Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road spans 243 km along the South Eastern coastline of Victoria. It was built between 1919 and 1932 by 3000 returned World War I veterans and it was dedicated to those that didn’t return, and as such is considered the world’s largest war memorial. It starts in Torque and ends at Warrnambool. The Great Ocean Road is considered a tourist attraction in its own right as the road hugs and winds around the rugged coastline and cliffs. It was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2011.
Construction was done by hand. They had to clear the land and build the road. They used explosives and picks, shovels, and wheel barrows. The work was treacherous and several men died during the works. The original road was perilous with sheer cliffs, and at times only space for one vehicle and no room to let a vehicle in the opposite direction to pass. The road has been closed on many occasions due to landslides and bush fires. As recently as 2011 heavy rainfall caused a section of overhanging cliffs to collapse.
Along the stunning coastline there are regular places to stop, with a number of lookouts scattered along the coast. In the section between Torque and Lorne, these include Bells Beach, Anglesea and Cinema Point. At Aireys Inlet you can drive or walk up to Split Point Lighthouse. In Lorne, Teddy’s Lookout is considered one of the best along the Great Ocean Road. From Lorne to Warrnambool you can’t miss Cape Patton Lookout, Mt Defiance, Marriners and the Cape Otway Lightstation.
Perhaps the most iconic destination along the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles, 7 km east of Port Campbell. They are stunning rock stacks of limestone, 45 meters high above the ocean, created by erosion of the coastline 10 million years ago. The limestone changes colour with the sunlight, so viewing them on sunrise or sunset is spectacular. Since their discovery five have fallen, leaving behind only 8, which over time will also collapse. You can view the Apostles from viewing points off the road, or you can go down to beach level where you will really get a sense of their size and scale.
Since 2005, a 45 km section of the road between Apollo Bay and Lorne is used annually for the Great Ocean Road Marathon. Held in May each year, it is dubbed Australia’s most stunning marathon. The race has a 45 km marathon, a 23 km half marathon, 14km run, 6km run, 1.5km run and a 14km wheelchair race. It has participation from around 6000 entrants each year from over 12 different countries. Participants can raise money for their own chosen charity.