In Awe of Australia's Great Ocean Road


800px-Great_Ocean_Road%2C_Lorne%2C_Australia_-_Feb_2012.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710xDavid Illiff


Australia is packed with magnificent sights, sites, and experiences, including marvelous road trips. One of the best - and certainly the most famous - is the 243-kilometre (151-mile) stretch along the coast and rugged cliffs of the southern state of Victoria known as the Great Ocean Road. Running between Torquay and Allansford, it's a drive full of stunning natural beauty as well as charming towns, secluded beaches, and wildlife experiences.


File:The Twelve Apostles 2011.jpg
Michael J. Fromholtz


What most impresses visitors are spectacular natural formations such as Port Campbell National Park's London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge, and especially the Twelve Apostles, an impressive collection of offshore limestone stacks (above).

Other seaside towns worth a stop include Lorne, popular for swimming, surfing, and pier fishing, and quieter, more laid back Apollo Bay, noted for its seafood. 

For additional nature experiences, the 17.5-square-km (nearly seven-sq.mi.) swath of the aforementioned Port Campbell National Park besides protecting the above coastal formations is home to a wide variety of birds, including penguins. Right alongside it, the much larger Great Otway National Park comprises 1,032km² (398 sq. mi.) of hilly forestland and beaches known for its koalas and fungi, as well as migrating whales and dolphins offshore. And another beach/surf town, Kennett River, is home to Grey River Road, along which live thousands of koalas.  

You can of course drive the Great Ocean Road independently or opt for a private tour (by luxury vehicle or even by helicopter) to get the most out of its sites and experiences. Either way, it'll leave you with memories to last a lifetime.