10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on The Great Ocean Road
Renowned as one of the world's greatest road trips, The Great Ocean Road hugs 300 kilometers of Victoria's dramatic coastline from Torquay to Portland. Sheer cliffs drop to rolling surf beaches dotted with unique rock formations, lush green forests line the hinterland, and elegant villages reflect the rich history of the area. Built in the 1930s to help provide employment for return servicemen during the Depression, the road is not only an engineering feat - it's a memorial to those who lost their lives during World War I.
The official start of The Great Ocean Road, Torquay is Australia's surfing headquarters. Every Easter, the world's best surfers descend on the region to ride the perfect waves at Bells Beach in the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition. Additionally, sheltered beaches offer opportunities for beginning surfers with lessons available. The grassy foreshores are the perfect spot for a picnic, and the main street is lined with eclectic galleries and cafés. The Surf World Museum, the largest in the world, offers an insight into the history and development of this popular water sport.
2 Port Campbell National Park
Rugged seas, dramatic limestone rock sculptures, and tales of seafaring days make this area popular with tourists. Dominating this treacherous stretch of coast is the Twelve Apostles - a majestic series of rocks rising from the water. As the most photographed attractions along the road, there are many vantage points as well as other rock formations to explore. Memorials at Loch Ard Gorge tell the dramatic story of how two young people survived the wreck of the namesake ship. The once-natural rock formation archway named London Bridge is living testament to the constant erosion of the area. In 1990, part of the bridge collapsed spectacularly into the sea, leaving the two ends, but no middle. The Arch is a particularly good spot to look back at the Twelve Apostles, while the calmness of the still water at The Grotto, a naturally formed cave, contrasts with the wild backdrop of the ocean.
3 Cape Otway Fly
Hidden from the world in the treetops, the Cape Otway Fly is located a short drive from the beautiful village of Apollo Bay at the midpoint of The Great Ocean Road. Opened in 2003, suspended 47 meters high and 600 meters long, the Treetop Walk is the longest and highest walk of its kind in the world. For an extra adrenalin rush, there is also a Zip Line Tour that sees thrill seekers zooming through the air, stopping at a series of 'cloud stations' for three and a half hours.
For more than a century, Lorne has been one of Australia's most popular seaside resorts. Sheltered by the Otway Ranges, this Mediterranean style village has the best of everything - the sea, river, and rainforest. Walking trails along the Cumberland River contrast with the rugged coastline. Nearby Erskine Falls are a must for naturalists. The cascading falls are set amidst an ancient fern and eucalypt forest. Lorne is also renowned for its elegant country house accommodation.
5 Golfing with Kangaroos
Anglesea is a beautiful seaside village with a difference. Golfers have the chance to share one of Australia's most picturesque golf courses with the local residents - 300 kangaroos. Nestled into native bushland, the 18 hole golf course is a great place to see kangaroos in their natural habitat. Lazing under the eucalyptus trees and over the fairways, they certainly bring another dimension to a game of golf. The kangaroos are particularly active in the early morning and late afternoon, and the course is open to tourists.
6 Great Ocean Walk
Considered one of the ultimate walks of Australia, The Great Ocean Walk starts at Apollo Bay and stretches 100 kilometers along the most spectacular coastal area of The Great Ocean Road. There are several ways to enjoy the beauty of this designated trail. The most challenging way for tourists involves carrying gear, pitching a tent, and cooking over a campfire. Several walking companies, both local and international, offer fully or semi-guided three to seven day itineraries of the track inclusive of food, accommodation, and luggage transportation. Alternatively, day trips can be taken from Apollo Bay or Port Campbell to cover the sightseeing highlights of the track.
7 Warrnambool Whale Watching
As the largest town in the district, Warrnambool blends the services of a city with a country. With a variety of beaches and excellent scuba diving opportunities, the town is a popular summertime destination. However, one of the biggest attractions to Warrnambool happens during winter - whale watching. The viewing platforms at Logan's Beach overlook the playground of southern right whales as they give birth and raise their calves, often just meters from the shoreline.
8 Tower Hill Volcano
Situated 15 kilometers west of Warrnambool, Tower Hill is an experience not to be overlooked. Steeped in history, this inactive volcano erupted 30,000 years ago unearthing Aboriginal artefacts, which indicate indigenous life in the area at that time. Today, it's possible to drive down the inside of the crater where an abundance of Australian animals live, including koalas, kangaroos, and emus.
9 Port Fairy and the Folk Festival
Home of the Port Fairy Folk Festival held in March each year, this pretty fishing village is a center for the arts. Historic, whitewashed cottages have been transformed into galleries and artist's studios. An abundance of elegant restaurants and B&B's line the main street, and the busy fishing port is a photographer's dream.
Officially at the 'other end' of The Great Ocean Road, founded in 1834, Portland was Victoria's first European settlement. For visitors interested in historic buildings, Portland boasts more than 200 National Trust-classified properties. A self-guided walking tour brochure is available from the local tourist information center. As a major deep sea port, a flourishing fish industry guarantees an abundance of seafood straight from the fishing fleet or anglers can hook a fish from the pier.