Guide to the Great Ocean Road

There are few sights in the world as spectacular as those along the Great Ocean Road. This meandering route carves its way around the southern coast of Australia and boasts some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery and exciting activities.

The History of the Great Ocean Road

Before the Road

Back in olden times, before the iconic Great Ocean Road, the coastal region was a rough terrain of bushland and jagged rocks. Hidden within this wild region were early settlement towns, located right next to the coastal seashore. Travelling to the towns took weeks if not months depending on where travellers started from. With the thick terrain or rocks and trees made it difficult for carriages or any large machines to travel smoothly. Majority of the time, ships were used instead, to skip the laborious land journey.

The Reason for the Great Ocean Road

Because of such painstaking journey through the coast, the towns had very few visitors. Because of this, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, the mayor of the nearby town Geelong, who proposed a new way into the area. The road would be good for three reasons, first, it would give an easy path in and out of the coastal area and towns. Second, it would create a better tourism industry for the region. And Thirdly, it would be a way to employ the returning soldiers from World War I.

It’s Construction

Nowadays, the Great Ocean Road is a smooth, wide, concrete path, but back in the day, it started a lot rockier. The road’s creation was a backbreaking task, with the cliffs made out of severely hard stone. There was no heavy machinery to help with the work, so it was merely the workers digging and hacking away at the rocks. Out of the 3000 men who were apart of the development, 2300 of them were returning soldiers from the War. The soldiers honoured their fallen mates who sacrificed themselves in the war while coming together to deal with their tragedies. The entire road took 14 years to create, starting in 1918 and opening on 26 November 1932.

Why You Should Visit Great Ocean Road?

Surf the Beaches

Bells Beach

The beaches along the Great Ocean Road are some of the best in Australia. Bringing the best surfers from around the world to Australia’s shores. Even if you aren’t a surfer, you can enjoy the soft sand and epic wildlife dotting the region. The first stop along this 244km road is Bells Beach, which lies a little over an hour out of Melbourne and is the perfect place to start your trip, get your blood pumping and your surfboards out as the world-famous swells of Southern Australia roll onto the warm sand. Other noteworthy spots along the way include the Black Nose Point, Portland, Torquay and Lorne’s and Apollo Bay’s main beaches. Surfing lessons are available at most of these stops, as well as sky diving and snorkelling, and of course, you’re welcome to lay back on the beach with a good book and cold drink in your hand to start off your trip feeling relaxed.

See the Heritage Sights

12 Apostles

The Great Ocean Road is not the only historic story within this region, with many exceptional tales hidden in the landmarks and natural wonders. The 12 Apostles, which is one of the region’s most visited areas. This is not man-made, but completely natural, a series of glorious limestone stacks emerging from the choppy seas. They were created by millions of years of erosion, once apart of the mainland coast, but now banished out to the shallow shores. Visit the site and see how impressive these rock formations are as they loom over the beach land.  Another heritage site, Split Point Lighthouse is definitely worth a visit, being a part of the coastal horizon since 1890. With this iconic lighthouse offering tours to the top of the building as well as the opportunity to take a memorable photo with a perfect backdrop of the rich blue ocean.

Spot the Wildlife

Koalas

Not only does this incredible journey provide an amazing coastal drive past Australia’s most beautiful beaches, but the chance to explore the natural parks on the other side of the road. The Great Otway National Park covers an area of over 103 000 hectares and the tours here will take you to see ancient rainforests and splendid waterfalls. Campsites can be found in several locations in the park for a great place to stop and spend a night under the stars to make your trip a 2-day event.

Learn about the Shipwreck Coast

Loch Ard Gorge

The Great Ocean Road has another section apart of the winding area; the Shipwreck Coast, as it has been the end to many ships in the past, with hundreds sinking after hitting its rough rocky shores. In fact, out of the 130km stretch of land, there have been around 700 shipwrecks in these treacherous waters. The Loch Ard Gorge is by far the most famous shipwreck region, being named after a famous shipwreck in 1878. The sheer cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge and the famous 12 Apostles can be found along this coast, these stacks of ocean-carved limestone are a breathtaking sight to behold and the perfect place to finish your journey with a spectacular sunset. With these unforgettable rock formations standing 70m out of the ocean, the scenery displays a coast so unique that this alone makes the entire drive worthwhile.

Visit the Towns along Great Ocean Road

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is a friendly town with local shops, art galleries, and laidback cafes. The region is a perfect blend of wildlife and town, neighbouring epic waterfalls and impressive rainforests. If you are a nature lover looking for hiking trails or perfect camping sites, Apollo Bay is for you!  Perfect for endless walks in the dripping rainforest region, or romantic strolls along the sprawling white-sand beaches.

Lorne

Lorne

Lorne is another worthwhile town to stop into. Being one of the main towns along the Great Ocean Road. As it is a big tourist stop, there is plenty to do, with restaurants, bars, hotels, and fun activities lining the main strip. It also is home to a fabulous beach, that is swarming with both locals and tourists every summer.

There is truly no better way to see all that Australia has to offer than a trip along the Great Ocean Road.

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