Planning a journey for one of the most beautiful places in Australia can be exciting but also a bit overwhelming. With so many attractions and usually, a tight schedule you may find yourself confused about what to choose. I recommend to plan your trip for at least a couple of days, as distances in Australia can be quite huge! This weekend we found ourselves back on the road, visiting The Great Ocean Road with its major attractions but we also got the chance to discover some hidden gems.
The most popular places in the area are The 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, Otway National Park, Bells Beach and Torquay. Having had visited them on two occasions, I can say The Great Ocean Road never ceases to impress and it’s definitely a must visit in Australia.
However, if you prefer going of the beaten track, there are some other places less packed with tourists, like Cape Bridgewater with attractions such as The Petrified Forest and The Blowholes and even Aireys Inlet, a small town found between Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road.
First Stop: Torquay
Let’s start with the beginning of The Great Ocean Road! Torquay is the first city of The Great Ocean Road (since we started in Melbourne) and it’s one of the most popular towns in the area. With beaches like Bells Beach, renowned as one of the best beaches in Australia for surf, this place definitely has to be found on your list! We enjoyed our short 20 minutes stop here to take some pictures as we had many other stops along The Great Ocean Road!
Hidden Gem: Aireys Inlet
Our next stop was random, not planned at all and it turned out to be a spectacular place! Now, this place is actually popular, but it doesn’t compare to the other destinations of The Great Ocean Road, plus there were only a few people when we visited. You will recognise this place by the lighthouse, subject of maritime legends and local ghost stories!
I found impressive that in order to arrive to the beach, you have to surround first a lake!
Erskine Falls: Tropical Oasis
Being located also at the beginning of The Great Ocean Road, this place will make a wonderful addition to your trip anytime! Erskine Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Otways.
It plunges from 30 meters high having 2 looking spots. We wandered down the stairs towards the lowest looking point and then hiked across the rocks of the Erskine River.
This was definitely in top 3 of the whole trip as it gives you a feeling of wilderness and tropical adventure! Needless to say, you need your walking shoes here!
Downside: Like any other major attraction on The Great Ocean Road, this place is packed with tourists but you can still enjoy it with less people if you go down the river like we did!
Hidden Gem: Cape Bridgewater
After driving for several hours skipping the other major destinations across The Great Ocean Road we finally arrived into this small town located at the very end of The Great Ocean Road. Being 380 kilometres away from Melbourne, this place is not that popular among tourists and I have to say I’m glad about that! Its isolated location and wide sandy-beaches make it a suitable place for wanderers and locals!
We stayed for 2 nights at Cape Bridgewater Sea Lodge, a lovely guesthouse located right across the beach! It’s also the place where I’ve seen a kangaroo while peeking out the window at breakfast. That after being frustrated at my boyfriend for seeing so many across the road while driving! Somehow I always looked in the other direction and missed them…
Attractions near Cape Bridgewater: Petrified Forest and Blowholes
An impressive location where you have to hike around 5-10 minutes, being one of the many nature’s wonders in Australia. With the strong wind from the Southern Ocean forming an impressive landscape across the coast, Petrified Forest is the perfect example of how nature is the best architect!
Called the Petrified Forest, the name comes from an early theory that advancing sand engulfed an ancient forest of coastal trees, petrifying them. Although an appealing idea, the truth is equally fascinating. The formation is actually a collection of hollow tubes of limestone eroded by millions of years of rainfall!
The Blowholes hosts an annual feast with krill for the most incredible marine creatures like dolphins, blue whales and several types of birds. In the right time of the year if you’re lucky you can spot the whales. Apparently that’s why it’s called “The Blowholes”, whales needing to come back to the surface for air.
We later left the place and drove towards South Australia, more exactly in Mt. Gambier where we visited several attractions, but about that in a future article!
Going back to the attractions of the Great Ocean Road, we couldn’t have left the area without visiting 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, the second being my most favourite of the entire area!
Get amazed at Loch Ard Gorge
Monday morning and we found ourselves driving to Melbourne, starting to get nostalgic that the weekend passed like a thunder light! We planned for two more stops along the Great Ocean Road, hitting some of the major attractions of the area! The first was Loch Ard Gorge, a place that I’ve fallen in love with since my first visit there! The bad weather didn’t help into fulfilling my dream of getting a sunbath and swim into the crystal clear water in the gorge, but at least this time I discovered some more peeking spots from above!
12 Apostles: No matter the weather, an astonishing place!
This place needs no further introduction, being possibly the most beautiful place in Australia! It was our last stop along The Great Ocean Road, obviously keeping the best for last!
These rock formations are the result of ongoing erosion, brought upon by the harsh climes of the Southern Ocean over the course of thousands of years.
Dating back to as early as 1846, this iconic location was once known as “The Sow and Piglets”. The biblical name “12 Apostles” didn’t emerge till sometime in the 20th century and may be a reflection of a time when people were more religiously inclined.
Hopefully I aroused the traveller spirit in everyone seeing this pictures and maybe convinced you that The Great Ocean Road is a fantastic place!
I mentioned earlier there was another part of the trip in South Australia State so stay tuned for the next article about the attractions around Mt. Gambier, a town close to the border with Victoria. It’s the second biggest city in South Australia and it amazed me with the urban caves found across it, but will say no more! Stay tuned for my next post and don’t forget to subscribe!