Great Ocean Road
Longing for "the open road, the dusty highway"? The Great Ocean Road, 150 miles of tarmac and freedom hugging Victoria's breathtaking south coast, takes road-tripping to a whole other level – and that's before you scale the crests of its limestone cliffs! Jump behind the wheel and speed past a gamut of the most beautiful scenery in Australia: beachside bays where surfers ride, eucalyptus forests, interlocking gorges and standing stone pillars lapped by waves. The route starts out at Torquay, a surf-soused resort town an hour from Melbourne, and ends in pretty Port Fairy, four hours’ non-stop drive to the west – but this is definitely one of those trips where the journey is even better than the destination! Along the way, you can gaze up at koalas among the treetops, tour a proper Aussie vineyard, lunch on sea-fresh crayfish with field-fresh strawberries for dessert, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the world's biggest animal, the rare blue whale, flipping its gigantic tail flukes as it disappears beneath the waves.
Wind along the Victoria coastline and across the Kennett River, where solemn-eyed koalas gaze down at you from eucalyptus trees. Half an hour on, Apollo Bay opens out in a wide green sweep of sunlit waves: your cue to pull away from the shore and plunge into the forests of the Great Otway National Park, shimmering with waterfalls, where you can follow the road round the skirts of the rainforest or take a detour to wander under the cool canopy of trees. Then it's on over the rolling green hills of Johanna and the marshy wetlands of Princetown to one of the starriest attractions of the Great Ocean Road: the Twelve Apostles, eight (yep, you read that right) towering limestone stacks that line the shore along the rim of Port Campbell National Park. It's a perfect spot for spectacular snaps, but your journey doesn’t end just yet – the sheer bottleneck of Loch Ard Gorge, the "floating" rocks of the Bay of Islands and the whales diving off Logan's Beach are calling to you! Once you've watched the droplets from the last whale spout sparkle back into the ocean, it'll be time enough to pull into Port Fairy, tired and exhilarated from the best drive of your life. Completing the Great Ocean Road can take as long as you want it to: weekenders can race down the coast in a day's drive; but lingering over the scenic spots will make your experience all the richer. And those without a car don’t have to feel left out: the 65-mile Great Ocean Walk takes in all the best sights of the coastal road, with a few extra treats thrown in, including pristine Johanna Beach and the bush-fringed sands of Blanket Bay.