Discovering the Beauty of the Bay of Islands

Along the Great Ocean Road, there are plenty of places to stop off and enjoy the spectacular views. The Bay of Islands is one of these places. Stretching out across 32 kilometres along the coast of Victoria between Peterborough and Warrnambool, it offers astounding ocean views and a collection of fascinating geological features.

Here, you can soak up a landscape that is packed full of sheer cliffs and unusual rock stacks, as well as sprawling heathland that is peppered with colourful wildflower displays.

While the beaches are accessible at certain points along this stretch of coastline, the most popular thing to do is admire the stunning sea views. Keep your eyes peeled for the colony of rare black-faced cormorants. The Bay of Islands is home to the only marine cormorant nest in Victoria. You also have the chance to spot a variety of rare plant life, which includes the spectacular sun orchid and the delightfully scented spider orchid.

The area is traditionally Aboriginal, and the parkland is still owned by the Aboriginal people who have lived here for centuries. They still practice age-old traditions and maintain their strong connection to the land and water that occupies this part of the country. Nowadays, they work in conjunction with the local councils and government to ensure that the Bay of Islands is protected for generations to come. Understand the importance of the land to the Indigenous Australian community and learning about the history of the area can be done by taking heritage walks, or reading the displays along the Great Ocean Road.

Bay of Islands

Viewing Areas at Bay of Islands

There are two viewing platforms at the Bay of Islands, where you can marvel at the surrounding scenery.

The first one can be found around 120m from the designated car park and is accessed via a secondary path. Here, you’ll be greeted with a timber deck and amazing views out to sea.

The second viewing area, which is also the most popular, can be found about 140m from the car park and is accessed via the main path. Again, you’ll be greeted by a timber deck which is slightly larger than the first and offers even more uninterrupted views.

Things to See at the Bay of Islands:

Wild Dog Cove

Wild Dog Cove sits along the coast new Peterborough Golf Course. It boasts a secluded beach which is perfect for paddling and rock pooling.

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs is a tourist hotspot provides visitors with a stunning swathe of beach and a number of viewing areas. There’s a guided walk along the top of the cliffs, and you can spot the Falls of Halladale shipwreck which dates back to 1908. Limestone stacks are visible in the water which is said by some to be the guardians of the land of the lost Aboriginal souls who were murdered by European settlers.

Massacre Point and Massacre Bay

Named after a rumour that said Europeans killed a group of local Aboriginals, this Bay surrounds some nearby wetlands and offers some great scenic views. The name derives from the story of how Aboriginals were sent to their deaths from the rocky cliffs into the water below by European settlers.

The Town of Peterborough

Not far away from the Bay of Islands is the town of Peterborough, founded after the Schomberg was wrecked in the area in the 19th century. The town itself is well known for its 9-hole golf course that boasts amazing ocean views for golfers. The area surrounded Peterborough has a high level of shipwrecks which is evident by the names of the bays in Peterborough named after the ships. The town is also close by to the 12 Apostles and London Arch, a perfect base for families who are exploring the Great Ocean Road.

Bay of Martyrs Trail

Bay of Martyrs Trail

Just 6 kilometres outside of Peterborough, a secluded beach looks out onto limestone stacks, guardians of the water. The lookout to the Bay of Martyrs is a 15-metre walk to the parking and is wheelchair accessible. The Bay of Martyrs Trail is a 4-kilometre walking trail that takes around 2 hours for a circuit. It begins at the Peterborough Golf Course and continues along to Halladale Point where the wreckage of the Falls of Halladale lies. The walk eventually leads you to the Bay of Martyrs. This hidden gem is especially striking at sunset!

Cheese World, Warrnambool

In 1888, farmers in the small town of Allansford made the decision to establish a butter factory, and then later on in the 19th century, cheesemaking began at the factory. The present-day building is the third built on the site, and the factory began selling directly to consumers in 1986 when they opened Cheese World. The cellar door sells a range of farm and everyday items, as well as cheese not only from their factory but from other local and state-wide cheese makers. You’ll even get to sample some of the Warrnambool Heritage Cheddar Range on offer at the outlet.

The Wreckage of the Falls of Halladale

The Falls of Halladale was an iron barque that was built in 1886. It was advanced for it’s time when it sailed out in 1908, 102 days out of New York. Travelling in the midst of a dense fog, the barque directly hits the rocks due to a navigational failure. All 29 crew members safely made it off board, however the boat itself, which was carrying around 2800 tonnes of cargo, couldn’t be saved. Instead, crowds of people came to sit on the rocks and watch the ship slowly break away. These days, curious divers can swim amongst the wreck and explore the remainder of the ship.

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