Any motorcycle travel section would not be complete without mention the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. This is simply one of the most stunning roads in all the world; our version of California’s iconic Big Sur.
The only problem is this heritage-listed road is too popular and you may find yourself caught behind tourists unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road, grey nomads plodding along in Jaycos, cyclists on their own Tour de Chance and novice motorcycle riders unfamiliar with the roads. Even tackling this road midweek won’t guarantee a smooth run. It’s busy almost every season, almost every day.
However, if the traffic is light the fun begins after Torquay where the road wraps around the cliffs behind Bells Beach down into the charming Angelsea township on the beach.
Now the Great Ocean Road – hacked and hewn by World War I Diggers between 1919 and 1932 – hugs the shore and quickly becomes a dramatic coastline with the road cut into the cliffs and hanging on for dear life above crashing surf. There is nothing to the south but Antarctica and the winds blowing off the ocean can keep you cool on the hottest of Victorian summer days. There can also be a heavy fog similar to those on the Big Sur.
There are many favourite areas on the Great Ocean Road and this is mine, but it can be heavily trafficked with few places for legal overtaking and you have to hope tourists obey the turn-in bays to allow traffic to pass – but don’t count on it. The 80km/h limit is also heavily policed.
Time for a coffee at Lorne in one of the many trendy coffee shops that cater for the trendy Melbournite weekenders. West of Lorne the road fails to disappoint with a rise and fall nature, cutting into inlets and out over headlands around to Apollo Bay where you have to grab some fish and chips for lunch and fight for it with the seagulls.
The road again changes character as it heads inland through the cooling Norfolk pine rainforests of the Great Otway National Park where you can take a twisty detour out to the lighthouse and grab a pic of the many koalas in the trees.
Back on the main road, it changes character yet again riding over the smooth plateau that ends at the sea with dramatic cliffs, the rugged splendour of the famous 12 Apostles rock stacks and many postcard-perfect inlets all the way to the quaint Port Campbell.
Here you can watch the high seas roll up into the harbour as you sip a well-earned beer over lunch at the 12 Rocks Cafe Beach Bar, formerly the Bombora Beach Bar.
It’s 188km from Torquay so it may be an overnighter, but there are plenty of motels of all price levels here. However, summer days are long down here and you can easily make it all the way back to Melbourne before twilight ends.
If the traffic becomes too much on the Great Ocean Rd, there are several roads that cut back through cool forests into the mountains such as the road from Lavers Hill to Colac, Forrest or Sunnyside roads out of Apollo Bay, or Deans Marsh or Erskine Falls roads out of Lorne.
These are nice sidetracks, but once clear of the mountain forests, they run into boring and very hot rolling country roads that wind back to Geelong.