Cam Ly

Enjoy a memorable road trip on Australia’s Great Ocean Road

The Twelves Apostles lies in Port Campbell National Park, on one of the most scenic coastal roads in Australia.

No trip to Melbourne would be the same without visiting the Great Ocean Road, one of the finest roads in Australia and the world. This meandering road passes through stunning landscapes, from unspoiled beaches to rain forests towering limestone cliffs set against the clear sky.

From Melbourne, my family set out to explore this historic road by car. Listed as a Heritage Monument of Australia, the Great Ocean Road was built by World War I veterans between 1919 and 1932 in memory of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war. This coastal road is situated in the southeast of Victoria State, stretching around 243km from Torquay Town in the East to Allandsford near the harbor city of Warrnamboolo in the West.

The Great Ocean Road coastline seen from a helicopter.

We decided to head straight for Port Campbell National Park to admire the most famous site on the drive: the Twelves Apostles – a collection of limestone stacks rising from the Southern Ocean. After nearly three hours on the road, these magnificent limestone wonders stood before us. We walked down a lane flanked by huge bushes growing in many shapes, their bright greenery contrasting with the boundless azure of the sea and sky. Strolling between these shrubs was like being lost in another world. Rising from the sea, the huge limestone pillars resembled giant old gravestones, the scene breathtaking and spectacular.

Curious, we climbed Gibson Steps to the sandy beach below. In July, the water was freezing. The waves raced in and broke in silvery bursts against the high cliffs, eating away at the limestone. Watching the waves showed us how the Twelves Apostles were formed over 20 million years ago, when waves carved out caves inside the cliffs, their domes eventually collapsing to leave the pillars that remain today. Standing beneath the high cliffs it was impossible not to feel the insignificance of mankind. The Twelves Apostles preside over a vast wilderness.

The Arch

We continued to drive along the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell Town, which lies 11km from the Twelves Apostles. Visitors often spend the night here. The fresh coastal air seemed to soothe our tiredness. The kids played on the beach, admiring the seagulls, while the adults prepared an outdoor barbecue.

Before heading back for Melbourne the following morning, we visited several destinations near the town, including two rock formations: the Arch and London Arch. Walking along the beaches and cliffs left us with a sense of freedom.

The London Arch

To make the most of our homeward trip we decided to get off the beaten track and take the old causeway back to Melbourne. Bells Beach was our last stop before returning to the busy city. Famous for its big waves, Bells Beach hosts the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Surfing Competition, the world’s oldest surfing contest, held annually since 1962. 

As we only had two days, we couldn’t cover the full length of the Great Ocean Road. I would rather have time to enjoy the places I go than rush around trying to see everything. This way, there’s always something more to discover. One day, I hope to return and see what surprises remain on this beautiful heritage road.