It’s easy to be dazzled by the Great Ocean Rd. To be beguiled by the crash of the surf, the roar of the wind and the might of those (mostly) steadfast outcrops of sandstone, the Twelve Apostles.
What is not especially easy to do is what too many try – Victorians as well as greenhorn tourists – and tackle the round trip in a day from Melbourne. It’s much better to linger along the way. Stopping often, getting out of the car to blow the cobwebs away, opens up small beaches, hidden waterways, simple- but-sensational cafes and a greater connection with the many splendours of this well-worn route.
Using RACV Torquay Resort as the base enables people to really enjoy the area. Torquay is also the place if you want to learn about the thrills of the area’s main immersive activity – surfing – without getting wet, let alone dumped. Simply visit Surf World, the Australian National Museum of Surfing.
The museum charts surfing through the ages and then you can drive to Bells Beach in the hope of viewing some actual surf action. It’s unlikely you will be disappointed but you may be blown about by the wind.
Split Point Lighthouse
Next on the itinerary is Split Point Lighthouse, which stands between Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven and if you arrive on the hour, you may be in time for a 30-minute guided tour. As you climb the 136 helical steps, it is good to realise this is the lighthouse used for the popular children’s TV series Round the Twist.
As you blow away the cobwebs on the balcony of the lighthouse, 34m above the clifftop, you will be rewarded with extraordinary views up and down what historically has been a very dangerous part of the coast.
“Between Point Lonsdale and Portland, there are 100 shipwreck sites from 1834 to 1941,” says the lighthouse guide Carolyn. “At Moonlight Head, you can still see anchors at low tide.”
There are several short walks from the lighthouse, including a 2km circuit track and a 300m track to a lookout over Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary. Another lookout has views over Fairhaven Beach, towards Lorne, the town that marks mainstream Great Ocean Rd tourist territory. But it’s winter, and the holiday crowds are absent, so after a walk on the pier, I quickly move on, aiming for a lunch stop for Wye River.
Great Otway National Park
There’s nothing between the Wye River General Store and the ocean – except the road and a strip of sand. With Great Otway National Park as a backdrop and the beach and ocean as entertainment, it’s hard to keep moving.
About 5km further on, at the base of bush-clad hills, is the small community of Kennett River, where a wetlands reserve meets the river and Point Hawdon provides views of the coastline ahead.
Before reaching Apollo Bay, another pause, this time at Skenes Creek, where just one surfer – in wetsuit, of course – is carrying his board across the sand. A few more are in the water but generally the area is empty. It’s not until the Twelve Apostles are reached, that the crowds appear. Winter travel along the Great Ocean Road can have its own lonely charm.
Written by Lee Mylne
August 03, 2015
How to save in Torquay
Torquay and Jan Juc beaches provide a picturesque backdrop to RACV Torquay Resort, No 1 Great Ocean Rd.
The resort is the perfect place to stop if you want to explore the Surf Coast, or just enjoy its amenities and activities.
You can be as active as you like, enjoying the golf course, the state-of-the-art health club, One Lifestyle. As well as offering a fully-equipped gym there is a 25m heated indoor swimming pool, spa and sauna, group fitness studio and a spin/cycle studio.
If it’s time out you’re after, relax at One Spa, with treatments that include remedial and relaxation massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, make-up services, waxing, skin or body treatments, geisha tub soaks and hydrotherapy sessions.
There are activities for children, with a wading pool, children’s playground and family-friendly restaurant and bar.
Number One restaurant offers modern Australian cuisine with European influences. Complementing the restaurant is Hardings Lounge, that has a selection of light meals, sandwiches and cocktails, while White’s Paddock is a Mediterranean inspired bistro and bar.
If you can drag yourself away from the RACV Torquay Resort, then check out the discounts available from RACV Show Your Card & Save partners. A few are detailed below, but for a full list, see racv.com.au or download the Show Your Card & Save app from the iTunes store or Google Play.
Stay & Save at RACV Torquay
Use RACV Torquay Resort as your base for a Great Ocean Road holiday in winter. It boasts superb dining, an acclaimed 18-hole golf course, soothing One Spa facilities, and it’s within reach of some many great attractions.
And RACV members who book directly with the resort save up to 25% on accommodation. Go to racv.com.au/torquay or book on 5261 1600.
Save 10% at Tiger Moth World
Don a leather jacket and a pair of goggles and fly back in time to the 1930s when you take an adventure flight on a Tiger Moth biplane, from Torquay Airport, 325 Blackgate Rd. If you want to share the experience, check out the specials on Flights for Two; and, if you dare, turn your life upside down with a choice of aerobatics. RACV members save 10% off flights or 10% off entry to Tiger Moth World Adventure Park.
Save 10% at Blue Dirt
Save 10% on Blue Dirt Mountain Biking on a mix of cross-country trails, from low-lying coastal bush to forest. Open to all levels of riders.
Save 20% at the National Wool Museum
The Australian story of wool at the National Wool Museum, Geelong. RACV members save 20% off entry ticket entries.
Save up to 20% at the Australian Museum of Surfing, Torquay
The best place to head for an insight into the surfing culture that is so much a part of the Torquay region is Surf World, the Australian National Museum of Surfing, 77 Beach Rd. See memorabilia including two of the first surfboards used in Victoria. RACV members receive a 20% discount off museum entry and 10% off all retail purchases in the museum shop.