Six of the best: Great Ocean Road moments

LOAD UP ON SWEETS

Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic closing the borders, busloads of international travellers would call in on the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery in Bellbrae to load up on goodies on their way to Port Campbell and beyond. Now that those tourists are nowhere to be seen, there's more for the rest of us, and that's an opportunity definitely not worth wasting. Visitors entering the showroom can sample chocolates, pastries, desserts and ice creams or watch expert chocolatiers at work through giant viewing windows. Chocolate-making classes are also conducted. See gorci.com.au

ORDER FISH 'N CHIPS

Great Ocean Road, Australia tra4-sixbestGOR
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Try some fresh seafood. Photo: DoraDalton

When it opened in 2017, Anglesea holidaymakers quickly learned to love meeting for sundowners or a meal at Captain Moonlite, inside the Surf Lifesaving Club facilities overlooking the main beach. That business unfortunately closed earlier this year but the owners didn't disappear completely, instead opening a fresh seafood takeaway outlet – called Fish by Moonlite – in the main shopping strip. It's said to serve the best fish and chips along the coast. A handwritten note taped to the window lets you know the fish of the day and the in-house batter is laced with vodka. Cheers! See fishbymoonlite.com.au

SAMPLE CRAFT BEER

The Aireys Pub, in beautiful Aireys Inlet, has had its share of adversity since it opened in 1904, notably when it burnt to the ground during the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. More recently it was placed in the hands of receivers, prompting a group of local investors to purchase the pub and keep it from the hands of developers. The result is a homely hotel where patrons huddle around an open fire in winter, carouse outside in the beer garden over summer, enjoy live music most weekends and drink an impressive selection of craft beers that are brewed onsite. See aireyspub.com.au

SOAR THROUGH THE TREETOPS

Live Wire Park, Lorne
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Take a zipline ride at Live Wire Park, Lorne. Photo: Belinda Van Zanen

Nestled in the Otway treetops behind Lorne is Live Wire Park, a sustainable adventure park that all ages can enjoy. Opened in March 2018, activities include traversing a suspended walkway through the rainforest canopy to trampolining. High flyers will want to brave the Shockwave Zip Coaster, a 500-metre long gravity-powered aerial joyride. Plus there are two high ropes circuits – one designed specifically with kids in mind – requiring balance, strength, elasticity and nerves of steel. See livewirepark.com.au

CATCH A WAVE

The Great Ocean Road - Shipwreck coast
Johanna Beach, aerial
Photo: Robert Blackburn
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Johanna Beach, Shipwreck coast. Photo: Robert Blackburn

Sure, Bells Beach is one of world surfing's most recognisable names – it's home of the oldest surfing competition on the planet, after all. But the waves get even bigger west of Cape Otway, particularly when the winter swells surge northwards from Antarctica. So when there's no swell at Bells during the Easter Surf Classic, where do organisers typically relocate the competition to? Johanna Beach – a magnificent, five-kilometre stretch of sand where the waves come in thick and fast. It's definitely not a beginner's wave. See visitotways.com.au

TAKE IN THE VIEWS

Mark Watson | 2018
Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps Beach
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The Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps Beach. Photo: Mark Watson

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There's never a dull moment or a boring stretch along this road, but for pure scenic brilliance it's hard to go past the sunset viewing platform overlooking the Twelve Apostles – surely, the Great Ocean Road's most iconic landmark. But there's more to this stretch of coastline than these eight remaining sea stacks. The Gibsons Steps stairway descends a rugged cliff face to a wild ocean beach attracting big wave surfers. The sandy inlet inside Loch Ard Gorge is where two shipwrecked survivors washed ashore in 1878. And when London Bridge collapsed in 1990, two travellers stranded on the coast's newest island had to be airlifted to safety. See visit12apostles.com.au

Mark Daffey travelled at his own expense

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