There are few greater things than a good road trip and when my friend Sharon and I realised we would be in Oz at the same time we couldn’t think of anything better then taking ourselves off to The Great Ocean Road to have an explore. The road, which was built to commemorate the services of the soldiers in the First World War, is a winding, cliff hugging 151 mile stretch from Torquay to Allansford.
Highlights range from hikes in to the forest, to spotting Kangaroos, to just sitting back and taking in the incredible cliff formations. Here are my top six must see sights.
1. The road itself
This sounds a little stupid but the road itself is incredible, both aesthetically and to those who like a bit of history. I’m not the only one that thinks so, it’s been heritage listed. The story behind it is fascinating, built by soldiers who had returned from the First World War. There are lots of stop off points along the way with loads information on this and some incredible viewing platforms.
You also come across an interesting road sign or two.
2. Sheoak Falls
Looking to explore the rainforest but you don’t want to give up a whole day to go trekking? The paths leading to Sheoak Falls are perfect for this. Within a few minutes you are out of sight and earshot of the road and treading paths with huge trees towering above you. The main waterfall is a stunner too with the deep pool at the bottom appearing black due to the incredibly dark rock. It is about an hour’s walking and includes a few ascents and descents but nothing that’s too challenging.
3. Cliff formations – The Twelve Apostles, London Arch and the Bay of Islands
The most famous tourist destination along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. These are a collection of limestone stacks that used to be part of the cliff face before being eroded by the sea. Despite the name we could only count a maximum of seven apostles and apparently there wasn’t even twelve in the first place! Awe inspiring views none-the-less.
The next stop was London Arch. It used to be called London Bridge until the bit connecting the mainland to the stack collapsed (leaving people stranded and having to be picked up by helicopter!).
Our favourite cliff formation was the less touristy Bay of Islands, a huge empty beach with limestone rock formations stretching off in to the distance.
4. Great Otway National Park
The park itself is pretty special but what brings people here is the court of kangaroos (yes that is the correct noun for a group of them) and koalas that sit in the tree tops looking down, with slight disdain, on the many humans with cameras pointing in their direction. When entering the park we were a little unsure how we could spot such a small creature high up in the trees, but here’s how.
We spent a good hour crawling along in the car at 5mph looking in to the trees for the furry little things and we were lucky to spot quite a few.
As cute as they were nothing compared to coming across around 30 kangaroos relaxing in a field as were we about to leave. We were even lucky enough to see a couple of them have a boxing match!
5. Apollo bay – sea kayaking with a seal colony
Continuing with the wildlife activities I would really recommend joining one of the kayaking tours that heads out to see a seal colony. The seals are incredible, if a bit smelly, and they swim right up to and around the kayaks. Our guide, Ryan, ticked every box of a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ and was a brilliant fount of knowledge.
6. Cheese World
Last but not least is Cheese World. It might not make everyone’s “six must see sights” but once Sharon heard a rumour of this place at our hostel in Port Campbell she wouldn’t be put off finding it. To be fair it was a pretty cool attraction with an unlimited supply of free cheddar. I liked it so much that I ended up buying two packets of the overpriced dairy to bring home to the UK. It was a little more inspiring on the inside compared to the factory setting that you are met with as you drive up.