Ah, the Great Ocean Road drive! Impressive limestone boulders rising up from the raging sea, protruding out along the rugged coastline like warning fingers, the 12 Apostles are a sure tourist magnet for every Great Ocean Road drive. Everyone flocks to this beautiful scenery to get a glimpse of what is one of the most popular natural wonders of the red continent. And it’s super close to Melbourne.
The Great Ocean Road is a place of contrasts, the marvellous natural wonder called the Great Ocean Road. Rugged cliffs, sandy coastlines, deep blue waters underneath a canopy of white clouds, the winding scenic route has definitely a lot to offer. Going on a self drive along one of the most beautiful coastlines, you will want to stop at every possible lookout to take in the view that unfolds itself in front of your unbelieving eyes of the beauty in front of them. To make the most out of it and not to miss out on the most important stops, I have drawn up a short overview for you.
There will be disappointment if you expect your Great Ocean Road drive to be all sunshine and pretty white clouds. The coast has its own climate and just as there might have been pure sun a minute ago, masses of clouds could have quickly rolled into view. The weather here is ever changing. So the best thing is to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Take a (wind proof) jacket with you as well as a light scarf and maybe don’t put on your flip flops.
Dressed for the Occasion
Be warned that even if you wear a jacket your treasured selfies might look rather silly with hair dancing all around your face, so take necessary hair styling precautions. Also, it might not be the best idea for ladies to wear liquid eyeliner because the occasional teardrop forced out of your eye by the wind might make you look like a racoon. Just saying.
Timing is Everything with Your Great Ocean Road Drive
If indeed you are bound to grab a dose of sunshine, your photos of the 12 Apostles might actually look like cutouts, the sun will be always in your way. The best idea would be to come at 11 am or sunset for a clear view. Of course, in bad weather that would not be a problem, plus the low hanging clouds will make for a dramatic scene.
Marking the entrance of this massive infrastructural undertaking in the early 20th century, the memorial arch not only functions as a tourist magnet for the Great Ocean Road but also wants to remind visitors of its origin. Back then it was an enormous undertaking performed by the returned soldiers of World War I, as a sort of rehabilitation program, to connect the coastal towns in Western Victoria by following the lines of the coast. So take a minute to appreciate all the effort that went into this.
Split Point Lighthouse
If you’ve grown up in an English speaking country, you might be familiar with the Lighthouse. It was the setting of the iconic TV show “Round the Twist” and thus deserves at least one snapshot. But even if you knoew it not, it still makes for a great snapshot, towering over the waves.
In the end, it is just another coastal town with a pretty beach and marina. You’ll see a few along your Great Ocean Road drive. But in contrast to other places, such as Torquay, Apollo Bay gives off a New Zealand vibe when you stand on the shore and gaze out towards the mountains along which you had just come here. They do resemble the hilly countryside of the green island. Also, if you split your Great Ocean Road trip over two or three days, stopping here for a lunch break would be a good idea.
The not so secret favourite amongst all those who drive the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles do not fail to impress. In any weather they look imposing the way they rise out of the water and defy nature’s typical architecture. Of course, they are just a by-product of the corroding coastlines due to wind and water, but they will hopefully weather the climate for quite some time longer.
Yes, it has fallen down but no, it is still beautiful. One arch is still standing. In combination with the intense blue below and above together with its palette of red and yellows, you are hard pressed not to take a splendid photo. It might just be the best you take in your Great Ocean Road drive. Also, the viewing platform makers for great group pictures.
I hope you have planned enough time for this, so that you can take all three scenic walks. Plan in to take out at least 30 minutes out of your Great Ocean Road Tour. If not, skip the middle one and absolutely go down into the gorge and be amazed. Down the steps you will find a paradise bay as well as caves with stalactites. My other favourite walk is only really impressive in the sunlight and shows you more limestone boulders as well as a huge wall on which you can still make out the different layers of the ocean level and sediments that had collected over millions of years.
Bay of Martyrs
The history behind this scenic lookout over the bay is not so romantic as is its view but despite. Maybe because of it, it should be on your list for your Great Ocean Road drive. Referred to as the Bay of Massacre, it was the site where a bloody attack was launched on the aboriginal people of this area). It is yet another accumulation of boulders but can you ever see enough of them? I don’t think so.
One of the most popular tourist spots along the Great Ocean Road, Lorne surely knows how to cater to tourists. With its location just at the opening of the Eskrine River and at the edge of the Otway Forest, you will be wrapped in a warm embrace by beautiful nature. If you want to avoid the crowds, better come off season so you can hang out by the sandy beaches and enjoy the surf.
If you are sad that you can’t get close to the London Arch, why not make the trip up to the grotto, which is just as stunning. If you’re standing up on the cliff, it might not look like much but the ‘grotto’, which is actually an arch, can be viewed from a wooden platform and if the tide is out, you can even walk into it. So check the tidal times.
Otway Forest Reserve
Carnivorous snails and hundred year old trees in what used to be rainforest from prehistoric times? The beautifully green lush forest will make you forget that you are in the driest continent and instead have landed in Jurassic Park. There are no dinosaurs or any other dangerous creatures, unless you count the snails.
So now that you know what to be prepared for, do you already have plans to ‘conquer’ one of the world’s most scenic drives? Or did the Great Ocean Road drive make your bucketlist for now? Be sure to share. (I am super curious to hear.)
This article has also appeared on Kiss from the World.