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Dusting Off an Old Post: Great Ocean Road (February 2011)

This review of an old post is going to be about one of the world’s most scenic roads, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

Australia is made for road trips. It’s flat, it’s big, it’s empty, and its nature is overwhelming. After our trip around Tasmania my French friend Alex and I arrived back on mainland Australia, in Melbourne. We spent about a week there, watching the Australian Open.

A week is enough to spend in a city, rest and relax, and it soon was time to get going again. The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most popular attractions and rightly so. It’s spectacularly set between eucalypt forests and the crystal clear blue water of the Southern Ocean. The official length is 243km and I would highly recommend to not drive it in one day. Two days is an absolute minimum; there’s plenty to see on the way.

I honestly don’t remember on which day we left Melbourne, but it must have been a Friday or Saturday, because we stumbled upon a big party in the town of Torquay that night. (Torquay is where the Great Ocean Road begins by the way.) Great fun, but I do remember having a massive hangover in the morning. Sleeping in the front seat of a car is not ideal in any circumstances, but mornings are particularly uncomfortable if you’ve had several beers the night before.

A night out in Torquay, Victoria, Australia.
A night out in Torquay

We spent the morning and afternoon on the beach…

Beach in Torquay, Australia.
Great day on the beach

After having made at least a partial recovery we decided to head out and actually start driving one of the greatest roads on the planet. The road was built by soldiers after the First World War – it was a project by the government to employ returned forces – as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of that terrible war. It’s the world’s largest war memorial.

Great Ocean Road memorial arch
Great Ocean Road memorial arch (photo taken while driving, so apologies for the quality)

The best way to drive it is in a westward direction. Because you’re driving on the left side of the road, that way you’ll be on the oceanside at all times. Running between the vast forests of Cape Otway National Park – lots of koalas! – on the right side and white beaches and blue water – phenomenal surfing! – this truly is an amazing road.

The Great Ocean Road, seen from Teddy's Lookout
The Great Ocean Road, seen from Teddy’s Lookout
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Clearly visible road on the hillside

We headed into the forest, hoping to spot some wildlife and to find a nice place to cook some food.

Erskine Falls in Cape Otway National Park
Erskine Falls in Cape Otway National Park
Koalas in Cape Otway National Park
Koalas in Cape Otway National Park
Cooking in Cape Otway National Park, Australia
Cooking some dinner

After dinner we drove to the next town, Appollo Bay, parked the car in a random car park and tried to get some sleep.

Dusk on the Great Ocean Road
Dusk on the Great Ocean Road
Appollo Bay, Australia
Goodnight from Appollo Bay

On day two it was cloudy, but still very warm and more humid. Quite uncomfortable. No complaints though, the next stretch of the road would be completely different, but equally as spectacular. We were headed for Port Campbell National Park and the Twelve Apostles.

Great Ocean Road, Australia
A cloudy ocean view
Great Ocean Road trees
Koala trees…

The Twelve Apostles are an iconic sight. Everyone has probably seen a picture of them before. They are a collection of massive limestone pillars in the ocean. There aren’t actually twelve though. Originally there were nine, but after one of them, known as Judas, collapsed in 2005, there are eight left. It’s a spectacular sight and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Victoria.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road in Australia
Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles in Australia
Massive cliffs and big limestone stacks

From there on the entire coastline is a spectacle of nature. While the Twelve Apostles are absolutely the most famous, there are many more stacks of rocks, cliffs and caves to be seen and explored.

Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell National Park
Loch Ard Gorge in Port Campbell National Park

We drove past, stopped, descended down the cliffs, went for short hikes and did as much as we possibly could in a day’s time.

London Bridge on the Great Ocean Road, Australia
London Bridge

Like I said, the road is not very long and it has to end at some point. That point is Warrnambool, a quiet town on the southwest coast of Victoria…

Here are some more road trip posts from my time in Australia:

Crossing the Nullarbor Plain
To Monkey Mia and Back
Tasmania

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