Experiencing the Victorian coastline is the mecca for the Australian tourist. Miles of sandy-white beaches, deep blue oceans and lush green rainforests – all at once – are the blessing that is the Great Ocean Road. But for an unforgettable journey along this strip, there are some must-sees you need to do along the way.
Starting your Great Ocean Road journey in Torquay and driving through to Warrnambool, the first idea that will strike you along the way is how many sights and stops there are. The famous Bells Beach is no different. Worthy of a stop, this pro surfer’s beach is an Australian icon across the world. It’s only a short trip from Torquay, but well worth experiencing. Grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy the waves coming in.
Bells Beach. Photo Credit: Photographyhotspots.com.au
Situated on the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is one of the more popular townships to spend a night in.
The location offers several short drives to The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Gibson Steps, Port Campbell and more. For those needing a longer rest, Apollo Bay has no shortage of local activities, including a massive playground for the kids and a beautiful strip of sandy beaches.
Apollo Bay. Photo Credit: Great Ocean Road Info
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles dominates any ‘to do’ list for the Great Ocean Road, and there’s a good reason. The rugged coastline and miles of ocean, during a sunset, is an exquisite sight to behold. Add the millions of years old limestone structures to the tour, the picture becomes breathtaking.
Just a short drive from Apollo Bay, the Twelve Apostles is best seen at dusk or dawn. The massive lime stone structures are painted with water coloured hues as they jut out from the Southern Ocean, defying Mother Nature. Not only are the Twelve Apostles worth seeing, but the impressive cliffs, sun sets and white caps of the Southern Ocean will leave you spell bound.
The Twelve Apostles. Photo Credit: Travelonline.com
The Gibson Steps
Following your stop at the Twelve Apostles are the Gibson Steps. You can either walk the kilometre to the location, or alternatively, drive the short distance to the Gibson Steps carpark.
The 86 steps will take you down to the sandy shores, allowing for a close up of the vertical cliffs and limestone structures captive to the sea. However, before you head down to the sandy shores, note the warnings, slippery steps and unpredictable high tides.
The Gibson Steps. Photo Credit: Launch Photography
Loch Ard Gorge
Located only a few short minutes from the Twelve Apostles, you can use the advantage and take them both in on the same day. With more towering limestone structures on offer, while you explore the trails leading you to blowholes and coastal landscapes, Loch Ard Gorge rivals the best seascapes on Australian offer.
Loch Ard Gorge. Photo Credit: Travelycia
Wye River, with the famous Wye Beach, is another picturesque destination for the tourist. If you’re a seafood fan, visit the Fisherman’s Co-ops. There are many scenic views, including Cape Patton Lookout, soaring cliffs and sleepy Separation Creek. If you love the beach, then this idyllic setting is also home to pristine shoreline, and as a bonus, is also an ideal gateway to the Otway Rainforest.
Wye River. Photo Credit: Travel Victoria
Cape Otway Lighthouse and Lightstation
Considered to be the most significant lighthouse in Australia, Cape Otway Lighthouse continues to run until this day. Operating since 1848 and only a 10 minute drive off the Great Ocean Road just past Apollo Bay, the visit is well worth it.
Entrance fees are minimal and the walk is a little steep, but still suitable for the robust toddler. This location is a historian’s delight.
Cape Otway Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Exploregreatoceanroad.com
Located between Port Campbell and Peterborough, London Bridge was once a natural bridge between the mainland and a tiny island. However, after centuries of erosion from the rough seas, the bridge area once connecting the two, collapsed in 1990.
Still a sight worth seeing, there are multiple viewing platforms to give the most professional photographer an advantage over the sweeping seascape.
London Bridge. Photo Credit: Booktoday.com
Nestled quietly away, this fisherman’s delight is an unsuspecting surprise to the first time tourist. Soak in the galleries displaying local artwork, or the restaurants offering mouth-watering foods. Alternatively, walk the shoreline, people watch or just appreciate the splendid views that Mother Nature has on offer.
Port Campbell. Photo Credit: Sittingonsuitcases.com
Arriving in Warrnambool marks the end of your Great Ocean Road journey, but not all is lost. Warrnambool has a lot to offer in its own right. Once a film location for the hit movie Oddball – based on a true story of a dog saving a penguin colony – this regional town is worthy of an overnight stay.
Visit the location where Oddball’s canine sidekicks’ still guard the baby penguins and have a swim near the rocks and white sands. Afterwards, take in some local history and visit the Maritime Museum. And fear not, if you find yourself in Warrnambool during the Australian winter; late May through to October marks whale watching season.
Warrnambool. Photo Credit: Australia Country Pictures
If you would like to experience some of the sight-seeing locations from this article, you can check out the authors Great Ocean Road Tours.