Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a scenic road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. Australia’s Great Ocean Road stretches for 151 miles and was built by soldiers between 1919 and 1932. The road is dedicated to the soldiers lost in World War 1 making it the longest war memorial.
Along the road are many landmarks making for spectacular views. One popular stop along Australia’s Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles are limestone rock formations jutting out from the ocean. The road passes through rain-forests, as well as beaches and cliffs made of limestone and sandstone which provide spectacular views of the Southern Ocean.
Another scenic stop along the road is the Loch Ard Gorge. The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground at the end of a three-month journey from the UK to Melbourne, Australia in 1878. Only two passengers survived the shipwreck. A steep set of stairs lead to the undeveloped beach which served as the location for a number of scenes of the 1982 film The Pirate Movie and the 1999 TV series Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The London Arch or London Bridge is a rock formation that resembles the iconic London Bridge. The arch was created by the natural erosion of the rocks. In January 1990 a part of the arch collapsed leaving tourists stranded until a helicopter could be dispatched to save them.
The Cape Otway Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia and has been in continuous operation since 1848. On the Lighthouse Road you’ll find Koala’s in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes focused on the tree-tops and beaches along the path to the lighthouse. Many cars pull over along side the road when Koala’s are spotted, so drive carefully! In addition to Koala bears, you might be able to spot kangaroos (I saw one for a brief second), parrots and kookaburras. A beautiful parrot flew directly in front of our car but was too fast for photos. From the lighthouse you might get lucky and see Right Whales and Humpback Whales from June to September.
Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a three-hour drive from Melbourne and the drive along the Great Ocean Road itself can take between 12-14 hours (or longer) depending on how many stops you make and how long you spend at each. The drive requires a lot of concentration as it curves and twists around the Southern Ocean so I don’t suggest attempting the entire drive in one day. I’ve visited the road twice now. On the first trip we drove from Melbourne to Apollo Bay and then did the drive back to Melbourne. That took about 10 hours with about 5 stops along the way. The second time, and most recent, we decided to take the highway from Melbourne to Port Campbell, about a 3 hour drive, and then drive from Port Campbell to Apollo Bay making about 3 stops at scenic locations and 1 stop for lunch along the way before taking the highway from Apollo Bay back to Melbourne. We left Melbourne at 8:30am and returned at 8:30 pm, completely exhausted from the day.
If you have the ability to stay at a lodge or b&b along the way that would be a great addition to the trip and allow you to see more of the road without exhausting yourself or driving after dark – when the becomes more dangerous to drive. A trip to Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a highlight of any trip to Australia and shouldn’t be missed if possible.