The Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles rock formations is 150 miles of spectacular beauty on winding roads with the ocean always right close or at least in sight. A 2-hour drive southwest of Melbourne lands you in Bells Beach, near the beginning of the drive. Bells Beach just recently hosted the annual Rip Curl Pro Surfing tournament. Its setting is remarkable and to watch the surfers catch magnificent waves reminds us why Australia is a surfing mecca not unlike Southern California.
Expect friendly small towns, innumerable hiking trails for all abilities, rainforest walks, lighthouses, roadside picnic tables and parks everywhere to take a break from the winding roads.
Do not pass up the helicopter over the 12 Apostles for 15 minutes of remarkable coastal cliffs and 12 magical rock formations in the ocean. For $100 you cannot go wrong.
A favorite visit was to Tower Hill Wildlife Sanctuary-a Park open 24/7 with trails through forests and around a dormant volcano and several lakes. Near dusk we found koalas, wallaby, and an abundant number of curious kangaroos. We were the last car to leave the park, a great way to end our day before the 3-hour drive through open country back to Melbourne.