TOWNS & VILLAGES
- 12 APOSTLES COAST & HINTERLAND
- AIREYS INLET
- APOLLO BAY
- BEECH FOREST
- CAPE BRIDGEWATER
- CAPE NELSON
- CAPE OTWAY
- DEANS MARSH
- KENNETT RIVER
- LAVERS HILL
One of the most well-known highlights of the Great Ocean Road is the majestic 12 Apostles. Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, these massive limestone structures tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean and leave visitors awe-struck by their size and beauty.
Glorious at both dusk and dawn, and bounded by cliffs that stand at 70m high and pristine ocean, the 12 Apostles have been slowly eroded by forces of nature, with only eight stacks remaining. Over time, the softer limestone in surrounding cliffs has also eroded, forming caves that became arches and islands.
The Split Point Lighthouse dominates the landscape on the approach to Aireys Inlet, a coastal hamlet where the sweeping curves of the Great Ocean Road welcome you and the dramatic nature of the Great Otway National Park begins.
Take a tour of the lighthouse, and enjoy the stunning views of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary while you learn about the history of the area on the discovery trail. Beauty abounds on the walking and riding trails through the Great Otway National Park and the quiet creeks are ideal for fishing.
Beach, bush and kangaroos are the ingredients used to make Anglesea a favourite holiday spot. Located 10 minutes west of Torquay on the Great Ocean Road, Anglesea is perfect for a natural adventure.
There is more to Anglesea than its fresh clean air and glorious water views, recognised as a haven for its abundant flora, particularly rare orchids and native flowers during spring. With attractive parks and gardens, Anglesea is also renowned for its wildlife, particularly the kangaroos who can be easily spotted on the greens of the local golf course almost daily.
A thriving coastal fishing village nestled in the heart of the Otway Ranges. Apollo Bay makes the perfect place to base yourself on your Great Ocean Road adventure. Whether you enjoy fresh fish & chips at the harbour or enjoy fine dining or the local cafe culture you will find plenty of options here. Apollo Bay is also very photogenic and whether you swim, fish or surf, walk, ride or cycle - make sure you have your camera handy and if you get up early enough you'll be rewarded with the sunrise over the water. Nestled between the lush foothills of the Otway Ranges and Bass Strait, Apollo Bay has the best of both worlds.
Centrally located 43 km south of Colac on the highest settled ridge of the Otway Ranges, Beech Forest is a tiny township that gained national fame in 1983 when a 61-year-old local potato farmer, Cliff Young, won the Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon. Beech Forest is home to many wonderful food and primary producers and with nearby Weeoproinah boasting the highest rainfall in the state - this area is drought-proof!
The town was named after the Beech (myrtle) trees which grow in abundance in the local area. In the late 1800s Beech Forest quickly became a major centre for the timber industry due to the abundance of these trees. Walk or cycle the Old Beechy Rail Trail, originally a narrow gauge railway built for moving timber and passengers in the early 1900's, now a compacted earth trail running from Beech Forest to Colac.
The hinterland areas of the Otways are establish on the third largest volcanic plain in the world. This geology gives the whole area a rich fertility and lushness, and the undulating hills make it as pretty as a picture.
Produce around Birregurra has a freshness and honesty rarely found in modern products. The town itself features wonderfully restored facades on buildings, giving it an old world charm, and the vibrancy of the growing arts and cultural community is reason to stay and explore this lovely township.
Camperdown is situated on the world's third largest volcanic plain dotted with dormant volcano cones, craters and waterways created from lava flows thousands of years old. Climb to the top of Mt Leura and Mt Sugarloaf for 360-degree views of the coastal ranges and rolling western plains.
The region's lush pastures are home to prosperous dairy farms producing mouth-watering cheeses and other dairy products, which can be sampled and purchased at surrounding cheese factories and produce stores.
Only 20 minutes from Portland, Cape Bridgewater is a picturesque and secluded. See some of the highest coastal cliffs in Victoria overlooking the deep-blue waters of Bridgewater Bay that stretches in a perfect crescent around the rim of a huge, ancient volcano crater. Take in the surreal landscape of the petrified forest which looks like a forest of tree roots turned into rock. Watch as the sea spray blasts metres skyward at the blowhole. See the large breeding colony of fur seals from a look out above.
The Cape Nelson State Park, near Portland on Victoria's southwest coast is a 243-hectare state park. Attractions include a 3-kilometre clifftop walk and a visit to the Cape Nelson lighthouse. A range of linked tracks offer the opportunity to walk as little or as much as desired, allowing you to explore the spectacular coastal cliffs, diverse bird life and picturesque surrounds of the park.
Cape Otway is at the southern tip of Victoria's western coast where the Southern Ocean collides with Bass Strait. Encompassed by the Great Otway National Park, the ever-changing landscape sees rainforests and streams tumble to the coast, where they meet rugged rocky cliffs dotted with pockets of sandy beaches.
Exploring Cape Otway on the numerous trails is a must for visitors of the area. Spot a koala sleeping amongst the gums, evidence of the indigenous Gadubanud people and Australia's longest servicing lighthouse. Walks range from short to long catering for varied leaves of fitness.
Nestled in the valley of the Glenelg River, Casterton recognised as the birthplace of the Kelpie breed of dog and celebrates this each June long weekend with the Kelpie Muster, Festival and Working Dog Auction. Casterton is centrally situated to the wineries of the Coonawarra, the Grampians National Park, Portland and Mount Gambier's famous Blue Lake. Locally, Casterton offers historical buildings, including Warrrock Homestead station, and unique geographical attractions.
Click here to down the Casterton-Accommodation-Guide.pdf
Cobden is rich in natural and colonial history and is an integral hub for the local dairy Industry.
The Crater to Coast Rail Trail is a scenic bike ride running between Camperdown and the epicurean treats of Timboon. Cobden is the half way point of the ride, giving visitors the option to heading north through Camperdown’s crater lakes or south along the old rail sleepers and trestle bridges to Timboon.
Colac has a rich farming and forestry history and is the perfect central location to explore the Otways. The town is built alongside the huge Lake Colac and on the doorstep of the Great Otway National Park. Its busy town centre services the surrounding villages and rural areas. The local botanic gardens are magnificent with pretty seasonal blooms and the lake area boasts a great range of local wildlife.
It's less than a 2 hour drive from Melbourne and central to spectacular elements of the Great Ocean Road.
Dartmoor is situated on the banks and floodplain of the scenic and peaceful Glenelg River. In 1918, an avenue of Atlantic Cedars were planted as a memorial to those that served in the first World War. The Dartmoor Community and a local chainsaw artist, joined together to create nine tree carvings in the avenue of Honour, depicting service men and women in the army, navy and air force.
Take the inland route to the Great Ocean Road via the quaint hinterland farming village of Deans Marsh, just 50 minutes from Geelong and 25 minutes from Lorne. The beautiful green countryside of rolling hills and stunning rural scenery is proof that visitors who just stick to the Great Ocean Road miss out on some of the most special experiences our region has to offer. Deans Marsh is home to shops and cafes with a Fitzroy feel but the added bonus of the Otways fresh air. A gateway to the Otways region and the Pennyroyal Valley, the Deans Marsh area features a number of gourmet farm door experiences featured on the Otway Harvest Trail. This region's produce is amazing, fresh and often you have the chance to meet the maker and the growers.
Derrinallum lies at the foot of Mount Elephant, surrounded by a series of lakes and grazing cattle. The town acts as a hub for the local farming network, fielding all the essential services including the ever-important local pub. Derrinallum is located 2 hours west of Melbourne and 1 hour from Geelong, Warrnambool and Ballarat.
For visitors of Derrinallum, Lake Deep and Lake Tooliorook provide scenic recreational space for boating, water sports and fishing. The lakes also cater to walkers with the distinctive Mount Elephant providing a picturesque backdrop.
About half an hour north of Apollo Bay via a beautiful drive through the Great Otway National Park you will arrive in Forrest. It's home to the Forrest Brewery, quirky cafes & eateries featuring fresh local produce, Lake Elizabeth and the Barwon Dam and is the hub of mountain bike activity in the region. Just one visit to Forrest will make you fall in love. If you are a mountain bike enthusiast, you will not want to leave!
Walks, waterfalls and scenic drives extend in every direction from this wonderfully positioned piece of the Otways. If you're lucky enough, you might even spot the elusive platypus hiding around the sunken trees of Lake Elizabeth.
The rural township of Gellibrand in the foothills of the Otways provides a perfect base to explore the region. Home to the Gellibrand Blues and Blueberries Festival, held each year in March, the town is positioned along the edge of the Gellibrand River. Close to attractions such as The Otway Fly, Triplet Falls, Otway Estate and The Beechy Rail Trail, "Gelli"is a peaceful and relaxing place where you can reconnect with nature.
The town of Heywood services a wide area, and has a bustling town centre, complete with lovely streetscaping and an abundance of rose bushes. Part way between Portland and Casterton on the Princes Highway, Heywood is a place of significant cultural importance, and is also home to the popular Wood, Wine and Roses Festival.Surrounding Heywood is the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape, where for thousands of years Gunditjmara people engineering and constructed an extensive aquaculture system along the Mt Eccles/Tyrendarra Lava flows and wetlands. The area shows evidence of a large, settled (not nomadic) Aboriginal community systematically farming eels for food and trade in what is considered to be one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture ventures. Today the Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation and Budj Bim Tours of Heywood help organise tours of the area to explore the remains of stone house sites and eel traps, as well as highlighting the Aboriginal culture and their way of life. Be sure to pack a picnic when you visit Heywood – the region offers some of the Discovery Coast’s best bushland and picnic settings. Surry Ridge Picnic Area, situated off the Cut Out Dam Road in the Cobboboonee State Forest, or the picnic area beside the Fitzroy River in Heywood are good spots for a home-packed meal.
Johanna is a landscape of rolling hills and rugged coastline. Marvel at the intensity of the Southern Ocean at Johanna Beach, accessed from the Great Ocean Road by "Red"Johanna Road or "Blue"Johanna Road - Blue being the side closer to Lavers Hill with the higher rainfall. Seriously.
Surfing Johanna's beach breaks with its power and reputation for rapid jumps is for the experienced surfer. When waves aren't breaking at Bells, Johanna is the alternative location for the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro held each Easter. Johanna Beach also a popular camping, walking and fishing spot, with the Great Ocean Walk traversing the coastline. Take a stroll west along the Great Ocean Walk to see a resident herd of kangaroos admiring the views too.
Kennett River, located half way between Lorne and Apollo Bay, and only a hop, skip and jump from Wye River, offers a safe beach (patrolled during the peak season) and is known as a reliable break for the more experienced surfer. Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals frolicking in the waves and spot migrating whales from May - September.
You know the place is good when the local wildlife make it their home! In fact Grey River Road is one of the most popular places to spot koalas and native birds along the Great Ocean Road.
Situated on the inland section of the Great Ocean Road, Lavers Hill is nestled in lush rolling hills embraced by the Great Otway National Park. Melba Gully is located just south of the town centre and boasts ancient rainforests during the day and glow worm viewing on trails at night - don’t forget your torch.
The town caters for visitors with a number of cafes, a pub with a bistro, and visitor information.
Lavers Hill is a central point to access some of the Otways beaches, rainforests and waterfalls.
Lismore has well preserved its colonial history with icons such as the town’s gothic revival chapel and 1840’s woodshed providing prominent landmarks. The recent opening of the Lismore Discovery Trial makes walking the site easy, inviting onward travellers to explore the town a little deeper.
For those staying a longer, the area surrounding Lismore has much to offer. Landmarks created by ancient volcanoes including Mount Widderin Caves and Mount Elephant make for great exploring, whilst nearby lakes provide ample space for swimming, boating, fishing and camping.
Lorne is where the bush meets the beach set, between the sparkling waters of Loutit Bay and the rising majesty of the Otway National Park.
With more than 10 waterfalls within 10 kilometres of the township, there are plenty of amazing natural wonders to explore.
During whale watching season (May to September) you may catch a glimpse of these amazing sea creatures making their presence known.
If the arts is your thing, you'll fit right in - the long celebrated Falls Music Festival, Lorne Festival of The Performing Arts and the Lorne Sculpture Biennale take place here.
Marengo, located on Mounts Bay, is just a couple of minutes drive from Apollo Bay and home to the Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary. Little ones will delight in exploring the rockpools to spot sea anenomes, crabs and starfish while for those wishing to get up close to the resident seal colony you can take a boat charter from the Apollo Bay Harbour or take a Sea Kayak tour. Walkers of all abilities will enjoy the stroll between Marengo and Apollo Bay which is the first leg of the Great Ocean Walk and the more intrepid can continue past Marengo into the great beyond...
Mount Shadwell, a few minutes north of Mortlake is an extinct volcano rich in olivine crystal, the birthstone of August. With permission, visitors of Mortlake can fossick for the crystal at the Mount Shadwell quarry or try their luck scavenging the surroundings for ‘volcano bombs’, large egg shaped rocks containing olivine.
In town, Mortlake has one of the regions most extensive Heritage Trails. The trail leads walkers around 20 of the predominately bluestone buildings dating back to 1857. The town is also full of restaurants and shops, so breaking up the trail is a welcome option.
The picturesque town of Narrawong is on the northern shore of Portland Bay. The foreshore is a popular spot for Summer holidays. The local boat ramp at the camping ground is a popular launching spot for Anglers. Narrawong's historic cemetery is home to William Dutton, Portland's first European Settler.
Narrawong boasts Timandra By the Sea a significant, award winning sustainable garden. Owned and designed by a multi award winning landscape designer, patrons are invited to visit the garden any day of the week.
Visit the beautiful township of Nelson that is situated on the Glenelg River, only two kilometres from the mouth of the river and 4 kilometres east of the South Australian Border. Nelson is a small town that is ideal for tourists that want a joyful and rather peaceful experience without the crowds of people to go fish, go for a canoe or swim or simply just relax on the beach or by the river.
Take your time to explore the beautiful Lower Glenelg National Park by taking a cruise up the Glenelg River or adventuring on the sand dunes at the gorgeous remote beach where the river meets the ocean. Spend a few hours experiencing the amazing Princess Margaret Rose Cave or take a day trip to one of the surrounding towns.
Explore ancient rainforest brimming with lush ferns and towering trees, feel the mist from the powerful waterfalls, and hike through the cool undergrowth as the fresh forest air fills your lungs.
Stand in awe on dramatic clifftops shadowed by protective lighthouses, see the remnants of sailing tragedies and walk the rugged windswept beaches peering into rockpools teeming with life.
On two wheels or four there are hidden secrets to explore from the tucked away corners of the redwood forest to breweries and farm gates, from the misty inland lakes and rivers to dizzying heights of tree top adventures.
Located at the footsteps of the Otways, the Pennyroyal Valley has fertile soils and a temperate climate which makes it the perfect place for growing produce.
The valley is home to a number of berry farms where you can pick your own fresh berries (Nov to March). It is also home to wineries, olive groves and mushroom growers. The beautiful green rolling hills invite you to explore and discover live music, farmgate sales, wine tastings and fresh produce, bespoke accommodation and quaint country villages. The perfect Sunday drive or weekend adventure.
Situated in the heart of the Great Ocean Road’s iconic attractions, Peterborough is a great family friendly destination with a shorefront playground and children's riding loop. The magnificent natural rock formation, London Arch (formerly London Bridge) can be seen from the local golf course. London Arch is an offshore formation in the Port Campbell National Park. This stack was formed by a gradual process of erosion, and until 1990 formed a complete double-span natural bridge. The span closer to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly on 15 January 1990, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer span before being rescued by helicopter.
The Gellibrand River makes a virtual island of the hilltop village of Princetown as it lazily meanders through the valley, just a quick turn - yet a world away - from the Great Ocean Road.
The township borders both Port Campbell and Great Otway National Park and is connected to the Great Ocean Walk via a picturesque wetland boardwalk. Princetown offers fishing opportunities in the estuary and on the ocean beaches with direct access to National Park trails and lookouts and plenty of magnificent beaches.
The colourful seaside village of Port Campbell is a place to slow down, take in everything that epitomizes the Great Ocean Road, and reflect on a journey you may have taken or are about to begin. The 12 Apostles are one of the most well-known neighbours situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the massive limestone structures tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean, leaving visitors awe-struck at their size and beauty. Behind the eight remaining stacks (five have fallen since their discovery) are majestic cliffs, around 70 metres high.
Take a dip in the bay or hang five on the local breaks, build castles of sand and explore the rock pools spying on urchins and crabs.
Tap your toes and sway to the rhythm of jigs and reels, ballads and gin joint jazz tunes at the ‘folkie’ or choose nature’s soundtrack of birdcalls and crashing waves.
Rich dark volcanic soils give life to hearty produce, and the waters, fresh and salty, offer fish and crustaceans which are carefully crafted by local chefs to delight the taste buds.
Delve into history and get back to nature in this thriving city by the sea. Wander streets dotted with beautifully maintained heritage buildings and dine on great pub fare while overlooking the busy harbour. Portland's waterfront is alive with activity – see big ships from around the world come in to load up produce while the local fishing fleet unload its catch. Walk the foreshore, spot seals at Cape Bridgewater, watch blue whales off Cape Nelson or traverse the Great South West Walk. There's plenty of coastline to explore.
Skenes Creek is an idyllic coastal hamlet located 6km east of Apollo Bay, set gently on a popular surf beach. The beach is embraced by volcanic reefs giving youngsters the opportunity to ramble through the rock pools and discover crabs, starfish and sea anenomes among other marine treasures.
Enjoy a picnic by the bridge or just good old fashioned beach fun. Base yourself here to explore more of the Great Ocean Road and breathtaking Great Otway National Park.
Skipton is known as the ‘home of the platypus’. If you are yet to encounter this unique egg-laying mammal, a walk in Stewart Park is a must. Sit quietly along the banks of Mount Emu Creek, keeping a close eye on the waters edge where the platypus burrows its shelter.
Skipton has recently grown in reputation with the refurbishment of the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail. The trail is 53km in length and has a maximum gradient of 2% making it accessable for all ages of riders.
Terang is a town lined with 19th century buildings and 100-year-old National Trust listed trees. To enjoy the towns early settler past, a Heritage Trail leads visitors around many of the towns historic points of interest including the old Post Office and Terang church.
For a natural history lesson, visit the extinct Mt Noorat Volcano Walk, 5km south of Terang. Mt Noorat is one of Australia’s best-preserved dry craters, which descends 150m from its peak. The walk to the mountains peak is 800m return, offering commanding views of surrounding volcanic lands.
Timboon is a gourmet hub that will literally delight every sense! Local producers and makers create whisky, organic yoghurt, classic French cheeses, honey, chocolate, mouth-watering ice cream and some of the freshest, sweetest strawberries you will ever taste! The 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail is a 70km loop with Timboon at it's centre providing an opportunity to experience these culinary sensations at your own pace. Work it all off on two wheels and cycle the Timboon to Camperdown Rail Trail.
Escape to the ocean for a relaxing interlude or smash out an adrenaline pumping adventure in Torquay. Home to world famous Bells Beach and the birth place of iconic surf brands, Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia. Located 95km south west of Melbourne, it is the official start of the Great Ocean Road.
Immerse yourself in the Aussie surf culture, with the biggest surf brands retailing in the Surf City shopping precinct, visit some of the oldest surf clubs in Victoria, or get wet and learn to surf.
Make your dream home in the sand with turrets adorned with seaweed and shells then take a well-earned refreshing dip in the cool waters of the bay. Grab your board and make for the break as you teeter on some of Australia’s best waves.
Putt to score a hole in one on the golfing greens or explore the local tracks and trails on foot or bike, where your dose of fresh air is easy to take.
Located on the banks of the Barwon River, Winchelsea is a rural town steeped in history and surrounded by the fertile farmland of Victoria's Western District.
Fishing is popular in this section of the Barwon River with brown trout, redfin and eels commonly caught nearby. There are also lakes and reservoirs close by that are popular with anglers.
Winchelsea's historic origins are clearly visible in town, with some grand buildings including the National Trust property Barwon Park, which was built in 1871.
Along the stretch of coastline between Lorne and Apollo Bay, the Great Ocean Road clings to the cliff-face as it winds through the Great Otway National Park and glides by rolling farmland. Wye River, just 20 minutes from Lorne and 35 minutes from Apollo Bay, gives visitors a taste of the Otways and beach culture in a lovely, laid-back package. Stroll on the nearby beaches where often you are the lone guest walking on the white sand as the waves roll in.
There is an abundance of native wildlife to be spotted, including swamp wallabies, possums, grey kangaroos and koalas.