After three days of travel through the Grampians Mountains, we made a beeline for the coast to begin our next adventure: driving The Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km road that connects Warrnambool (in the West) to Torquay (in the East) along the Southern coast of Victoria. Whale watching is Warrnambool's claim to fame, but with nature there are no guarantees. We headed out to the viewing area and watched surfers brave terrifying waves, in the hopes of glimpsing a whale. After 2 hours, we headed back to the car park disappointed about the lack of whales, but excited about the day ahead.
And so it began, our first day of driving The Great Ocean Road. The road winds along the coastline and is often nestled between the foot of a mountain and a drop-off into the sea. The landscape changes along the way and features sea cliffs, tranquil little beaches, rainforests and a bit of inland-mountain driving. Pay attention to wildlife crossing signs, alerting you to both slow down and grab your camera, as you may see an emus or koala along the road.
The area around Port Campbell is sight after sight of natural wonders. So, we decided to overnight there and take our time seeing the most popular attractions on the road: The Grotto, The London Arch, and the Twelve Apostles. All of the features along the Port Campbell stretch of road are rock formations (limestone and sandstone) created by natural weathering and erosion. The Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone stacks clustered in close proximity to one another. There is a Twelve Apostles Visitors Centre with access to a wooden boardwalk for viewing (or one can venture down the Gibson steps to checkout the view from the shoreline). As I stood marveling at nature from the boardwalk, an apostle crumbled and disappeared into the surf. That night, we celebrated a toast to the fallen Apostle while enjoying an Italian feast in a small café in Port Campbell.
Driving East from Port Campbell, we ventured into Otway National Park to walk along The Otway Fly, an elevated (25 meters) canopy walkway through a temperate rainforest. The drive after Otway is dotted with lookouts and sign-posted photo areas. Koalas are often spotted along this stretch of the road. Passing through small fishing towns, the two-lane road offers unimaginable views of the ocean. Stopping in Lorne for lunch and a trip to Erskine Falls, we arrived in Torquay, home of both Quiksilver and Rip Curl, for a quick outlet-shopping trip and a stroll along the famous Bells Beach. Then, it was onto the Geelong airport to return to reality. A short-trip along the Great Ocean Road is a spectacular getaway. If you have a longer vacation, consider looping your way from Melbourne, through the Grampians to Warrnambool and driving The Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne. Safe Travels!