Today, we'll take you on a journey along Victoria's best route: the Great Ocean Road. This is more than just a road trip! It's an adventure that will take you through a range of places, from friendly coastal communities to majestic natural wonders.
The Great Ocean Road trip is a scenic self-drive touring route that offers the perfect blend of thrill, tranquility, and immersion. Along the way, you'll encounter amazing wildlife, stunning views, and iconic landmarks that will make your jaw drop in almost every corner.
As you set off from Melbourne, get ready to be spellbound by the coastal villages and awe-inspiring landmarks that dot your path. The Twelve Apostles is a must-visit, but they’re just the jewels in the crown because the Great Ocean Road drive has much more to dazzle you!
The Best Great Ocean Road Itinerary
Is having a Great Ocean Road trip one of those adventures that you always dream of but never think you could actually experience one day? The guide below will help you tick off that dream activity from your Australia travel bucket list!
1. Melbourne to Torquay
Kick off your Great Ocean Road adventure by leaving Melbourne and heading towards the lively coastal town of Torquay. The approximate travel time is around 1.5 hours, so you'll have ample time to explore the town upon arrival.
You can spend the morning discovering Torquay's famous surf beaches. One great spot is Bells Beach, which draws surfers from across the globe. If you want a more laid-back experience, you can take a stroll along the shoreline and inhale some fresh sea breeze.
Take a leisurely stroll along the scenic Esplanade as the day comes to an end. This avenue is dotted with hip cafés, independent stores, and neighborhood restaurants. Spoil yourself with a delightful dinner here as you enjoy locally produced fare and fresh seafood.
2. Torquay to Apollo Bay
On day two, resume your journey along the Great Ocean Road, making your way from Torquay to Apollo Bay. Don't leave too late to allow extra time for pauses along the way to savor the stunning scenery.
The Split Point Lighthouse is a must-visit spot just a short drive outside Torquay. It offers sweeping views of the coastline and the towering cliffs. You can choose between joining a guided tour of the lighthouse or simply basking in the vistas from the nearby vantage point.
As you near Apollo Bay, be sure to visit the gorgeous beaches and discover the quaint coastal town. There are a lot of cozy cafes in this area where you can stop by and have a late-morning coffee or a quick brunch.
As the night falls, cozy up in your accommodation in Apollo Bay. You can easily spend an evening wandering the town's lovely boutiques, bakeries, and clothing shops. Just outside of the town is Otways Herbs, which is a nursery that sells exotic plants and herbs with healing properties.
3. Apollo Bay to Great Otway National Park
On your third day, you can have a short drive outside Apollo Bay to your next stop, the Great Otway National Park. Just because it takes less than an hour to reach this place, it doesn’t mean that you can start your journey late in the afternoon.
Rich in natural sights, the Otways is famous for its treetop attractions and fern-laden valleys. On one side of the park, you will see sandy beaches and limestone rock formations. On the other, tall forests and cascading waterfalls await you.
Along with the wonderful scenery, there is also a range of opportunities for adventure. You can take a zipline ride through the treetops. Alternatively, the tranquil lakes make great spots to set up camp in the dense forest setting and spot native wildlife.
While you are here, gaze towards the trees to spot snoozing Koalas and native birds like the kookaburra. Don't miss exploring the Triplet Falls and Stevenson Falls. However, remember that the level of difficulty for each hike varies, but the views are definitely worth it.
4. Great Otway National Park to Port Campbell National Park
Start your next day by cruising towards the magnificent Twelve Apostles, which is an iconic landmark along the Shipwreck Coast. The approximate driving time from Apollo Bay to this spot is only around 1.5 hours.
These majestic limestone figures were slowly sculpted as the fierce salt and the powerful winds of the Southern Ocean battered the rocks. Geologists believe that the limestone rocks are eroding. Thus, you should capture the view of the rocks before they vanish forever.
Once you are satisfied with the view of the Twelve Apostles, you can continue your journey to the Port Campbell National Park. If you arrive here early enough, it’s a good idea to explore the Discovery Walk, which offers views of the Sentinel Rock.
5. Port Campbell National Park to Warrnambool
The drive from Port Campbell to Warrnambool is the last leg of our Great Ocean Road adventure. But, before you hit the road again, don't forget to fill up your stomach at one of the local eateries in this coastal small town.
The Grassroots Deli Cafe is a modern spot with a wide selection of breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items. Whether you opt for a traditional breakfast like bacon and egg or need a more fulfilling meal like a burger, this is the right place to go.
Now, it's time for you to turn the engine on and make your way toward Warrnambool, which is the final point of this adventure. You should make a stop at the Deep Blue Hot Springs, a place where you can enjoy a geothermal bath while you enjoy a stunning view.
What to Prepare Before Cruising the Great Ocean Road
I know you can’t wait to hop on your and kick your Great Ocean Road adventure. But, considering that coastal villages along the way are likely to be sold out and the main tourist attractions are swamped with visitors, it is important to plan your trip wisely.
From mapping out your route to figuring out the best times to visit the sights, there are a lot of things to consider to make sure that you have a smooth and safe journey. So, here are a few tips to share with you to help with planning your tour.
- Book Accommodation in Advance
Booking your accommodation in advance means you won't have to hunt for a bed when you reach your destination. In fact, it is ESSENTIAL during peak seasons. Know the towns you plan to pause in and check the kinds of places you can rest in there.
- Don’t Rush
Because the timing given by map apps is not always as precise as you might hope, add an extra 20 minutes so you can reach your destination without hurrying. It will also help you to stay within the official speed limit, which is between 80 to 100 kph.
It technically only takes around 5 hours to drive the entire Great Ocean Road, which is why there are numerous bus trips that do a one-day package from Melbourne. Still, if you want to have a great road trip experience, be sure to leave early.
- Fuel Your Gas Tank
While there are fuel stations on the Great Ocean Road, they are often tiny. And, due to their isolated locations, they charge a bit higher. So, try to have a full tank in the bigger cities if you are watching your budget.
- Have a Portable Power Source
Access to electricity is the lifeblood of those who relish comfort and convenience when traveling. With a portable power station, you can bask in the luxuries of modern life even as you venture into the wilderness.
A product like BLUETTI AC60 is the perfect companion for your road trip through the Great Ocean Road. With a 403 Wh capacity (expandable to 2,015 Wh) it can power not only your mobile devices but also appliances such as a coffee maker.
- Stay Alert for Wildlife
Many parts of the Great Ocean Road are home to Australia’s wildlife. From koalas to wombats to kangaroos, many wild animals can appear at any time. Always have your focus on the road so that you don't crash into any of them.
The Bottom Line
For many explorers, the sunset at the Twelve Apostles is just one of those wonders they have to see in Australia. And, to help you make the most of your adventure, this guide has included all the essential stops along the Great Ocean Road Trip.
All in all, given all the stunning sights, it's no surprise that the Great Ocean Road is considered one of the most scenic journeys in Australia. Starting just outside of Melbourne, this curvy road offers road-trippers breathtaking ocean views.
If you're planning to do this legendary road trip, use the handy guide above as a reference for your itinerary. Prepare ahead of time and have fun all the way!