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The winding road: Great Ocean Road, Australia
Why: The greatest hits of the southwestern Victoria coast in one perfect road.
What to expect: The full, one-way route is around 250 miles, pinging along a string of quintessential Ozzie beach towns. No wonder the laid-back saltwater vibe makes it prime convertible country. Give yourself at least three days for a round-trip from Melbourne: As that tan sets in, you'll only want more time among the golden sands and the hot-bodded natives.
Start your engines: Set off from Melbourne, heading south. The official road begins in the east at Torquay, where it then jogs west along the coast until Nelson. The most rocking views are between Loren and Apollo Bay, but the other stops you make depend on the atmosphere you're looking for. Warrnambool, on Shipwreck Coast, is an old-school fishing community that has prime whale-watching in Australia's winter months. Tiny Port Campbell is seaside cutesy, and is the gateway to the famed Twelve Apostles limestone formations (though the attached cultural center is a letdown for those who appreciate their natural wonders without official viewing platforms).
Road secrets: The region is full of surfers. After all, Bells Beach gets the massive Southern Ocean swells and plays host to the Rip Curl Pro every year. Not exactly on the circuit? You'll still be able to hang ten on beginner's breaks at Lorne Point, near the town of Lorne. If you dig the ocean but don't want waves crashing on your head, visit the Great Otway National Park, also in Lorne, which is home to protected woodlands of old hardwood forests of beeches and firs, as well as rain forest—all up against the coast. There are long and short hikes aplenty, including a jaunt up to the reopened Triplet Falls.
Shack up: Across from the beach in Lorne, the Cumberland Lorne Resort's location is hard to beat, and the layout of the one- and two-bedroom units—with open living rooms and kitchens, plus ocean-facing terraces—makes a perfect ingredient for an après-beach get-together. Too bad the Aussies are so unfriendly and don't like to party….
Great Ocean Road
Tel: 61 3 5237 6529
Cumberland Lorne Resort
Tel: 61 3 5289 2400
One bedrooms from $266 per night