Heave yourself away from the surf-kissed coast and look inward to the Great Otway National Park, which extends all the way from Torquay to Princetown. Encompassing the National Park, Cape Otway, the hinterlands and ranges, the Otways offer an incredible change of scenery from the ocean-bound highway. Instead of observing the natural splendour from afar, immerse yourself in the Victorian wilderness with dozens of designated walking trails, picnic sites, swimming spots and added options for adrenaline seekers – abseiling, anyone?
At the southernmost point of the Great Ocean Road region is Cape Otway, where the Southern Ocean meets the Bass Strait. It is here that mainland Australia's oldest lighthouse has been standing strong since 1848. The Cape Otway Lightstation watches over the fierce seas, surrounded by impressive inland scenery and laden with history. You can even enjoy a heritage stay at the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage or the Manager's House, or indulge in morning tea with an unbeatable ocean view at the Lightkeeper's Cafe.
Once you've seen the Otways from the forest floor, change your perspective by visiting Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. The Treetop Walk is the longest and tallest of its kind in the world, soaring 30 metres into the upper reaches of the rainforest canopy. Find serenity at the height of nature, or awaken your senses in a different way by flying through the foliage on a zip line. After your high-flying adventures, cool things off with a visit to one of the Otway Ranges waterfalls, such as the Cora Lynn Casscades or Erskine Falls.
Draping the Great Ocean Road interior in emerald green, the Great Otway National Park takes windswept headlands, ferny gullies, deserted beaches and picturesque lakes into its bounds. Lace up your comfortable walking shoes and trek the 35-minute Madsen's Track Nature Walk through the glow-worm laden Melba Gully, or follow the boardwalk along the Maits Rest Rainforest Trail – look up when the sun goes down and you may even catch a glimpse of yellow-bellied gliders as they sashay from tree to tree.