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VIP NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2012

VIP DESTINATION: GREAT OCEAN ROAD

The Great Ocean Road is a 243 kilometre stretch tracing the south eastern coast of Australia between Torquay and Warrnambool in Victoria. Not only is it one of the world's great drives but it's a great weekend trip from Melbourne or you can simply use it as part of the drive if you plan to go all the way over to Adelaide.

For all you travellers out there it's got some gnarly limestone stack formations, plenty of opportunities for some fine surfing, great beaches for suntanning, places where you'll see native wildlife, a great lighthouse and plenty of forest to explore inland as well. Simply put you must drive the Great Ocean Road while you're here! It's one of Australia's best sights.

Take a look at what we cover in this newsletter:
> Self drive
> Join a tour
> Must see sights
> Get walking: the Great Ocean Walk
> Get running: the Great Ocean Road Marathon

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SELF DRIVE

If you want to undertake the driving route along the Great Ocean Road you can rent or buy a car to get you started. Both Melbourne and Adelaide will have options for this.

A campervan is a good way to do it as you can stop wherever you like to sleep along the way. Otherwise get a normal rental and enjoy the benefit of the discounts with VIP accommodation along the way.

We have hostels in these centres along the route:
Melbourne
Apollo Bay
Port Campbell
Adelaide

While the drive can be undertaken in a day there are plenty of highlights to enjoy along the road so take your time and allow yourself at least several days to really get to know the place!

You will need:
- a car / transport
- a map
- money for fuel and food
- swimming costumes for enjoying the scenery
- shoes for hiking if you plan to explore

Directions:
Depending where you start this will change. But many take the West Gate Freeway and then follow the Princess Highway to Geelong. From here it depends what you wish to do first but many people join the Great Ocean Road at Lorne.

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JOIN A TOUR

If you would rather someone else do the driving so you can sit back and let them take you to the sweetest places along the route, why not consider one of our tour options?

We offer a number of single day or multi day tours along the Great Ocean Road. Click here and here for some of the options or see our featured tours and packages in this newsletter.

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MUST SEE SIGHTS

There are so many things to stop at along the Great Ocean Road and this list is by no means the be all and end all. However these are some things you might like to include in your itinerary.

Lorme
A pretty seaside town that is often the first stop for those driving the Great Ocean Road. Lorne offers good opportunities for swimming, surfing and exploring the Otways National Park nearby. In January every year Lorne hosts the 1.2km Pier to Pub Swim described by the Guiness Book of Records as the world's largest organised swim - it attracts 4,000 entrants!

Otway Fly Tree Top Walk and Triplet Falls
While this is not located directly on the Great Ocean Road, it's worth making the detour into the Otway Forest for this tree top walk that takes you through some pristine rainforest 25 metres above the forest floor.

The other option for walking in the Otways is the Triplet Falls loop. It takes about an hour through the rainforest and includes a waterfall stop.

Apollo Bay
While quieter than Lorne, Apollo Bay has a likeable laid back vibe and a slightly more alternative feel to it. The two major events held here annually are the Apollo Bay Music Festival and the Great Ocean Sports Festival. Otherwise it's a good spot  for a bit of fish and chips, some surfing and sunbathing. VIP Backpackers has hostels here.

The Twelve Apostles
This is the reason most people go to The Great Ocean Road. If you only have time for one stop this would be it. The limestone stacks lie just off shore and are particularly beautiful at sunset. They are situated between Princetown and Peterborough.

Port Campbell
This is probably the best place to stay to explore the 12 Apostles and the limestone coast that makes the Great Ocean Road so famous. VIP Backpackers has hostels here. It's also the furthest end of the drive, not far from Warrnambool where the road ends. The beaches around Port Campbell are particularly good with plenty of sandy bays beneath the dramatic cliffs.


Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge
These sights are located further west from the Twelve Apostles and if you're doing a day trip only you might be lucky to make it all this way with the light unless it's mid summer. Both show how the process of erosion is effecting the coast. In fact London Bridge was once joined to the coastline but partially collapsed in 1990 actually leaving tourists stranded on the second part out to sea. At Loch Ord Gorge steps lead down to the beach for a closer look at the beautiful panorama of the gorge.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

If you love lighthouses you'll want to taka look at this one. It's actually the oldest surviving lighthhouse on mainland Australia and enjoys an incredibly panoramic vista overlooking the ocean. The lighthouse dates back to 1848 and the complex includes the old telegraph station and lightkeeper's house.

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GET WALKING: THE GREAT OCEAN WALK AND OTHER OPTIONS

Stretching from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles those that like to put hoof to pavement instead of driving might like to tackle the 104km of hiking trails following the coastline known as The Great Ocean Walk. The track stretches from Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead near the Twelve Apostles and even crosses the Otway National Park.

It usually takes about eight days to complete the walk stopping at any of the seven campsites located 10-15km apart. On the walk you'll enjoy various native animals such as koalas, wallabies, echidnas, snakes and even leeches!

Shorter walks: if the idea of 104km is just too much there are plenty of other shorter options on the same route. There are day walks, walks of just a few hours or wonderful open beaches to stroll. See this link for details.
 

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GET RUNNING: THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD MARATHON

If sitting in a car or even walking is just far too sedate for you then you might want to take part in the annual Great Ocean Road race, held in May each year. This isn't for the faint hearted as the twists, turns and hills on this route will stretch even the fitter runners.

The spectacular routes include a marathon (actually 45km in this instance) a half marathon (23km), 10km and other shorter races. All finish in Apollo Bay.

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