The South West region of Victoria is home to the western end of the Great Ocean Road and also some spectacular coastline unlike anything else found in the state.
It’s a wide and wild array of landscapes, villages, towns and experiences. Blessed with natural attractions, there’s plenty to keep the active adventurer or curious explorer busy in this part of the world.
The best part of these natural experiences is that they won’t cost you anything, except for a few spare calories.
Enjoy the simplest means of transport known to humans and get your feet finding new ground with these stunning walks.
Located just outside the township of Macarthur on the traditional lands of the Gunditjmara people is the UNESCO heritage-listed Budj Bim National Park. Take in the walk around Lake Surprise, formed in the crater of an ancient inactive volcano, and enjoy the view from the cantilever lookout. Make sure you keep an eye in the trees for koalas, some of the many native species you could encounter.
The Great South West Walk is a trail suitable for most ages and abilities that starts and ends in Portland. It has something for everyone from shorter two-hour loop walks through to longer full-day walks, or you can even take on the entire 250km loop. You’ll traverse through bush forests, along rivers, atop cliffs and across beaches, giving you a true taste of the natural South West Victorian landscape.
For something a little more casual, grab a coffee and stroll the seaside of Port Fairy. Beginning at the wharves where you can take in the coastal community vibes of this old fishing port, you can head across to Griffiths Island. Simply walk along the causeway from Martin’s Point to access the island, where you can take in the views of the Port Fairy lighthouse and clear your mind with ocean breezes.
In this part of the world, you can find something to do alongside the water, all year round.
The township of Nelson is a great place to set yourself before you fish or canoe the lower part of the picturesque Glenelg River. Set yourself up at the river mouth if you are looking to catch the popular Bream or the more sought-after Mulloway. One of the best ways to experience the river is out on the water via canoe. Depending on your energy levels, you can set off on full-day and overnight canoe experiences, staying at one of the seven canoe campsites established by Parks Victoria.
Loved by the locals, the Portland Bay Area is home to plenty of water-based action. From the breakwater, you’ll find plenty of places to cast a line and take in a view. Portland Bay is relatively sheltered and so is often found hosting sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and many recreational boats. Plus you can always take a dip in Nuns Beach, great for families with easy access and low shallow waters.
The beaches around Cape Bridgewater have waves that are sure to keep all abilities of surfers far from boredom. For beginners, waves can be had at Bridgewater Bay which is patrolled during peak season. Waves can also be found at Whites Beach, The Hole and Shelley Beach, which will all keep more experienced riders stoked.
There’s nothing that breaks up a road trip quite like the fresh air found in wild and open spaces.
There are plenty of Volcanic remnants scattered across the plains of the region. Tower Hill, just off the Great Ocean Road, is the best of them. It is one of the state’s oldest dormant volcanoes and home to some of Australia’s most iconic animals such as emus, koalas and wallabies. You can connect with local indigenous culture at the Robin Boyd-designed visitor centre and through various tours. If you want to explore the park yourself, you can set off across the paths and boardwalks or make an easy climb to take in the view.
You can be sure to find a raw expression of the natural elements anywhere there’s a lighthouse. One of many such outposts along the coastline, the Cape Nelson Lighthouse is still in operation to this day and is only a short drive from Portland. Wander through the unique coastal gum that hugs the cliffs of this area and breathe in the fresh salty air. Just make sure you don’t step on one of the echidnas who call this place home.
This impressive stretch of dunes is like a giant sandpit and playground for off-road four wheel driving fanatics, one of the only places available in the state. This isn’t just available for anyone though, with those wishing to get amongst the action needing to apply via the Portland Dune Buggy Club. Membership is essential to access the area and can be purchased for periods from four days for individuals, group and four wheel drive clubs bookings, as well as annual memberships. If you want a more chilled-out experience of this stunning place, find yourself a spot at the Swan Lake campgrounds.
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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.