The Great Ocean Road is one of my favourite roads in Australia and certainly my favourite in Victoria.
It’s a gorgeous scenic coastal drive featuring surf beaches, resort towns, rainforests, waterfalls, steep cliffs, rock formations & crystal clear waters. I make the drive at least a few times a year, no matter what the season is. Of course there’s nothing better than going on a sunny weekend during Summer, but it was still so nice to see in Autumn where it reached temperatures warm enough to not worry about a jacket.
If you’re heading to Victoria, make sure you take some time to travel the Great Ocean Road & use the guide below!
Length: 243 km / approx 4 hours without stopping
Starting point: Torquay
Finishing point: Allansford (near Warrnambool)
Closest city: Melbourne
If you are planning to do the drive properly (aka go the full length plus stop at towns) then I would suggest doing it over a course of 2-3 days and booking accommodation along the way.
» Car. The most popular mode of transport and the only one I have ever done is by car. If you don’t have your own, you can easily hire one. Here’s a list of trusted Australian companies. There’s nothing better than being in control of where you want to stop, for how long, etc.
Please note: avoid driving at night unless you’re on a freeway or in a major city. There’s lots of wildlife in Australia, not to mention along the Great Ocean Road, that are prone to crossing the roads at night (especially kangaroos) and unfortunately lead to many collisions.
» Bus tour. There are many tours that run from 1 – 3 days. Each of them offer different perspectives, routes, stops, and so on, which makes it more of a personal choice. However I will suggest two companies: Otway Discovery tours (1 – 3 day options) and Go West tours (1 day).
» Walking. The Great Ocean Walk is a 104 km walk that can be completed in 7 days. As you can imagine it’s pretty physically demanding and not for the faint hearted, however, there are smaller walks within the Great Ocean Walk if you still want to experience it. If you’re interested, check out the GOR Tourism website.
» Cycling. The Great Ocean Road and surrounding areas has a wide array of courses and facilities for cyclists – whether you’re a road cyclist or love the energy of mountain biking. Again, this is quite a physically demanding option and I would only suggest it if you are an experienced cyclist as the roads can be steep and narrow.
Major towns & highlights
These are the major towns I would suggest stopping at on your adventure. They are in order from the closest to furthest distance from Melbourne.
Torquay is all about the surf culture. It’s the birthplace of iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver and the official starting point of the Great Ocean Road.
Only 10 minutes from Torquay and you’ll have already reached Anglesea, a favourite holiday destination among Australians – particularly for camping. Think beach, bush & wildlife. If you want to see kangaroos, this is where to go (just don’t get too close, they’re quite protective & not the friendliest of animals).
Don’t miss: Point Addis Marine National Park, Great Otway National Park
Accommodation: Anglesea Heights
Aireys Inlet is a little hidden gem along Great Ocean Road that most people seem to pass without even knowing. This little coastal town offers beautiful beaches, a river valley and the Great Otway National Park as a backdrop. There’s also a flourishing live music scene and literary hub so be sure to check the calendar of events before going.
Lorne is my favourite town along the Great Ocean Road and seems to be busy any time of the year, but really comes alive during Summer (especially festival season). It’s the heart of Great Ocean Road, nestled between the shores of Loutit Bay and has a unique environment where beach meets rainforest. It’s surrounded by mountains which hold some amazing waterfalls, trecks and wildlife. Not only that, but the town itself has a Mediterranean meets hipster feel featuring European restaurants as well as beach front burgers and organic juices.
Wye River is the name of the town as well as the waterway which flows through the town. It’s a great little base to enjoy the surf beaches and has a much quieter atmosphere than most of the other towns. It is the perfect place to unwind and find some tranquility among the picturesque scenery.
Only a short trip from Wye River and you’ll find Kennett River, a town offering a safe and pristine beach for surfers especially. This area is known for native wildlife so you’ll likely spot koalas, king parrots and kookaburra. The coast of Kennett River is also a popular spot to spot some whales during whale watching season (May – September).
Don’t miss: Grey River Road (a nature lovers dream!)
Accommodation: Kennett River Holiday Park
There’s plenty of room for adventure in Apollo Bay – surfboarding, kayaking, sunset beach rides on horseback, galleries, tea houses and countless culinary delights. It’s also where you’ll find Australia’s oldest lighthouse, beautiful waterfalls, & wildlife such as glow worms and sleepy koalas. Basically, there’s no short on things to do in this popular township.
Lavers Hill is all about lush rainforests and scenic beauty with the Great Otway national Park surrounding much of the town. It’s a small town but it still caters well to tourists offering a number of cafes, shops & a pub with bistro. It’s also the highest point on the Great Ocean Road!
Port Campbell is a colourful and lively seaside town, home to cute cafes and several restaurants with homemade goodies! The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Gibson Steps and Bay of Islands are all within 20 minutes of Port Campbell so it’s a great spot to base
Warrnambool is a town that has really built itself up over the past few years. Along with spectacular stretches of coastline, it also boasts beautiful parks, gardens, shipwrecks and a lively arts & events scene!
Have you ever been on the Great Ocean Road?