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A Tourist's Guide to Regional Australia Part 5: Great Ocean Road, Victoria

This is the fifth in a series of articles that will help tourists both local and international visiting Australia find information about locations that are not usually covered in television travel programs and magazines.

Victoria

Victoria is a state of Australia which is located in the south eastern corner of the mainland. The population of Victoria is approximately 5.7 million, with a majority of people living in the capital city, Melbourne 1). The climate of Victoria can range from oceanic to the south to semi arid in the north west and winter snowfall in the eastern highlands.

Transport Options

There are many transport options in Victoria, Melbourne has one international and two domestics airports, at Tullamarine and Avalon, with also smaller airports at regional centres. For the purpose of this article it is recommended to visit the locations by motor vehicle. There are many companies in and around Melbourne or other centres where you can hire a vehicle to suit your needs. For tips on driving in Victoria please see this site http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Licences/NewToVictoria/InformationForTourists.htm.

Stop 1 – Geelong

After leaving Melbourne and heading south west, the first place to see is Geelong. Geelong is approximately 73 kilometres from the capital city and is located on the western edge of Port Phillip Bay. It is the second biggest city in Victoria, so there are plenty of things to see and do, with beautiful attractions such as the botanical gardens and many parks, restaurants and cafes located on the foreshore. There are also several wineries in the region for those who want to go and sample some of the local produce, or you can go for a bush walk in one of the many national parks. For more information and attractions please visit the local tourist centre or this site http://www.tourismgeelongbellarine.com.au/.

geelong.jpg

Geelong Waterfront

Torquay

Only 20 kilometres south of Geelong you will find the seaside town of Torquay. The town is renowned for its beautiful surf and swimming beaches, and is home to the world renowned Bells Beach. This is an ideal location for taking photos from many points overlooking the ocean, or you may choose to have a surf. If you do not know how to surf, there are plenty of surf schools which operate in the area. For those who would like a more leisurely approach, you can enjoy a nice cold drink or coffee at one of the many venues on the foreshore. Please visit this site for more information on Torquay http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/torquay

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Sunset at Torquay2)

Great Ocean Road

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12 Apostles3)

Between Torquay and Apollo Bay, you will find the 75 kilometres stretch of road called the Great Ocean Road. This is a breathtaking drive, as you skirt along limestone cliffs from which you can see rock several different rock formations, which are known as the 12 Apostles. Along with the apostles, you can stop at several different formations, such as London Bridge, which has taken the shape of a bridge, or you can go down to the beach and visit the naturally formed limestone caves. Whichever you choose to see, you will need to set aside a whole day in order to appreciate this vast natural beauty and the result of millions of years of weathering which is visually stunning. For more information on this are please see this site http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/

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London Bridge 4)

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay is located approximately 90 kilometres west of Torquay. It is a seaside town which is renowned for its beaches, restaurants and fishing, both land and water based. You can also take a walk in one of the national parks which are home to many native animals, such as koalas and kangaroos. There are a lot of water based activities such as kayaking or sailing, or you can go out whale watching if you visit during the winter season. There are plenty of accommodation options here, ranging from caravan parks to resorts and hotels. This town is extremely popular with local, interstate and overseas tourists. For more information on Apollo Bay you can visit the local tourism centre, or alternately visit this site http://www.apollobay.vic.au/.

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Apollo Bay 5)

Warrnambool

Warrnambool is another seaside town located approximately 160 kilometres west of Apollo Bay. This is also a very picturesque drive along the coast, with great views towards the Southern Ocean. Warrnambool is renowned for its beautiful golden beaches, crystal clear rock pools and swimming locations. For those who like scuba diving, there are some great wrecks and reefs which are known as some of the best dives in the country, or if you enjoy fishing there are plenty of land based positions. You can also choose to take a scenic cruise, or if you would like a aerial view there are different types of scenic flights available. Warrnambool is also famous for its seafood restaurants with plenty of fresh local seafood served. There are a number of different options for accommodation in Warrnambool, for more information on this and on other attractions and events please see this site http://visitwarrnambool.com.au/.

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Warrnambool Harbour 6)

Portland

The final stop on this trip is Portland, which is located approximately 100 kilometres west of Warrnambool. The town is located in Portland Bay, which gives the town protected, calm waters which are great for swimming, fishing and other water sports. Portland is one of the oldest towns in Victoria so there are many historic sites to visit, or you can go whale watching during the whale season. There is a laid back feel to the town, and it is a great place to relax, unwind and have a nice quiet day or you may choose to stay longer. There also a multitude of accommodation and food options, with seafood restaurants again being the pick of the bunch. For more information on food, accommodation and locations which can be visited, please see this site http://www.visitportland.com.au/.

Portland Bay 7)

This concludes our guide to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Please note that whilst all information written here was correct at the time of publication, conditions in the future may change and it advised that you gain information from media reports or local authorities when visiting. It is advisable to visit this region from September through to about April, as it may get quite cold and windy during the winter months. The water temperatures can be quite cold as most of the beaches are southerly facing, so wetsuits are a good idea regardless of the season.

Disclaimer

Victorian beaches can be prone to rips and strong currents, and it is strongly advised that you swim only on patrolled beaches and also follow all signs and directions. For more information please see this site http://www.watersafety.vic.gov.au/home/beach+safety/.

There are also several species of sharks that frequent Victorian waters. Whilst shark attacks are extremely rare, swimmers should remain vigilant and try to avoid swimming at dawn and dusk where research shows are the peak times for attacks. For more information please see this site http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2011/10/how-to-avoid-a-shark-attack/.

Victoria is also home to several species of venomous snakes and spiders. Like sharks, bites and fatalities are extremely rare however vigilance is again the key It is recommended that you always carry a first aid and snake bite kit in your vehicle or on your person when out walking. For more information please see this site http://www.visitvictoria.com/Information/Health-and-safety.

Travel | Australia

1) Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, 'June Key Figures', Available: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0/
2) Sunset at Torquay, by Alex Proimos licence CC 2.0 Available : http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sunset_at_Jan_Juc,_Torquay_(6758802783).jpg
3) 12 apostles by John Hurd licence CC 2.0 Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_South_Coast.jpg
5) Apollo Bay by Marcus Wong licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Apollo_Bay_from_Mariners_Lookout.jpg
6) Warrnambool Harbour by Marcus Wong licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Warrnambool-harbour.jpg
7) Portland Bay by Batch licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portland_victoria.jpg

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