A golden stretch of highway winding along the pine-studded surf coast – the appeal is pretty self-explanatory. In partnership with Visit Victoria, we take a trip down the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most spectacular drives. From Torquay all the way to just shy of Warrnambool, this stretch of highway spans more than 200 kilometres, taking in lush escarpment and gourmet pit stops of every flavour. And those Southern Ocean views? They’re worth a million bucks. All you need is a decent set of wheels to enjoy them.
Construction on the road began in 1919, as a means for thousands of returned servicemen to earn a wage after World War I. They hand-carved and occasionally blasted the terrain between Lorne and Eastern View, finishing up in 1932 at Apollo Bay, the mouth of the Otways.
Today, the drive plays host to a different set: surfer-types set out for the waves at Bells Beach in summer, and kitted-out hikers head for the wilderness of Cape Otway when it’s cool. Then there are the sightseers, who flock to the Twelve Apostles all year round. While only eight of those towering limestone stacks remain visible above water, they’re just as iconic as ever.
An abundance of topnotch breweries, cellar doors and small artisan producers dot the surrounding hinterland – most of them less than an hour apart. There’s lots to cover, so why not stay a while? Spring for a fancy modular homestay on the Twelve Apostles Gourmet Trail, or pamper yourself at a world-class hotel with its own hot springs.
Welcome to The Great Ocean Road
You’ll find everything from artisanal produce pit stops to long wine-paired lunches along the food trails of the Great Ocean Road.
From the cold coastal climate to the volcanic soils at Tower Hill, nature is at play in the handcrafted hooch you’ll find along the Great Ocean Road.
Discover astounding art in the streets and laneways of historic Warrnambool, or trek around Victoria’s largest dormant volcano. If you’re visiting in winter, there are whale-watching lookouts galore.
Aireys Inlet Markets
If you’re passing through Aireys Inlet on the second Sunday of the month between October and June, stop by its famous local market. Formerly a farmers’ market with an emphasis on local produce, they’re now joined by stallholders selling vintage, handmade and recycled goods such as fluffy ottomans and ceramic kitchenware. Choose some homemade cakes and slices to eat on the drive home.
PICO is a small homewares store with a curated selection of designer jewellery, lighting, furniture, art and photography, opposite Lorne beach. It functions as interior architect Georgina Jeffries’s creative outlet, each item matching her design style. Most have a story behind them, from the stunning photography by Jeffries’s husband Troy Fynmore to the food-themed jewellery and sunglasses by her friend Lucy Folk. Jeffries works from a small studio at the back of the store and is happy to talk you through her favourite items.
Fairhaven beach is the longest on the Great Ocean Road, stretching six kilometres through Anglesea, Lorne, Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven, Moggs Creek and Eastern View. It’s a popular surf beach, with water ranging from inviting to ominous, and is known for its strong rips. A more peaceful, patrolled area sits in front of the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club. It’s a local favourite in winter.
The Great Otway National Park is home to some beautiful bushwalks. Turn off the main road down an unsealed track and drive toward Stevenson Falls, a secluded waterfall that plummets into a spectacular creek at the end of a well-made path. You can take a guided canoe tour of Lake Elizabeth and glide along the water in search of platypuses.
Between a modular home in the Timboon bush and a headland hotel boasting natural hot springs, the road is paved with luxury stays.
Winding Down on the Great Ocean Road
Most towns on the Great Ocean Road are no more than an hour apart. Pick a few spots and spend a day winding your way through them.