With stunning ocean views and cliffs, lush forests in the Otway National Park and opportunities to see Australian wildlife, cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road is nothing short of spectacular!
The Great Ocean Road is considered one of the great coastal routes in the world. This incredible tourist route is ideal for cycling, with good roads, great places to stop along the way for food and drinks, and I have to say it again – the greatest views for days. Starting in Warnambool, the route winds its way along the coast, climbing and descending through the Otway National Park, past stunning lookouts and the Shipwreck Coast, finishing in Geelong.
We did a fully self sufficient 3 day ride on our racing bikes (we were in Australia for a bike race so touring bikes complete with panniers were left behind!). I traveled with only a saddle and handle bar bag (see second bike in photo above), while Peter carried a small backpack. While we experienced cooler than average temperatures for late September, we were able to get by with very little! Everything was tightly packed on our bikes, DSLRs included (the views were so amazing, the big cameras were a must in my opinion!). We rode all day, soaking in the surrounding views, having a drink at the pub with the locals and taking photographs to our hearts content! (Click here for more photos.)
Our adventure started with an early train out of Melbourne to Warnambool. There was no problems bringing our bikes, although it was recommended that we reserve in advance as space for bikes may be limited. We were the only 2 bikes on the train and had no problems. Arriving in Warnambool in time for lunch, we went to the local bakery for the freshest sandwiches and savoury meat pies. Stomachs full, we were off!
The ride out of town was easy, and we were soon rewarded with the famous views along the Australian Coastline.
With jet lag to our advantage, we were up before the sun (day 2) to ride in the dark to see sunrise over the Twelve Apostles. The had the viewing platforms to ourselves – it was incredible! If you are able to travel to see the Twelve Apostles in person, I highly recommend getting there before sunrise – it is a magic moment as the sun hits the towering limestone pillars. We even saw our first kangaroo of the trip as we road silently down the Great Ocean Road at dawn.
We continued on to Apollo Bay, riding through Otway National Park. Leaving the coast behind, we climbed into the park, rainforst and eucalypts dominating the views. We hit some steep climbs and exhilarating descents. My eyes were peeled for a chance to see any koalas as I climbed. We lunched up in the rainforest before hitting a spectacular descent into Apollo Bay. We overnighted in Apollo Bay Beachfront Motel where we could cook our own dinner and enjoy a moonlight walk along the beach.
Our final day of riding took us along more spectacular sections of the Great Ocean Road. Here, the route is carved into the cliffs, winding along the coast, through tourist towns and eucalypts forests. We ran into many people driving the coast at Cape Patton, another of many stunning lookouts along the route.
We stopped for lunch along Mountjoy Parade in Lorne which proved to be the busiest place on our cycling trip. The cafes with their outdoor patios were full of tourists relaxing in the sunshine. It is easy to see that Lorne is a popular holiday destination for Australians and foreigners alike! (We actually liked the route from Lorne to Geelong so much that we rode back the next day for lunch, enjoying BBQ Chook and chips on the beach!)
The final run in to Geelong was less than ideal! We were hit with huge headwinds and no hotel reservation! The visitor centre downtown were very helpful considering the town was completely booked out with many conventions in town! (We may have taken the last room in town for the night!) I would definitely book my room here in advance next time! Geelong was the only place on the entire route that we didn’t book. I knew that accommodation along the Great Ocean Road fills up quickly. As we were cycling, riding to the next town wouldn’t always be practical – everything was booked in advance. We ended up with a crazy old 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen for 2 nights. The view out our room was of the Thirsty Camel drive through liquor store! At least a good bottle of wine with dinner was only steps away!
Cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road proved to be better than I could have expected. Whether taking your time touring, or racing the route in an organized race, it is well worth the visit. It is a trip I will definitely repeat! As you can see, it is all smiles along the Great Ocean Road.
My Route (modified from Lonely Planet’s Cycling Australia guide).
|Day 1||Warnambool to Port Campbell||70 kms||The Groto, London Bridge and The Arch|
|Day 2||Port Campbell to Apollo Bay||98 kms||Sunrise at the Twelve Apostles, Cape Otway and the National Park|
|Day 3||Apollo Bay to Geelong||115 kms||Incredible scenery with cliffs plunging into the sea, Lunch in Lorne, side trip to Bells Beach to watch the surfers|
Note: we Condensed the 5 days of riding into 3 – there are so many things to see and do along the way, you could easily go back to the original 5 day plan and experience more of what the area had to offer. We were on a whirlwind trip to include the states of Victoria and NSW and had to keep our trip short. There is so much more to do and experience, I am looking forward to going back and doing it again!
Needless to say, even the pros think it is great riding!!! Photo taken from the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and Cycling Tips.
The Great Ocean Road – it was a great ride!
To see more posts of cycling trips by me, click on the links below:
- Australia – Gold and Wine Country
- Canada – Cycling Across Canada, Cycling in Prince Edward County. (Note – currently working on a series for Cycling across Canada. Follow the series as it unfolds here!)
- Mallorca – going back to Mallorca, Scenery, Food and Fun.