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Great Ocean Road Holiday Destinations & Towns
Victoria (VIC)

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Your journey in the Great Ocean Road region begins at the historic and bustling City of Geelong, 72 kilometres south west of Melbourne. The provincial centre is one of the state's most historically significant, with National Trust classifications on more than 200 of its buildings.

As Victoria's second largest city, Geelong is renowned for its artistic heritage, cultural diversity, internationally-renowned wine making and sporting leadership. In and around Geelong are a variety of historic and country gardens that are especially spectacular in Spring.

The Botanic Gardens are popular with families, as are the recreation areas of Rippleside and Eastern Beach, overlooking Corio Bay.

In town, the old Dennys Lascelles Woolstore, built in stages from 1872, houses the National Wool Museum which explores Australia's wool heritage.

On the sporting front there are more than 22 golf courses, stadiums for basketball, football and gymnastics, surfing and soccer.

The Australian International Airshow and Aerospace Expo at Avalon draws thousands of people from around the country and the world every two years to see the latest in aerospace technology.

Just north of Geelong lies the hinterland where you can enjoy national parks, explore bush tracks, and visit waterfalls, picnic areas and wildlife sanctuary.

Serendip Sanctuary in Lara is home to more than 150 species of native birds and a host of native animals. Visitors have a rare opportunity to see threatened species, thanks to the sanctuary's captive breeding program.

A gentle climb to the highest point of the You Yangs Regional Park, Flinders Peak, is rewarded with spectacular views in all directions.

Barunah Plains, west of Geelong, was once the largest sheep station in Victoria and still operates today. Its mansion, outbuildings and refurbished shearers' quarters are there to be enjoyed by visitors.

Along the Barwon River, from Breakwater to Buckley's Falls are wonderful walks. Legendary convict William Buckley escaped from the convict settlement near Sorrento in 1803 and managed to survive by living off the land. He was befriended by local Koories and lived with them for 32 years. He took white settlers to the Buckley's Falls area in the early 1800s to see the scenery.

To the east of Geelong lies the Bellarine Peninsula which is famous for safe swimming, water sports, excellent fishing and golf. Towns including St Leonards, Ocean Grove, Port Arlington, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads offer a wide array of accommodation and activities.

The romantic holiday resort of Queenscliff is steeped in history with grand guest houses, stately old buildings and Victorian homes. Queenscliff offers a charming insight into life in the 1800s and showcases the art of gracious living.

The Queenscliff Maritime Centre and Museum reveals the town's relationship with the sea and its early beginnings as a port.

Torquay is where the Great Ocean Road begins its journey westward. Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia and some of the finest boardriders in the world flock to Bells Beach every year for the annual Easter Classic. Surfworld in Torquay is Australia's only surfing museum and Hall of Fame.

As well as the wild surf, there are popular family beaches and picnic areas on the Esplanade and Fishermens Beach on Zeally Bay.

From Torquay the road heads gently inland but the ocean is never far away. If you can't see it, the strong smell of salt in the air serves as a constant reminder.

You rejoin the coast at Anglesea, a quiet holiday village. Here you can enjoy great fishing, sailing, swimming and walking. Point Roadknight, a popular sheltered beach, is a family favourite and the walk, at low tide, to Point Adds is invigorating. So too is a round at the Anglesea Golf Course - that's if you don't mind sharing the greens with grazing kangaroos.

Split Point Lighthouse provides the visitor with fantastic views and a breathtaking cliff walk to the beach. Undersea volcanoes created the cliffs and off-shore stacks of Painkalac Creek which runs through the outskirts of Aireys Inlet and is surrounded by Angahook-Lorne State Park.

From Aireys Inlet, Moggs Creek is a four hour walk which will reward people with two 360 degree lookouts and picnic areas. Here you'll also find the commemorative arch at Eastern View which marks the official start of construction of the Great Ocean Road.

As you come around a bend in the road you catch a glimpse of your next major town, Lorne. There it sits on the edge of Loutit Bay, proudly backed by the stunning, heavily-forested Otway Ranges. It's little wonder that Lorne was the first area of Natural Beauty and Special Significance' declared by the Victorian Government.

Locals claim there are more sunny days here than anywhere on the west coast, and, however idle the boast, someone certainly looks down on Lorne with favour. You'll never be bored. There's so much to do, even in winter.

Swimming in the warmer months, boutique shopping, visiting local galleries and dining at the fine restaurants are a few of the pleasures of this seaside town. You can also explore the magnificent tree-fern gullies and waterfalls along the walking tracks of the Angahook-Lorne State Park from the convenient base of any of the guesthouses, cabins and bed and breakfasts found nestled in the hills.

Beyond the charming villages of Wye River and Kennett River lies Cape Patton look out which is one of the greatest viewing points on Australia's coast, and the picturesque Carisbrook Falls.

Cast a line from the beach, breakwater or jetty at Apollo Bay. It's a fisherman's paradise. Whiting, couta and trevally are just waiting to be caught. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase the 'catch of the day' at the fisherman's co-operative near the jetty.

Lake Colac is Victoria's largest freshwater lake, and its tranquil setting features large parklands, botanic gardens, and delightful antique, arts and crafts shops. The National Trust homestead, Barwon Park, at Winchelsea, is the site where rabbits were first introduced to Australia.

Camperdown's main street is shaded by magnificent English Elms. The town is famous for its unique lakes and craters which resulted from volcanic action.

Just off the Great Ocean Road, the hinterlands are filled with bush tracks, waterfalls, picnic areas and stone walls built by early settlers from volcanic rocks.

Cobden is home to one of Australia's biggest dairy factories and Timboon is home to the famous Timboon Farmhouse Cheese Factory. It is also the location of a 100 year old railway trestle bridge classified by the National Trust.

At Moonlight Head you can stand on the top of what is reputedly the highest seacliff in the world. On the beach below, old rusted anchors symbolise the tragedy which befell hundreds of ships along this rugged stretch of coastline.

The Great Ocean Road leaves the Otways at Princetown, at the mouth of the Gellibrand River. It is a haunt of amateur geologists, naturalists and historians with its stunning scenery and wildlife reserve. Blowholes, caves and other bizarre sea-carved features can be seen, one after the other. The famous Twelve Apostles, a group of rock stack formations, are a traditional landmark symbol from Victoria. See fairy penguins at dusk from the Twelve Apostles and mutton birds on Muttonbird Island.

Port Campbell and Peterborough are small seaside settlements along the way. Port Campbell began life as a base for sealers and whalers and is a charming fishing village. The National Parks Information Centre in Port Campbell has a comprehensive range of maps detailing coastal and bush walks.

Peterborough is home to London Bridge, the Grotto, the Bay of Islands, The Bay of Martyrs, and Massacre Bay. Ample boat launching and camping facilities are available.

Your next main town is Warrnambool, situated 343 kilometres south-west of Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. At this point the character of the coastline changes. It used to be a sealing and whaling port and the evidence still exists today. At the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum you can relive Warrnambool's seafaring past and that of the entire Shipwreck Coast. Set up as a re-created pioneer Australian seaport, this museum is a vital key to understanding this coastline. It was never a safe harbour and the stretch between Warrnambool and Port Fairy was the most treacherous. It claimed dozens of ships and lives. One of those lost was the mysterious Mahogany Ship which supposedly lies under the dunes at Armstrong Bay between Warmambool and Port Fairy. A reward of $250,000 has ended but the search for the ship continues.

Warmambool is also known as the 'Nursery for the Southern Right Whale'. Almost 200 years after its waters were depleted of whales, these gentle giants are returning to calve in the shallow waters near Warrnambool. You can watch them from a special viewing platform at Logan's Beach during the winter months.

On the way to Port Fairy you pass through the town of Koroit, where rich black volcanic soils support potato growing. As the name suggests, the town was settled by the Irish who fled their country during the Irish potato famine in the 1840s. Today Koroit has a National Trust classification for its authentic streetscapes. The local hotel is a main contributor, although it's possibly better known for its St Patrick's Day tradition. If you happen to be in the vicinity at the time, you can sip green ale with the locals.

Port Fairy hasn't changed much since its whaling and sealing days. Charming white-washed cottages line the wide streets, the same way they have for over a century. Down at the wharves the 'catch of the day' may be purchased fresh from the boats which line the dock. East and south beaches are popular swimming spots, and historic inns, hostels and former whalers' cottages are now fine food restaurants and places to stay.

The National Trust has classified 50 of the buildings and 30 can be covered during a leisurely historical walk. Like other coastal settlements, Port Fairy was fortified against the Russians in the 1860s and three cannons memorialise this at Battery Point.

You will also find the history of Portland fascinating. The Henty family is remembered for establishing Victoria's first permanent white settlement here in 1834. You can understand more from the gracious homes, museums, old inns and scenic drives, the essence of Portland.

The road takes you around Portland Bay, site of Victoria's first permanent settlement, to the stately city of Portland, the only deep water port between Melbourne and Adelaide. Ships from over 50 different nations berth here and massive eight-tiered sheep vessels depart for the Middle East, carrying livestock from the hinterlands. Portland Aluminium exports about 320,000 tomes of aluminium ingot annually.

Sporting pursuits are well catered for with surfing, bowls, tennis, squash, croquet, golf, diving and fishing to name a few.

Australia's first Saint spent her childhood in Portland and Hamilton. Stretching from Dunkeld in the east to Nelson in the west, the Mary McKillop drive will allow pilgrims from around the world to retrace her journeys.

Around Portland and the Shire of Heywood there are exceptional walks including Cape Nelson State Park, Bridgewater Bay, the Blowholes, the Petrified Forest and Bridgewater Lakes.


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