The Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay (about 100kms from Melbourne) and winds its way for 180 kms along the south-western coast of Victoria, Australia.
It is one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. It winds its ways around ragged cliffs, windswept beaches, and tall buffs and passes through lush mountain rainforest and towering eucalyptus.
The Great Ocean Road was started in 1918 and completed during the Great Depression as a public works project to give returned soldiers and unemployed people work.
THE LOCH ARD
The 18 passengers and 36 crew on the iron-hulled clipper Loch Ard had a party on the night of March 31, 1878, to celebrate their arrival in Melbourne the next day after a three month voyage from England. But Captain Gibb stayed on deck all night, worried by the thick mist that obscured the horizon and Cape Otway light. At 4am the mist lifted and the lookout cried: "Breakers ahead." Despite desperate attempts to turn the ship away -- and then to hold it with its anchors -- it struck rocks. water flooded in, the masts flailed against the high cliff face before crashing down and waves swept across the decks, hampering attempts to get the lifeboats into the water. Only two survived -- ship's apprentice Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, both aged 18. Eva's parents and five siblings were lost. Tom drifted into the gorge where he saw passenger Eva clinging to a mast -- he swam out, pulled her into a cave and found some brandy in the wreckage to revive her. He climbed out of the gorge and came upon two stockmen, and a rescue party was organised. But only four bodies -- including Eva's mother and sister, were able to be recovered from the treacherous seas and most of the ship's valuable cargo was lost or looted. Tom Pearce became a national hero for his rescue of Eva, who soon returned to Ireland.
A few days after the disaster a packing case washed up in the gorge. It contained a life-sized Minton pottery peacock destined for the Melbourne Great Exhibition of 1880.
Some of the sights along the way are:
Bells Beach - a great place to go surfing and where the Bells Surfing Classic is held each Easter.
Shipwreck Coast - where the wrecks of over 80 ships lie on the ocean floor. Many ships carrying immigrants to the gold fields of Victoria floundered in the treacherous seas.
Lorne - a popular sea side resort in Apollo Bay.
Port Campbell National Park - One of the most photographed sections of the road where shear golden limestone cliffs and rock formations withstand the buffeting of fierce seas
Twelve Apostles - there are only 10 left!
Port Fairy - a well preserved fishing village which was settled by sealers and whalers back in the 1820s.