There can be no mistake. Driving the Great Ocean Road in your hire vehicle is undoubtedly one of the finest trips that can be undertaken in Australia. However, of the many thousands that experience this breathtaking spectacle each year, few actually go on to see what lies beyond the famous route. We at East Coast Car Rentals think that this is a crying shame, as there is so much to see and do once the road officially ends.
Driving from east-west, the road ends shortly before Warrnambool, but if you have it in you to keep the accelerator down past this small but charming city, you'll work your way into the Limestone Coast. This area of Australia's vast expanses is replete with splendid natural scenery and is full of historical and ecological intrigue, and is well worth extended your Great Ocean Road trip for.
Mount Gambier is a small city found on the slopes of its namesake volcano, and it finds the majority of fame through the otherworldly, colour-changing Blue Lake.
The volcano used to play host to four lakes, but two have now dried up as the years progressed and water levels dropped. No matter – the mountain's Blue Lake is the star attraction, and for good reason. During the colder winter months, the Blue Lake is a pale sky colour, but once the spring begins to take hold in early November, the hue changes to a deep sapphire which remains until the end of February. Over March, that colour changes back to the pale complexion witnessed throughout March and lasts until November, until the changing of the seasons starts the cycle in motion again.
As the Blue Lake provides Mount Gambier with its water supply, swimming is prohibited, but there is a 3.6-kilometre walking track around the perimeter, as well as several boat tours that allow you to get yet closer to the azure surface.
Found just 30 kilometres south of Mount Gambier, Port MacDonnell is a fishing village steeped in maritime history. You can embark on an expedition out to sea with one of the local fishermen to try your luck at pulling crayfish pots, where you may even be lucky enough to catch a sight of dolphins in their natural environment.
Back on dry land, be sure not to miss out on the little penguin colony to see the cutest of birds plod around, before heading off to the maritime museum to unravel the fascinating history of Port MacDonnell. If you are looking for somewhere to stay and have nerves of steel, why not rest your head at the supposedly haunted Customs House B&B? Alongside the ghost, you'll share a space with an unexploded sea mine that washed ashore during the height of World War Two, so we cannot guarantee how comfortably you may sleep…