Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Known as the world’s longest war memorial, the Great Ocean Road is a 243 kilometre stretch running between Torquay and Warrnambool, full of exquisite seaside scenery, excellent food and wine options, and some of the country’s best beaches. Famous as a scenic drive, the road has been voted the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria’s number one tourist experience in the state.
Built by returned WWI soldiers from 1919 to 1932, the National Heritage-listed road features stunning natural beauty like Port Campbell’s Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations, the Bay of Martyrs and world-famous beaches.
Torquay, the official start of the road, includes Bells Beach, one of the most significant surfing spots in Australia. Bells hosts the Rip Curl Pro event every Easter weekend and the peak surfing times - though only recommended for experienced board-riders - are autumn and winter. Torquay also includes the Surf Coast Walk and the Surf World Surfing Museum.
The area is also well-known for its fine food and drink offerings and vibrant cafe culture. The Geelong wine region includes cellar door/restaurants, such as Shadowfax Wines and Leura Park Estate, and has a reputation for its cool climate wines, gourmet cheeses, craft breweries, and outstanding produce and seafood.
For those fond of historic sightseeing, Port Fairy is a must, with 50-plus buildings National Trust-listed buildings dating back to the 1800s, and excellent heritage walks. The suburb is one of Victoria’s busiest fishing ports and includes high quality seafood restaurants such as Rocksalt and Wisharts at The Wharf. Seal spotting is also an option and Port Fairy Boat Charter offers tours including views of the local seal colony.
Thousands of fitness enthusiasts attend the Great Ocean Road International Marathon Festival, held in May, which has been up and running since 2005.
The Great Ocean Road’s climate is temperate, with mild weather and an average maximum a little over 22 degrees, and winters evenings with an average minimum of about 7 degrees.
Getting to the road
The nearest airport to Great Ocean Road is Avalon at Lara, Victoria’s only low-cost airport, served by Jetstar, with flights from Sydney and Brisbane. Shuttle buses take travellers from the airport to Geelong, Torquay, Bellarine Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road, and depart from the Arrivals Hall.