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Great Ocean Road
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe magnificent Great Ocean Road runs for almost 155 miles along the Victoria coast between the towns of Torquay in the east and Warrnambool in the west. This road offers one of the very best road journeys on the planet. Although not that long, there is a lot to see and do along the way. The road basically follows the coastline of southwestern Victoria and sweeps past great surfing beaches, lush eucalypt rainforests, and impressive coastal cliffs. It runs through a wide variety of landscapes.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s major tourist destinations and attractions. It is a two-lane road with speed limits between 50 miles/h and 62 miles/h, which means that it can be driven in only a few hours. However, it is strongly recommended to allow several days to explore this breathtaking corner of Australia. It is also suggested to drive from east to west, as you will be driving on the left side of the road, this way you will always be on the oceanside of the road. The Great Ocean Road can roughly be divided into two sections. The section from Torquay to Cape Otway in Great Otway National Park is known as the ‘Surf Coast’, because of its fantastic surf and wonderful beaches, while the next section, between Cape Otway and Warrnambool, is called the ‘Shipwreck Coast’. The Shipwreck Coast’s name is obvious when seeing the number of rock stack and pillars rising up out of the Southern Ocean.
HistoryThe first plans to build the Great Ocean Road were formed near the end of the First World War. Up until then, the southwestern coast of Victoria could only be reached by boat or along rough, unpaved roads. The idea was to build a road to connect rural, coastal villages and to introduce tourism to the area, while providing jobs for returning soldiers. The road was then called the ‘South Coast Road’.
Construction started in 1919. The Great Ocean Road was built by about 3,000 ex-soldiers as a memorial to their comrades who lost their lives in the war. The road was almost entirely built by hand, aided by explosives and some small equipment. Mostly though, the soldiers used wheel barrows, shovels, and pick axes. The worker’s lives were tough as the work was hard and dangerous. One event definitely brightened up their days though. In 1924, the steamboat, Casino, got stuck on a reef and had to get rid of its cargo. That cargo consisted of no less than 500 beer barrels and 120 cases of liquor. Of course, the soldiers got their hands on the cargo and a two-week drinking fest was the result.
The road was completed in 1932 and after its official opening, it also became known as the largest war memorial in the world, which it still is today. As early as 1962, the Great Ocean Road was regarded as one of the most scenic roads on the planet.
It was included in the Australian National Heritage List in 2011.
Things to See and DoThe one main thing to do there is road tripping. There probably is no better way to explore the area than by car. However, cycling is unarguably scenic as well and, because of the road’s relative short length, can be done in one or two days. Besides using wheels for transport, people can also walk almost the entire length of the Great Ocean Road along the Great Ocean Walk. This great walk starts in Apollo Bay and runs for 65 miles along the coast to the The Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park.
A sign crossing the road in the town of Torquay marks the official start of the Great Ocean Road. Incidentally, Torquay is known as one of the major surfing town in Australia. Bells Beach is world-famous among surfers and hosts an annual surfing competition. People who would like to swim, surf, and sunbathe can do so there and on other sandy beaches in the area.
Great Otway National Park is another highlight along the road. It consists of lush green rainforests, waterfalls, and rivers. This is a great place to spot some of Australia’s most iconic animals. The national park and the town of Kennett River, for example, are renowned for their Koala populations.
Arguably the greatest attraction is Port Campbell National Park and its coastal cliffs and limestone rock formations. The Twelve Apostles are one of the most iconic sights in the entire country. There aren't actually twelve though; after the collapse of a rock stack in 2005, there are now eight left. The best time to see them is at sunrise or sunset. Other beautiful rock formations in the area are London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. A stairway known as the ‘Gibons Steps’ allows people to descend down the cliffs to the beach below.
Similar LandmarksAustralia is full of amazing roads. Other great road trips are the loop around Tasmania, along the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, through the Outback and the Red Center, across the vast Nullarbor Plain.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: May 01, 2015