Great Ocean Road, in the province of Victoria, Australia, is one of the world’s great scenic drives. The drive extends from Torquay, just west of Melbourne to Portland, a distance of around 400 kilometers (240 miles). The road snakes along the coast, linking interesting and quaint villages and providing views of the dramatic coastline. (For trekkers, the Great Ocean Walk traverses a portion of the same coastline for a distance of about 90 kilometers or 50 miles, with many opportunities to stop, spend the night, camp, etc.)
One of the most famous and scenic portions of the road is the section within Port Campbell National Park, called The Twelve Apostles, referring to a dozen rock sentinels which lie just offshore. The Viewing Platform has a great vantage point and penguins can sometimes be seen frolicking below.
There are several great beaches which can be accessed via the Great Ocean Road. Swimming beaches include Anglesea, Apollo Bay, Bridgewater Bay, Eastern Beach, Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale, and Wye River. Some of the surfing beaches along the route are world-famous. A few notable ones include 13th Beach, Bells Beach, Johanna, and Logan’s Beach.
Historic towns such as Port Fairy and Portland dot the route and offer an alternative type of attraction.
Around Apollo Bay, visitors have opportunities to leave the coastal road and travel inland into the Otways, a region of rain forest with several scenic drives of its own. A couple of these side trips are Waterfalls and Rain Forest Drive and Skenes Creek Road.
There are also a number of shipwrecks which have occurred offshore. Maps of the road will locate where these unfortunate incidents happened and tourist information centers can provide historical information about the wrecks.
In addition, several waterfalls can be easily accessed from the road. Some are only a short walk inland, while others are much more strenuous and require considerably more time. A few possibilities include Phantom Falls, Triplet Falls, Erskine Falls, and Beauchamp Falls.
Lighthouses are another popular feature of this drive. There are quite a few which can be seen en route. A few notables include Black Lighthouse and White Lighthouse at Queenscliff, Cape Otway Light, and Port Fairy Light.
This scenic drive should not be considered a day trip, but should be savored over the course of several days, perhaps in combination with a visit to Melbourne.