Great Ocean Road is part a scenic drive, part a war memorial, and here’s how to plan the perfect road trip to see it all.
Located in Australia’s main (but geographically small) southern state of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road offers one of Australia’s most amazing coastal drives. If one is planning a road trip in Australia and plans to drive from Adelaide to Melbourne, the traveler should consider taking this much longer but infinitely more scenic route along the coast. One of the main attractions of the route is the so-called “Twelve Apostles” – picturesque formations of limestone piles. There are many activities and things to do along the Great Ocean Road.
About the Great Ocean Road
- Length: 151 miles or 243 kilometers
- Status: Listed as Australian national heritage
- End points: From the Australian towns of Torquay and Allansford
The Great Ocean Road is more than just a scenic drive, it is also the largest war memorial in the world. It was built by soldiers returning from the grueling First World War between 1919 and 1932 and is now dedicated to the many who died in that Great War.
Along the route you’ll see some of Australia’s best coastline as the coastal road passes through rainforests, past perfect surfing beaches and impressive jagged cliffs. Some of the famous landmarks along the way include:
- The twelve apostles
- Loch Ard Gorge
- London Arch
The twelve apostles
The Twelve Apostles are one of Australia’s best-known monuments. While not as spectacular as Ayer’s Rock, they are still considered one of Australia’s natural treasures (Australian landmarks are usually not as spectacular as those in New Zealand). Just off the coast and out of the ocean are the 12 apostles. These stunning limestone pillars were once connected to the mainland’s cliffs, but everything around them has since eroded. Wind and waves relentlessly carved their way into the cliffs forming arches, which were then battered leaving the columns free-standing.
- Column height: 150 feet or 45 meters
- Number of apostles: 8 (not actually 12)
While exploring the Great Ocean Road, one option is to go whale watching. Here, the southern right whales can be seen returning as they migrate from the waters of southern Antarctica to give birth and then rear their young. One of the best places to see them is the Logans Beach whale watching platform. From there, you can watch them split, rise and play. In addition, it is possible to visit the Maritime Discovery Center near Portland, one of its exhibits is a huge sperm whale skeleton 14 meters long.
- Whale watching: Whale watching is a must on the Great Ocean Road
Naturally, there are plenty of great hiking trails along this popular part of the Australian coast. This is one of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the coast. One option is to start on the west side of Cape Bridgewater and walk to “The Blowholes” lookout and walk. The walk crosses white sand dunes, to a petrified forest (it is a gnarled formation of trees that rise up to 1.5 meters after being buried in the sandstone), continues past the seal colony along the coast.
Of course, keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, seals, whales, echidnas, and wallabies.
The longest promenade is the Great Ocean Walk, it opened in 2004 and stretches 104 km (64 miles) of beautiful coastline and stretches from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles.
Another option is to take a 75-minute guided walk through the beautiful Otways bush into the wonders of wildlife. It’s about 5 kilometers or 3 miles from Apollo Bay. On this walk you will see lush tree fern ravines, stunning ocean views, and the “gum trees” or eucalyptus forests that are so characteristic of Australia. The Environmentalist Guide gives tourists a deep dive into Australian conservation and the stories of many unique Australian plants and animals.
If you travel in winter, it is not cold enough in Australia to snow in winter (apart from the Snowy Mountains around Canberra). But all the same, it can be cold as far south of the island-mainland. At the end of the Great Ocean Road is the Deep Blue Hot Springs at Warrnambool. These are ideal for relaxing and rejuvenating by soaking in the healing mineral waters and splurging with a well-earned massage and other body spa therapy therapies.
Accommodation options are plentiful here. There are many campgrounds, vacation home or cottage rentals, Airbnbs, resorts, and ocean view suites. Some of the more upscale and luxury accommodation options include:
- Warrnambool Retreat: Offers two exclusive wood-burning units
- Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs: The name says it all, this was the first hot spring hotel in the state of Victoria and has over 80 rooms as well as penthouses and suites with ocean views.
Next: Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Australia’s Northernmost Point
Is Las Vegas Really Overrated? Here’s what first-time visitors shouldn’t waste their time on
About the Author