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Melbourne is frequently cited as one of the world’s most liveable cities, as well as one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.
While you could spend all your time in Melbourne and never run out of things to do, one way to make your trip even better is to head out on an adventurous road trip down the Great Ocean Road.
This is a long stretch of road that will take you past some distinctive landmarks and through some great little beach towns where Melbourne locals themselves often spend their holidays.
Preparing for the Journey in Melbourne
Before you head out on your road trip, some planning is in order, and it all starts with getting to Melbourne in the first place. The prospect of getting to Australia can often be intimidating owing to the necessity of long-haul flights, yet tourists continue to flock Down Under due to a range of accessible, straightforward transport links.
In addition, being the country’s second biggest city, Melbourne is exceptionally connected. Major airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar offer a plethora of options for those who want to directly fly to Melbourne. Naturally, there’s a mix of international and national flight paths, which means that you could easily get to Garden City from a neighboring country or even other Australian cities such as Adelaide or Sydney.
From a pricing perspective, it’s ideal to consider your transport arrangements well in advance to get the best value at the booking stage. Nonetheless, there are often last-minute deals, so don’t be discouraged if you’re cutting it fine.
While you’re in Melbourne, you can make the most of your time with many different activities. You might like to jump on a cruise down the Yarra River straight through the city, visit the Gold Treasury Museum, or wander around the Queen Victoria Market. Melbourne is undeniably the sports capital of Australia, too, so you’ll likely have plenty of sporting options to choose from if that’s up your alley.
As you think about your trip, the main thing you’ll need to decide on is transportation. While you have the option of simply renting a car and staying at any of the many accommodations on offer along the Great Ocean Road, others may choose to rent a motorhome to make the trip even more special. In fact, companies like Lets Go Motorhomes are located right near Tullamarine Airport, so you don’t even have to worry about getting into the city before you get your transportation sorted.
Other than transportation, the other thing to think about is packing. This part of Australia is known for having erratic weather, and it can get quite cold at times. Make sure to include layers adaptable to varying weather conditions, as well as sun protection gear for when it gets hot. The Great Ocean Road is well-traveled and easy to navigate, but tools like a GPS and an emergency kit are, of course, always useful.
The Great Ocean Road’s Key Attractions
As you traverse the Great Ocean Road, you’ll encounter some of Australia’s most remarkable natural landmarks and historical sites. Probably the most iconic of these spectacles is the 12 Apostles, a series of limestone rocks standing tall alongside each other in the ocean. They were formed and sculpted over millions of years, and today, they make for interesting viewing, particularly around dawn and dusk.
A short drive away from the 12 Apostles lies Loch Ard Gorge. This area is most well-known for its tales of shipwrecks and survival throughout history, but most visitors today are drawn to the area to get out and explore all the different walking paths and vantage points. This is one spot along the Great Ocean Road that photographers definitely shouldn’t miss, and if you time it right, parts of it feel like you have your own private beach.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a surfer, Bells Beach should be on your Melbourne road trip itinerary. This is the beach that has hosted the Rip Curl Pro Surfing competition since 1961. Many of the best surfers in the world have ridden these waves, but the waves can get very big, so make sure you prioritize safety when you’re here.
Beach Towns Worth Visiting
All along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll come across many different towns that are thriving tourist destinations in their own right. Once you have all your road trip gear ready, many of these towns are worth stopping at, either for just a few hours or even a few days.
Among those towns, one that stands out is Anglesea. As you arrive in Anglesea, you’ll be immediately drawn to the main beach, where you’ll likely find families enjoying the gentle waves. More than just a beach, this town is one of those along the Great Ocean Road where you’re likely to have encounters with the local wildlife. It’s not uncommon for golfers at the local golf club to share the fairways with wild kangaroos lounging around.
Another place worth stopping at is the picturesque town of Lorne. As you drive into Lorne, you’ll see the beautiful foreshore, as well as the Lorne Pier, the starting point of the annual Pier To Pub swimming race. One of the main reasons to come through Lorne is that the Great Otway National Park is easily accessible from here, where you’ll find dense forests, scenic waterfalls, and lots of diverse wildlife.
Finally, consider spending some time in Apollo Bay, as well. Much like the natural beauty that’s close to Lorne, Apollo Bay is the gateway to the broader Otway Ranges, a paradise for hikers and explorers. Apollo Bay itself is filled with great fishing spots, incredible ocean-to-table restaurants, and frequent cultural events like the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival.
Whether it’s a short road trip or a long one, the Great Ocean Road can keep you entertained and provide a lot of variety. You can simply lay around the beach, spend all your time out in nature, catch your own dinner each night, or stay at luxury hotels and eat at expensive restaurants. This is a region of Australia that has a bit of everything, and you won’t be disappointed that you visited.