|Great Ocean Road & Beyond|
|Melbourne to Adelaide|
The Great Ocean Road winds westwards from the major regional city of Geelong to the South Australian border. The Great Ocean Road itself hugs the contours of Victoria’s rugged southwest coast, taking visitors on one of Australia’s greatest and most inspiring coastal drives. Then continue over the border to discover the heritage, unique caves and superb coastal national parks of southeast South Australia.
From Melbourne travel west to Geelong, Victoria’s second largest settlement, which is a waterfront city that features delightful botanic gardens, the Geelong Art Gallery, Maritime Museum and the National Wool Museum and is the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula. Beyond Geelong, Torquay is the starting point of the 300 km-long Great Ocean Road. This is also the location of Bells Beach, where a major surfing competition is held each Easter, and the Surfworld surfing museum.
Established in the 1860s, the fishing and resort town of Lorne is an attractive settlement dominated by the Otway Ranges, where hills and forests provide great bushwalking country. Swimming, surfing and fishing are all popular activities here, as they are at the old port town of Apollo Bay. From here, you'll drive through the heavily forested Otway National Park, and there's a very scenic detour to Cape Otway, which marks the western limit of Bass Strait.
Some of Australia's most famous scenery then comes into view - the remarkable coastline of Port Campbell National Park, with its distinctive features such as the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. It's a good idea to base yourself at the town of Port Campbell for a day or so to explore this famed 'Shipwreck Coast' and its many attractions.
The Great Ocean Road then joins up with Princes Highway near the city of Warrnambool, where you'll find an attractive harbour and some good beaches. This is also the location of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, an excellent re-creation of an early Australian port. At picturesque Port Fairy there are over fifty National Trust buildings to admire, while the large shipping and lobster fishing centre of Portland offers great beaches and some enjoyable coastal walks.
From here, you can then cross the South Australian border to Mount Gambier. This agricultural centre is at the heart of an old volcanic region that is famous for its caves and crater lakes: particularly Blue Lake, which mysteriously changes colour from grey to turquoise. From Mount Gambier, there’s a delightful excursion north to Penola and Coonawarra, the home of twenty-five wineries and World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves.
Then take the coastal route to Robe, a sheltered lobster fishing port on Guichen Bay. The 17km-long beach here is ideal for surfing and swimming and a visit to the Narraburra Woolshed is a must. To the north, the port town of Kingston is the home of the Big Lobster and this area offers beaches and scenic drives, including the trip to Cape Jaffa Lighthouse.
The Princes Highway then leads you past Lake Alexandrina to Meningie, the gateway to the magnificent Coorong National Park. This 145 km-long reserve - a paradise for birdwatching, fishing and boating - encompasses wetlands, lagoons and a chain of sand dunes.
At nearby Tailem Bend be sure to visit to the excellent Old Tailem Bend Pioneer Village. Then travel on to the Adelaide Hills to Murray Bridge on the lower Murray River, where there’s a winery and a free-range zoo. And from here it’s just a short drive into the heart of Adelaide.
Where to Stay
Time required: 7 - 10 days recommended.