That first trip to Australia, I took a day tour along part of the Great Ocean Road, getting as far as the small town of Lorne. If that’s as far as you can go, I think it’s still worthwhile, as the entire coast is splendid. However, even on that first visit, I found myself wishing that I’d be able to return to take that road farther. On my second trip to Australia, I made that wish come true—though I approached from the opposite end.
I rented a car in Adelaide and, after making my way through the lovely Grampian Mountains, I headed down to the coast at Port Fairy, a charming fishing town where I found a handsome little bed and breakfast to spend the night. Next day, I headed east along the Great Ocean Road. This stretch of oceanfront property is often called the Shipwreck Coast, and my first stop was at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village in Warrnambool, where, amidst wonderful old buildings, rusting anchors, and lighthouses, I learned about the coast’s history and perused many of the items salvaged from some of the hundreds of ships sunk nearby.
On the road again, I began to see the splendid, sea-carved cliffs, rock formations, and stunning sea views that had actually lured me to this coast. A brisk wind kept the weather changing throughout the day, and made everything seem even more dramatic, with varied cloudscapes and often white-capped waves. I parked the car often, to get out and explore, scrambling down to the water’s edge whenever there were stairs or a designated place to climb, walking along cliff edges when there was no way down. I was captivated by the parade of remarkable formations: the Bay of Islands, the Grotto, Lock Ard Gorge, London Arch, the Blow Hole, and, most famously, the Twelve Apostles, all carved by wind and waves. The coast itself is wildly sculpted, and it is easy to imagine some of today’s coastal walks being transformed in time to new arches and standing stones.
The photo below shows two of the group of stone towers known as the Twelve Apostles, which are within the protective borders of the Port Campbell National Park.