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Great Ocean Road takes on world as Great Drive touring experience Part 3

May 11, 2007
 Great Ocean Road takes on world as Great Drive touring experience Part 3

About 50 minutes drive from Port Fairy is Portland, the site of Victorias first permanent European settlement.

The Henty brothers started the ball rolling in 1834.

Portland is living history with more than 200 maintained heritage buildings.

Portlands long-standing relationship with the sea is showcased in the award winning Maritime Discovery Centre. The centre features a sperm whale skeleton. Visitors can marvel and explore shipwreck treasures.

Portland is a deepwater port and its fishing fleet unload a steady supply of the best seafood, which can be enjoyed in local restaurants. Surfing is definitely on with excellent breaks at local sites.

Coastal attractions include the Petrified Forest and Blowholes at Cape Bridgewater and Yellow Rock at Cape Nelson.

From June to October, visitors may be lucky enough to see Portlands favourite visitors - the Southern Right Whales.

Other whales seen around Portland include Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales. The Portland Maritime Discovery Centre hoists a yellow Whale Flag when there are sightings in Portland Bay and sounds a foghorn.

Portland features include surfing, recreational fishing, sailing, diving, museums, the arts and beautiful gardens.

A Portland Visitors Handbook is available from the Portland Visitor Information Centre located in the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre, Lee Breakwater Road, Portland.

Ph. (03) 5523 2671 or free call 1800 035 567.

The 250km Great South West Walk starts at the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre. There are four sections.

These are; Forest Walk, The Glenelg River Gorge, Discovery Bay Beach Capes, and three Bays.

These can be walked as segments or as a total experience. There are campsites, fresh water, fireplaces and toilets scattered along the way. The walks can take a few minutes to 12 days.

The Lower Glenelg National Park walk along the Glenelg River has an international reputation and is sheltered and secluded.

Camping permits are available from Parks Victoria, Nelson on (08) 8738 4051 or Portland Visitor Information Centre on 1800 035 567. Nelson, where the Glenelg River meets the sea, is an hours drive from Portland.

Bridgewater Bay just 20 minutes from Portland is a magnificent pristine area with the highest coastal cliffs in Victoria.

Blue waters and white sands are the signature for beaches that are among Australias best.

Seal Point at Cape Bridgewater is home to the mainlands biggest Australian Fur Seal colony.

An exhilarating short boat ride takes visitors to the rock platforms to experience the seals natural habitat. Alternatively, a two-hour return walk is available to view the seals and majestic Bridgewater Bay.

Beyond Portland to Nelson, the South Australian border and on to Mount Gambier the sea changes and hinterland contrasts continually grab the attention.

Further on along the coast is Nelson, a charming, relaxed village popular with anglers, where the Glenelg River meets the sea.

An inspiring experience is to take a river cruise into the National Park and on to the Princess Margaret Rose Cave.

The cave is a priceless natural attraction renowned for its stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone decorations. Guided tours are available every day except Christmas Day.

Feeling good. Urquharts Bluff
Feeling good. Urquharts Bluff

Tourism Victora has linked many touring options to the Great Ocean Road.
These include -

The Great Southern Touring Route: This includes Melbourne to Geelong, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Portland, Hamilton, Dunkeld, Halls Gap, Ararat, Ballarat and back to Melbourne through the Spa Country.

The Two States Touring Route: Starts at Hamilton and includes Casterton, Penola, Coonawarra, Naracoorte, Kingston, Robe and Mount Gambier in South Australia and then Nelson in Victoria, Portland, Port Fairy, Macarthur and returns to Hamilton.

The Shipwreck Trail: Follows the coast and includes Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. There is signage in the section between Moonlight Head and Nelson, which leads to plaques on the cliffs overlooking the shipwreck sites.

Cafe society Port Campbell
Cafe society Port Campbell

The Otways Waterfalls and Forest Drive: Runs from Geelong to Apollo Bay, via Lavers Hill to Birregurra, and back to Geelong. Lavers Hill is the highest point on the Great Ocean Road.

The Volcanic Discovery Trail: Looks at the violent formation of the Western District landscape. From Geelong, the route is via Colac to Warrnambool via Macarthur to Portland.

It can be extended to Mount Gambier with its famous Blue Lake, or treated as a circuit by travelling via Hamilton and Mortlake back to Geelong.

The Coast to Country Connect and the Otways Food and Wine Journey: Involves travelling on the inland route via the Princes Highway to Winchelsea, Colac and Cobden and then driving from country to coast through towns like Birregurra and Forest.

Drive the Country Way: The Country Way is a direct approach to travel between Geelong and Warrnambool using the Princes Highway (A1) at average speeds, which cannot be maintained safely on sections of the winding Great Ocean Road.

It is an ideal return route to Melbourne with the benefit of the contrast of touring through some of the states most beautiful rural scenery.

Hinterland centres like Colac and Camperdown have a charm of their own.

Colac is a crossroad for touring across the Otway Ranges to Lorne and Lavers Hill. Lake Colac is popular for water sports, which include fishing, yachting, windsurfing, water-skiing and swimming.

The area has many lakes and vantage lookouts like Red Rock, near Colac, and Mount Sugarloaf, near Camperdown, which open up vistas of the fertile western plains of Victoria. Camperdown is in a dairy region with magnificent elm trees adding their grace to the main street of this major town, which is on the edge of one of the biggest lava plains in the world.

On the Warrnambool side of the town are lakes Bullen Merri, complete with boat ramp and salty Lake Gnotuk with its moonscape shores. Cobden is growing as a rural centre and Timboon is famous for its cheeses. Mount Emu Creek Sheep Milk Dairies produce cheese and yoghurt.

Noorat, near Terang, celebrates as the birthplace of Alan Marshall, author of I Can Jump Puddles a compelling Australian story of courage and determination.

The volcanic country has produced a skill in dry stonewall building which is a signature in the area.

The winding nature of the Great Ocean Road, plus traffic on weekends and holidays will extend travel times. Please allow plenty of time for the journey and drive carefully.

It is 270km from Geelong to Warrnambool via the Great Ocean Road. Geelong to Warrnambool via the Princes Highway is 187km.

Much better average travel times can be maintained on the Princes Highway travelling via Colac and Camperdown.

Another alternative is to take the Hamilton Highway from Geelong to Hamilton, and then pick up the Henty Highway to Portland, returning to Melbourne via Warrnambool and Colac on the Princes Highway on the Volcanic Trail.

Towing on the curves and hills of the more demanding sections of the Great Ocean Road should be approached with extra care with safety as the first priority.

Town Km Time (approx.)

Melbourne to:

Geelong 75km 55min

Warrnambool-inland via Princes Hwy 265km 3hrs30

Warrnambool-via Great Ocean Road 353km 5hrs30

12 Apostles-inland via Colac 146km 2hrs30

12 Apostles-via Great Ocean Road 197km 4hrs+

Geelong to:

Queenscliff 30km 30min

Torquay 22km 20min

Anglesea 37km 30min

Lorne 67km 1hr

Apollo Bay 114km 2hrs

Colac 74km 1hr

Camperdown 121km 1hr30

Warrnambool 187km 2hr30

Warrnambool to:

Camperdown 66km 50min

Port Campbell 66km 55min

Port Fairy 28km 25min

Macarthur 76km 1hr

Portland 98km 1hr30

Nelson 167km 2hr30

Mt Gambier 205km 3hrs

Adelaide 580km 8hrs

Halls Gap 165km 2hrs

Ballarat 200km 2hrs

Halls Gap to:

Stawell 26km 20min

Great Western 36km 30min

Ballarat 145km 2hrs

Freeway touring: From Melbourne via the Princes Freeway it is an easy road to Geelong. Victorias biggest provincial city has about 200 National Trust registered buildings.

The National Wool Museum on the corner of Moorabool and Brougham Streets is a three-storey history book.

Geelong has revamped its waterfront in a $150 million makeover. The bayside walk from Eastern Beach includes art deco, parklands, and wooden bollards which artist Jan Mitchell has turned into clever characterizations. They line the waterfront from Rippleside Park to Limeburners Point.

Restaurants and cafs add to the fun ambience of the bay, which faces north, soaking up the summer sunshine.

The Surf Coast: The Surf Coast from Torquay via Anglesea and beautiful Lorne to Apollo Bay is wonderful waves and beaches all the way.

Torquay is Surf City. Bells Beach is internationally renowned as a world competition site. The Surf Coast Walk from Jan Juc near Torquay to Moggs Creek past Anglesea and Aireys Inlet is 35km of great sea views, wildlife and flora.

There are beach sections so check the tide time before attempting them.

Bells beach is the venue for the worlds longest running surfing event the Rip Curl Pro each Easter.

Torquay is home to world surfing icons and is at the cutting edge in surfing fashions surfing history and beach culture.

On the Fly Treetop Walk near Lavers Hill
On the Fly Treetop Walk near Lavers Hill

Mt Gambier, SA, is a natural continuation of the Great Ocean Road experience into South Australia.

Mt Gambier is not just a Blue Lake; it offers some of Australia's most interesting attractions.

The Lady Nelson Tourist Information Centre is an excellent starting point for visitors.

The Cave Gardens in the heart of the city is a beautiful place to spend some quiet time.

Volcanic craters, like the famous Blue Lake, are essential viewing for tourists. The Blue Lake turns vivid cobalt blue in November and maintains its blue mood until March. There are many theories on the colour change, but none conclusive.

Umpherston Cave, adjacent to Forwood Products Saw Mill is a striking sight by day and a place to feed possums at night.

A short drive from Mt Gambier are the Limestone Caves at Naracoorte, with its World Heritage listed Fossil Cave, Tantanoola Caves and Princess Margaret Rose Caves.

Must See and Do:

In around Geelong

Dine on freshly caught local seafood at a waterfront Geelong restaurant.

Visit the National Wool Museum for a look at Australias wool-growing history. Open seven days, 9.30am to 5pm. Stroll Geelongs vibrant waterfront, or take a bay cruise.

Take a bay cruise.

Commune with nature at Serendip Sanctuary, near Lara.

Visit the award winning Geelong Botanic Gardens

See the beauty of Aboriginal culture at Narana Creations. Open Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm, Sat 10am to 4pm. Phone: 03 5241 5700.

On the Bellarine Peninsula

Play a round of golf at one of the Peninsulas 12 courses.

Surfs-up from Point Lonsdale to Thirteenth Beach.

Browse the galleries and craft shops.

Sample wonderful fruits of the vine at local wineries, or enjoy the local produce in the many cafes and restaurants.

Visit the historic National Trust flourmill at Portarlington.

Join locals for a spot of fishing.

Swim with seals and dolphins in Port Phillip Bay.

In around Torquay

Visit the world-famous Bells Beach surfing venue.

Browse Torquays excellent surf shops for some of the latest clothing and other surf accessories.

Learn more about the surfing genre at Torquays Surfworld Museum, open seven days 9am to 5pm.

Explore potteries, galleries craft shops.

Try the unique cafes and restaurants, some with colourful surfing dcor, serving local produce.

Take to the air in a Tiger Moth for spectacular Great Ocean Road views.

Tell the time at the huge colourful sundial on Torquays foreshore.

In around Queenscliff Point Lonsdale

Climb aboard for all the fun of a steam train ride to Lakers Siding or Drysdale. Sundays and holidays.

Dive to discover coral, sponges and shipwrecks around the bay entrance.

Come face to face with 19th century military might at Fort Queenscliff. Tours on weekends and holidays at 1pm and 3pm. Group tours by arrangement. Phone 03 5258 1488.

Dine in style at a 19th century hotel.

Tee-up for a round of golf on the areas two sand belt courses.

Unlock the secrets of the deep at the Marine Discovery Centre. Open school holidays, 10am-4pm.

Sail into history at the Maritime Museum.

Open weekdays 10.30am-4.30pm, weekends 1.30pm-4.30pm.

Enjoy the vista to Port Phillip Heads from the Ocean View Lookout. Historical markers commemorate a number of maritime events.

Unearth Queenscliffs colourful history at the Historical Museum, 2pm-4pm daily.

Visit the cave of the wild white man William Buckley at Point Lonsdale.

Watch from Rip View Lookout at Point Lonsdale as big ships sail the treacherous waters of the Rip, the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.

Tour the Point Lonsdale lighthouse.

Mt Gambiers Blue Lake really is
Mt Gambier's Blue Lake really is

In around Anglesea Aireys Inlet

Surf great beaches and long breaks.

Swim in rock pools at low tide at Pt Roadknight and Urquharts Bluff.

Fish surf and river.

Ride a bike. Row or paddle the Anglesea River.

Walk the dog along the Anglesea River all year and on the beach (on lead) off-season.

Go bush to explore some beautiful scenery. 4WD is best as some tracks are challenging and can be water eroded after rain.

Stroll around the wetlands and boardwalks in Coogoorah Park.

Climb into the saddle for horse or mountain bike ride through the bush.

Picnic at picturesque Distillery Creek, deep in Angahook-Lorne State Park.

In around Lorne

Stroll the fascinating main street, visit the boutiques, shops and galleries.

Explore cool fern gullies and cascading waterfalls via more than 50km of signposted walking tracks within Angahook-Lorne State Park.

Visit the local fishing co-op where you can buy freshly caught produce.

Go fishing. Cast a line into the river or surf.

Stop for a picnic in the tree-lined reserve above the beach with fine views of Loutit Bay and the township.

Take a trip up to Teddys Lookout for sweeping ocean and bush vistas.

GoSeeAustralia dries out at our cottage camp Anglesea
GoSeeAustralia dries out at our cottage camp Anglesea

In around Apollo Bay

Discover the arty side at the galleries, teahouses and gift shops.

Visit the Cable Station Historical Museum for a glimpse into the regions fascinating maritime and timber industry past - weekends and holidays.

Explore nearby waterfalls and cascades.

Buy fresh crayfish and other seafood from the fishermens co-op beside the harbour.

In around The Otways

Experience the beauty of the ancient rainforest at Maits Rest. Dont miss the huge, 300-year-old beech tree.

Canoe with platypus at a hidden Otways lake.

See wildlife, including swamp wallabies, koalas, ring-tailed possums and grey kangaroos.

Visit the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk and experience the rainforest. Climb above the trees in the 45m high lookout. Open seven days, 9am to 4pm.

Enjoy the delicious local produce.

In around Port Campbell

Visit Loch Ard Gorge and experience the site of shipwreck tragedy.

Jump in a helicopter and see the Twelve Apostles from a different perspective.

Fishing, swimming, sunset strolls, golf, bird watching, canoeing and coastal walks around Peterborough and Port Campbell

Discover the charismatic country towns of Camperdown, Terang, Cobden, Timboon and Lismore

Immerse yourself in local produce seafood, berries, ice cream, wine cheeses

See hundreds of kilometres of hand-built dry stone walls

In around The Bay of Islands Coastal Park

Dont miss sunset on the Bay of Islands.

Visit remote beaches at Worm, Crofts and Boat bays.

Wander down to the Bay of Martyrs for more stunning rock formations.

Discover the history behind Childers Cove, site of a tragic shipwreck.

In around Warrnambool

Re-live Shipwreck Coast and maritime history at Flagstaff Hill.

Get Shipwrecked at the spectacular multi-million dollar sound and light show recreating the Loch Ard shipwreck.

Watch Southern Right Whales at Logans Beach or jump in a charter boat for close-up viewing July to October.

Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground will entertain the whole family.

Visit a volcano at Tower Hill State Game Reserve.

Stroll, bike or roller blade the foreshore promenade.

Experience the picturesque Hopkins Falls.

In around Port Fairy

Discover the towns dozens of historic buildings.

Watch crayfish and abalone being unloaded at Fishermans Wharf.

Stroll along the beautiful Moyne River.

Explore Griffiths Island where thousands of mutton-birds fly in at dusk to feed their young (nesting Sept-April).

Follow the track to the lighthouse on the point at Griffiths Island.

Visit the Port Fairy historical museum for a glimpse of the towns early days.

In around Portland

Portland Maritime Discovery Centre: Includes the Visitor Information Centre, the Porthole Souvenir and Gift shop and the Maritime Discovery Museum. Open daily 9am-5pm.

The Volcanoes Discovery Trail: Looks at the violent formation of the Western District landscape.

From Geelong, the route is via Colac to Warrnambool via Macarthur to Portland. It can be extended to Mount Gambier.

Historical Buildings Walk: A self-guided walking tour of Portlands historic streets is available from the Visitor Information Centre.

Wineries Fruit: Barretts, Crawford River and Kingsley Wines. Cellar door sales are available at all three wineries, Kelso and Portland Strawberries.

RSL Memorial LookOut Tower: It offers spectacular 360-degree views of the harbour, the township and the surrounding district. Open daily 10am-4pm and showcases memorabilia of district service of men and women.

Portland Bay Lavender Farm: Stroll through the perfumed lavender fields in an idyllic pastoral setting. Open daily: 10am 4pm.

Portland Botanical Gardens: Established in 1857, the Portland Botanical Gardens are one of the first public gardens to be established in Victoria. Open daily.

Portland Vintage Car Museum: There are more than 30 well-presented vintage and classic vehicles, stationary and portable engines, and a stationary cable tram. Open 10am 4pm Mon - Fri weekends, public and school holidays.

The Great South West Walk: is a 250km walking track through a diversity of environments. Maps and information available from the Portland Visitor Information Centre.

History House: A historic museum and genealogical research centre. Open daily 10am-Noon and 1pm-4pm.

Cape Nelson Light Station: The tower has spectacular views over the Southern Ocean. Tours are available by appointment.

Cape Bridgewater: Petrified Forest, blowholes, seal colony, fresh water lakes, limestone caves and beautiful Bridgewater Bay.

Seals by Sea Tours: Tours daily (depending on sea and weather conditions).

Portland Cable Tram: Ride the fully restored 19th century Portland Cable Tram and enjoy pristine views of Portlands township and bay.

A vast array of Art Galleries showcasing local artist works.

Aluminium Smelter Tours: Free tours of Portland Aluminium on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 10:15am. Bookings essential.

Editor's Note: Also See -


Cape Otway Telegraph Station connected Tasmania
Cape Otway Telegraph Station connected Tasmania

Alan, Ross and Bill run the new Kipor generator
Alan, Ross and Bill run the new Kipor generator

Babes in the wood Lavers Hill Otway Ranges
Babes in the wood Lavers Hill Otway Ranges

Beach babe
Beach babe

Cabins  can be very  comfortable indeed.
Cabins can be very comfortable indeed.

Cabins come in  different shapes, sizes and price ranges
Cabins come in different shapes, sizes and price ranges

Motorhome rig, Port Campbell Caravan Park.
Motorhome rig, Port Campbell Caravan Park.

Dogs (off-season) play  too
Dogs (off-season) play too

Dump point Anglesea Beachside Family Caravan Park
Dump point Anglesea Beachside Family Caravan Park

Great Ocean Road cliffs face  pounding seas
Great Ocean Road cliffs face pounding seas

Happiness is water  kids and a net
Happiness is water kids and a net

It is going off. Bombora  crest off Port Campbell
It is going off. Bombora crest off Port Campbell

Just Flying. Shipwreck Coast near Port Campbell
Just Flying. Shipwreck Coast near Port Campbell

London Bridge crashes 10 01 90
London Bridge crashes 10 01 90

Low tide at the boat ramp. Great Ocean Road
Low tide at the boat ramp. Great Ocean Road

Our office on the road
Our office on the road

Port Campbell jetty is Swim Central
Port Campbell jetty is Swim Central

Soft surf Pt Roadknight
Soft surf Pt Roadknight

Spa time and the living is easy
Spa time and the living is easy

Surfs up Great Ocean Road  near Peterborough
Surfs up Great Ocean Road near Peterborough

No 10. Great Ocean Road Caravan Park Peterborough
No 10. Great Ocean Road Caravan Park Peterborough

Treetop view Otway Fly near Lavers Hill
Treetop view Otway Fly near Lavers Hill

Bill, Ross, Alan, Jo and Carol. Cheers!
Bill, Ross, Alan, Jo and Carol. Cheers!