Things To Do In And Around Melbourne #2 :: Great Ocean Road
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, Australia. Melbourne offers great shopping and dining and Victoria has got a beautiful countryside and coast line combining beautiful national and state parks with quiet little villages and some larger regional centres. The spectacular Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria's main attractions. It draws millions of visitors yearly and is well worth a visit.
The spectacular Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria's main attractions. It draws millions of visitors annually and is well worth a visit.
Building the Great Ocean Road
Driving along the beautiful Great Ocean Road, you will find it hard to believe that such an incredibly picturesque road was built purely for functionality.
Although plans to build the road were already raised as early as 1880, the road only started being built after World War I, mainly by World War veterans who were offered to build the road in an attempt to let the veterans return to their country with a purpose and without being forced into unemployment.
Thousands of returned servicemen were hired for the job. The project officially started on the 19th September 1919 (9.19.1919) via detonation of the first explosive near tourist town Lorne.
It took more than a decade to build the entire road, partly due to the fact it was a tough job, partly due to funding issues. The road was opened in November 1932, originally as a toll road, but later (from 1936) for free.
When you drive that long, windy road think of the troubles those World War I soldiers had to endure to build the Great Ocean Road!
Why is the Great Ocean Road so popular?
The popularity of the Great Ocean Road is easily explained by anyone who has driven along it. It is in such a beautiful setting! It combines a beautiful, picturesque drive with quiet beach towns (or busy tourist towns during summer), an impressive ocean and the almighty Twelve Apostles (Port Campbell National Park).
Where is it?
The Great Ocean Road stretches between Torquay and Allansford where the Great Ocean Road joins the Princess Highway near Warrnambool. Torquay is about 90 minutes from Melbourne via the West Gate and Princess freeway. Parts of the road wind through the rain forest of Otway National Park.
Port Campbell National Park is about a five hour drive from Melbourne if you take the Great Ocean Road and approximately three hours from Melbourne if you take the Princess Highway.
But please, do not let these times fool you into thinking that this is an easy day-trip. I know people who have done it. It is a busy, busy, long day and they were not able to see everything and enjoy it as much as you should. I highly recommend taking two days for the whole road including the Twelve Apostles, to make sure that you get the opportunity to stop at many places, have a chance to walk around etc.
Port Campbell National Park
The Twelve Apostles are stacks of rock shaped by the sea. They are up to 20 million years old. They are one of the most spectacular sights in the world. When you see them you are glued to the scenery and you will not be able to stop taking pictures of these incredible rock shapes. The area is also known for the many shipwrecks that happened in the past, for example the Loch Ard. The Loch Ard had left England in March 1878, heading for Melbourne, with 54 passengers. However, in the Bass Strait, the captain could not calculate the boat's position correctly causing it to get to close to the shore. Only two survived the wreck. You can read their stories a few kilometres past the Twelve Apostles.
Also make sure you visit London Bridge and the Bay of Martyrs, you will be in awe.
Otway National Park
Otway National Park is a beautiful park full of rainforest. It has got great waterfalls, like the Triplet Falls. Visiting these falls will take about 1-2 hours out of your day, so make sure you keep that in mind when you are already spending time on all these other things to do along the Great Ocean Road. The best way to discover Otway National Park is via bush camping over night and then the next day hike down and jump into an ice cold ocean before breakfast!
As you see there is plenty to do along the Great Ocean Road to keep you busy for a few days. The Great Ocean Road is, as a driver, quite a tiring road so make sure you allow proper time to drive it and enjoy all the beautiful coast of Victoria has to offer. Enjoy your stay!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dominique Vangheel lives in Melbourne and loves it. His site I Love Melbourne is dedicated to Melbourne and Victoria and features the best things to do in and around Melbourne and Melbourne accommodation tips.
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