Driving the Great Ocean coast

By Carolyn Barry 28 September 2011
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The coastal drive to the start of the Great Ocean Walk gives you a great taste of things to come.

BEFORE YOU EVEN HIT the trail, you get a sense that this part of the world is special. While you can get to the start of the walk by bus, it would be a shame not to drive arguably the most scenic road trip in Australia.

The drive is easy from Avalon airport as you miss going through the Melbourne traffic. Hire a car and hit the road down past Geelong, where you can stock up on last minute outdoor gear like gas canisters, or other supplies.

Allow plenty of time to take a leisurely tour on the Great Ocean Road, which unofficially starts on the Victorian Surf Coast at Torquay.

Australia’s best scenic drive

Just a couple of kilometres down the road is the famous Bells Beach – where, when the swell is right, is one of the most gnarly surf breaks in the world and home to the longest-running surf competition in the world, the Ripcurl Pro. The imposing cliffs and expansive view really bring home that this rugged coast is on the southern edge of Australia. From here you look into the waters of Bass Straight.

The road east of Bells Beach just reveals more spectacular scenery with every joyriding turn. Many of the bends are more than hairpin – they almost go full circle around little inlets, hugging the coastline. One minute you’re high on the clifftops and the next you drop down to sea level where you drive alongside the beach.

There are plenty of roadside scenic stops to take in the view – in fact, there seems to be one just about every few couple of kilometres, so you needn’t worry about missing the view when you’re driving. It also means you should allow plenty of time – about double what it would normally take to drive – and this drive is worth taking your time.

It’s a great precursor to a great walk.