The Great Ocean Road is without doubt one of Australia’s most spectacular drives, built into the steep seaside cliffs of southwest Victoria. The Southern Ocean and views of the dramatically eroded coastline, including the famed Twelve Apostles, are on one side, the sheer cliffs are on the other. The small strip of bitumen that weaves its way along the coast is right in front of you.
But the Great Ocean Road is much more than a road these days. It forms the most popular surf coast of Victoria (including Bells Beach), boasts superb and often deserted beaches, lighthouses, remarkable shipwrecks and historic towns.
“There is no more spectacular drive and prettier coastal towns. How cute is Port Fairy?!”
– David Koch
The latest addition is the Great Ocean Walk, a 91km track hugging the coastline, incorporating great lookouts, plunging into thick forests and visiting the beach itself. It’s unique as a major walk in that you can retire to your accommodation with a warm spa, a soothing massage and a fab meal each evening. Perrrfffect.
Did you know?
Edward Henty and his brothers are credited with establishing the first European permanent settlement at Portland on the Great Ocean Road in 1834, before the founding of the capital, Melbourne, the following year.
Great South West Walk
The Great South West Walk is a 250km walk that traverses a spectacular forest section, a river gorge with limestone cliffs, long stretches of beach and rugged capes.
It can be accessed for short and day walks and there are 16 campsites along the way. The diverse scenery and challenge of the walk have pleased many international and Australian walkers to date. Other activities can be found along the way, e.g. canoeing, caving, and mountain bike riding.
How to get there
From Melbourne, Geelong is a 55-minute drive via the West Gate and Princess Highways. A network of highways also links regional centres with Geelong and various other points along the Great Ocean Road. It takes about two and a half hours to reach the Twelve Apostles.
Best time to go
It gets a bit nippy during winter, but it is gorgeous during the summer.
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.