A unique Australian treasure, the Great Ocean Road offers travellers one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world, and has to be experienced. It is the perfect destination for the self drive holiday. With pristine camping grounds throughout the coastline, amazing national parks and pretty seaside towns from start to finish, there is something for everyone here.
Located in Victoria's south west coast, the Great Ocean Road begins in the trendy city of Geelong which is close to an hour from Melbourne. You might want to set aside a few days to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Bellarine Peninsula, or spend some time in historical Queenscliff before you set out on the road trip of a lifetime.
Port Campbell is one of the most well known stretches, which is where you will find the unforgettable Twelve Apostles, rock stacks which rise up from the ocean like golden fingers. The best photo opportunities are around sunrise and sunsets with the brilliant colours totally mesmerising. Bring your scarf and coats as the area is known for its cold winds, and set some time aside to enjoy the local wharves and museum which will give you a greater insight into the coast and legends of the many shipwrecks primarily located between Moonlight Head and Port Fairy. This stretch has been named 'Shipwreck Coast' for obvious reasons.
Planning an itinerary before you leave is a great idea, although there area so many places to stay that you can still allow some flexibility in your plans. If you are looking for a relaxing getaway location, Lorne and Apollo Bay are the ideal bases to provide a closer look at this stunning part of the world. One of the best places to camp
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in this area are located close to the Wye and Kennett Rivers, with Blanket Bay another secluded spot that is often hidden from most of the tourists that frequent the area. Not only do you have prime access to the beautiful beaches here, but the rainforests of the Otway Ranges which frame the coast are just as breathtaking.
Take some time out to drive into the hinterland and enjoy some of the spectacular scenic walks, or alternatively enjoy the mountain views from your campervan as you head to some of the popular lookouts. Back closer to shore, Cape Otway features a majestic old lighthouse which is worth the climb for panoramic views of the coastline. It is one of the few lighthouses along the coastline open to tourists.
Further along the coast, visit the Lower Glenelg National Park, which offers incredible camping grounds surrounded by towering trees and a peaceful river. Canoeing is popular here. As well as Apollo Bay, there are so many ideal camping spots to choose from, some located along the Bellarine Peninsula, Cumberland River Reserve, Lower Glenelg National Park, Wye River and Kennett River reserve.
There is every type of outdoor activity along the Great Ocean Road. Swimming is a must, with Torquay one of the prettiest beaches, and Anglesea another great choice for families with the quiet waters great for the kids. Cycling, golf and horse riding are also popular past times, as well as fishing, with a smorgasbord of choices for the most avid fisherman. One of the most common water sports along the coastline is surfing. Some of the most popular surfing beaches can be found at Point Lonsdale, Torquay, Point Danger and Bells Beach. Lorne and Apollo Bay are ideal for the body surfer, or just relaxing and enjoying the beach views. It is best to try some of the breaks further out of the popular tourist strips. Once again Cape Otway is a favoured destination for surfers, although further west the conditions are too wild for safe surfing conditions.
For avid walkers, the Great Ocean Walk takes you through almost 100 kilometres of isolated coastline as along high cliffs and weaving into the forests further inland. You can start and stop along the trail which starts at Apollo Bay and finishes right near the Twelve Apostles. Allow one week to a fortnight to make the most of this incredible journey. With so many places to see and things to do you will need a few days in each favourite spot, and your rental car will give you the freedom to choose exactly how and when you experience the Great Ocean Road and its wonders.
Jenny Brewer is a travel agent whose passion is writing. After spending her leisure time writing time writing childrens stories, she now enjoys writing about travel destinations. For more of her articles visit <A HREF="http://www.discovery-carhire.com.au">Car Hire Australia</A>