Possibly the most spectacular coastline in Victoria has to be the Shipwreck Coast, just less than a couple of hours out of Melbourne and you are there. The Great Ocean Road, which follows a long path along this coastline brings in to view some of the most famed and spectacular rock formations such as the 12 Apostles. It is also home to broad sandy surf beaches such as the famed Bells Beach, with wide, sweeping bays skirted by rocky ledges formed from the lava of prehistoric volcanoes.
When the sun is shining the coast gives off calm peaceful feel, it is hard to imagine how it could have turned so violent toward ships in years gone by. We are, however, assured that the winter months bring incredible powerful storms to make the Southern Oceans ever changing temperament so much more believable.
Partnered by wind, rain, and a few years of time, the sea carves the cliff-faces and offshore rock stacks, forming amazing stone structures that include the Twelve Apostles and Island Arch. But as carefully as they create these structures they eventually destroy their own handiwork, as the undercut limestone and sandstone tumbles into rubble, or disappears forever under the rolling waves, reducing the actual count of these huge offshore rock stacks to only eight.
The rocks and caves of the coast are home to seals, penguins, bats and a host of bird life.
The Shipwreck Coast is a destination that will leave you with lasting memories whether it be the start or end of your journey along the winding road.
Basis for the palette…. Taking the calming natural greens of the hinterland and mixing them up with the stormy blues of the ocean and sandy red tones of the rugged rock formations that stand boldly along the coast line.
A little bit more information on The Ship Wreck Coast…….
Where to stay……..
There are lots of spots to stop along the Shipwreck coast. Whether you opt to stay or just pop in for a visit you should find something to suit, although it is always to book up well in advance and be prepared that during peak seasons much of the accommodation has a minimum of two or three night stays so it may be good to find a couple of mid points from which you can explore the other regions. This also means that you are not spending the whole trip jumping from one hotel/B&B to the other.
Point of View - Apollo Bay
Point of View – Apollo Bay – Although the drive up the hill is a little bit hairy, the accommodation is well worth it, with an amazing view that extends over the bay from every room. The accommodation is family run and has everything you need (including a bottle of bubbles on arrival!). It is a great central stopping point between Melbourne and Port Fairy and allows you to easily access all of the major must see spots.
Places to see……Things that you should include are:
Lorne – The buzzing pretty little town of Lorne has plenty for all, from quirky street statues to relaxing beaches. There is plenty of accommodation but if you are just passing it is a great place to stop off for a quick bite to eat and a wonder.
Cape Otway Light House
Koala on the Cape Otway approach
Cape Otway – It is worth a trip to the most southern point of the great Ocean Road to see the Cape Otway Lighthouse. One of many built in response to the rough southern sees which bought many a ship to her knees. And if your thinking “not another light house”….. as believe me there are a few, this trip is worth it for the fact that the approach road is littered with Koala’s sleeping in the trees. Just keep your eyes peeled, or watch for everyone else pulling into the side of the road for a photo opportunity….. but do beware we all know too much eucalyptus makes for a “drop bear”!!!
Waterfall in the Otway National Park
View from the tree top walk in Otway National Park
Great Otway National Park – If you are yearning for a bit of rainforest and a good bit of brisk walking then the Great Otway National Park is perfect. The Otways are home to the longest and tallest elevated walkway in the world, and if you have a few hours to spare and are seeking a thrill they also have the zip line so you can do a bit of a Tarzan impression if so inclined.
The Twelve Apostles – Driving the Great Ocean Road and missing out the Twelve Apostles is like going to Paris and ignoring the Eiffel Tower. They are the seas very own unique sculptures. As nature continues to eat away at many of them there are only 8 still fully standing in their glory, so each time you go it may be a different view you see.
The Grotto – The low viewing area allows you to see the fine mist from the wave. On a sunny day this can result in forming beautiful rainbows.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum
Flagstaff Hill – If you want to understand a bit of the history of the shipwreck coast and understand a little of what it was like to live in these formative years The Flagstaff Hill Maritime village is a fun place to stop. They also have a multi million dollar light show in the evenings to tell the story of one of the disasters.
Where to dine……
Lorne – River Tea House
– For a list of teas of all shapes and colours and possibly THE best carrot cake I have ever tasted you cannot miss a stop at the River Tea House in Lorne.
Appollo Bay – Chris’s Restaurant – For a great view, a little bit of a Greek influenced gourmet treat and an obligatory glass of Ouzo! You cannot go past this restaurant. Once again it is a drive into the tree tops of Apollo bay but with every table having a view it is hard to beat.
La Bimba Apollo Bay– For something a little less formal, for those with a love of seafood you cannot walk past La Bimba …Once again if you are lucky you will find that elusive Cray fish!
On with the colourful journey…………