With its vast size and dramatically differing landscapes, driving holidays in Australia are all about the journey, not the destination. One such trip is the Great Ocean Road, located at the south of the Australian mainland. This drive will take you through rainforests, past spectacular ocean vistas, and will even allow you to glimpse native koalas in the wild. It’s one drive you won’t want to end.
Angelsea General Store
Start your trip driving west—your first stop should be Torquay, the official start to the Great Ocean Road. From the spectacular cliff-top vista, watch the surfers take on the world famous breaks at the Bells Beach. If the sea air has already made you peckish, drive a few minutes down the road to Anglesea, where you’ll find the Anglesea General Store, also known as Maids Pantry Brunch Bar. Sip a creamy coffee and be tempted by several delicious choices from the unique brunch menu, such as the ‘Scruffy’—smashed avocado on sourdough, with goat’s cheese, pepitas, and pistachio dukka, sprouts, and lemon.
As you continue your drive, you won’t be able to resist glances at the breathtaking coastline. The road is mostly single lane and weaves in and out of the shoreline, taking in the most majestic views this region has to offer. On one side, an eclectic group of beach houses, towering cliffs, and lush green countryside attempt to steal your attention away from the deep blue sea.
Cape Otway Lightstation
This trip isn’t all about driving though, and there are plenty of places to stop off and admire the view. One must-visit destination is Cape Otway on the southern tip of Victoria’s western coast, where the mighty Southern Ocean meets Bass Strait. You can climb the Cape Otway Lightstation and hear stories about the shipwrecks dotted along this rugged coastline.
However, some say the highlight about this area is the leisurely drive through the national park, where you can spot koalas in their native habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for a family of these famous Australian marsupials as they cling to towering gum trees, probably dozing in the dappled afternoon sunlight. These cuddly looking critters are quite a sight to see in the wild, and will no doubt be a highlight of your trip.
You won’t want to complete the drive all in one day. Towns such as Apollo Bay, Lorne, or Port Campbell are ideal locations to spend the night, with plenty of accommodation options and wonderful restaurants. If you choose Apollo Bay, a visit to Chris’s Restaurant is a treat you won’t forget. Situated high up above the Great Ocean Road, you’ll have a magnificent view of the coastline and twinkling lights of Apollo Bay. There are several accommodation options, so when you finish your meal of fresh local fish or mouthwatering grilled eye-fillet of local beef, you can retire to your room in comfort.
The iconic postcard image from the Great Ocean Road is that of the ancient 12 Apostles. Although there are only eight remaining stacks due to erosion, these natural limestone structures jutting from the sea are an awe inspiring sight. As the raging Southern Ocean crashes against the rocky cliffs, you happily reflect on your journey and realise you can’t wait to experience it all again on the trip back.