15 Feb Australia’s Green Coast
Visitors to the Australian state of Victoria and its capital Melbourne should definitely consider reserving two or three days to explore Victoria’s own Costa Verde, the Great Ocean Road. This magnificent coastal tour combines spectacular Southern Ocean scenery, huge cliffs, towering rock stacks, lush temperate rainforests, tranquil bays, intriguing coastal villages full of history, clean uncrowded beaches and great surf.
The Great Ocean Road winds its way along the breath-taking coastline of south-west Victoria, from Geelong in the east to Nelson in the west, with the area between Lorne and Apollo Bay being the most picturesque. It is without doubt one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. It traverses an extended length of coastline that includes the world-famous Twelve Apostles rock formation, the Otways rainforest, and Bells Beach on the Surf Coast. The Great Ocean Road also regularly passes through coastal resort towns including Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay, coastal cities including Geelong and Warrnambool, and historic villages including Queenscliff, Port Campbell, Port Fairy and Portland.
There is ample opportunity to expand and extend the Great Ocean Road experience by detouring inland to the magnificent Grampians National Park and the Goldfields, continuing across Victoria’s western border to South Australia, or exploring Port Phillip Bay in the east including the Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas.
Portland (population 11,000) was founded by the pioneering Henty brothers in 1834. Today, it boasts more than 200 well-maintained heritage buildings and private residences. Visit the Maritime Discovery Centre for an insight into Portland’s long seafaring history. Portland’s waterfront is still alive with commercial activity today, and whales sometimes visit in the winter months. Portland is also an angler’s paradise, the range of fish in the area including King George whiting, flathead, snapper, tuna and mulloway.
Apollo Bay (population 2,000) is regarded by many as a paradise by the sea. The town is characterised by a wide, crescent-shaped sandy swimming beach, a backdrop of undulating green Otway hills, relaxed lifestyle, waterfalls, national and state parks and abundant flora and fauna in the nearby ranges. The beach at Apollo Bay is a focus for activity all year round. Swim in the clear sea waters, kayak with local seals, go deep-sea fishing, surfing, or simply take a relaxed horse ride along the beach at sunset.
Anglesea (population 2,500) is a favourite Great Ocean Road holiday destination due to the great beaches, bushland, wildlife and stunning coastal scenery in the area. Located on a wide sandy expanse beside the Anglesea River, Anglesea’s main beach is perfect for swimming, surfing and relaxing. Anglesea is also a great place to explore on foot. The 35 kilometre Surf Coast Walk passes through the town and can be followed along the coast in either direction. Coogoorah Park fronts the river and has a series of walking tracks, boardwalks and bridges winding through native bush and reedy wetlands teeming with birdlife.
Aireys Inlet, just a few kilometres from Anglesea, is a peaceful village nestled in the shadow of Angahook-Lorne State Park. Clifftop tracks provide views of rocky reefs, rock pools and sheltered coves. Aireys Inlet has superb beaches suitable for swimming and board riding, with a national park at its backdoor which is home to native trees and heathlands that are alive with colour when wildflowers bloom in winter, spring and early summer.
Port Campbell (population 200) is located amongst some of the most spectacular coastline scenery found in Victoria, including the Port Campbell National Park and the Twelve Apostles. Sheltered by towering cliffs and Norfolk pines, Port Campbell has the feeling of a haven on the edge of wild nature. It is a great base for a day tour to the Twelve Apostles, the dramatic rock stacks that have made this section of Victoria’s coastline famous. Other spectacular coastal features include Loch Ard Gorge, Gibson Steps and the Bay of Islands.
Torquay (population 3,670) is a major holiday resort town, and also Victoria’s surfing capital where beach-based culture is strong.