Take a look at some of the iconic attractions on the Great Ocean Road – Australia’s famous coastal drive near Melbourne.
Melbourne’s most popular day trip – the Great Ocean Road is a day spent touring an incredible coastline. For a relatively short stretch of Australia’s coast – there are a lot of attractions packed in. you can view koalas in the wild. You can explore the big waves and surf culture of the Surf Coast. You can learn about the road’s history which is tied in to the First World War. And of course, you should take the time to marvel at the world-famous Twelve Apostles. These impressive limestone stacks and the surrounding coastline will leave a lasting impression.
Here’s our pick of the best attractions along the Great Ocean Road.
The best attractions on the Great Ocean Road
Surf Coast – Great Ocean Road
Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku brought surfing to Australia in 1915. However, surfing in Australia was pretty conservative until the 1960’s when free spirited surfers set up their own board-riding clubs. They began to change and revolutionise surf culture in Australia. This was the around the same time that RipCurl and Quiksilver were starting out in Torquay.
These brands are now famous the world over and Torquay is renowned for its surf beaches and surf culture. The first part of the drive along the Great Ocean Road takes you along the Surf Coast were you can see big waves, protected surfing reserves and more than likely a few local surfers in action.
Memorial Arch on the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road was built in memory of the Australian’s that lost their lives in the first world war. Therefore the Memorial Arch was built to honour the 3000 service men that worked on and built the road from 1919 to 1932. It was a huge undertaking to carve a road into the rocky coastline, and it provided many jobs for returned servicemen after the First World War.
These days the Memorial Arch is a popular location to visit on the Great Ocean Road. From the viewing area beside the road you can also check out the memorial statue of soldiers constructing the road. There are information boards and plaques detailing the construction of the Great Ocean Road. In addition there are plaques commemorating the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the road’s opening.
Koalas on the Great Ocean Road
Seeing koalas in the wild is a highlight of anyones trip to Australia. Luckily not too far from Melbourne, on the Great Ocean Road, you can see these cute creatures in their natural environment. One of our stops on both our Day Tour and Sunset Tour is to see koalas in their natural habitat in the eucalyptus forests of the Kennett River township. These iconic Australian animals are found (usually sleeping) in the eucalyptus trees. Their diet consists of solely eucalyptus leaves and as such they can be found close to their food source. It is their poor diet which makes them so sleepy!
Seaside towns along the Great Ocean Road
There are many great seaside towns along the famous scenic drive. In particular Apollo Bay is a holiday town that welcomes many visitors each year. Melburnians like to stay there for the summer holidays. Visitors to Melbourne like to stop in for some fresh locally caught fish, handmade icecream and friendly locals.
Apollo Bay is the lunch break stop on our Great Ocean Road tour. It is a great place to take a walk and stretch your legs. There are many food and drink options, including the famous scallop pie at the bakery, fresh fish and chips, or a cold beer at the brewery. You should also make a stop at Dooley’s Icecream to taste their range of award winning flavours.
The Great Otway National Park stretches along the Great Ocean Road coastline from Torquay through to Princetown. It also goes inland through hinterland to the rural town of Colac.
Amongst the national park there are many walking trails where you can discover wildlife, trees, rainforest and waterfalls. On our Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne you can take a walk through the Otways National Park at Maits Rest.
From the trail you can view rainforest trees, as well as the mountain ash. You might even spot some of the black snails, insects and birds which inhabit the area.
Loch Ard Gorge
Stepping foot into Loch Ard Gorge, it’s hard not to be in awe of the surrounding cliffs and secluded beach. But when you hear the tale of the Loch Ard Disaster, it adds a whole new layer of meaning to your visit The Loch Ard was a ship that set sail from the UK in 1878.
After three months at sea the ship had reached Bass Strait and a now infamous stretch of the coast referred to as the Shipwreck Coast. After trouble navigating the rough waters, the Loch Ard wrecked on rocks adjacent to what is now called Mutton Bird Island. Of the 54 people on board the Loch Ard, only two survived the shipwreck.
Twelve Apostles – a highlight of the Great Ocean Road
The 12 Apostles are famous limestone stacks along Australia’s southern coastline. A highlight of any visit to the famous Great Ocean Road, these rock formations need to be seen to be believed. They seemingly rise out of the Southern Ocean – some up to 45 metres tall.
In reality, they were once part of the coastal cliffs. The wind and waves that this part of Australia is known for carved the cliffs into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down to just tall columns.
On Tour with Go West
On a Go West Tour you have the opportunity to learn more about Melbourne and Victoria. Our day tours explore all of the best destinations in Victoria – including the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island Penguin Parade, Yarra Valley and more. We pride ourselves on exceeding industry standards for excellence and customer service.
With 22 years in business, Go West Tours is still a family-owned and operated tour business and we are as committed to providing guests with an unforgettable experience as we were back in 2000. We are the most highly-awarded tour operator in Melbourne and we guarantee to provide you with an experience that is memorable for all the right reasons.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au