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Great Ocean Road – South Australia, Australia

Great Ocean Road
South Australia, Australia

At the Start of the Great Ocean Road
At the Start of the Great Ocean Road
As much an Australian icon as the kangaroo, the Great Ocean Road is a staple item in the itinerary of any tourist visiting Oz. One of the most visited attractions in all of Australia, the road begins near Torquay, about 100 kilometers west of Melbourne. It twists and bends along the rugged coastline for several kilometers slightly past Warrnambool, revealing scenery and views unrivaled throughout the world.

Being such a tremendous tourist attraction, there are plenty of companies out there willing to take you for a spin down the highway, however I doubt there’s any better way to experience the road then driving it yourself. Group tours don’t always allow for a comfortable experience as they have a deadline to meet. Renting your own car allows you to go at your own pace and take in the Great Ocean Road as it was really meant to be experienced.

For all those willing to get behind their own wheel, here are a few helpful hints to get you going and on your way to one of the greatest drives of your life.

Chances are if you’re renting a car, you’re going to be coming from Melbourne. Drive up in the evening and spend the night in Geelong, a town just a few kilometers from the start of the Great Ocean Road. Get an early start the next day and head to an information center in either Geelong or Torquay. The employees at both are extremely helpful and there are free maps and books about points of interest to make sure you’re headed the right way.

Driving the Great Ocean Road can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It all depends on your chosen pace. My trip took me about 6 hours one way. We stopped at the majority of the points of interest, lingered for a bit, and had a sit down lunch. For me, it was the perfect amount of time. Others will be more prone to drive straight through and others still will want to take more time out, perhaps go for a surf, spend an afternoon at the beach, or spend a few nights along the way. The beauty of it is, it’s all up to you.

At the end of the day, most of the stops along the road are spectacular and are worth pulling off for, but there’s a few in particular I highly recommend. Not far from Torquay is Bells Beach. If you are keen on surfing in the slightest or want to see some of the best in action, stop off here. Bells Beach is world renowned for the sport. It’s where the Australian National Surfing Championships are held. Farther up at Airey’s Inlet, stop for a moment at the lighthouse. It’s good for a Kodak moment and nice view. From there to get a little different scenery, stop at the Angahook Lorne State Forest. It covers close to 20 kilometers of the road. But just prior to the park is the official archway commemorating the Great Ocean Road and its builders. You couldn’t ask for a better picture op.

View from the Great Ocean Road
View from the Great Ocean Road
The next big stop is Lorne where you might want to take some time and explore. Head up to the Erskine Falls, just a few kilometers off the road. It’s worth a see. From there, Apollo Bay is close to a 50 kilometer drive. After exploring, drive on towards Lavers Hill and Port Campbell.

Coming up is the major stop no one wants to miss: the Twelve Apostles, which now, over time, have become a crumbling eight. The eight which remain however are beyond impressive. Prepare to spend a lot of time just standing in awe of the natural wonders. Being a common flocking ground for tourists, there’s a large car park, facilities, and wonderfully built wooden viewing platforms perfect to get your ideal picture. If you’re feeling a little ritzy and enjoy heights, take a spin around the Apostles in a helicopter. You’ll see where to buy those flights from the road. It’s impossible to miss.

Slightly past the Twelve Apostles are the Arch and the London Bridge. Both are worth seeing so don’t quit your drive after the main attraction. From there though things seem to wind down and you’re practically done.

As said before, there are many other things worth seeing on the Great Ocean Road, most of which are just spectacular views you simply happen upon. No matter what itinerary you choose, you’ll be sure to see some of the most beautiful sights in the world. From there all that’s left to say is buckle your seatbelts, stay to the left, and happy driving!

For more information visit: www2.visitvictoria.com
The site offers maps, directions, and phone numbers and locations of all the information centers along the Great Ocean Road.

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