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Coastal Crush: Experiencing Australia’s Great Ocean Road

My Photo Feature series focuses less on words and more on images. See more here.

Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a coastal stretch starting ~1.5 hours east of Melbourne in Torquay and continuing 250 miles west toward the border of South Australia. For the second half of my Australian visa, I was living in Torquay (and loved it!) so I was lucky enough to be situated right at the start of this iconic, beautiful drive.

While the eastern end of the road boasts lush green hillsides and hiking paths through dewy rainforest, the landscape slowly becomes dominated by stunning limestone rock formations and cliffs as you make your way further west. The most famous attractions along the road are the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Arch (formerly London Bridge), but there are so many other beautiful things to see, from other limestone formations (The Grotto, The Arch, the Bay of Martyrs, the Bay of Islands) to beautiful vantage points (Bird Rock Lookout, Marriner’s Lookout, Teddy’s Lookout) to the tree-lined, koala-filled detour leading to the Cape Otway Lighthouse, and the less frequently praised but equally worthwhile corners: Johanna Beach, Iron Bark Basin, Jan Juc Beach…I could go on!

Torquay Surf Beach

I felt so lucky to end up living on the Great Ocean Road and to have multiple opportunities to explore its diverse beauty. Since this is a Photo Feature, I’m going to let the images do most of the talking, but here a few quick tips. You can also read my Great Ocean Road article for Weekend Notes here and delve further into the nitty gritty of all that the drive has to offer here.

1 Take as much time as you can. There are day trips to the Twelve Apostles from Melbourne, so it’s possible to see some of the main attractions on a whirlwind tour, but this always sounded crazy to me. If you can afford to take a few days, you’ll be able to see so much more and at a much more enjoyable pace.

2 Look into renting a car if you don’t already have a vehicle at your disposal. That way you can take whatever detours you would like and stop whenever and wherever you want, without being hastily shuttled from one photo-opp to another.

3 Adhere to the speed limits and take it slow. As with many scenic coastal drives, much of the Great Ocean Road is very windy and narrow. Hairpin curves abound – and guard rails do not – so be cautious. Take advantage of the many pull-offs to rest, stretch your legs, and enjoy the amazing views!

4 Consider skipping the car altogether! The Great Ocean Walk starts in Apollo Bay and continues all the way to the Twelve Apostles. Not only will you get some serious exercise, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the views without worrying about keeping your eyes on the road. Plan your walk here.

5 Take snacks. There are large stretches of road where you won’t come across any restaurants or grocery stores, so be prepared (unlike I was…) so that you don’t find yourself hangry and hopeless. I think we can all agree that’s the WORST!

6 Charge your camera batteries!

A coastal walking path in Torquay

Heading west out of Lorne

Approaching Marriner’s Lookout in Apollo Bay

Views from Marriner’s Lookout

Appreciating the beauty of a towering Mountain Ash tree at the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk

Cape Otway Lighthouse

The Gibson Steps, located near the Twelve Apostles, lead travelers down to the beach for unforgettable coastline views

Catching a first glimpse of the iconic Twelve Apostles

London Arch (or London Bridge)

The Grotto – one of my personal favorites along the GOR!

A close-up of The Grotto

The Bay of Martyrs

The Bay of Islands

(Also) The Bay of Islands

The Arch

The Razorback rock formation next to Loch Ard Gorge

Lorch Ard Gorge – another favorite!

Loch Ard Gorge from above

The lovely and peaceful Johanna Beach – a bit of a detour but totally worth it!

A scenic view from one of the many stop-offs along the drive

On our way back home to Torquay. My favorite road sign!

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