As far as bucket list items go, the Great Ocean Road was right up there for me. A trip to Australia without covering this gem would’ve been incomplete. So here we go… let's take a trip on The Great Ocean Road.

By this time, I’d been in Australia for about 8 days (And not yet seen the Great Ocean Road – Damn it!). I’d explored Sydney, one of the prettiest cities on the planet, and I’d driven back and forth from Gold Coast – exploring some pristine beaches. I’d seen many a fantastic photos of the Great Ocean Road, and had it on my bucket list way before I planned a trip to Australia. The Great Ocean Road just had to be a part of this trip, and so I packed my bags in Sydney and flew to Melbourne to begin my drive.

I’d pre-booked a car rental with Europcar. I’d heard good things about their service, and they were priced competitively versus other players on the market. I think the clincher was the fact that they had their pick up and drop off points right next to the Melbourne airport terminal. The entire process was pretty hassle free. I had a Chevrolet (read Holden in Australia) Trax mini-SUV at my disposal. It’s no BMW X3 or Range Rover, but the car was brand new (only done about 4000km), and came in an eye-catching blue colour. Perfect, I thought, the colour would be awesome on a sunny day along the Great Ocean Road and would really blend in with the summery vibe of this trip.

Stretching from Torquay to Warrnambool, with a length of about 250km, the internationally acclaimed Great Ocean Road winds alongside the Southern coast of Australia, kissing the ocean while traversing through one of the most beautiful shorelines I’ve ever seen.

Great Ocean Road Australia beach view

With a length of about 250km, the internationally acclaimed Great Ocean Road winds alongside the Southern coast of Australia, kissing the ocean while traversing through one of the most beautiful shorelines I’ve ever seen.

My drive started in Melbourne, Australia on a cool summer morning. I’d decided to leave the city as early as possible, to beat rush hour traffic and get on The Great Ocean Road early in the morning. Even so, it took me about 50 minutes to cross Geelong, a suburb of Melbourne. From there on, the M1 highway turns left, to head toward Torquay, the starting point of the Great Ocean Road. Like most other towns on the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is small and quaint. There’s a laid-back vibe to the place. It’s famous for being the starting point of the Great Ocean Road.

Onwards from Torquay, I drove towards Lorne, my resting place for the next two days. The plan was to drive to Lorne non-stop, and then cover the portion of the road between Torquay and Lorne on the way back. But stunning views of the ocean meant we ended up stopping every 5km, just to gorge at the ocean beating against the shoreline.

View From The Lighthouse on great Ocean Road

One notable stop on the way was the Great Ocean Road Chocolateria and Ice Creamery (GORCI). This stop was absolutely impromptu. It was difficult to not follow a hoarding that said Chocolateria in the next 500m. It’s an easy miss, this place. The hoardings are small and pretty much non-descript. Little did I expect this place to be a full fledged restaurant and a world full of chocolate. Boy do I love Australia and its food scene! What is GORCI, you ask? It’s heaven. They make their own chocolate right there, and sell it in different shapes and sizes. There are large bowls full of pastilles in different varieties of chocolate (milk, dark, white) available to taste as you enter. On the inside, there are 1 metre long chocolate bars, 1 kg heavy bars, as well as chocolate frogs, chocolate pastilles, hot chocolate etc. There’s also an ice-creamery and restaurant attached to the retail area. I’d recommend stopping here for a quick meal, if not to check out the vast expanse of chocolate on display!

I’d booked the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne. We booked this via Luxury Escapes and got a pretty good deal. It’s a heritage property, located right on the shore. The checkin was hassle free, the room was spacious, and the view from the room was exquisite. The sun was out, and it was a warm day, so I headed out onto the beach. What a beautiful beach. It seemed like a perfect beach day till about half an hour later. Thick, storm clouds engulfed the region, it was breezy and chilly and it seemed like there was no light left in the sun any more! Best beach day to the worst beach day, ever! Such is the weather on “the road” – Warm and sunny one minute, cold and rainy another.

Grand Pacific Lorne Room View Great Ocean Road

Nonetheless, I decided to hang around the town centre in Lorne, have a quick meal and grab a coffee. Once the rain subsided, I walked back to the hotel, and stayed indoors the rest of the evening.

A pier on the Great Ocean Road in Lorne

Right next to the Grand Pacific Hotel, Lorne, was this jetty. Crystal clear waters, and a temptation to take the plunge!

On the next morning, I started early. The plan was to drive to the 12 Apostles, the craggy limestone formations that have made a name for themselves by… being craggy limestone formations. Again, the drive was absolutely wonderful, going southwest to Apollo Bay, before turning inland and driving through a thick forest over the mountains. It might be called The Great Ocean Road, but it exposes you to other vistas too. A B-road through an Australian forest. I’m not complaining.

The Twelve Apostles are beautiful and special. They’re the party piece of the Great Ocean Road, and Australia too. Just one thing, there aren’t 12 of them! There used to be 12 at one point of time but they’ve been reduced to 8 by the wind and the ocean. The most recent apostle collapse was in 2005, when the 9th Apostle collapsed in a heap of limestone debris, later swept away by the ocean. Nonetheless, if you’re taking a drive on the Great Ocean Road, you HAVE to check them out!

Great Ocean Road Signboards

Signs you’d only imagine seeing in Australia. No where else, but this country! The Great Ocean Road delivered on all the Australian-ness.

If you have time on your hands, you can walk down The Gibson Steps, and reach the shore. I chose instead to drive back to Cape Otway Light Station. The Cape Otway Light House is located inside an enclosed area. There’s a park, a cafe and some recreational spaces inside the compound. It’s a great place for a picnic, but the party piece is undoubtedly the climb up to the top of the lighthouse. Decommissioned in 1994, the lighthouse stands tall at 20m, and is a fantastic stop on The Great Ocean Road. It’s located very close to the edge, with views of the Southern Ocean in front of you. While I was there, it was extremely breezy too. Breezy enough for my sunglasses to go flying, never to be seen again! Damn those Australian winds! A first order Fresnel lens was used to make the projector beam for the lighthouse, with a range of 48km (26 nautical miles). After 1994, the lighthouse was replaced by a flashing solar light.

Back in Lorne, I had a tasty meal at this Italian restaurant called Nino. I’d also highly recommend checking out Louttit Bay Bakery. Their breads, puffs, muffins and coffee had me hooked.

I did actually cover another light house the following day (this part of Australia has tonnes of them), at Aireys Inlet, while driving back to Melbourne. This one I didn’t scale, but chose instead to observe the views of the ocean, and the small inlet formed during high tide. This small inlet creates a beautiful, blue pool of water. I reckon that’s where the town gets its name from.

Great Ocean Road Australia

On the whole, the Great Ocean Road trip proved to be a breath of fresh air. It was beautiful, unpredictable, with rain and sun, hues of green and blue, gusty winds and a handsome dose of excitement and driving fun. It lived up to all the hype, and made this trip to Australia extremely memorable.

Europcar on great Ocean Road

True there are other tourist spots on the Great Ocean Road – the London Arch, Loch Are Gorge, The Grotto and so on. But for me this trip was about the road and the drive, not particularly about the attractions along the way. Also remember, that rushing through a trip isn’t the best way to enjoy it. Less is more! Even so, the Great Ocean Road delivered and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s visiting Australia! It is a gem.