Known as one of the most spectacular drives on our beautiful and fascinating planet, and famous for being one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions, the Great Ocean Road encompasses varied landscapes, attractions and activities. While possible to take day trips to some of the most famous places along the Great Ocean Road, exploring independently in your own vehicle is the best way to see the sights. You can hit the popular spots and venture away from the main road for even more gems. Can’t drive? Why not spend some time in Australia’s cultural heart and take some driving lessons in Melbourne at the same time? Or perhaps you’d feel more confident with a refresher course?
Melbourne has a great shopping scene, fascinating street art, a thriving café culture, heaps of museums and more to enjoy before setting off on your road trip. In no particular order, here are some top places along the Great Ocean Road to add to your bucket list:
1. The 12 Apostles
Perhaps the most iconic scene along the famous road is the stone stacks known as the 12 Apostles. The limestone beauties sit along the Shipwreck Coast, close to Port Campbell National Park. Unfortunately, several have succumbed to the elements, so there are now eight stacks to feast your eyes on.
2. Apollo Bay
A pretty bay at the base of the Otway Ranges, be as active or as relaxed at Apollo Bay as you like. There are several scenic walking trails to enjoy and the beach offers good surfing.
Presenting a blend of city life with rustic charm, Warrnambool is particularly popular in the wintertime when you can see many whales in the waters. Watch as whales give birth and nurture their young. In the summer, Warrnambool is a top place for basking on the beaches and scuba diving.
A pretty coastal village, Anglesea is a terrific place to combine two interests: nature spotting and golfing. The local golf course is home to a large number of kangaroos!
Visit the first European settlement in Victoria with a stop in Portland. There are myriad historic buildings to admire and olde-worlde charms to enjoy. It’s also a good stop on the Great Ocean Road if you’re into fishing or fresh and tasty seafood.
Geelong is a top destination to learn more about Aboriginal cultures and traditions. See how to play a didgeridoo, get tips on boomerang throwing and, if you’re up for it, wrap your lips around some bush tucker.
7. The Grotto
Get close to the action and walk down to The Grotto, a picturesque sea cave where the waves bash the nearby rocks.
8. London Arch
Marvel at the large natural stone archway that rises from the water. Now known as London Arch, it was previously a double arch called London Bridge before the ocean claimed its neighbor.
9. Bells Beach
A pretty beach in Torquay, Bells Beach is an ideal stop for lovers of water sports. Learn how to harness the power of the sea and surf like a boss, take long walks along the coast or explore the underwater world with a spot of snorkeling. Soak up the sun and relax on the sands or, for something a bit more high octane, have a go at skydiving. The Australian National Surfing Museum is an interesting local attraction.
10. Tower Hill Volcano
A sleeping giant, Tower Hill Volcano hasn’t erupted for thousands of years. The crater is home to native wildlife, such as kangaroos, koalas and emus. The area has a long history, and many Aboriginal artifacts have been found around the volcano.
11. Melba Gully
Melba Gully can be found within the stretching Great Otway National Park. It is known for its incredible natural illuminations, courtesy of glow worms.
12. Otway Fly
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush while driving the Great Ocean Road, make a stop at Otway Fly. Whizz through the air on the towering zipline or brave the vertigo-inducing Treetop Walk.
13. Split Point Lighthouse
Made famous in the popular children’s TV show Round the Twist, Split Point Lighthouse is located at Aireys Inlet. Enjoy the views from the top and get plenty of Insta-worthy pictures.
14. Loch Ard Gorge
Two stone columns stand proudly in a gaping gorge, presenting a picturesque sight. The gorge was named after a local shipwreck, with the pillars named after the only two survivors: Tom and Eva.
Other great stops include Port Fairy, Lorne and the Bay of Islands. Take time on your journey for a wealth of immersive experiences. Nature, wildlife, culture, history and beach life are just a few fabulous things to enjoy as you travel along Australia’s iconic Great Ocean Road.
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