The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous road trips in the world. Pack the bags and take this bucket list journey to some of the most iconic experiences that epitomize just why this region is great. Soar high above the 12 Apostles, catch a wave at the birthplace of surfing, visit seals by the sea, dine at Victoria’s oldest inn and chase some of Australia’s most stunning waterfalls. How many bucket list items can you tick off the list this weekend? We dare you.
Seen the Twelve Apostles before? What about from up above? Get a new perspective on this world-famous icon on a Twelve Apostles to Bay of Islands tour with Twelve Apostles Helicopters. In 25 minutes you will travel over 90km in a luxury helicopter, soaring over 9 landmarks of the Great Ocean Road. Your knowledgeable pilot will point 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 in the cooler months.
Torquay is rich in over 100 years of surfing history and the best place to immerse yourself in the ‘Home of Surfing’ is at Bells Beach. This is one of the best surf breaks in Australia serving up the large swells of the Southern Ocean. Experienced surfers can test their rail games skills on the explosive long right-hand breaks, at their best during autumn and winter.
Bells is definitely only for the pros but sightseers will also love watching in awe from the natural grandstand and amphitheater of the beach cliffs — especially when the world pro’s weave their magic at the annual Rip Curl Pro surf comp.
The entire Great Ocean Road region is a mecca for waterfalls. Rumour has it there are over 400 waterfalls in the Otway’s alone, many unmapped. A great way to see a range of falls all on one walk is with the Lorne Waterfalls Circuit, a 28.2km hike that starts at the Sheoak Falls Carpark.
This circuit can be taken in any direction and will take you through rainforest and Aussie bushland to eight waterfalls within the Great Otway National Park – Sheoak Falls, Swallow Cave Falls, Phantom Falls, Henderson Falls, Won Wondah Falls, Lower Kalimna Falls, Upper Kalimna Falls and Cumberland Falls before returning to the trail-head via Castle Rock (an optional 1.5km side trip).
You can’t leave the area without driving to nearby Erskine Falls. This is a well mapped waterfall with no wonder, it’s 30m drop into a cascading gully it makes for one impressive waterfall!
When visiting the western end of the Great Ocean Road make sure to book a table at the historic dining room of the Merrijig Inn in Port Fairy. It’s Victoria’s oldest inn but don’t maybe a little different than you think with it’s quirky fun vibe (and not to mention delicious cocktails). Enjoy drinks in the enchanting cottage garden whilst listening to live local folk music before enjoying a decadent degustation in Victoria’s oldest dining room. A new menu is written daily showcasing the best produce from the Merrijig garden and local farmers. Chef Tanya Connellan uses traditional and European techniques to create her magic – flavourful hearty dishes that nearly look too good to eat.
The Seals by Sea Tour at Bridgewater Bay, (approx. 20mins drive from Portland) is one of the most popular tours in the area. In just 3 exhilarating minutes the zippy Zodiac boat will have you at the seal breeding colony, the only one on mainland Australia. The seals love showing off for an audience and you may be lucky enough to see lots of playful pups. And playful adults too! For 45 minutes you will cruise the dramatic cliffs and into the giant cavern for an up-close and personal seal experience with a small group of fellow nature lovers.
Looking to spot platypus in the wild? Then this dawn and dusk canoe tour is for you. It even has a 98% sighting success rate. Not only is this your chance to see Australia’s most elusive and ancient animals, you’ll do it in the enchanting location of Lake Elizabeth, just 15 minutes from Forrest. The lush Otway rainforest gives way to reveal the slightly eerie, prehistoric looking mountain lake — it’s like the land before time. Glide past enormous, ghostly tree trunks that emerge from the platypi natural habitat as your guides pass on their wealth of knowledge about these adorable creatures. You might even see glow worms on the dusk tour.
With more than 400 volcanos the Volcanic Lakes and Plains area, this region is the third largest volcanic plains in the world. Trek to the summit of the biggest volcano in Victoria – Mt Elephant (360m). Still technically active Mt Elephant last erupted (maybe) 180,000 years ago and is aged between 30,000 — several million years old. The moderate rated summit walk is a 3.4km loop (hiking poles are available from the visitor centre) and rewards with the stunning views of the endless plains and lakes of Western Victoria. The view in endless.
Soak up the health restoring minerals of the earth warmed waters as you make your journey throughout the open-air bathing sanctuary of the Deep Blue Hot Springs in Warrnambool. Let your mind wander as you explore the fifteen thoughtfully curated geothermal pools, delve into the sensory caves with cleansing waterfalls, bask over basalt stones and relax in the shallows of the reflection pool. Then unwind and enjoy the health benefits in the modern Salt Room before enjoying a healthy snack or drink at the Nourish Dome. You won’t want to leave, luckily you don’t have too, you can stay at the Deep Blue Resort too.
Ticking off a bucket list item is always a Great Call on the Great Ocean Road.
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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.