Victoria's Great Ocean Road - Spectacular Landscapes, Stunning Wildlife and Scenic Photo Essays
If you fly to Melbourne from the UK, you'll usually arrive very early in the morning. Pick up a hire/rental car and head 100 Km south towards Torquay for the start of a self-drive two-day car tour along The Great Ocean Road with overnight stops in Apollo Bay and Warrnambool.
The Great Ocean Road runs from Torquay to Allansford just east of Warrnambool, it hugs the coastline for most of its 243 Km length. It has some spectacular landscapes and interesting wildlife, such as koala, making it an ideal for capturing nature, landscape and wildlife images.
From Torquay to Cape Otway it's the Surf Coast and the road passes through Victoria's Great Otway National Park. West of Cape Otway it's the Shipwreck Coast and passes through Port Campbell National and Bay of Islands Coastal Parks. These National Parks have many scenic short walks – great places for photography.
Short detours – Surf Coast, Erskine Falls and Grey River Road
Make a short detour off The Great Ocean Road to Point Addis on the Surf Coast. The sandstone coastline is interesting but not spectacular. Continue and make another detour inland from Lorne to view the slender 30 metre high Erskine Falls, again interesting but not spectacular. Stop for lunch stop at the Wye River Store and Cafe or better still drive to the Kennet River Koala Cafe. At the Wye River Cafe the service is slow, the staff indifferent, the food is poor quality and expensive. Park at, or near the Koala Cafe and view Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)feed in the trees along the Grey River Road.
A stroll around – Maits Rest Rainforest
After an overnight stop in Apollo Bay, head out early for Warrnambool and make a stop at Maits Rest Rainforest for a stroll around the 800 m circular trail. Arrive early in the morning when the mist make the forest feel eerie. On the downside, the low light levels made photography challenging.
Ship Wreck Coast en-route stops and detours: Cape Otway Lighthouse, Manna Gum Drive, Koalas and Castle Cove
Ship Wreck Coast: Cape Otway Lighthouse is a 12 Km drive south from the Great Ocean Road. There are several walks starting from the car park. One short one goes to the Lighthouse lookout, but unfortunately, overgrown shrubs now obscure the view.
On the way back to the highway stop at Manna Gum Drive, where Koalas can be seen feeding or sleeping in many of the trees. It’s not surprising most are asleep, as they are only active for about 4 hours per day, spending most of that time eating eucalyptus leaves.
The next stop is, Castle Cove, a surfing beach and one of the few places with parking before Port Campbell National Park. Stopping gives opportunities to photograph the farming landscape from the highway.
Ship Wreck Coast, Port Campbell National Park
From Cape Otway, The Great Ocean Road winds its way along the rugged and scenic coastline, known as the Shipwreck Coast. There have been a huge number of ships wrecked along this stretch coast especially during the nineteenth century, including the 'Loch Ard' in 1878.
The sandy limestone coast is within in the Port Campbell National Park which stretches 30 Km from Princetown to Peterborough and then continues along to the Bay of Islands Coastal Park nearly to Warrnambool.
There are several paved car parks along the road, allowing access to the coast and trails and short walks providing scenic views of the coastline. He major ones are The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard George, The Arch, London Bridge, the GrottoandBay of Islands Coastal Park.
The coast is a haven for wildlife, especially birds.