The Great Ocean Road
Only a two hour drive from Melbourne you can experience magnificence of another kind, Victoria’s legendary Great Ocean Road, running some 150 miles along the rugged, windswept southwestern coast. Follow this winding, coast-hugging stretch of road through lush rainforests, up to scenic outlooks and down to pristine beaches. The Great Ocean Road twists past some of the continent’s most iconic scenery, where towering cliffs plunge into pristine beaches and spectacular rock formations rise out of the sea. Be amazed by jaw-dropping ocean views, stop for a spot of world-class surfing or meander through picturesque villages before returning tired and happy to Crown Hotels. There are many reasons to experience the grandeur of this magnificent stretch of roadway, built by soldiers returning from World War I.
Stunning Rock Formations
Many of the road’s main attractions are in the area encompassing Port Campbell National Park where sheer; limestone cliffs and strangely shaped rock sculptures exemplify the awe-inspiring natural wonders of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. One of the most photographed sights in the country, the Twelve Apostles (actually, only eight remain) are a series of towering rock pillars rising offshore; hop out of the car, descend the 86 steps and stroll through the surf to admire these majestic megaliths from below. Other rocky wonders include the Blowhole, which spews massive sprays of water, the intricately carved Grotto and London Bridge, which resembled the real thing until the middle crashed into the sea in 1990.
Part of Otway National Park, the Otway Ranges offer some of the most spectacular rainforest scenery on the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Wander among giant tree ferns, experience incredible vistas on the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk and explore narrow valleys where high waterfalls plunge from dramatic cliffs. A stroll through the mossy trees and gigantic tree ferns of Melba Gully offers the unforgettable sight of large colonies of glowworms illuminating the darkness.
Enchanting Seaside Towns
From the Mediterranean charm of Lorne to the stunning surf beaches of Torquay and the quaint streets of Port Fairy, the Great Ocean Road is a necklace of charming little towns and fishing villages, perfect for a casual lunch, a spot of shopping or a romantic stroll along the beach. This spellbinding highway winds through a host of unique towns and villages including Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell and Peterborough, ending up in Warrnambool. Surfers will want to make a stop at Torquay, a town totally dedicated to surfing; visit the SurfWorld Museum after riding a few waves at Bells beach. Once a whaling station, historic Apollo Bay has great sandy beaches, while pretty Port Fairy is a lovely fishing village on the aptly named Shipwreck Coast, a 74-mile stretch that has claimed hundreds of ships over the centuries.
The Great Ocean Walk
Hop out of the car and walk at least part of the 56-mile Great Ocean Walk, stretching from Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead. The trail is designed to accommodate afternoon strollers or overnight hikers, but if you want to stay overnight, you need to register with Parks Victoria well in advance. The trail winds through gorgeous fern gullies, rainforests, heathland and coastal estuaries to lovely, remote locations like Moonlight Head and Station Beach.