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Travel guide Great Ocean Road

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The Great Ocean Road
  • Teddy's Lookout on the Great OCean Road
  • Shark Teeth Great Ocean Road
  • Barwon Heads
  • Twelve Apostles

Whenever you drive along The Great Ocean Road, you could be forgiven for having illusions of grandeur. You might picture yourself as James Bond zipping along in a shiny Aston Martin. Or perhaps you'll wonder if you're actually part of a luxury car advertisement. The scenery is so incredible; your mind will transport you into a world of extravagance - even if you are puttering along in a broken-down heap.

The stretch of road between Torquay and Allansford in southwest Victoria was predominantly built by World War I returned soldiers. Commencing work with picks and shovels back in 1919, the men laboured hard, and few would have lived to see the whole expanse of road complete. Various sections opened over decades, with the first 75km between Anglesea and Apollo Bay completed in 1932.

More than 20 quaint towns are scattered along the stretch, each with its own unique character and beauty. On any given trip, you might be able to stay in one or two towns, and enjoy a meal or a visit to a gallery in others - but you will need several trips to the region to truly experience it.

As lovely as the towns are, undoubtedly it is the natural wonders that attract the visitors. The drive along the road itself - staring out at the majestic 12 Apostles in particular, leads to the wide-mouthed awe seen on so many guests.

The 12 Apostles and other natural wonders
Around 20 million years ago, the majestic sight known as the 12 Apostles began to take form. A combination of limestone cliffs (made from the skeletal remains of marine animals) and crashing waves led to nature sculpting these magnificent stone towers. Today, if you drive between Princeton and Peterborough along The Great Ocean Road, you will be treated to a truly breathtaking site. Twelve massive rock stacks rise out of the ocean up to 45 metres high, each defying the thrashing ocean that even today, continues to form these sculptures.

Port Campbell National Park offers Great Ocean Road travelers other natural wonders as well, including such sites as the Muttonbird Island, Thunder Cave, Island Arch and the Blowhole to name a few.

Things to Do
Without question, you will want to travel the full expanse of the road, stop at scenic lookouts and walk some of the short tracks to natural wonders and views. In addition, here are some other ideas to make your Great Ocean Road break memorable.

1. Explore the boutiques, sample different wines (once you've hung up your car keys for the evening of course!) and try the fine dining available in the region. There are countless museums, galleries and war memorials in the towns, visiting some of these will give you an excellent feel for the area and its history.
2. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the hiking, bird watching, and flora of the Port Campbell National Park, as well as whale watching during the winter months.
3. Adventure seekers will find plenty of opportunities to abseil, hang glide, horse ride and rock climb.
4. Romantics can stroll along the beaches where they will discover many secluded areas to listen to the thrash of the ocean while admiring the views.
5. Families with kids will find countless opportunities to learn about the powerful forces of nature in forming limestone pillars, cliffs, and arches. There are plenty of excellent picnic spots and places for the children to frolic.

When to go
The Great Ocean Road is worth visiting any time of the year.

How to get there
The easiest way to explore The Great Ocean Road is, not coincidentally, by road - preferably a convertible with the top down and your hair blowing in the breeze. If you don't happen to have one of these beauties conveniently sitting in your driveway, or are planning to visit from the other side of Australia or the world, then you might want to consider arriving by plane, train or bus first.

Jetstar offers regular flights to Geelong, and trains and buses travel to Geelong from Melbourne, Adelaide, and towns or cities in-between. You can rent cars (even convertibles) from most of the towns along The Great Ocean Road with ease, or from Melbourne if you choose one of the many flights that land there every day.

Great Ocean Road Accomodation
Pooch lovers will be delighted to discover Red Paws of Lorne - a truly pet-friendly holiday apartment only a five-minute walk from a beach where dogs can run free. You'll love the convenience and character of this holiday apartment complete with dog-minding service, while your four-legged friends will feel pampered when they find the special towel, soap and doggie treats laid out for them.

For those without furry friends, there are many options. TakeABreak has over 250 listings along the Ocean Road, ranging from unique oceanfront mansions and guesthouses to rural bed and breakfasts, and even a gorgeous train carriage. With choices in all 30 localities along the stretch, you're sure to find what you want, where you want it. Check out TakeABreak's Great Ocean Road accommodation listings to find your dream getaway.

Ideal length of visit
You can easily drive the Great Ocean Road and stop at the major sites in a weekend, but you would miss all the fascinating towns along the way. Consider a long weekend if you are only interested in the major attractions and at least a week if you plan to explore the lovely coastal towns along the route.

Further information
Check out The Great Ocean Road website for up-to-date information about the activities, weather and news of the region.

About the Author
Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in Adelaide, Yulara (Uluru), Alice Springs and Canberra, as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time in each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a rotating basis.

Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveller, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex, and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.”  Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.


About the author
Find out more about Kylie at http://bit.ly/h_experts

If this article mentions a tourism region or activity you're passionate about, why not help us promote it by linking to this article from your own website or blog? You can use a short excerpt with your link if you wish. If you'd prefer to publish the entire article, please contact media@takeabreak.com.au - we are usually happy to grant permission with reasonable restrictions.

  Thanks for sharing this article with us. Red Paws looks amazing and is definitely a future destination for our family and four-legged friends.
Posted on Jan 19 2010 at 14:15

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