GREAT OCEAN ROAD
There probably couldn't have been a better place where to start our Australian road trip than driving the scenic Great Ocean Road, listed among the world's most beautiful drives. The notorious road is 243 km long and stretches between cities of Torquay (104 km from Melbourne) and Allansford in the state of Victoria.
Being so close to Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road receives a large number of one day visitors, but you can also easily split the drive into couple days with plenty of accommodation options along the way. Ideally, rent a car and self-drive the whole stretch of the road. First of all, you'll be fully in charge of your itinerary so you'll be able to plan your day and stops accordingly and secondly, it will also give you the advantage to pick the best traveling time and avoid crowds. If you cannot or don't want to rent a car, do not despair, you can still enjoy it in its full glory. One option is to check message boards in hostels, people very often look for travel mates who would share fuel cost, or you can go with a tour - there is an uncountable number of bus companies.
We spent one whole day along this coastal drive as there was no need to rush at all. Speed limit anyway varies between 50 km/h to 100 km/h, and switchbacks prevent drivers from speeding. We took breaks very often, and to be honest, we can't see how some people are able to make the trip in one day from Melbourne all the way along the Great Ocean Road and back. While the absolute majority of visitors drive the road to savor the incredible scenery, you should be still aware that it is a common road and it is necessary to pay attention and follow traffic rules.
What's the story behind the construction of the Great Ocean Road? The road is war's memorial built by approximately 3000 return servicemen between 1919 and 1932 reminiscent and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I.
What we loved the most about the drive was the feeling of freedom emphasized by the ubiquitous ocean, waves, cliffs, and sun. Another plus was that we could have stopped (almost) whenever we wanted, and often the best places with the most fantastic views were not even marked on the map. Let's have a look at the list of the Great Ocean Road highlights.
Split Point Lighthouse
Fabulous and long ahead seen from the main road, this historic lighthouse also offers stunning views from its top, 66 meters above sea level. You can make a reservation for a guided tour. A short bush walk leads to the point with views over the inlet.
These were probably one of our favorites. They emerged behind every turn unexpectedly, so we always pulled over the road and took a photo break. Some of the viewpoints are more known and were named, some are no name spots, but to be honest, it didn't matter to us, we enjoyed every single one. Be aware of sneaky overgrown ants in the area and look under your feet. They bit us badly.
A short detour from the main road took us to the southernmost point of the Great Ocean Road region. By the way, this lighthouse is Australia's oldest working one. The highlight for us was the drive itself because we could see koalas in the treetops.
Just before 12 Apostles make your way down (86 steps carved into the cliff) to admire 70 meters high limestone from the nearby beach and be drifted away by the power of the ocean hitting cliffs. If you decide to walk further on the beach, keep in mind the tide, otherwise, you could be cut off on the way back.
No doubt, this is the most famous attraction along the GOR, and even though we saw it many times before on pictures, we were awe-struck anyway. Although nowadays there are only 8 Apostles left (the ninth collapsed in 2005), it is still incredible show to watch. The extreme ocean weather conditions caused limestone cliffs erosion 10 - 20 million years ago of the mainland forming the isolated (45 meters above sea level high) limestone formations.
Also known as London Arch, this is a natural rock formation once connected to the shore, but the first span connected to mainland collapsed in 1990 leaving the only isolated arch in the ocean.