Time Out Melbourne

A spectacular journey awaits on the winding drive along Victoria’s southern coastline

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s great motoring trips: an odyssey that takes in some of Australia’s most spectacular natural features.

From Melbourne get yourself onto the Princes Highway and head towards Geelong, 60km southwest of the city. From Geelong take the Surf Coast Highway to Torquay and honour our nation’s favourite pastime with a visit to the Surfworld Australia Surfing Museum, showcasing beach culture including surfboards dating back to 1915. Surf City Plaza, Beach Rd, Torquay 3228. 03 5261 4606. World famous Bells Beach, an untamed oceanfront strip of raw coastline, is worthy of a winter stroll.

Continuing on through the towns of Anglesea and Airey’s Inlet and you’ll reach the beautiful town of Lorne clinging to the hillside. A visit to Angahook-Lorne State Forest reveals a number of streams and cascades. If staying overnight, check in at the quaint Cora-Lynn Apartments where seaside-shack chic is the order of the day. Cora-Lynn, 22-28 Mountjoy Pde, Lorne 3232.

As you approach Apollo Bay the coastline starts to get more rugged and the road veers inland through Great Otway National Park. Take Otway Lighthouse Road to visit the Lightstation, Australia’s oldest mainland lighthouse, standing 91m above the water; you’re bound to see several koalas as you drive down Otway Lighthouse Road. 03 5237 9240. There is also a self-guided rainforest walking trail through the park and the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, adjacent to Triplet Falls, features a 30m high steel walkway right up into the trees. 360 Phillips Track, Beech Forest 3250. 03 5235 9200.

Lavers Hill marks the beginning of what you’ve all been waiting for: awe-inspiring limestone rock formations formed by wave erosion. This is the Shipwreck Coast, where dozens of vessels have foundered in former times and where scenic highlights include the famous 12 Apostles. (There are currently only eight, but don’t worry: what’s now headland will one day collapse to form new apostles.)

Before arriving at Port Campbell you’ll also pass by London Arch – it was called London Bridge until 1990 when a collapse separated it from the mainland – Loch Ard Gorge, the Blowhole and the Grotto. Wherever there’s a geological feature you’ll find a parking area and often a boardwalk too. If staying in Port Campbell and looking for something affordably boutique then try the Anchors Resort in the hills above the fishing village. 2540 Cobden-Port Campbell Rd, Port Campbell 3269. 0417 434 400.

In the morning, continue on past Peterborough to where the 32km Bay of Islands begins. Just off the Great Ocean Road is an ideal vantage point for seeing the Bay of Martyrs and Massacre Point. The Great Ocean Road officially ends at Warrnambool, where whales are visible during their May to September migrations.

For more short getaways, visit off the beaten track.

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Updated on 23 Jul 2014.

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