The Great Ocean Road is quite simply a must-drive for grey nomads serious about doing the Big Lap. As well as taking in some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world, the Great Ocean Road – which was built between 1919 and 1932 by returning soldiers – is a lasting memorial to the casualties of World War I.
Also known less glamorously as the B100, the road begins at the tourist town of Torquay, south-east of Melbourne, and ends 243 breathtaking kilometres later at Allansford near Warrnambool.
Although there is just one lane in each direction and it twists and turns dramatically, the road is certainly suitable – with care – for big motorhomes and caravans.
The first stop for westward-bound travellers is normally the world famous surfing mecca of Bells Beach. From here the road surprisingly swoops inland slightly through hills and valleys before passing through the charming town of Anglesea. The road now hugs the coast offering stunning views out across the Southern Ocean. A bronze statue of two Diggers has been erected at Eastern View to commemorate the road’s construction.
Towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay are fantastic places to stop and perhaps spend the night at a van park – but it is the rock-hugging road that is the star of this adventure.
Beyond Apollo Bay, the Great Ocean Road heads inland again through the heart of Otway National Park which is another top place to camp. The park is home to sensational waterfalls, gorges and rainforest, and a side trip to the lighthouse at Cape Otway will not disappoint.
As the road returns to the coast and then heads towards Port Campbell, things get really interesting. Watching the ocean pound relentlessly away at the limestone pillars of The Twelve Apostles – some of them nearly 50 metres tall – it is impossible not to feel humbled by the power of Mother Nature. There is a reason why this part of the world is also known as the Shipwreck Coast! After passing through Port Campbell, more coastal wonders – including the: The Arch and London Bridge – await.
The road heads briefly inland again now before re-emerging on the coast at Warrnambool. It’s the official end of the road and an eye-opening, jaw-dropping drive that will live long in the memory.