Exploring Australia’s Great Ocean Road

One of the must-do road trips in Australia is the Great Ocean Road. The Victorian coastline is rugged and dramatic and beautiful. But there are also more inland areas to discover, like Cape Otway, the Redwood forests, waterfalls and more. We spent four days exploring this region in December 2021, after our first trip in 2015. We wanted to see the main landmarks again, but also some spots we missed last time.

So what is the Great Ocean Road?

The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometers (151 miles) stretch of road along the southeastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world’s largest war memorial.

Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Whale watching, and many other attractions. The areas also traveled included the Surf Coast, the Discovery (or shipwreck) Coast and the Limestone Coast. You can also walk it……..there is a trail the whole way — no thank you, I’ll take the car!

Stops along the way

There are notable places to stop along the way, there is no reason why you can’t bypass them, but to be honest each of them has something worthwhile seeing. Geelong, Queenscliff, Anglesea, Carisbrook Creek, Point Lonsdale and Lorne.

While technically the GOR starts in Torquay, a fabulous view of the start of the actual roadway can be found at Teddy’s Lookout. I actually wrote about these spots in a blog post in 2015, just before the bush fires raced through the Wye River area.

Waterfalls

There are quite a few waterfalls in this area. Some are easier to walk to than others. Erskine Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls, Sheoak, Phantom, Cumberland, Upper Kalimna Falls and so many more. To be honest we only did the first three listed. I only managed to walk to the first two and even then only all the way on Erskine Falls.

A moderate amount of fitness and endurance is required, even if not a super long hike, most were beyond me. Erskine Falls was a LOT of step uneven stairs. But, if your fit and able and love waterfalls, then there are some amazing ones, especially Upper Kalimna falls from all the photos I have seen.

Cape Otway

Part of the Great Otway National Park, plenty to see and do, if you don’t bypass this part of the coast. Maits Rest Rainforest Walk, the Cape Otway Lightstation (closed on both visits so I am still to see it). There is a Redwood Forest, waterfalls and more. Amazing parks for picnics and walks. If you are lucky you might spot a koala, a lyrebird or one of the many native animals in the area.

Gibsons Steps

Arguably most people consider this part of the Great Ocean Road the real tourist mecca. Incredible monolith stacks of limestone that have been worn down over hundreds, even thousands of years of constantly battling the elements. Limestone is a sedimentary rock made up of shells, coral and animal skeletons. So it is basically being claimed back by the ocean.

The Gibson Steps is the starting vantage point for these incredible sights. Gibsons Steps are one of the few places you can actually get down onto the beach, albeit after a long flight of stairs. From time to time this beach has been closed off as the cliff face is often unstable.

Twelve Apostles

So named as there were once twelve stacks, now only seven and soon even less. The elements are breaking them down and all too soon they may disappear entirely. However, there are more and more rock formations breaking away from the mainland and creating new spectacles.

You cannot get down to the beach with ease or safety. But there are large boardwalks, viewing platforms and a visitors center here. Sunset is the best time to view the surrounding area for color and interest, but any time of the day is worth a visit.

Lochard Gorge, Razorback, the Arch and the Grotto

Just up the road are more sights to see, the Razorback, the Arch, London Bridge (all thought that has now collapsed), and the Grotto. Just a few of the spots to visit and be wowed by the views. It’s pretty incredible to think that many of these cliffs, beaches and more claimed so many shipwrecks. It is beautiful but so rugged and dangerous. granted many of these require walking down lots of steps to reach the bottom, but many also have vantage points from above.

Bay of Martyrs & Bay of Islands

One of my favorite spots is the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands. You can actually get to the beach and explore the rockpools and walk along the coast in spots.

Bay of Martyrs

Boat Ramp Bay is a fabulous spot for Sunset

So if you are ever visiting Down Under and are planning a trip to Victoria, don’t forget to add the Great Ocean Road to your bucket list. I promise you won’t forget it. Oh, and we have found the best time we had visited was late November and early December. But pretty much any time of the year and you will see amazing scenery.

Leave a Comment