Cyclewayz App Blog Great Ocean Road
Victoria’s Beautiful Coastline!!
By Josiah Skeats World Cyclist
Part of the Cyclewayz app Adelaide to Melbourne Coastal Route
Occasionally somewhere comes so highly recommended that you just can’t miss it. If I had a dollar every time someone had told me I must cycle the Great Ocean Road… well I wouldn’t be eating pasta and tuna every night! The Great Ocean Road occasionally felt like it was built specifically to show off Victoria’s beautiful coastline to cyclists… and that’s because it was!
Well, kind of… Servicemen returning home after WWI were sent to built the road with one of the primary motivations being the recognition that it was a beautiful area, and that a road would bring tourists to the area. It was also built to keep those soldiers in employment, to connect these remote coastal communities, and as a memorial to those who died in the Great War (today it is the biggest war memorial in the world).
I joined the coast at Warnambool – an aboriginal name meaning ‘ample water’ – so I guess I was in the right place. The sea was a fierce, white and foaming mess, with a wind that bit through clothing. A seal danced through the water, occasionally stopping to chomp on a fish, enjoying far more luck than the fishermen who slumped beside empty buckets, draped in layers of clothing and blankets.
I teetered on the sea cliffs sandwiched between sea and rainforest, addicted to the twists and turns of the road, not knowing where to look. I kept my eyes open for koalas (of which there are supposedly plenty) and whales, which migrate here from Antarctica to give birth in the warmer Australian waters. Unfortunately I didn’t see either.
It was hard to get into any rhythm because every few kilometres I was stopping to take a photo or check one of the numerous iconic viewpoints along the route, each of which boasts a creative name; London Bridge, Bay of Islands, The Grotto, and most famously, The Twelve Apostles. All are only a short detour from the main road and are worth stopping to visit; this is somewhere there is so much to see that you don’t want to rush the cycling.
The Great Ocean Road transported me back to a stuffy geography classroom many years ago where I had flicked through a textbook learning about the power of the sea. Here that geography lesson flew to life straight from the textbook, with evidence of thousands of years of the sea’s destructive power on display, showcasing a weary and buffeted coastline.
This is a place of constant conflict, in which the sea continues to swallow chunks from the land. In the short time since these features were named, many have become misnomers. ‘London Bridge’ was once connected to the mainland, but since its collapse 25 years ago perhaps it ought to be called ‘London Tower’ instead.
Only eight of the twelve apostles still remain. And one day there will be none. Or maybe there will be 20, it is impossible to tell. All we can do is glimpse a snapshot of something much bigger than us and marvel at the processes here which mock our human understanding of time.
Numerous settlements dot the route which would be unrecognisable to the ‘struggling coastal communities’ which the GOR tried to connect 90 years ago. The boom in tourism has created a demand for boutique cafes, delicious restaurants and places to stay (none of which were in my budget), which have given these villages a lively character which begs you to stay and chill out a while longer. The pace of life is leisurely, and makes it hard to leave, which must be why many of Melbourne’s rich and famous have built glamorous holiday homes here.
The Great Ocean Road attracts many tourists every year, and it’s not hard to see why. Riding along on a bicycle is possibly one of the best way to fully appreciate the power of the coast along here.
The Great Ocean Road is part of our Cyclewayz app Adelaide to Melbourne Coastal Route.
1063 km One Way, Easy/Medium, Flat, Mostly quiet roads. (Busy in summer) Sealed/Unsealed 12-16 Days.
The Great Ocean road is best cycled West to East during Nov to Dec and Mar to May excluding Easter and school holidays.
Most of the big bus traffic travels from East to West and hence you will be on the other side of the road safe away from the big buses.