Bay of Martyrs: History and Nature on the Great Ocean Road

The Bay of Martyrs forms a part of the Bay of Islands Coastal Park, a 32 kilometre stretch of coastal reserve in Victoria along the Great Ocean Road. The region is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the country, promising rich history, vibrant culture, and even better views. There are plenty of lookout areas to enjoy along this stretch of coastline, particularly at sunset when the sky turns a milky pink.

There is a fascinating history surrounding this part of Victoria, which is alluded to in the place names of other bays and lookout points – Massacre Bay, Massacre Point, Bay of Martyrs. According to stories that have spanned generations, Europeans killed a large group of Karrae-Wurrong Aboriginal men here. They did so by running them off the cliffs, whilst the women and children were supposedly killed in a swamp that is close by.

However, there are many contradicting stories and, more importantly, no written evidence of what happened. All that is known is that the population of Aboriginal people dropped from a few thousand to almost none. Some theories believe this was caused by mass migration, but local folklore has other ideas.

What to See at the Bay of Martyrs

Most people head to the Bay of Martyrs to catch a glimpse of the spectacular views, which encompass lush cliff faces, sprawling beaches, and sparkling waters.

There is also a vibrant wildlife population here, which is predominantly made up of birds. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot emu-wrens, honeyeaters, and the very rare bristlebird. There are also peregrine falcons that glide above the cliff-tops, pelicans, an array of duck species, black swans, and penguins that hang out near the shoreline.

At the site itself, you can start a picturesque, self-guided walk that takes you along the breath-taking cliff tops all the way to Point Halladale, where you can discover the shipwreck of the Falls of Halladale which dates back to the early 1900s.

There is also ample opportunity for beach walks at the Bay of Martyrs. The lush sands and glistening waters provide the perfect backdrop to a leisurely stroll, or even a picnic on the beach in the shelter of the cliffs.

The Bay of Martyrs is by far one of the most beautiful spots along the Great Ocean Road, so take some time to explore its stunning scenery and its fascinating history.

Visit the Bay of Martyrs on our 2 Day Great Ocean Road Tour.

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