AUSTRALIA is known for the great outdoors and its incredible landscapes but accessibility to this mighty continent is what the world has been missing. We are flying into Melbourne to pick up our hire-car to drive west along Australia’s Great Ocean Road of 240 km, one of the most iconic scenic drives in the world.
Stretching from Melbourne to the Grampian Mountains, this shoreline offers permanent Southern Ocean beach views, dotted with the most charming, shore-fronted villages.
Highlights of the route include our first stop, Torquay, the popular surfing capital of Australia. It is also home to two epic Australian clothing brands – Rip Curl and Quicksilver.
We park up and head over to Point Danger Lookout to marvel at the view of the horseshoe-shaped bay, the golden sandy beach and the inky blue sea. We can’t help but envy the skills of a group of surfers riding the giant waves and leaving a frothy path in their wake.
Loch and Gorge
Back along the sun-dappled road, we head out towards Lorne, a buzzing arts community with a quaint parade of shops, bars and restaurants. At Shelly Beach we paddle in the rock pools and head towards the pier, where fishermen are lining up patiently waiting for their next bite.
Next stop is the town of Kennett River, famed for its Koala Walk, where the eucalyptus trees are home to numerous families of Australia’s cutest marsupial. Gaze up into the trees to spot these shy, camouflaged creatures, curled up and dozing snugly in one of the forks of the branches.
Sky Pod View
Up next on our Great Ocean Road adventure is Apollo Bay, located at the foothills of the Great Otway National Park. This picturesque seaside town is filled with galleries and fish restaurants, all offering views over the craggy shoreline.
We stock up on locally produced provisions before we drive to Cape Otway for our overnight stay at Sky Pods at the southern tip of Victoria’s rugged west coast. We slow down as we enter the 200-acre wildlife refuge to give way to a mob of kangaroos hopping across the narrow pathways.
Fully off-grid, the luxuriously appointed eco-pods (only four in total) boast the most impressive environmental sustainability credentials while still offering on-line connectivity.
Our cosy accommodation comprises floor-to-ceiling windows with 180-degree sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and visiting kangaroos. The kitchen area includes smart SMEG appliances, while the bathroom is sizeable, and the wood fireplace is welcoming. There’s also a 100-inch TV projector screen that rolls down.
The following morning, we wake up to the sight of kangaroos grazing just in front of our pod. As the sun rises, we set out towards Cape Otway’s Lighthouse, built in 1848, a popular destination for whale watching between the months of May and September.
We later rejoin the Great Ocean Road, heading towards the Twelve Apostles, a collection of gigantic limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, formed between 10-20 million years ago. Only eight remain today, each a staggering panoramic sight and an Instagramable hotspot. They are best to view up close by gingerly heading down the steep Gibson Steps and onto the beach.
For those who enjoy a world-class scenic drive, we urge you to take this trip of a lifetime. It just may be the best road you will ever take.
by Amanda Bernstein