One my early trips to Australia, from March 2011, travelling in a loop from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, and back inland via the Grampians. With lots of coastal scenery and wildlife it was an enjoyable trip, but nothing compared to later travels in Australia, particularly Darwin to Broome, Perth to Broome, and Adelaide to Alice Springs.
I started in Melbourne and headed down to the coastal town of Barwon Heads for my first experience of Australian beaches, pretty impressive at the time.
The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay, and runs for 243km to Allansford, with about two thirds of it along the coast, and a third inland, more than I expected given it’s name. The road was built by servicemen returned from WW1, providing employment for around 3,000 them over the course of 13 years until it was completed in 1932. Unexpectedly it is the world’s largest war memorial.
First stop along the road was Bells Beach, another big beach, which is home to the longest continuously running pro surfing competition, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which has been running since 1962.
A handy lookout gave great views over Point Addis Marine National Park.
Split Point Lighthouse is the main attraction in Aireys Inlet. It was built in 1891, and was used in the classic children’s TV show Round the Twist.
Otway National Park was created in 2004 by joining a number of existing parks and reserves into a single 103k sqm park. There were plenty of koala around and some friendly birds keen on seed.
The most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles, a somewhat misleading name as there were only ever eight stacks, one of which collapsed in 2005. It’s a good place to watch the sunset, casting golden light onto the cliffs.
The nearby London Arch used to be called London Bridge until the bridge section to the mainland collapsed in 1990.
Heading inland back to Melbourne we stopped in Halls Gap, the gateway to Grampians National Park, home to kangaroos and emu.
Much of the park was off-limits after recent (and frequent) fires, but we did tackle the 7km return Mt Sturgeon (Wurgarri) walk which offered some great views, and the backside of an echidna hiding in the bush.