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Coast of South Western Victoria

Great Ocean Road: one of Australia's great drives, the 273 km Great Ocean Road winds its way from Torquay to Warrnambool on the south west coast alongside some of the most dramatically scenic seascapes in the world. It was constructed by ex-servicemen and the unemployed between 1918 and 1932 and is dedicated to those that lost their lives in World War I. The most well known feature in the region is The Twelve Apostles rock formation near Port Campbell, carved out of the limestone headlands by rough seas over time.

The Great Ocean Walk: stretches 104km from the idyllic resort town of Apollo Bay, to within sight of the magnificent 12 Apostles. Weave through beautiful National Parks, walk deserted beaches and gaze over pristine marine sanctuaries. Step on and off the trail with convenience; enjoy comfortable accommodation and excellent local meals or pitch your tent at wildly picturesque spots along the way.

Geelong: the second largest city in the state of Victoria, Geelong is the largest regional centre in the state. A major industrial centre and port, Geelong is the gateway to the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria's Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road. About 40% of the city's area has been reserved for parks, gardens and sports grounds.

Bellarine Peninsula: Just over an hour from Melbourne and with the townships generally not more than ten kilometres apart, there is plenty to see on a day tour or stop in one place for the perfect short break.  Activities on The Bellarine include all the water-based sports and pleasures you can think of – snorkelling, jet-skiing, swimming with dolphins, surfing, kayaking, fishing, marine sanctuaries, sailing and more. World class wineries are peppered throughout the area, as are superb restaurants, quaint cafés, fresh local seafood and Sunday markets.

Port Phillip Heads, Queenscliff

Queenscliff: located at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, Queenscliff has been a major commercial fishing centre since the 1850s. The town and its twin settlement, Point Lonsdale, which is 5km to the west, are busy tourist resorts. Queenscliff is connected by two car and passenger ferries to Sorrento.

Portarlinton: a popular bayside resort on the Bellarine Peninsula that is known for its good fishing and safe beaches.

Lorne: the seaside town of Lorne on Louttit Bay in Victoria is perfectly positioned as a 'weekend away' destination for Melbourne residents, which has a lot to do with it being one of Victoria's most loved holiday destinations. Lorne is blessed by being sandwiched on a narrow coastal plain between the Otway Range and Bass Strait. Its location not only places it right on Victoria's Surf Coast and a short drive from popular surf beaches such as Torquay, Bells Beach, Jan Juc, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, but also just a few kilometres from the rainforests of the Otway Range, whose eucalypt-clad slopes literally reach to the sea around the town.

Appolo Bay: known as a tourist town these days, Apollo Bay is remains a centre for the local fishing, dairying and timber getting industries which gave birth to the town. The town is an ideal base for exploring the Otway Ranges and the Otway coast.

Eagler Rock near Aireys Inlet

Aireys Inlet: a resort town perched on rocks alongside the ocean. 11 km west of Anglesea, 120 km from Melbourne. The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch at nearby Eastern View marks the beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Angahook-Lorne State Park has hiking trails weaving through virgin bushland. Split Point Lighthouse is said to be haunted, 1891). Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary is close by.

Anglesea: an attractive resort town and surfing centre, 110km south-west of Melbourne, offering water sports and bushwalks along the Anglesea River. Anglesea's golf course is well known for a colony of friendly kangaroos that are often seen grazing beside the fairway. The rolling hills are covered in wildflowers in Spring.

Torquay: a popular resort town, 99 km from Melbourne and 22km south of Geelong, known for its surfing beach, sea fishing, sporting facilities. Torquay has laid claim to being the surfing capital of Australia and some of the finest boardriders in the world flock to Bells Beach every year for the annual Easter Classic. Tourquay is home to Surfworld Museum, Australia's only surfing museum and Hall of Fame, and Bellbrae Horse-drawn Carriage Museum. Point Danger Marine Sanctuary; Point Addis Marine National Park are close by.

Jan Juc: adjacent to Torquay, Jan Juc is a popular surfing spot. The Jan Juc beach lies between Rocky Point to the East and Bird Rock to the West, and is bounded by high cliffs. In the late 1990s, a surfer found the only known 'Janjucetus hunderi' fossils, on a beach near Jan Juc.

Bells Beach: located on Victoria's Surf Coast, Bells Beach is a renowned surf beach. Located 100 km south-west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road near the towns of Torquay and Jan Juc, it is one of Australia's iconic surfing spots. Bells is the home of the world's longest-running surfing competition – the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival. The event was formerly known as the Bells Beach Surf Classic.

Princetown: a coastal village located on the Great Ocean Road, six kilometreseast of the Twelve Apostles. The hamlet provides access to beaches and the mouth of the Gellibrand River. The Gibson Steps are nearby.

Port Campbell: a stunningly situated seaside village renowned for its rock and beach fishing. Set in the natural gorge of Campbells Creek, the settlement has one of the few sheltered moorings along this section of the coast.

Loch Ard Gorge: offshore stacks, blowholes and the indescribable beauty of formations like the razorback and island arch make this precinct the one with the lot. A comprehensive display of artifacts from the wreck of the Loch Ard at this locality, and the story of the dramatic rescue of its two survivors can be seen the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre. The gorge 8km west of Port Campbell. There is a map of the whole precinct viewable from the main car park. Visitors should allow 2 – 3 hours and be aware that there are 3 separate car parks.

The Twelve Apostles: it is the sheer scale of the offshore stacks that make them the most photographed features on the Australian coastline. Dusk and dawn provide the best viewing opportunities with opportunity to view penguins from the cliff top viewing area. Most visitors either don't care or even realise that there are no longer twelve stacks.

The Grotto, near Peterborough

Peterborough: situated near The Twelve Apostles, and other famous coastal landmarks in Port Campbell National Park. Many ships have been wrecked in the vicinity, due to limestone cliffs eroding away and leaving many patches of harder rock concealed just under the waves quite a distance out to sea.

Warrnambool: a major regional commercial centre for the western district, the city of Warrambool marks the "end of the road" for Great Ocean Road travellers. The coast of Warrnambool is a popular spot for viewing migrating Southern Right Whales. Between June and September, whales often swim within a hundred metres of the shore and can be viewed from a viewing platform at Logan's Beach, where the females come to calve.

Port Fairy: the second oldest town in Victoria, Port Fairy is located at the mouth of the Moyne River. It is the home port for as large fishing fleet.

Portland: this coastal city is actually the oldest European settlement in the state of Victoria. The only deepwater port between Adelaide and Melbourne, it is an important port, industrial and commercial centre for the western Victoria pastoral and agricultural areas.

Great South West Walk: a 250 kilometre walking track forming a giant loop between Portland and Nelson, following the coast along the Discovery Bay Coastal Park and inland along the Glenelg River.

Cape Nelson: to the south of Portland, Cape Nelson includes a 210 hectare state park bordering rugged cliffs with the Cape Nelson Lighthouse (completed 1884) located on the coast's southern tip. Attractions include a 3-kilometre clifftop walk.

Cape Bridgewater: The high coastal cliffs of Cape Bridgewater, near the city of Portland, stretch in a perfect crescent around the rim of a huge, ancient volcano crater, creating the crescent of Bridgewater Bay. The bay has a number of excellent beaches, suited to swimming, surfing, fishing and beachcombing. A walking trail leads to the surreal landscape of the petrified forest which looks like a forest of tree roots turned into rock. The end of the trail looks out over rock platforms and onto a colony of about 650 Australian fur seals.

Nelson: situated on the pristine Glenelg River, some two kilometers from the mouth but with views of the ocean across the sand hills to the south either side of the river estuary. The area offers close proximity to wild ocean beaches, beautiful estuary and river and the surrounding Lower Glenelg National Park. Nelson is the most westerly coastal town in Victoria.

Visiting The Region: The Facts

Best Time To Go: As Victoria has a temperate climate, there is no one season or month that the visitor needs to avoid, except perhaps summer (December - February), if you find hot weather unbearable. In and around Melbourne, which gets more cloud and disturbed weather despite a lower rainfall, sunshine hours per day in winter (June - August) are three to four as against seven to eight in summer. Cold spells are brief and never severe on the coast, and temperatures can drop much lower inland in winter.

How to Get There: by road west from Melbourne.

Regional Centres

Towns and villages

  • Queenscliff
  • Portarlongton
  • Barwon Heads
  • Torquay
  • Aireys Inlet
  • Anglesea
  • Jan Juc
  • Bells Beach
  • Lorne
  • Apollo Bay
  • Port Campbell
  • Port Fairy

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Regions of Victoria