Think you know The Great Ocean Road back to front? Think again. Here are new reasons you must cruise Victoria’s go-to summer destination.
Shhhh, secret beaches
GOR’s beaches can be a little cosy around the Christmas holidays but there are ways to beat the masses. Just around from Bells Beach’s famous point breaks is Point Addis, a sandy crescent rimmed by a dramatic sweep of ochre sandstone and limestone cliffs. The lookout next to the road offers panoramic views, before you walk through a section of national park down to the beach. If it’s low tide, walk along the rockpool ledges to Southside and Bells Beach, or just stroll up the northern end to the stretch of ‘clothing optional’ sand, if that’s your thing. There’s also an Aboriginal interpretive trail, the Koori Cultural Walk, with incredible views from the cliffs.
Want to escape the crowds at Lorne? Hidden below the red-roofed White Queen Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet is your answer: a collection of picturesque pocket beaches and rockpools beneath rugged red limestone cliffs. You can access them via the Cliff Top Walk, which has terrific ocean views.
Feel like a wander
For bare-foot luxury, Both Feet Walking Lodge is located at the mid-point of the Great Ocean Road, organising tramps through pristine rainforest, along beaches and around cliff tops. The lodge itself only takes 10 hikers at a time and is ecologically designed, comfortable and sumptuously modern.
The Surf Coast Walk (from Torquay to Aireys Inlet) is now complete, ready to help you walk off that holiday over indulgence. Great Ocean Road Surf Tours‘s ‘Great Ocean Road Surf Walks’ points out spots you may whizz past in the car, followed by a locally sourced gourmet lunch.
Note also that the Great Ocean Walk now finishes at the 12 Apostles.
Foodie Variety: Graze in style
The Otway Ranges, between Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles, boast some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the region, as well as some of the most delicious produce nestled in its hinterland and rural towns. Just follow your nose.
Also worth the detour: Gladioli by Matt Dempsey (formerly Pettavel) in nearby Inverleigh was named best new regional restaurant in The Age Good Food Guide (and now wears a hat).
For an old-style hamburger with a modern foodie bent, try the recently opened The Bottle of Milk in Torquay, branching out from the successful store in Lorne.
Wine or beer?
Jack Rabbit Vineyard complements its cellar door with a newly-opened restaurant, giving you at least two reasons for the journey.
For those beers connoisseurs keen to stock up on quality product before the holiday rush, Little Creatures has recently opened a brewery in Geelong.
Keep those kids busy
The hands-on, close-up Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park is sporting a brand-new dingo enclosure, as well a few other upgrades, which should keep the little ’uns entertained for a spell.
For the more nautical children, there are a couple of options to get them closer to the area’s sea life. Head to Queenscliff to try a South Bay Eco Adventures tour for a close up with an Australia fur seal or explore underwater from a glass-bottom boat with Underwater Explorer.
For more information, see Visit Victoria.
See other summer holiday destinations: Same old Christmas beach holiday? Not any more…