The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 43 kilometres (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1, the road is the world's largest war memorial. Winding through varying terrain along the coast and providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles, limestone stack formations, the road is an important tourist attraction in the region. The Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and travels 243 kilometres westward to finish at Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road. The road is two lane (one in each direction), and is covered by a speed limit changing between 80 kilometres per hour and 100 kilometres per hour Great Ocean Road as viewed from Teddy's Lookout, south of Lorne.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world's most dramatic roads, with breathtaking views around every twist and turn. It literally is your chance to see nature's drama unfold and witness some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia.
To describe it as "impressive" and "scenic" almost seem like an understatement. Perhaps "iconic" and "awesome" are better suited!
But if you're wanting more than an iconic drive, scenic views and lush walks and waterfalls - then we've got you covered with a scenic Great Ocean Air flight; fly in our fully air conditioned air vans and see the highest mainland cliffs in Australia. And be sure to keep an eye out for whales.
The Great Ocean Road is considered a major tourist attraction in our region, but is also listed as one of the top 10 roads to drive in the world. A downside of this most popular attraction is the frustration of road congestion. This, coupled with a very long day in the car if travelling from Melbourne. Save time and potential driving issues when you choose to see the region by air.
Enjoy the sights of the beautiful coastline affectionately known as the Surf Coast between Torquay and Cape Otway and the Shipwreck Coast further west of Cape Otway, providing visibility of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. The road traverses rainforests, as well as beaches and cliffs composed of limestone and sandstone. The Great Ocean road travels along Anglesea, Lorne, Apoloo Bay and Port Campbell, the latter being notable for its natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, London Arch (formerly London Bridge) and The Twelve Apostles. At the stretch of the Great Ocean Road nearer to Geelong, the road meanders along the coast, with tall, almost-vertical cliffs on the other side of it. Your Great Ocean Air flight will travel west along the coastline, and inland over the Otway Ranges on your return journey.
The Twelve Apostles
The iconic golden cliffs and crumbling pillars of the Twelve Apostles can be found 7km east of Port Campbell. They are protected by the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park which covers 7500ha and runs along 17km of stunning coastline. As well as the above water beauty the park protects some of Victoria’s most dramatic underwater scenery. Spectacular arches, canyons, fissures, gutters and deep sloping reefs make up the environment below the waves. Wild and powerful waves of the Southern Ocean constantly pound the coastline which has shaped the area into what you see today.
The remarkable underwater structures provide a complex foundation for magnificent habitats including kelp forests and colourful sponge gardens.
Many animals prosper both above and below the water including seabirds, seals, lobsters, reef fish and sea spiders. The intertidal and shallow subtidal reefs are known to have the greatest diversity of invertebrates on limestone reef in Victoria.
Marine mammals, such as whales, are also known to visit the area. Patient visitors after dark or in the early morning may see Little Penguins which nest in caves below the Twelve Apostles.
The Otway Ranges
The Otway Ranges is a spectacular, lush rainforest found within the 12,876-hectare Great Otway National Park and is about 2 hours drive from Melbourne. It is an unforgettable place with spectacular sunsets and where the national park meets the ocean. Frequently sighted animals and birds include koalas, eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, possums, blue-winged parrots, sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and kookaburras. Many other species are seen on occasion and require more discreet observation such as feathertail gliders, long-nosed bandicoots, platypus and long-nosed potoroos. There are also a number of rare and threatened species surviving in the area such as the spotted tailed quoll and rufous bristlebird.
The Great Ocean Road technically begins at Barwon Heads, but is more widely recognized to start near Torquay which is a 25 minute drive away. Spend a full day travelling from your home to the must see Great Ocean Road and it’s many towns along the way. Attractions in this area include the Otway Fly, Turtons Track, The 12 Apostles, the Great Ocean Road drive, the township of Lorne, and nature walks in the Otway Ranges.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race - 31 January - 2 February 2017
Geelong - Barwon Heads - Torquay
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is a new event on Victoria’s Major Events Calendar. It is a two day event that will feature an Elite Men’s Road Race, the first event of its kind in Australia, and inspired by the prestigious Spring Classics of Europe. The elite one day race format delivers high excitement and intense competition. Spectators can enjoy watching professional cycling teams, including BMC and Orica GreenEDGE, compete in the Elite Men’s Road Race on Sunday 1 February 2015. Starting and finishing on the magical waterfront of Geelong the races could not be showcased in a more picturesque location, made famous as images of the 2010 UCI World Road Championships were beamed around in globe in October of that year.
Don’t let the excitement die down when the race comes to an end. Plan out a new adventure for each day of your Victorian holiday and revel in the sights, sounds and flavours of the region. Toast to the good life on winery tours along the Bellarine Peninsula, take in ocean views and get close to local wildlife on the Great Ocean Road, and then discover the best of cosmopolitan Melbourne. Great Ocean Air offers transfers from Melbourne to Barwon Heads return.
History of the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road was first planned towards the end of the first world war, when chairman of the Country Roads Board, William Calder, asked the State War Council for funds to be provided for returned soldiers to work on roads in sparsely populated areas in the Western District. By the time of World War 1, the rugged south-west coast of Victoria was accessible only by sea or rough bush track. Besides being dedicated as a memorial, it was also envisaged that the road would connect isolated settlements on the coast, and become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.
Surveying for the road, tentatively titled the South Coast Road, started in 1918 – with the road suggested to travel from Barwon Heads, follow the coast west around Cape Otway, and end near Warrnambool. In 1918, the Great Ocean Road Trust was formed as a private company, under the helm of president Howard Hitchcock. The company managed to secure £81,000 in capital from private subscription and borrowing, with Hitchcock himself contributing £3000. Money would be repaid by charging drivers a toll until the debt was cleared, and the road would then be gifted to the state.
Construction on the road began on 19 September 1919, built by approximately 3,000 returned servicemen as a war memorial for fellow servicemen who had been killed in World War 1. Construction was done by hand; using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows and some small machinery. Soldiers used tents for accommodation throughout, and made use of a communal dining marquee and kitchen; food costing up to 10 shillings a week. Despite the difficulty involved in constructing the road, the workers had access to a piano, gramophone, games, newspapers and magazines at the camps. Additionally, in 1924, the steamboat Casino became stranded near Cape Patton after hitting a reef, forcing it to jettison 500 barrels of beer and 120 cases of spirits. The workers obtained the cargo, resulting in an unscheduled two week long drinking break.
In 1962, the road was deemed by the Tourist Development Authority to be one of the world's great scenic roads. Despite improvements, the road was still considered a challenging drive. In 2011, the road was added to the Australian National Heritage List.