It’s visited by millions of tourists and daytrippers every year, but you’d be surprised to find that secret spots still exist on Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road.
Stretching 234km from Torquay on the Surf Coast to Allansford in the state’s west, it’s a well-trodden path — and for good reason. But here’s what you can find off the beaten track.
Aire River Beach
It’s just 10 minutes off the Great Ocean Road at Hordern Vale, but you won’t find tourist buses or selfie sticks littering this scenic beach. Dozens of campsites can be found on the picturesque Aire River’s east and west banks, but the true gem here is the beach where the river’s tea-coloured water meets the ocean.
Those with a 4WD can drive 2km down the sandy track right down to the shore, which is an anglers’ paradise.
The stumps of a long-forgotten pier and make an interesting feature for shutterbugs.
For great payoff with little effort, these towering waterfalls in the Barramunga hinterland behind Apollo Bay are a must-do. A lazy 500m stroll from the day visitors’ carpark will take you to the base of these thundering cascades, which are so powerful that you can feel the mist on your face from metres away.
Looking to stay and play? There’s a first-in, best-dressed free campground about 2.3km away.
Explore the sand dunes at Johanna Beach, which is one of the spectacular pitstops on the Great Ocean Walk. The rugged coastline and pounding surf past Cape Otway are a sight to behold, even on a winter’s day.
Surfing buffs may also be interested to know that this is where Kelly Slater won the 2010 Rip Curl Pro after it was moved further west due to poor conditions at Bells Beach that year.
There are plenty of waterfalls to explore in the Lorne hinterland, but this one is lesser explored compared to the popular Erskine Falls.
The track meanders along the St George River and through a private property fringed with apple trees, before a short but steep uphill climb that will leave you puffing. A steep descent follows the short respite, bring you to Phantom Falls, where the more adventurous can scramble on the mossy boulders to get closer to the rushing water. Allow about 90 minutes for the walk.
OK, so this one isn’t quite a secret any more thanks to Instagram, but it’s still very much quieter than Warburton’s grove of towering redwoods.
Planted in the 1936, these towering trees are mere babies compared to the behemoths found in the United States. There’s something magical about the hush of the forest and the soft trickle of the Aire River.
Don’t forget to look up for the calming, yet slightly disconcerting sight of these gentle giants swaying in the breeze.