For those that don’t enjoy small, quaint beach towns, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia may not be for you. In fact, the entire eastern coast, besides the big cities, may not be your forte. If small stretches of beach, backed by inviting, pint-sized towns tickles your fancy, then Port Campbell may be for you.
Located about four hours outside of Melbourne, Port Campbell is the closest town to the world famous 12 Apostles rock formations. Discovered in the mid-1900s, the petite fishing village has become a popular resting point for those looking to ride the Great Ocean Road beyond the rock formations, heading toward the South Australian state boarder lines.
For those visiting Port Campbell, one necessary activity is a four-mile hike known as the Port Campbell Scenic Walk. The trailhead is located at the south end of the main spit of sand dubbed as the Port Campbell foreshore. The hike, for those used to walking, isn’t very demanding, but offers great views of the Loch Ard Gorge and the steep cliffs backing the seemingly endless shoreline. Lucky hikers may also catch views of bandicoots and echidnas scurrying across the trail. The hike is an out and back, so if you don’t want to go the entire four miles, the best views come about 1.2 miles in. An unmarked bench denotes the unofficial best views of the walk.
After the hike and a dip in the chilly waters of the Tasman Sea, a walk around the small town center is a must. Along with the Frying Nemo Fish and Chippery and the 12 Rock’s Bar, charming shops line the street. Ranging from art to antiques, and to rival surfing shops, the town center has at least a few hours worth of things to browse. Though it may not be a sanctioned tourist destination yet, the Trading Post Surf Shop hosts the largest pair of Uggs in existence. The sight is on the waiting list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Sight (#notatruefact).
For those looking to stay overnight, Port Campbell has accommodation of all types. Vacationers have their pick between camping and RV sights, hostels, motels, guesthouses and self-contained cottages. Prices range from $50 privates and up, with campsites and dorm rooms being the cheapest accommodation at around $30. The Port Campbell hostel is located directly on the water, but books up fast. Make sure to call ahead if you want the sound of the sea singing you to sleep.
If you find yourself visiting the Great Ocean Road, make sure to schedule time for Port Campbell. While the town may not be the biggest destination on the map, it definitely has a lot to offer. Enjoy visiting the 12 Apostles, and remember, when driving in Australia, look right then left before crossing the road.