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Australia is much too large to see during one road trip. After all, driving ''the big lap” around the continent via Highway One encompasses 9,300 miles of roadway.
But a much more manageable jaunt down Australia’s iconic Great Ocean Road in Victoria still packs a lot into 151 miles between the towns of Torquay and Allansford (near Warrnambool).
For many families, a road trip is a rite of passage. And with its wide-open spaces, nature activities and exclusive experiences, the Great Ocean Road, which runs along Australia’s southeastern coast, will be especially ideal as a safer reintroduction to travel for adults and little ones alike.
Included below are six reasons why clients will love uncovering this stretch of coastline.
Beaches GaloreThere are numerous beaches to discover along the Great Ocean Road. Families may be tempted to pull over and jump in anywhere, but it’s advisable to look for beaches with yellow and red flags, which indicate that lifeguards are on duty. Towns with protected, family-friendly beaches include Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell.
Surfing families will probably already know of Bells Beach, home to the world’s longest-running professional surfing event, the Rip Curl Pro. Here, families can have fun while playing in the sand and watching the surfers. (Editor’s note: The 2020 Rip Curl Pro event was postponed, and a new date is yet to be announced.)
Glorious FoodNo one will protest a stop at Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. With signs warning to watch out for children, ducks and oompa loompas, this popular stop along the Great Ocean Road is fun before clients even enter the attraction. Families can join in daily hosted tasting sessions, and adults-free junior chocolatier classes can be booked in advance.
Another foodie experience is the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail, which gives visitors the chance to experience fresh local produce and culinary delights along the coast and inland. Gourmet cheese, single malt whiskey, chocolate fudge, rich Timboon Ice Cream, olives and strawberries are all on offer.
Heritage and HistoryHeritage experience abounds on the Great Ocean Road, especially when it comes to maritime history.
A visit to Cape Otway Lightstation is a must, where families can walk up a spiral staircase to the top for magnificent views of the treacherous coast. The grounds also feature historic buildings, an on-site cafe and small dinosaur bone display.
Outdoors and AdventurePort Campbell Visitor Information Centre offers a fun Craters to Coast Discovery Program for families. Equipment such as telescopes, handheld GPS navigation units and compasses are available to borrow — free of charge — for exploring the region and completing themed activities.
Families can also enjoy a couple nights in the pretty beach town of Lorne, where they can take advantage of the many walks and waterfalls in the area. Those with younger children will appreciate the Erskine Falls and Sheoak Falls routes, as both feature waterfalls and are fairly easy to hike.
For kids and parents who don’t have a fear of heights, Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is a fantastic nature experience. Clients can choose a zipline tour or experience the Treetop Walk; the one-hour rainforest Treetop Walk experience is a little over 1 mile in total and features an 82-foot high section of treetop canopy walkway.
Stunning ViewsDramatic at all hours but particularly glorious at dusk and dawn, the 12 Apostles are a well-known highlight. Over time, forces of nature eroded softer sections of limestone once connected to cliffs. They eventually collapsed, leaving behind the gigantic stacks that we see today, of which eight remain.
Although epic scenery can be found all along the Great Ocean Road, a cluster of lookouts are found in Port Campbell National Park. Recommend that clients spend a night in the town of Port Campbell so they can arrive at major viewpoints — such as the 12 Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge — before the tour buses do.
Families will especially enjoy Loch Ard Gorge, where they can descend steps into the gorge itself for a different viewpoint. If clients are up for a splurge, scenic helicopter flights with 12 Apostles Helicopters can be taken from the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre.
Wildlife in Its Natural Environment Travelers don’t need to visit a zoo to see wildlife along the Great Ocean Road; instead, they will appreciate seeing Australia’s wildlife in its natural environment.
A great place to spot koalas along the Great Ocean Road is the small hamlet of Kennett River, located halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay. Families can park their vehicles near Kafe Koala and stroll up Grey River Road, taking in the views and keeping their eyes peeled for the koalas high up in the eucalyptus trees.
A round of golf at Anglesea Golf Club will have families sharing the grounds with a resident population of Eastern grey kangaroos. Alternatively, for those up for an evening stroll among ancient trees and giant ferns, Melba Gully in Great Otway National Park will mesmerize the kids with twinkling, tiny glowworms.
The Great Ocean Road begins at Torquay in Victoria and travels about 151 miles to finish at Allansford. Torquay is located about an 80-minute drive from Melbourne Airport.
Although there are public toilets in the townships, they will be busy during peak periods, and there is a noticeable lack of public toilets between towns. Touring the Great Ocean Road in a motorhome with its own toilet is ideal.
Such motorhomes can be hired in Melbourne, and it is recommended to pre-book accommodation/van sites in advance to ensure availability.