Exploring the Great Ocean Road
A Caravanner’s Guide to One of Australia’s Most Scenic Routes
The Great Ocean Road is not just a pathway but a journey into Australia’s heart. Stretching 243 kilometres along the tempestuous southern coast, this iconic route is a tapestry of Australia’s most unbridled beauty. From the chorus of crashing waves to the silent serenades of ancient forests, every turn invites wonder. As the sea salt fills the air and eucalyptus whispers tales of old, you’re not merely driving; you’re experiencing the very soul of the continent. Join us as we delve into 10 stops that embody the spirit and splendour of this unforgettable expedition.
1. Torquay – The Surf Capital’s Heartbeat
At the inception of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay stands as a testament to Australia’s deep-rooted surf culture. The majestic Bells Beach beckons, its towering waves a dream for surfers worldwide. Dive into the sport’s legacy at the Surf World Museum, where tales of oceanic bravery and evolution echo. Crave a tangible piece of this culture? Ghanda and Rip Curl shops satiate with iconic gear. Quench your thirst with craft brews at Bells Beach Brewing or indulge in ocean-side dining at Growlers, where every bite is complemented by stunning sea vistas. For caravanners, the Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park offers beachfront spots, ensuring you’re lulled to sleep by the rhythmic dance of waves against the shore.
2. Anglesea – A Tapestry of Nature and Comfort
Resting further along the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea is a harmonious blend of tranquility and vibrancy. At the heart of its charm is the Anglesea Golf Club, where golf is interspersed with unique encounters, as curious kangaroos roam freely among the greens. Seek a caffeine fix? Four Kings Coffee crafts beverages that encapsulate the town’s spirit, warm and inviting. For those with a penchant for fresh, organic fare, The Last One In offers an idyllic backdrop and scrumptious food. Caravanners can find solace at the Anglesea Family Caravan Park, merging coastal beauty with modern amenities, making it a prime spot to anchor amidst nature’s embrace.
3. Lorne – Where Elegance Meets Wild
Lorne, a gem along the Great Ocean Road, masterfully blends nature’s grandeur with cultural sophistication. The cascading beauty of Erskine Falls serves as a mesmerising backdrop, while downtown, the town pulsates with artistic flair. Dive into literary adventures at Lorne Beach Books or witness the region’s creativity at Qdos Arts gallery. Food aficionados will revel in the delectable burgers at Bottle of Milk and the scenic gastronomic experience at Lorne Larder. For caravanners, Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park offers prime locations, positioning you amidst Lorne’s natural and cultural wonders.
4. Apollo Bay – The Coastal Symphony
Nestled along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay orchestrates a captivating blend of local culture and coastal charm. Every Saturday, the foreshore market comes alive, offering an array of handcrafted goods and regional delights. Savour the freshest seafood at Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant, or sink into the warm ambiance of Hello Coffee for a caffeine serenade. Music enthusiasts, mark your calendars for the annual Apollo Bay Music Festival, a crescendo of rhythms and tunes. For caravanners, the Apollo Bay Foreshore Reserve provides picturesque sites, ensuring you’re at the heart of this coastal concert.
5. Maits Rest Rainforest Walk – Nature’s Secret Corridor
Tucked away from the coastal bustle of the Great Ocean Road, Maits Rest promises an intimate communion with nature. This ancient rainforest, with its verdant canopy and cool understory, beckons visitors into a world where time seems to stand still.
The Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is a self-guided circuit that winds through a selection of Mother Nature’s most exquisite handiwork. Massive myrtle beeches, their roots entrenched in centuries past, reach skyward, their leaves whispering stories of ages gone by. Ferns and mosses carpet the forest floor, creating a green tapestry underfoot. Once your walk concludes, consider stopping by The Shoppe located a short drive away. It’s an ideal spot to rejuvenate with a hot beverage or pick up a local souvenir to remember your rainforest adventure.
For caravanners, the nearby Aire River East Campground offers a serene location to set up camp. With the gentle sound of the river in the background and the rainforest at your doorstep, it’s the perfect spot to relax and reflect on your Maits Rest experience.
6. Port Campbell – The Timeless Maritime Charm
Port Campbell, with its sheltered bay and historic charm, is a haven for both nature enthusiasts and history buffs. Towering limestone structures of the Twelve Apostles stand sentinel, a breathtaking natural wonder that seems to defy time itself. The town’s maritime heritage is palpably felt at the Port Campbell Discovery Walk, where tales of ancient shipwrecks and brave sailors come alive. Culinary delights await at Forage on the Foreshore with its locally-sourced dishes that capture the essence of sea and land. And if you crave a moment of reflection with a cuppa, Grassroots Deli Cafe offers tranquility with every sip. Caravanners can anchor at Port Campbell Holiday Park, offering views that are a harmonious blend of the village’s charm and the wild Southern Ocean.
7. Twelve Apostles – Majestic Nature’s Craft
The Twelve Apostles stand as an enduring testament to the relentless forces of nature and time. Towering against the backdrop of the Southern Ocean’s fierce waves, these limestone pillars are one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. Yet, despite their name, only eight of these colossal formations remain, a reminder of nature’s perpetual dance of creation and erosion.
Once you’ve feasted your eyes on this marvel, indulge your palate at The Apostles Whey Cheese. Just a short drive away, this dairy haven churns out some of the region’s finest cheeses. Relish in the creamy textures and robust flavors, each bite echoing the rich pastoral heritage of the region.
Caravanners can find comfort at the Princetown Recreation Reserve, offering a blend of convenience and proximity to these natural wonders, ensuring you have a front-row seat to nature’s awe-inspiring performances.
8. Loch Ard Gorge – Nature’s Dramatic Theatre
Loch Ard Gorge, with its towering cliffs and azure waters, tells a tale of beauty entwined with tragedy. Named after the “Loch Ard” clipper that tragically shipwrecked in 1878, the gorge stands as a poignant reminder of the sea’s unpredictable nature. Of the 54 souls onboard, only two survived, casting a somber shade over this otherwise breathtaking spot.
Yet, nature’s artistry shines through. The play of light on the waters, the rhythmic dance of waves against the cliffs, all create a mesmerizing tableau.
A short distance away, Gorge Chocolates awaits with its handcrafted delights. Indulge in their sumptuous offerings, the perfect pick-me-up as you traverse the Great Ocean Road. For those with caravans, Port Campbell Holiday Park offers a convenient and scenic spot to recharge and reflect on the gorge’s haunting beauty.
9. Warrnambool – Coastal City’s Charm
Concluding the iconic journey of the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool is a blend of maritime history and contemporary allure. Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village beckons with tales of shipwrecks and old-world charm, painting a vivid picture of the region’s bygone era. Food enthusiasts will find solace at Pippies by the Bay, where the symphony of flavors mirrors the city’s vibrant coastal energy. Each dish, curated with local ingredients, promises a culinary journey of its own.
For those with a penchant for dairy delights, the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory is a must-visit. Indulge in their array of cheeses and buttery concoctions, each bite echoing the region’s rich dairy traditions. Caravanners seeking to extend their stay can park at the Warrnambool Holiday Park, offering top-notch facilities against the backdrop of this enchanting coastal city. A perfect spot to reminisce about your Great Ocean Road odyssey.
10. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures – Sky-High Thrills
Deep in the heart of the Otway Ranges, an exhilarating experience awaits. At Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, you’re not just walking; you’re soaring. Elevated 30 meters above the forest floor, this canopy walkway offers an unparalleled perspective of the ancient rainforest. As you meander along the steel-framed path, feel the thrill of being amidst the towering tree giants, breathing in the crisp eucalyptus-scented air and listening to the forest’s whispered secrets.
After your heady treetop walk, descend to earthy pleasures at the Brewery at the Otways. Nestled within the lush forest, this brewery serves refreshments that capture the spirit of the Otways. Whether it’s a chilled lager or a hoppy ale, each sip offers a refreshing contrast to your sky-high adventure.
For caravanners, the nearby Bimbi Park Camping Under Koalas offers a serene spot amidst nature. Surrounded by eucalyptus trees and frequent koala sightings, it’s the perfect location to conclude your Great Ocean Road journey.