The Great Ocean Road is a historically significant stretch of highway that winds alongside the wild and windswept Southern Ocean from Torquay to Warrnambool, Victoria. Visitors come from around the world to experience the 243 kilometres of surf beaches, historic ports, forested mountain ranges, magnificent cliffs, national parks, abundant wildlife and perfect vistas. Whether you are planning to explore the entire road on a Great Ocean Road tour or in your car, the following are some of the best spots you absolutely must stop to visit along the way.
Just after Torquay, diverge from the highway to visit Victoria’s best beaches, namely the iconic Bells Beach. From Melbourne, you can jump on a Great Ocean Road day tour to visit the area, or get there in your own car by turning left onto Bells Boulevard just after the community of Jan Juc. Bells Beach has an international reputation of being one of Australia’s best surf beaches, and whether or not you are into surfing, stopping just to enjoy the view is absolutely worthwhile.
The stretch of coastline between the towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay is some of the most stunning. To take it all in, make sure to stop along the way – otherwise it passes by too fast! The hamlet of Wye River is the perfect place to take a breather from the drive and to truly appreciate the splendour of the area. Swim, surf, explore the hinterland, or even book yourself in for the night at one of the B&Bs that are tucked into the forest-covered hills overlooking the ocean.
If you want to get in on the action during your drive, then a stopover at Apollo Bay is essential. Deservingly known as paradise by the sea, Apollo Bay is a halfway point along the Great Ocean Road, and is where you can really interact with your environment. Here you can enjoy any water activity under the sun; go bushwalking in the rainforest-covered hills that are filled with streams, waterfalls and wildlife; or enjoy some of the excellent cuisine at the restaurants in town.
The Twelve Apostles
One of the biggest highlights of the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. Situated in Port Campbell National Park, these massive limestone structures emerging from the blue Southern Ocean leave visitors amazed by their impressive size and beauty. Behind the stacks are the equally as remarkable 70-metre-high cliffs that change colours with the angle of the sun’s rays. Watch these truly stunning cliffs come to life by visiting either at sunrise or sunset.
Just a short drive from the Twelve Apostles is the colourful and lively seaside village of Port Campbell. This village is a fantastic place to stop with the family to enjoy dinner at a restaurant by the beach, pick up some homemade treats, and visit some vibrant shops and galleries. This little port town is filled with history, and also offers opportunities to surf, fish, scuba dive or take a boat tour that will show you the impressive cliffs from an entirely new angle.
There are so many fantastic places to stop along the Great Ocean Road that it can be hard to choose where to go and what to do first. The best way to experience the drive is to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that this fantastic region has to offer.