The iconic 12 Apostles on the southern coast of Australia – absolutely awe-inspiring any time of year. Our time in the Western District of Victoria was over much too quickly after catching up with family and visiting Ballarat, Colac, Camperdown and area. Time to head further west, via the spectacular Great Ocean Road and Princes Highway ~ following the Coorong to the lovely city of Adelaide. The Great Ocean Road, including the 12 Apostles, is voted #1 motorcycle ride in Australia and is a trip worth repeating and please remember to “drive on the left” .
The 12 Apostles via the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This spectacular tourist site is worth a visit any day of the year. It is equally fantastic during a storm in winter as in the heat of the summer. There are many places en route to pull off and enjoy the exceptional scenery as well as visiting the 12 Apostles. Take your time if driving the winding coast road ~ you will find lots to do and see along the Surf Coast. Why not stay at one of the appealing caravan parks along the way for a night or two. As the tour brochures say “this is the trip of a lifetime”
Shipwrecks on a Rugged Coast
As well as the 12 Apostles there are many other interesting sites in the park, such as Loch Ard Gorge (where the clipper ship Loch Ard ran aground in 1878 with loss of 49 lives) and The Grotto and then a short drive further up the Shipwreck Coast to Port Campbell. Note that some of the Walks in the parks are more challenging than others.
Pt Campbell and on
The Pt Campbell Tourist Information centre has displays of “sunken treasure” and information on the many known wrecks along this treacherous coastline such as the Fiji and the Loch Ard.
Leaving Pt Campbell we continued our journey on the coast highway, passing the large Warnambool cheese factory processing products from the rich dairy producing farms around Camperdown, Cobden and Timboon. On a previous visit to Warnambool we visited Logan’s Beach (Warnambool) and were privileged to watch a migratory Southern Right whale and her new calf very close to shore. There are whale viewing platforms at Logan’s Beach so remember to take your binoculars. A lunch time stopover before heading off to Port Fairy and Portland and then north from Port MacDonnell to Mount Gambier in South Australia where we had booked accommodation for the evening.
Mt. Gambier, South Australia
Mt.Gambier is 450 K from Adelaide (via Robe) which does not allow a lot of time for sightseeing on the drive – but before leaving Mt. Gambier we visited the incredible volcanic Blue Lake and Crater Lake.
South Australia Bound
Then it was back on the road again driving the Princes Highway (or coast road) via Millicent, Robe and Kingston SE then driving along the Coorong to the town of Meningie. The Coorong National Park is important to the environment and wildlife and was seriously threatened during the recent ten-year drought as the water did not come down the Murray River to Lake Alexandrina which in turn supplies water to the Coorong. There is much controversy over water rights and irrigation of the “mighty” Murray which is the longest river in Australia.
It was interesting to learn that in this area of the state of South Australia there are many farm properties 20,000 acres or more in size and one of the state’s largest land owners has several properties which carry 10,000 cows and 350,000 sheep. Driving up the Coorong we also saw:
- the largest and most photographed crayfish in Australia (Kingston S.E.)
- a store selling kangaroo steaks (in the middle of nowhere)
- a “Pink” (salt) lake – yes it really is pink and believe this is caused by salt and bacteria
- “Old Man Saltbush” which is living fodder on the saline soil. Download CSIRO publication “Living with Saline Land”
- a sailing club ~ Meningie Saling Club (now there is water in the Coorong again)
- and very little traffic!
The ambitious two-day drive from the Western District of Victoria via the Great Ocean Road and Coorong to Adelaide, South Australia overloaded our senses with stunning vistas, friendly country folk and sunny, cloudless days. Truly a memorable drive. If relaxation is on your agenda, this is the great way to travel. There are many festivals and fairs throughout the year so check these out during your visit. Adelaide here we come!
- Before leaving the Western District we visited the City of Colac Botanial Gardens and had lunch in the Cafe overlooking Lake Colac – both good ideas
- Blue Grenadier (it’s a fish) from Australia is acceptable (sustainably) but there are concerns over imported (Hoki) from New Zealand. See Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide
- There are many signs to remind you to drive on the left
- You are not permitted to use a mobile phone while driving – heavy fines if you do
Links & References
These links follow our road trip in greater detail :
- Colac ~ Gateway to the Otways
- Great Otways National Park
- Pt Campbell and the Shipwreck Coast (over 80 wrecks) – Victoria’s Heritage
- Southern Right Whale – Logans Beach, Warnambool
- Warnambool is also home to Deakin University
- Port Fairy / Codrington Wind Farms impossible to miss the huge towers as you drive the Princes Highway
- Portland – oldest town in state of Victoria (1800). Pop: 11,000 Oldest European settlement in Australia and a great place to ocean fish for snapper and tuna
- Mt. Gambier, South Australia looks like a good place to visit – and live
- Historical Robe, S.A. still a major fishing port
- Kingston S.E. the beginning of the Coorong and home of “Larry the Lobster”
- Save the Coorong – the Australian Government
- Coorong National Park – this important ecosystem is home to about 85 species of birds
- Tailem Bend – meets the Murray
- The Murray River – Australia’s longest river
“We like our lizards frilled not grilled”
Bumper Sticker at 12 Apostles car park
If you are heading out from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road a recommendation would be to make a circle tour (in whichever direction you choose). For example follow the Princes Highway from Geelong via Winchelsea to Colac and then head south from Colac and drive through the lush Otway ranges and national park. Once you have reached the southern coast, the spectacular Twelve Apostles are a short distance past Princetown. The return trip “back” (east) follows the Great Ocean Road through Apollo Bay, Lorne, Angelsea, Torquay to Geelong on the new Surfcoast Highway (and Melbourne).