credit: Warrnambool by Visit Victoria