Home Discoverist x CR 7 Iconic Places to Visit on Your Great Ocean Road Drive
Home Discoverist x CR 7 Iconic Places to Visit on Your Great Ocean Road Drive

7 Iconic Places to Visit on Your Great Ocean Road Drive

-

A gentle breeze assails your face and flows through your hair as miles of paved asphalt ticks by, the songs on your radio keeping you company for what seems like an unending drive. This scenario pretty much depicts the quintessential component of a great road trip experience — the drive itself.

And when you’re speaking of great road trips, accompanying imagery of picturesque landscapes on one side, as well as an equally enchanting ocean horizon on the other comes to mind. Specifically, coastal roads are some of the best routes to experience a magical road journey.

Melbourne’s Great Ocean Road 

Among the myriad of postcard-worthy coastal routes in the world, Melbourne’s own Great Ocean Road is one of the most well-known. The century-old stretch of road spans 243-kilometres along the southeastern coast of Australia, starting from the Victorian city of Torquay and ends in Allansford near Warrnambool.

That’s not all, the lengthy road also serves as the world’s largest war memorial, built by returning soldiers from WWI in dedication to their fallen comrades. But nowadays, the Melbourne Great Ocean Road is synonymous with tourism as it transforms into one of Australia’s most popular touring routes while attracting visitors in the millions each year.

It’s definitely easy to see why.

Winding through the varying terrain along the coast provides one with access to several prominent landmarks. Of note, there are several attractions that warrant a visit, even if it means taking a detour from your initial route. Here are seven iconic places to visit on your Great Ocean Road tour.

1. Bells Beach

Situated near the beginning of your journey, Bells Beach in Torquay serves as the perfect introduction to your wonderful road trip adventure.

The world-famous beach is known for its massive swells which cycle one after another into a large bay overlooked by several viewing platforms. And true to its rep as a surfer’s paradise, Bells Beach attracts plenty of surfing enthusiasts from around the world, especially during its Ripcurl Bells Pro event held each year.

Here, you may even learn how to surf — a handy skill as there are tons of beaches yet to come on your journey. Otherwise, other beach-based activities may be expected. These include snorkelling, strolling along the coast, or simply downing a cold one on a hot summer’s day.

As for its atmosphere, all we can say is “ultra chill”. Bells Beach is almost always filled with Kombi vans, transients, nomads, and just your average cool surfers hanging about. Surf’s up, dudes.

2. Aireys Inlet

View this post on Instagram

Located between Anglesea and Lorne is Aireys Inlet, a quaint seaside town in Victoria. This was our first stop on the Great Ocean Road tour – definitely a hidden gem! Ahead of me is Painkalac Creek which separates Aireys Inlet from Fairhaven. . . . . #greatoceanroad #seeaustralia #coastalphotography #aireysinlet #aussie_images #australiagram #visitvictoria #takemetoaustralia #australia #travel #travelling #instatravel #aroundtheworld #aussiephotos #australia_shots #australia_shotz #wow_australia #ig_australia #visitaustralia #exploreaustralia #ig_discover_australia #discoveraustralia #amazing_australia #australia_oz #australialovesyou #unlimited_australia #focusaustralia #exploringaustralia #iloveaustralia

A post shared by Jiten (@jittheman) on

Likewise, Aireys Inlet is also within earshot of another famous surf beach called Fairhaven Beach, which unsurprisingly also attracts many surfing holidaymakers to this small idle town.

But don’t be fooled, Aireys Inlet’s main attraction isn’t this pristine, surf-ready beach. Instead, the tiny town’s iconic lighthouse is arguably the first “must-see attraction” on your Great Ocean Road journey.

Enter Split Point Lighthouse — an easily accessible, stunning red-capped pure white tower which overlooks Aireys Inlet and the waters of its surrounding Shipwreck Coast.

There are constantly guided and unguided tours happening here, and visitors will have the chance to climb the iconic structure’s original staircase to the top where they will be rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree view of the stunning coastline from the balcony of the lantern room.

But if you’re not one for exercise, take a quick selfie and move on, we’ve got a lot more ground to cover.

3. Memorial Arch

View this post on Instagram

The Great Ocean Rd Memorial Arch is so worth stopping for. It was built in honour of the 3000 returned soldiers who worked on this road and it's creation during World War 1. They built a 243km stretch of road between 1919 and 1932. People come from all around the world to tour this sensational stretch of coastline. 🇦🇺🌏🗽🗼⛩🌌🌁⛺🌠🇦🇺 #australia #raw_moody #takemetoaustralia #nature_perfection #nature_sultans #australia_oz #country #country_features #countryside #awesome_earth #awesome_photographers #visitgreatoceanroad #melbonpix #raw_country #greatoceanroad #memorialarch #astrosprout #astroworld #astrophotography #astro_photography_ #tv_allskies #tv_allnature #astro #night_shooterz #visitvictoria #melbourniseme #melbournetouristguide #australialongexposure

A post shared by Damien Shaw (@photosbydamien) on

Driving up to this stop, it’s evident that this next attraction’s reputation as one of the most photographed spots in all of the Great Ocean Road is not unfounded.

We’re of course talking about Memorial Arch, an iconic attraction that definitely justifies a stop for some photos. And judging by the sheer amount of cars that line either side of the road at any given moment, it’s a sentiment clearly shared by many.

The reason for its popularity? Most visitors start their exciting adventure here as the memorial is considered to be the de facto start of the Great Ocean Road. And many of these adventurers will also take the opportunity to snap pictures with the arch and statue to commemorate the start of their journey.

As for the monument itself, the semi-wooden, stone-and-cement-supported Memorial Arch was built in honour of the 3,000 returned soldiers (some of which perished during the building process) from WWI who worked ceaselessly on building this road — entirely by hand.

4. Apollo Bay

View this post on Instagram

HARBOUR DAY Saturday 15th February The main event! From 10am on the Saturday morning The Apollo Bay Harbour will transform into an 'Off the Boat' Seafood Market, festival punters will be able to buy fresh seafood straight off the fishermen who caught the catch. Just before lunchtime the harbour will launch into jam-packed day of music and pop-up restaurants, boasting delicious lobster rolls, seafood dumplings, huge paella pans, southern rock lobster, abalone sashimi and much more. Kids will be able to get in on the fun with a hands-on educational program featuring interactive demonstrations and displays, sailing lessons, casting competitions and harbour expeditions. With some of Australia’s best musical acts, the festivities will wind up late into the evening. www.apollobayseafoodfestival.com

A post shared by Apollo Bay Seafood Festival (@apollobayseafoodfestival) on

Apollo Bay is a coastal town that packs an abundance of sights and sounds in this minuscule locale. As a tourist destination, Apollo Bay is much smaller and quieter than other nearby spots such as Lorne. Though it does play host to the annual Apollo Bay Music Festival and the Great Ocean Sports Festival — a true testament to the Ozzies’ love of festivals.

The fact of the matter is that Apollo Bay a great place to kick back and relax. It’s home to some decent waves for surfing, and there are plenty of picture-perfect walks to take in the surrounding region. The short trek up to Marriner’s Lookout comes to mind. And if you’re an early riser, this small hill is one of the best spots to catch the sunrise in town.

Plus, if you’re weary and famished from your journey, there’s no shortage of cool places to eat around here!

Local Tip: if you visit at the right time (typically from winter to spring), you may be lucky enough to spot a school of Southern Right Whales who migrate to the area to breed, bear their calves, and raise them in the warmer waters of South Australia. On a related note, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the elusive humpback whales if you’re extra lucky.

5. Twelve Apostles

View this post on Instagram

I’ve had an incredible year with my photography I’ve captured some amazing images and last night I was very lucky once again. As a lightning storm approached Warrnambool I decided to head down the Great Ocean Road. A little uncertain as to where I would stop my first thought was the bay of islands near Peterborough as it was pretty close. As I was driving I could see the lightning was more to the west so I made a decision to head to the Twelve Apostles instead Lightning over the Apostles has been a dream shot of mine for a very long time. Well I made it only just one test shot and only two lightning strikes over the Apostles I managed to get one useable shot I’m pretty excited about this one Nikon D750 Nikon 24-85mm Sirui w-2004 tripod . . . . . #nightsky #ig_nightphotography #nightscape #fs_longexpo #longexpoelite #rsa_night #skymasters #longexposure_shots #astrophoto #nightimages #nightshooters #natgeospace #night_shooterz #ig_astrophotography #australia #visitmelbourne #seeaustralia #discoveraustralia #australiagram #melbourneiloveyou #mynikonlife #visitgreatoceanroad #siruiaustralia #twelveapostles #heraldsun #portcampbell #bom

A post shared by Craig Richards (@craig_richards_photography) on

While its name is no longer a true representation of its facade, this next attraction is still by far one of the most popular attractions on the Great Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles were 12 limestone stacks formed by years upon years of erosion from ocean waves. The towering monoliths rose from the seas and together, created a stunning visual along the coast. However, some of them have eventually collapsed due to constant exposure to erosion coupled with the harsh weather.

View this post on Instagram

After we had been looking for a job for a couple of weeks (unsuccessfully) we decided to do something fun for a change and rented a car. We did the whole great ocean road in a day, which is a lot, but still doable. It was the middle of winter, so we were quite lucky that we had such a sunny and warm day! The 12 apostles provided a beautiful view by the way, but it was SO busy and touristy 😂 . . . . . #beach #greatoceanroad #12apostles #winter #twelveapostles #dreamdestination #travelcouple #view #australia #touristy #traveling #travelphotography #twelveapostles #aussie #wanderlust #roamtheplanet #travelmore #picoftheday #passionpassport #instatraveling #eindevandewereld #worldtravelers #adventuretime #getawaytravel #travelphoto #globetrotter #travelgirls #mytravelgram #travellife #visitaustralia

A post shared by Sara & Arjen 🌎 (@aroundtheworldwithus_) on

View this post on Instagram

Merveille de la nature

A post shared by Jenny (@jennyliecardin) on

Today, only about eight or so of the apostles remain, with the others having succumbed to the ravages of Mother Nature in recent years. This begs the question: how long before all these marvellous rock formations become lost to the annals of time? So, make sure to see them while you can!

6. Loch Ard Gorge

From the Twelve Apostles, your next stop would be a short drive away to the Loch Ard Gorge — a location full of mystique and tragic history.

Here you’ll similarly find beautiful sheer cliffs that have collapsed down into the ocean, forming an unfathomably scenic location which can be seen from the numerous paths and the viewpoints found throughout the locale.

The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which had run aground in 1878. Of the 54 passengers and crew on board, only two survived, Tom and Eva — forever immortalized by the two unconnected stone pillars named after them standing strong inside the gorge.

Visiting Loch Ard Gorge is most certainly one of the most iconic things to do on your Great Ocean Road journey. But why not take it up a notch? Try to arrive just before sunset to enjoy the magnificent view of the orange-tinted horizon. Definitely an Insta-worthy moment.

7. Port Campbell

Last but not least, cap off an amazing road trip by paying a visit to Port Campbell — a colourful and lively seaside village filled with restaurants and cafés with beautiful shoreline views, bakeries, and plenty of vibrant shops and galleries to explore.

Now, the highlight of Port Campbell is the national park, Port Campbell National Park.

Remember our aforementioned Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge?

You’ll be happy to note that both of these attractions can be found within the park grounds along with other notable tourist spots like the London Arch, the Gibson Steps, and the Grotto.

Port Campbell is a town that’s blessed by an abundance of natural wonders, including being fringed by sprawling cliffs and Norfolk pines — giving off a safe-haven-on-the-edge-of-wild-nature vibe to it.

Of course, as a seaside town, Port Campbell also plays host to one of the best surfing spots in the area. If you’re looking to catch big waves, Two Mile Bay is where you want to be. But on a separate and less thrilling note, perhaps taking a short walk out to the Port Campbell Jetty to watch the waves crashing against the limestone cliffs is more up your alley.

So are you ready to embark on your own Great Ocean Drive road trip?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to stay updated on our latest stories? Subscribe our newsletter and receive our freshest post, delivered right to your inbox