Robert Blackburn
Victoria
Great Ocean RoadA must-see for anyone visiting Victoria. The 243-kilometre-long Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular and dramatic journeys in the country, that takes in some of the state's most beloved landmarks, beaches and seaside villages.
The Great Ocean Road region hugs the contours of Victoria's rugged south-west coast and offers one of Australia's greatest and most spectacular coastal drives with a glimpse of the famous 12 Apostles. Start your journey in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula and discover beautiful beaches, great eateries, a fascinating heritage, and an enormous range of recreational opportunities, from fishing and golfing to diving and surfing. Take in the colourful and lively ambience of bayside Geelong, Victoria's second-largest city, or discover quaint Queenscliff's rich maritime history and heritage hotels. Follow the coast to the seaside resort towns of Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay for stunning beaches and water sports as well as incredible rainforest scenery in the nearby Otway Ranges. One of the most visited stretches of the Great Ocean Road is around Port Campbell. Buf-feted by wild seas and fierce winds, Port Campbell's coastline has been sculpted over millions of years to form a series of striking rock stacks that rise majestically out of the Southern Ocean. Known as the 12 Apostles, they are one of the most spectacular natural attractions in Victoria. A helicopter ride to get a bird's eye view of these famous natural wonders is the ultimate Great Ocean Road experience. The Great Ocean Road is characterised by its rich maritime past. The historic towns of Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland give you a taste of seafaring village life, with their fishing wharves, preserved colonial buildings and maritime museums recounting the stories of ships that have foundered off the rugged shipwreck coast. The Great Ocean Road is a two-hour drive from the heart of Melbourne. The Great Ocean Road itself stretches for over 400 kilometres from Torquay to the South Australian border. Alternatively, take the inland route along the Princes Highway from Geelong to Warrnambool.
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Things to do
Grab lunch at the Wye River General Store
Sitting proudly on the Great Ocean Road with mountain and ocean views, this beach cafe and general store offer an all-day brunch menu and an impressive selection of cocktails. A hub for locals, the store sells everything from newspapers to fruit and veg and doubles as a post office. The relaxed atmosphere and on-trend menu of quality food and drinks make Wye General Store a destination rather than a stop-over for those travelling on the Great Ocean Road.
Discover the heritage of the Shipwreck Coast
Port Campbell National Park is world-famous for its extraordinary collection of wave-sculpted rock formations and the Twelve Apostles. Loch Ard Gorge, site of a 19th-century shipwreck 'Loch Ard', as well as the Island Archway and London Bridge are other highlights. The Island Archway collapsed in 2009, highlighting the fragile and ever-changing nature of Victoria's coastline. Discover the heritage of the Shipwreck Coast on short walks such as the Port Campbell Discovery Walk. Take a scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at points of interest. For refreshments visit the kiosk at the Twelve Apostles visitor centre. Before you go Conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.
Deep Blue Hot Springs Warrnambool
Harnessing the natural geothermal waters, the Deep Blue Hot Springs Warrnambool is a self-guided journey in an open-air sanctuary of enhanced geothermal bathing experiences. Let your mind wander to a therapeutic state while your body absorbs the health-restoring minerals and heat of the natural earth drawn waters as you slowly make your journey throughout a myriad of thermal pools. Delving into steep sensory caves and bathing in floral aromatic mist. Bask over basalt stones or relax in the shallows of the reflection pool for quiet contemplation. Water is nurtured and celebrated throughout the Sanctuary and can be found gently streaming over rock walls, humming in the foot spa and flow-ing throughout fifteen thoughtfully curated bathing pools. Located within the Sanctuary is the Nour-ish Dome for healthy vegging and hydration. Unwind while enjoying the general health benefits of salt therapy, gentle respiratory therapy in the ambient surrounds of the modern Salt Room.
Visit The Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park stretches from Torquay through to Princetown and up through the Otways hinterland towards Colac. The park features rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms and windswept heathland and beautiful spring wildflowers. In the north, the park features tall forests, ferny gullies, magnificent waterfalls and tranquil lakes. The Great Ocean Walk stretches 91 kilometres from the idyllic resort town of Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead (adjacent to the 12 Apostles). It passes through the National Park and overlooks the Marine National Park. Experience and enjoy the natural environment on horseback or a mountain bike. A permit is required for horse riders to ride in the National Park and Parks Victoria staff can assist you with this. The formed roads and tracks provide ideal trails for these active endeavours. Picnic opportunities abound, with lovely settings at many of the waterfalls as well as Blanket Leaf, Sheoak, Distillery Creek, Moggs Creek, Paradise, Melba Gully, Shelly Beach, Triplet Falls and Blanket Bay to name a few. There are excellent camping opportunities throughout the Parks.
Visit the iconic Twelve Apostles
The iconic golden cliffs and crumbling pillars of the Twelve Apostles can be found seven kilometres east of Port Campbell. As well as the above water beauty, spectacular arches, canyons, fissures, and deep sloping reefs make up the environment below the waves. Powerful waves of the Southern Ocean constantly pound the coastline which has shaped the area into what you see today. The remarkable underwater structures provide a complex foundation for magnificent habitats including kelp forests and colourful sponge gardens. Many animals prosper here including seabirds, seals, lobsters, reef fish and sea spiders. The intertidal and shallow subtidal reefs are known to have the greatest diversity of invertebrates on limestone reef in Victoria. Marine mammals, such as whales, are also known to visit the area. Patient visitors after dark or in the early morning may see Little Penguins which nest in caves below the Twelve Apostles. Conditions can change in parks for many reasons. For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please visit the relevant park page on the Parks Victoria website. Be bushfire ready in the great outdoors. Refer to the Bushfire Safety section on the Parks Victoria website for tips on how to stay safe.
Dine and stay at Brae
Good Food Guide 2020 Restaurant of the Year. Set on a hillside in Birregurra, Victoria, Brae is a contemporary restaurant and six luxury guest suites, on a working organic farm – a place to be immersed in nature and eat from the land. An ever-changing set menu incorporates produce from Brae Farm, the surrounding land and local, ethical producers to showcase a uniquely Australian cuisine built around an immense respect for nature and seasonality. Organic principles are employed at Brae Farm to produce seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, olives, and wheat grain. Chickens provide free-range eggs, while bees produce honey and assist with pollination. The property and its food production, which forms the focus of the daily menu, is designed for guests to explore, with walking paths and signage assisting to reconnect visitors to their food and the place it comes from. Six spacious, eco-friendly guest suites reflect Brae’s natural surrounds. Each suite features a king bed, organic cotton bed linen, star-gazing skylight, Melbourne-made Tait outdoor furniture and Jardan sofas, Thorens turntable and record collection, cocktail bar, temperature-controlled wine fridge, underfloor heating, bath with views to the rolling hills of The Otways and private outdoor areas.
Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary
Located at Aireys Inlet, this park protects 17ha of ocean waters and projects about 300m offshore. Composed of both hard basalt and rubbly limestone, the cliffs are full of caves and ledges. The shore is covered with boulders and offshore there are two large rocks: Eagle Rock and Table Rock. Table Rock has been levelled by incessant waves whereas Eagle Rock is a tall volcanic stack capped by limestone. The intertidal and subtidal, basalt and sandstone reefs provide habitats for many species. The rock platforms are covered in the iconic brown seaweed Neptune's Necklace which is unique to Australia and New Zealand. Within the rockpools, you can find fascinating creatures such as octopus, chitons and decorator crabs. Offshore, Eagle Rock and Table Rock are fringed with swirling Bull Kelp and in deeper waters, colourful sea tulips and encrusting sponges can be found. The beautiful habitat provided by these species supports a vast array of marine life from wrasse and mullet to Cat Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, skates and rays. Many birds use the area as a feeding and roosting habitat and at certain times of the year, you may also be able to spot whales passing through the area.
Take in the views from the lighthouse
Cape Otway Light-station is Australia's most important lighthouse. The light established in 1848 is perched on towering sea cliffs 90 metres above where Bass Straight and the Southern Ocean collide. Experience the thrill of stepping out onto the Lighthouse Balcony for awesome views, and hear the amazing history of tragic shipwrecks on this isolated and rugged coastline from the passionate guides. Explore the historic telegraph station built in 1859 and discover Australia's extraordinary secret war history from WWII. Appreciate and understand the local indigenous culture at the Aboriginal meeting hut, with storytelling and bush tucker sessions from local guides. Watch whales at play and soak up the natural beauty and atmosphere for a few hours or stay overnight in the unique historic lightkeeper’s accommodation; great for families, groups, couples, friends and those hiking the Great Ocean Walk. The Lightkeeper's Kitchen offers an array of tasty homemade fare; try the famous freshly baked scones and locally roasted coffee. The Cape Otway Lightstation has located a short drive off the Great Ocean Road, through serene forests where you are guaranteed to see koalas. Entry fees apply.
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is the ultimate outdoor-nature experience and located only 20 minutes from the start of the Great Ocean Road. Experience a breathtaking birds-eye-view of the magnificent Otway Ranges from the 25 metre-high elevate walkway or fly 30 metres high from tree to tree on the Zipline Tour. The Treetop Walk is a one-hour rainforest walk experience, that is approximately two kilometres in total and features a 600 metre long and 47-metre high steel structured treetop canopy walkway. The Zipline Eco-Tour is a two-and-a-half-hour, fully guided experience including training and simulation, eight cloud stations, six flights and two suspension bridges.
Surf at Bells Beach
Torquay’s world-famous surf beach, home to huge waves and breathtaking views from several purpose-built viewing platforms. Quintessentially Australian, you’ll roll into the Bells Beach car park sur-rounded by Kombi vans, surfers towelling off after a morning amongst the waves and nomadic back-packers captivated by the slow-paced nature of this Victorian gem.
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