The Great Ocean Road - from Torquay to Apollo Bay and back
Ride 180 kilometers (112 miles) gaining 2,466 meters (8,090’)
The Great Ocean Road is considered the most scenic road in Australia. The full route stretches from Torquay to Allansford and is 150 miles gaining 2,834 meters (9,300’) along the way.
Part of The Great Ocean Road is included in the People’s Ride of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. From 2015 to 2020 there has also been The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (in 2017 it was added to the UCI World Tour).
The Great Ocean Road was built by WWI veterans between 1919 and 1932, and is dedicated to Australian soldiers killed in World War I. The Great Ocean Road is included on the Australian National Heritage list (a list of national heritage locations of great significance to Australia). The road winds around the rugged coast of southern Australia, and is a feat of engineering by returned WWI servicemen. Toward the end of WWI, W. Calder, chairman of the Country Roads Board in southern Australia proposed that funds be set aside and provided for repatriation and re-employment of returned soldiers. This plan was greeted with enthusiasm on all fronts, since it both gave returned heros gainful employment, and helped the country by creating roads in rural areas. The building of the Great Ocean Road allowed coastal communities to no longer be isolated, since before its creation, the ocean was their main form of transportation and link to the outside world. More information on the history and building of the Great Ocean Road can be found on Visit Victoria’s website, here.
Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield.
I began my ride in the small town of Anglesea, which seems to be where the more remote and scenic portion of The Great Ocean Road begins. In Anglesea you’ll find a few cafes and a small supermarket to fuel up for your ride, as well as many options for free and safe parking. Or, as the road leaves Anglesea there are a number of other highway pullouts which appear just as safe for leaving your vehicle. I rode the 45 miles from Anglesea to Apollo Bay on a Thursday in late April and was blessed with very little traffic. In fact, before 2pm I was only being passed by a car about every 30 minutes. As the day wore on, traffic picked up. But nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere on The Great Ocean Road and you can bet that they will pass cautiously. Still, there isn’t much of a shoulder to speak of for many stretches of the road, so I’d recommend a decent tail light. For nearly the entire 45 miles between Anglesea and Apollo Bay, I had the ocean in view. The road winds and climbs, but never rises more than a few hundred feet from the coastline. The road was put in by force and is a true testament to the hard workers in Australia who built it.
The route gives us amazing views of the Bass Strait and Southern Ocean.
Big Hill is the steepest kilometer on the route at 5.3%, beginning at km 35.
The Cape Patton Lookout is located at kilometer 45.
The Devil’s Elbow WWI memorial plaque is located at kilometer 21.5.
The end of our “out” segment is in Apollo Bay at the Fisherman’s Coop and The Harbor Fish Shop.
In Apollo Bay, I ate seafood at the Apollo Bay Fishermen's Co-Op, which sells fish caught locally. It is pricey but worth it if you are making the trip all the way out that direction. Plus, you’ll need it for the 45 miles back to Anglesea, I know I did.
The fight for the number one coastal road is pretty contentious, with heavy hitters like The Road to Hana (Hawaii), and Big Sur (Highway 1, California) in the mix, but The Great Ocean Road certainly makes a case for itself. I was taken aback by the surrounding beauty and turquoise waters throughout the ride. The miles melted away beneath me. Another must-do in Australia.
That’s a wrap on one of the most gorgeous bike rides you’ll ever do.