10 MUST SEE THINGS ALONG AUSTRALIA’S GREAT OCEAN ROAD (plus some honorary mentions)
Seriously, how many of these articles does the internet need? Well I’m adding another just so you can compare my list with everyone else’s. Is mine better? Some would say so. It has something none of the others do; me.
I recently drove along the Great Ocean Road. You can read all about it here, where I give a more detailed account of the trip. But let’s face it, if you’ve ended up on this page, then you’re probably just going to copy and paste some ideas into Google.
Well because I’m a nice guy, I’ll let you have the map below which lists a few of the places I stopped at:
GREAT OCEAN ROAD
THE 12 APOSTLES
Is this worth seeing, yes. Will you enjoy the experience, maybe not. This is easily the most touristy spot along the Great Ocean Road. The visitor centre carpark was packed, even in the middle of winter and people were everywhere. Not enjoyable people, quietly wandering and drinking in the magnificent views of this coastline; the sort you nod your head to as you walk past, acknowledging their serene smile as a likeness of your own. These were hoards of yelling, screaming, selfie-stick waving tourists, climbing over one another to take photos of their bored-looking spawn, more intent on playing Pokemon GO than the panoramic splendour in front of them.
LOCH ARD GORGE
The Loch Ard was a ship that hit Mutton Island and sank, killing everyone on board with the exception of two teenagers. The ships boy, who made it to shore on the overturned hull of a lifeboat, and a young woman who clung to a spar for five hours. While this sounds like the beginning of a tragic romance between two young people, it wasn’t.
The gorge is beautiful. There are stairs down to the beach and it is worth going down and walking around. Take your camera as there are a lot of places for photos.
Originally London Bridge because of it’s resemblance to the bridge…in London…it is now London Arch after a rather sizeable portion of it collapsed. It is a familiar structure, eroded by the punishing Southern Ocean into an arch. There is a viewing platform where everyone will take much the same photo. Like this…
This was one of my favourite stops. Though it seems only a small cave and hole that has been opened up be erosion, it was a great way to see how this coast has been formed. It was also a pretty sweet photo opportunity. I had a bit of fun playing around here for a while. It was a nice small secluded spot, but I am sure it get plenty of visitors.
THE BAY OF MARTYRS
The Bay of Martyrs makes up part of the Bay of Island park and has a very controversial history depending on who you talk to. According to some sources, the name comes from a time when European settlers forced a large number of Aboriginal men off the cliffs, killing them all. Unsurprisingly, there is little evidence of this act of genocide, apart from an oral history, however there were noticeably fewer Aboriginal people around after the date of this incident. Perhaps a coincidence.
Beach access here is much easier than many of the other spots and the beaches, as are a lot of the beaches along this coast, are wildly beautiful. There are also a lot of birds around, even in winter, though many are endangered. If you are going to walk along the beach, please watch where you are stepping.
THE BAY OF ISLANDS
This is a Bay full of Islands, created by the Southern Ocean and its erosion of the coastline. It is quite impressive and worth stopping to see. There is no visitor centre or cafe, and judging by the carpark, not as many tour busses stop there. If you are coming from Adelaide, it will be one of the first places you will stop on the Great Ocean Road and it is definitely worth it. There are several viewing platforms along the cliffs within walking distance and they are all worth checking out.
UPPER AND LOWER KALIMNA FALLS
This is a easy to moderate hike starting close to Lorne. If you plan to do this, my recommendation is to visit the Upper Falls first. While they’re definitely pretty, falling from 15 metres and sending spray into the air to dampen you as you stand on the platform to view it, the Lower Falls are something else. While not as high, the river washes over an eroded shelf and falls into a spectacular pool. You can sit in the cave and watch the falls as you eat your lunch. It is worth the walk there.
There are a number of other falls nearby as well, which I have not been to, including Erskine, Splitter and Cumberland Falls,
A short stop on the way back from the falls is Teddy’s Lookout. This is a nice spot for some photos and really shows the beauty of the Great Ocean Road as a coastal drive. I don’t know who Teddy was but the lookout is nice.
MEMORIAL ARCH AT EASTERN VIEW
The Great Ocean Road was built by veterans of the Great War and the Memorial Arch acts as a reminder of those who built it. It is another stop of many of the tours, so expect to see some people there. Watch for cars if you’re going to try stand under it to take photos (probably not recommended)
SPLIT POINT LIGHTHOUSE
This is an easy one to get to as you will pass it as you drive through Aireys Inlet. This is another great place for spotting whales as they migrate along the southern coast of Australia. The views from here are also beautiful.
Just a note, there is a road that goes to the lighthouse, but you cannot park at the top. There is a road that goes to the lighthouse keepers cottage (Federal Street) which you can park up. However I say park at the bottom by the playground, and walk along the inlet to the lighthouse. It is a short walk, though it is up a hill.
OTWAY POINT LIGHTHOUSE
If you’re a lighthouse person or you want to check this out, then Otway Lighthouse was quite cool. Be aware there is a cost for entry. Apparently you can spot whales from the point, so take along your binoculars or giant telephoto zoom lenses.
COORONG NATIONAL PARK
The Coorong is a series of lagoons, where fresh and salt water mix. If you want to see some Australian wildlife, then this is a great place to check out. Try not get too close. There are emus and kangaroos wandering about, and an abundance of birdlife. I imagine there were also a few million other things I was blissfully unaware of as well. I visited in winter and it was beautiful. I can only imagine how nice it would be in summer.
I know they’re not anywhere near the Great Ocean Road, however I thought they were fascinating enough to mention, especially if you like caves, fossils and learning things. Of course, I cannot compare this to any of the things I missed along the coast, because obviously I missed them.
These are a series of interesting caves that have been trapping animals for hundreds of thousands of years. So there’s a lot of dead things down there for those who are interested to check out. Tickets are available from the visitor centre, so check out the costs on their website here. There are different types of experiences, from wandering casually through open caves, to adventure caving, where you crawl through tiny gaps, trying to avoid feeling like a mountain is going to suddenly squish you.
BLUE LAKE – MOUNT GAMBIER
While it may not be the blue lake I was expecting, if you are heading through Mt Gambier, then you should stop and take a look. It is worth seeing if only for the fact it is quite obviously a huge crater lake.