6 In Australia/ Photo Feature

Coastal Crush: Experiencing Australia’s Great Ocean Road

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.

torquay great ocean road

From East to West

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 australia great ocean road
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.

Tips for Your Drive Along the Great Ocean Road

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!

torquay australia great ocean road
A coastal walking path in Torquay
lorne great ocean road
Heading west out of Lorne
Marriners Lookout Apollo Bay Great Ocean Road
Approaching Marriners Lookout in Apollo Bay
Marriners Lookout Apollo Bay Great Ocean Road
Views from Marriners Lookout
Maits Rest Rainforest Walk Great Ocean Road
Appreciating the beauty of a towering Mountain Ash tree at the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk
cape otway lighthouse great ocean road australia
Cape Otway Lighthouse
gibson steps great ocean road australia
The Gibson Steps, located near the Twelve Apostles, lead travelers down to the beach for unforgettable coastline views
twelve apostles great ocean road australia
Catching a first glimpse of the iconic Twelve Apostles

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

london arch great ocean road australia
London Arch (formerly London Bridge)
grotto great ocean road australia
The Grotto – one of my personal favorites along the GOR!
grotto great ocean road australia
A close-up of The Grotto
bay of martyrs great ocean road australia
The Bay of Martyrs
bay of islands great ocean road
The Bay of Islands
bay of islands great ocean road
(Also) The Bay of Islands
arch great ocean road australia
The Arch
razorback loch ard gorge great ocean road australia
The Razorback rock formation next to Loch Ard Gorge
loch ard gorge great ocean road australia
Lorch Ard Gorge – another favorite!
loch ard gorge great ocean road australia
Loch Ard Gorge from above
johanna beach great ocean road australia
The lovely and peaceful Johanna Beach – a bit of a detour but totally worth it!
great ocean road australia
A scenic view from one of the many stop-offs along the drive
great ocean road australia
On our way back home to Torquay. My favorite road sign!

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great ocean road australia travel guide

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  • Reply
    May 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I’ve never been to that area of the world, but I’d love to explore!

  • Reply
    Faith Coates
    May 11, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Oh my what stunning photos – I haven’t been lucky enough to see this area of Australia – well truth is most areas of Australia as I have only been to Sydney many years ago. I have been longing to go back and really explore, my friends are currently there touring in a camper van on the east coast and having the time of their lives – guess it’s time for me to book a camper and a flight…lol #flyawayfriday

  • Reply
    May 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    The Great Ocean Road is one of the main things I want to see in Australia. It looks like the perfect road trip! I didn’t know about the Great Ocean Walk. That sounds like something I’d love to do…now I just gotta get to Australia! #FlyAwayFriday

  • Reply
    May 13, 2018 at 12:31 am

    We flew down to stay in Melbourne with friends a few months ago and ended up driving the route in a day. My friend really wanted us to experience it so we had a full on day! We will definitely be back to explore in a slower way… though it was amazing to see it even at speed! #flyawayfriday

  • Reply
    May 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

    This is probably the most scenic drive in the world. The stops are just too gorgeous! Thank you so much for joining the 50th Fly Away Friday Link-up! Hope to see you at the 51st edition on May 25!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Oh my goodness, the photos are stunning! Kind of reminds me of going up PCH here in California! The Grotto is so pretty! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! XO

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