If you want to discover somewhere truly special on your trip to Victoria, you need to leave Melbourne and head west along the Great Ocean Road. It was built by returned World War I servicemen, providing them with employment. It stands as a monument to those who died in the war and was a blessing to the local community for whom travel had been very challenging, with only bumpy coach tracks through the bush leading to the outside world.

The Great Ocean Road
Rugged scenery characterises the Great Ocean Road coastline. This beach is accessible using a steep flight of cliff-hugging stairs. Photo credit: Michelle Leech

Your drive will take you along this road rich in history, around headlands and past coves. You’ll pass through a number of small coastal towns, each quieter and more laid-back than the last. The scenery is exceptional. Although you could do the drive and get back to Melbourne in a day, you’d be missing so much of what makes the area special. Plan to spend a long weekend travelling the road in stages and pick any of the coastal towns as your night-time retreat.

The Great Ocean Road

A section of the Great Ocean Walk overlooking the Twelve Apostles. Photo credit: Michelle Leech

If you have even more time to spend and want to really immerse yourself in the incredible scenery, the Great Ocean Walk is the way to go. Stretching for 104km along the coast all the way from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell, you’ll see places no road can access and enjoy the solitude of walking on unspoilt beaches with not a soul in sight. With rugged cliffs, fascinating geology and abundant wildlife, it’s an unforgettable experience. During whale season (June to September), you might even be lucky enough to spot a migrating Southern Right whale. And the best part is that even if you’re not quite up for the challenge of a multi-day hike, the track was designed so that visitors can access sections of the track from the road, so there’s no need to miss the most scenic spots, such as the iconic Twelve Apostles, which can be viewed a short accessible walk from the Twelve Apostles Visitors Centre along the main road.

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