As it was a beautiful winter’s day I thought I would take a trip from Warrnambool to Apollo Bay to blow away a few cobwebs. It is around a two hour drive and there are some truly amazing sights along the way. Let’s be honest this is one of Victoria’s if not Australia’s best tourist attractions. In fact when you arrive at Apollo Bay you will understand how much of their economy relies on international tourism.
Then why, oh why is so little being spent`on this fantastic tourism asset. In a 2014 report on the http://www.tourism.vic.gov.au/research/economic-significance.html it states tourism brings in 1.9 Billion to the Great Ocean Road economy so why is so little spent upgrading it and maintaining it. Between Apollo Bay and Port Cambell the road is poorly maintained with some dips so deep I was worried the car would bottom out.
Then there are far too few toilets for the distances involved. Not everyone is in a luxury bus with a toilet at the back. So lets add a few stops along the way.
Don’t get me wrong I would still recommend the Great Ocean Road to any visitor but with a warning to not drive a close to the ground car (sports car enthusiasts beware) and don’t have to much coffee between stops.
Thunder Point is a viewing beach so you can forget about going for a swim. The carpark is high above the water (in fact around 30 metres above) with spectacular views of the ocean towards Warrnambool and towards Port Fairy. When you see and hear the waves crashing into the craggy cliffs you can get a feeling of why the name came about.
There is ample parking on both sides so you can park the car and just view out to the ocean or sit looking back towards Main Beach with Lady Bay Resort towering above which is my favorite view. Park on the other side of the carpark and watch the waves crashing into the rocky cliffs rising high above the ocean. The best viewing is from the viewing platform at the centre of the carpark that faces out to the ocean but allows magnificent views in both directions.
It is easy to imagine why so many vessels came to their end with the waves smashing into the rocks that appear briefly as the water rises and recedes. You can see the rocks go out quite a distance from the shore and are just below the surface.
My favorite is getting a takeaway meal and watching the waves at lunch or just before sunset. The magnificent hiking track passes along these cliffs as well so if you are energetic go for a stroll. There are no toilets here so make sure you go before you come as it is some distance to find one.
When driving down Pertobe Road on the way to the Breakwater you will find Stingray Bay on your right hand side. It is easy to find. If you start to see the penguin island (Middle Island) to your right then you are at Stingray Bay. The beach is located at the mouth of the Merri River and creates tidal pools. It is a fantastic place to sit and watch the large crashing waves on both sides of the islands.
This is an amazing beach where the tide recedes so far you can walk all the way across to the islands (although access is no longer allowed). If you do walk across keep a close eye on the tide as many people have been caught out and had to be rescued and several not so lucky. I take the view that if the tide is on the way in then I am on the way out. People do swim here but the signs indicate strong undercurrents so take caution. Safest place to dip is probably in the tidal pools left in front of the rocks where the footbridge crosses.
Good news is that there are toilets in the carpark open 7 days a week. There is limited parking on the beach edge next to the toilets but if they fill up you can park in the middle of the road. If you don’t feel like walking on the beach park in the middle of the road facing the beach, roll down your windows and breath in the sea breeze. My favorite spot for takeaway in Warrnambool.