The town right in the heart of Great Ocean Road’s iconic attractions.
Located just over 3hrs from Melbourne, Peterborough is the tiny shorefront town surrounded by the storm carved limestone coastline that makes this region famous. Turn east over the iconic bridge and the placid waters of Curdies Inlet to explore the iconic landmarks of Port Campbell National Park. Venture west for the lesser visited but equally spectacular Bay of Islands Coastal Park.
Spend the weekend fishing, golfing, walking epic ocean trails, swimming at secret coves and calm rivers or take short drives to visit some of the postcard worthy cliffs, offshore islands, towering rock stacks, gorges, arches, blowholes and other rock formations.
For those who can’t wait for a first glimpse of this sensational landscape the Bay of Martyrs is sensational sunset spot that you’ll likely have to yourselves.
Great Ocean Road Tourist Park offers the perfect place to base yourself right in the middle of Peterborough. After a big drive you’ll be ready to relax on the deck of your riverfront, two-bedroom cabin and take in the views of the beautiful Curdies River Inlet. Kids will also love the jumping pillow, basketball ring and playground.
Get up early and have your camera ready to experience the regions famous limestone stacks at their best. Start your tour of this spectacular 65km coastline at the 12 Apostles viewing platform and watch the colours change before your eyes. These magnificent 45m tall limestone structures rising out of the dramatic Southern Ocean are undeniably, great! From the viewing platform you can understand how the blasting winds have eroded the soft limestone creating these craggy stacks, caves and cliffs. At dusk you might also spot the small fairy penguin colony that calls their cliff burrows by the waters edge home.
A short 1km walk away you can see for yourself how tall these cliffs are. Make your way down to the beach via 86 of the Gibson Steps to visit Gog and Magog, the nicknames for the two limestone pillars rising out of the sea to greet you. You’ll feel tiny as you look up at them and the 70m cliffs towering above you.
Leave plenty of time to wander across the clifftops of Loch Ard Gorge.
It’s understandable why millions of tourists flock to this pristine bay just three minutes from the Twelve Apostles. This idyllic cove created by the destructive power of the waves of the Shipwreck Coast. Vast sandstone cliffs plunge straight into the tear shaped bay, so spectacular it’s hard to believe tragedy once struck here.
In 1878 a ship called Loch Ard set sail from Liverpool bound for Melbourne, its passengers leaving Europe for new lives. During a dark and stormy night, within a day’s sail of their destination the ship hit a rocky island and sank within 15 minutes. Of the 54 people on board only two survived – sailor Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael, both 18-years old. Tom had safely swum to shore when he spotted Eva floundering in the water. He jumped back in to save her before sheltering her in a cave then searching for help. It’s only fitting that the two sandstone pillars in the centre of the gorge be named in their honour. And the neighbouring gorge be named Loch Ard Gorge after the sunken ship and those lost with it.
You can visit both historic sites when you walk along the 1.4-kilometre track, taking a mere 50 minutes to complete. Take the left path from the carpark to the Tom & Eva Lookout. You’ll see the stunning view of ‘Tom’ & ‘Eva’ standing victorious from the swirling sea. Then, return to the carpark and take a right to walk the cliffs high above the white sands of Loch Ard Gorge. You’ll visit the very cave that sheltered Tom and Eva and have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who didn’t reach these shores at the clifftop cemetery.
For the best views of this breathtaking coastline take to the skies on a Twelve Apostles to Bay of Islands tour with Twelve Apostles Helicopters. In 25 minutes travel over 90km in a luxury helicopter, soaring over 9 landmarks of the Great Ocean Road. You will gain a whole new perspective on the impressive icons you have just visited and build the anticipation for those to explore.
Our knowledgeable pilot Ally pointed out the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Sentinel, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands. If those great icons aren’t enough you’ll also be mesmerized by the dramatic cliffs, craggy stacks, pristine bays, crashing waves… and maybe even a pod of dolphins or even a whale.
Worked up an appetite? Grassroots Deli Café will delight with their fresh savoury and sweet menu made from local and regional produce. Sit back in the sun filled, street facing courtyard and watch life this vibrant seaside town go by. Be sure to check out their Australian made products in the gift store.
Known for the remarkable limestone arch, this iconic landmark is impressive above and below the water. 19 to 25 m below the waves there is a labyrinth of towering limestone canyons, caves, arches and walls which actually are the reason for its name! The underwater maze with its shadowed tunnels is the perfect environment for brilliantly coloured seaweeds and sponges to grow and become home to sea life usually found in the deeper waters of Bass Strait.
The postcard worthy view of this iconic landmark didn’t always look like this. Visitors were once able to walk (and at one stage drive) across the eastern span that once connected it to the mainland. On 15 January 1990, the span closer to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly leaving two visitors, whilst uninjured, stranded on the outer span before being rescued by helicopter. A collapse that highlights how drastically time and weather can alter this sculptured coast.
London Bridge is one of two points in the Port Campbell National Park where you could see little penguins returning to shore (the other is from the main 12 Apostles viewing platform). The population of 80 – 100 birds at London Bridge is significantly smaller than at the 12 Apostles but the viewing platforms are closer to the birds.
Step straight from your Great Ocean Road Tourist Park cabin onto the sand of this 1245sqkm estuarine lagoon – known for its impressive collection of birds. Set off along the inlet shore to the sand dunes of Peterborough Beach. This 800m long stretch protected by offshore reefs and cliffs is moderately safe for swimming.
If fishing more so takes your fancy throw in a line from the inlet jetties or the rocks, lagoon and shores of Peterborough beach. A little further up the river is excellent freshwater fishing for trout and redfin.
Fuel up for the day ahead with a dine in or takeway coffee and a delicious bacon and egg roll at Peterborough House Cafe. Located across the road from Curdies Inlet the restaurant offers ocean views and a playground across the road. Of an evening make sure to try the most delicious, home-made Indian Curry (Wed-Sun only)
Energized, tackle the cliff top trail from Peterborough Golf Course through to Halladale Point and see for yourself just how the wild Southern Ocean has carved this coastline. The local skilled surfers, site of an infamous shipwreck of Falls of Halladale and secret beach of Worm Bay beach are equally impressive.
Continue the wonderful clifftop trail or turn back to pick up the car to take you to the lookout for the Bay of Martyrs – just as impressive in daylight as your Friday night sunset. As you take in the impressive views you’ll ask yourself… are the stacks martyred; sentinels guarding the land from the bold affront of the Southern Ocean or is reference made to the despicable events of nearby Massacre Bay where local aboriginals were herded off the cliff to their death. The naming divides, the views unite.
You will be sure to spot the abundant local wildlife, predominantly birds. Keep your eyes out for emu-wrens, honeyeaters, peregrine falcons, the very rare bristlebird and penguins that hang out near the shoreline.
The beginning of the 32km stretch of the Bay of Islands lies 4km on from the Bay of Martyrs. Choose from two different viewing areas that both offer panoramic views across the bay and sea of tiny offshore islands. Make sure to visit the small and beautiful Bay of Island beach.
Golfers will love this spectacular 9 -hole golf course with stunning cliff top views. A true coastal links makes the Peterborough course a rare treat for travellers in search of a swing.
Before the drive home stop in and stretch the legs at Childers Cove. The limestone structures are equally stunning but still a secret.
Discovering the lesser known but equally spectacular limestone structures by land and by air
Walking the clifftops of the Peterborough Walk and Bay of Islands Trail
Sighting Little Penguins in two locations of the Port Campbell National Park
Playing an ocean front round on Peterborough’s clifftop golf course
Admiring the view of the Bay of Islands
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.