The Great Ocean Road runs from Torquay to Warrnambool in Victoria, southern Australia. It is frequently featured in lists with titles such as ‘the greatest road trips’ or ‘the world’s most scenic routes’. And it definitely deserves to be on each of those lists. The Great Ocean Road is only about 250 kilometres long, but is a truly spectacular road.
It runs from the world-class surf beaches around Torquay through the eucalypt forests of Otway National Park towards the majestic Twelve Apostles. It’s an incredibly diverse landscape.
Beaches and koalas on the Great Ocean Road
I drove the Great Ocean Road in 2012, after looping around Tasmania and before crossing the vast Nullarbor Plain. I spend two full days driving, camping and exploring. I started my trip on a Friday night in Torquay with a party. This resulted in a later start of the actual road trip on Saturday morning. I spent some time relaxing and ‘resting’ on the beach in the morning. My road trip began around noon.
The Great Ocean Road was built by WWI veterans after the war, as a government project to employ unemployed soldiers. It is also a memorial to the fallen soldiers in the First World War and in fact the largest war memorial in the world.
It is suggested to drive it in a westward direction. Because of the fact that you drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia, this way you will be on the side of the ocean all the time. After leaving the beaches of Torquay, I soon found myself amidst the lush green forests of Cape Otway National Park. There are some pretty great views there and I would definitely recommend to take a detour on the smaller roads through the park. There’s great koala spotting!
This stretch of the Great Ocean Road was my favorite; the forests on the right side of the road and white beaches on the left. I pulled into a rest area in the National Park, grabbed my gas-fueled stove and cooked up a meal. It was brilliant.
After dinner I headed to Apollo Bay where I parked my rental car in a car park and went to sleep. I always loved sleeping in my car…
The second day was less sunny, but warm and more humid. The target for the day was Port Campbell National Park with its massive cliffs and a couple of famous natural landmarks.
The Twelve Apostles are one of the icons of Australia. They are essentially a collection of large limestone pillars, left behind in the Southern Ocean by the retreating coastal cliffs. There aren’t actually twelve pillars anymore by the way. After one of them – known as Judas – collapsed in 2008, there are now eight of them left. They are a spectacular sight nonetheless, especially around sunset and even more so at sunrise, when the area is practically deserted.
This entire stretch of coastline is breathtaking. While the Twelve Apostles are by the most popular and famous, there are in fact many more cliffs, pillars, rocks and caves you can see in and around Port Campbell National Park. I explored as many of them as I could in one day.
It is a truly beautiful road and I would even say that two days aren’t enough to make the most of your time there. Looking back, I still feel that I should have stayed a little longer. No regrets though, thinking about the Great Ocean Road brings back only good memories!