5 Must-See Stops on the Great Ocean Road

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Australia, our homeland. We started our blog after we left and so when Shyam wanted to write about it we were so eager. Come and witness just some of the beauty that is our home. We look forward to writing more about it for you too, one day. 

The Twelve Apostles may be the most obvious draw on Australia’s Great Ocean Road but there’s also an astonishing array of nature and wildlife experiences on this dramatic coastline just an hour’s drive from Melbourne.


At just over 160 miles long you could comfortably drive the length of the Great Ocean Road in 4 hours. But with so many incredible natural encounters waiting for you, your journey is more likely to be measured in days and weeks. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Walk with the wildlife

Tailormade holidays in Australia with Trailfinders can consist of exploring small towns lighthouses and surfing beaches and perhaps see kangaroos en route to Lorne for lunch. You may spot little penguins at the Twelve Apostles, koalas in the eaves of the blue gums of Shelly Beach, wallabies at Aire River and whales in season from the lofty Gables Lookout.


Swim with dolphins

The shallow, sheltered waters of Port Phillip Bay harbour great flocks of petrels, gulls and pelicans as well as colonies of fur seals, but the undoubted stars are the bottlenose and common dolphins that call the bay home. You can often spot pods from the shore at the southern end of the bay but cruises from Sorrento and Queenscliff will get you close enough to dive in and enjoy an aquatic encounter with these playful mammals. Kayak with platypus: Hidden away from the hubbub of the Great Ocean Road amidst the ancient rainforests of Great Otway National Park lies Lake Elizabeth, a tranquil stretch of mirror flat water hemmed in on all side by towering forests and giant ferns. The lake is home to the cute and decidedly odd platypus and a dawn kayak through the morning mist, spotting these enigmatic creatures dart in and out of the drowned tree trunks, is an ethereal yet unforgettable experience.

Roam free with kangaroos

Turn off the Princes Highway 10 minutes west of Warnambool and Trailfinders will take you in another world. Nestled within the dramatic circular rim of a long extinct volcano lies the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. This tiny gem of a reserve is a haven for wildlife; you’ll spot koalas and kangaroos minutes after leaving your car and the reserve is also home to emus, echidnas and abundant waterfowl.

Laze about with koalas

Despite being an Australian icon, koalas can be difficult to find in the wild, being solitary, resolutely immobile and generally fond of remote areas. It’s all the more astonishing then to be able to see them from the road at Kennet River just 40 minutes from Apollo Bay. One of the best places in Australia to see koalas, you are guaranteed, yes guaranteed, to see these cute marsupials in the eaves of the tall gum trees eating and grooming, but mostly it must be said… resting.


Spotting whales is no fluke

The shores of the Great Southern Ocean are a whale watcher’s paradise. humpback whales can be seen at Port Phillip Bay and southern right whales can be spotted from the dune tops at Logans Beach, Warrnambool as they calve and bring up their young between May to October. Incredibly, and less known, the amazing blue whale is also visible from the shore at Cape Nelson. One of the few places on the planet this is possible. Unforgettable helicopter adventure flights run between November to May from Portland over these gigantic leviathans and provide a truly unique experience. 

Shyam Dattani is a travel author and a keen water sports enthusiast. Shyam has spent the past 8 years living and exploring in cities as diverse and exciting as Melbourne, Buenos Aires and Stratford London. He has written travel articles for Trailfinders, National Geographic and The Guardian as well as regularly contributing to blogs and online magazines both in English and in his native Swahili. Future plans consist of a food tour of the States and some deep sea diving around Bay Islands. He considers his 1 million strong stamp collection his greatest asset and would one day like to enter the Eurovision song contest.

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