Guide to the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is a very popular path in Australia known for its wonderful views, passing through rainforests and towns, offering indescribable beauty and fun adventures on the Great Ocean Road day trip.

great ocean road

The Great Ocean Road is a historical place

The first plans

Travelling between towns on the southern coast was challenging before the Great Ocean Road was built, at the end of World War I Country Roads discussed, and evnetually decided to construct a road. They proposed to hire returned from WWI veterans as a memorial project. The plan was for the road route to start at Barwon Heads, go west through Cape Otway, and end near Warrnambool. Construction of the South Coast Road began in 1919.

The construction

Around 3000 ex-soldiers were involved in building the Southern Coast Road. They faced a lot of difficulties like rough terrain, harsh weather, and rocky cliffsides, some soldiers lost their lives due to it. Using tools like explosives, picks, and shovels, they carved the road into the cliffside.

The road opens!

On March 18th, 1922, the first section of road from Eastern View to Lorne was opened, with officials implementing toll fees of 2 shillings for cars and 10 shillings for wagons with two or more horses to help cover construction costs.

In November 1932, the road officially opened, celebrated with a weekend of festivities near Lorne's Grand Pacific Hotel. The Great Ocean Road, formally known as the longest war memorial in the world, was renamed. The State Government acquired the road in 1936 and subsequently removed tolls.

Activities to enjoy on the Great Ocean Road

Go surfing

Surfing is a popular activity along Victoria's southern coast, particularly at Bells Beach. Beginners can take lessons at Torquay, Anglesea, and Lorne. More advanced surfers are welcome to enjoy the big waves at Torquay and Bells Beach. Johanna Beach, 35km west of Apollo Bay, is also a top surf spot in Victoria.

See incredible natural wonders

The Great Ocean Road features iconic natural rock formations carved from limestone cliffs over millions of years.

The 12 Apostles, the most famous of these formations, stand tall above the waves. Slowly, crashing waves erode their bases. Initially, there were not 12 stacks; the name was chosen for appeal over the previous name, the Sow and Piglets. Only seven stacks remain, but they are impressive, especially during sunset.

Loch Ard is a picturesque inlet with clear blue waters, surrounded by yellow cliff sides. In 1878, a ship named Loch Ard sank in the bay after hitting a rocky reef. Most passengers tragically lost their lives, with only two survivors, Tom and Eva. The rock pillars at the gorge are named after them, and their story became famous in Australia and England.

London Bridge (also known as London Arch) is located in the Port Campbell National Park in the west. Similar to the nursery rhyme, the rock formation known as London Bridge collapsed in 1990, leaving the natural arch disconnected from the mainland. Despite losing the connecting bridge, London Arch remains a stunning example of the ocean's erosive forces.

Great Ocean road day trip

Spot amazing wildlife

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is home to various cute animals, such as koalas and colourful king parrots, which can be seen at Kennett River. Visitors can purchase bird seeds at the on-site shop to feed the parrots.

During the winter months, the lookouts along the Great Ocean Road provide great whale-watching viewing platforms. Southern right and humpback whales migrate through these waters during this time of the year as they head to warmer waters to breed. Watch for the sprays of water to glimpse these impressive marine creatures.

Kangaroos and wallabies are commonly found along the route, favouring grasslands and forests. They are often spotted hopping through the landscape at dusk and dawn. Visitors can also observe these animals in the Otways National Park or at wildlife parks like The Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park and Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.

Go hiking

Visitors to the Great Ocean Road can enjoy scenic walks through rainforest trails and coastal tracks, offering dramatic views. Walking tracks are located throughout national parks and along the coastline, catering to walkers of all ages and abilities.

The Surf Coast Walk from Torquay to Lorne offers views of surfers riding the waves, while the Great Ocean Walk leads to the 12 Apostles. The Great Otway National Park features some of Australia's best rainforests, with walkways for exploration and opportunities to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Delight in top-notch food and drinks

Numerous dining options can be found in the towns along the Great Ocean Road, including Dooley's Ice Cream in Apollo Bay and the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery in Bellbrae.

Aireys Pub and Ipsos, a Greek restaurant in Lorne, offers dining options for a more substantial meal. The owners of Ipsos were welcomed back after owning a restaurant on the road years before.

Along the Great Ocean Road are breweries and wineries offering excellent drinks. Airey Pub has its micro-brewery called Rogue Wave, and in Lorne, you can sample wines for free at St Anne's Vineyards. Whatever your preference, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this route.