Considered as one of the most beautiful roads in the world, the winding Great Ocean Road stretches from Torquay to Warrnambool, occupying the southwestern part of the state of Victoria.
Along this 250km stretch of road, there are charming small coastal towns, breathtaking rock formations, including the famous Twelve Apostles, and beautiful beaches with turquoise waters.
The part of the coast spanning from Princetown to Port Fairy is nicknamed the Shipwreck Coast because of the number of shipwrecks its sharp cliffs caused. This incredible route is worth visiting for about 2 to 3 days. We give you the must-see sights of this legendary road and our practical recommendations for a unique experience.
Torquay to Apollo Bay
Marking the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is a well-known surf spot. Visit the Surfworld Australia Surfing Museum in the center of town ($ 10 / pers.) and the surrounding beaches. The renowned surfing beach Bells Beach (one of the film locations for Point Break), located a few miles from town, is a must-stop when visiting Torquay.
Lorne is a small coastal town, popular among surfers and Melbournians that go there for a weekend getaway. Lorne Forest Park is great for hiking through eucalyptus forests. North of the town, a short walk from the car park brings you to Erskine Falls.
Right next to the city, Teddy’s Lookout offers a great view of the bay.
Finally, Kennet River is the perfect place to watch koalas sleeping on large eucalyptus trees along the Grey River Road.
Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
From Apollo Bay, the Great Ocean Road leaves the coast to meander through the forest. Despite large crowds of tourist during the holidays, this small town has retained its charm and is full of small cafes and nice restaurants.
About 1km from town, Mariner’s Lookout offers spectacular views.
Great Otway National Park
Johanna is a tiny town but its beach is definitely worth a visit!
A little further, the Cape Otway National Park offers beautiful landscapes with walks amongst giant trees.
The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is 600m long and 25m high, leading through temperate forests. At the end you arrive at a lookout 45m above the ground, which lets you rise above the treetops.
You can also slide down the Fly Zip Line, moving from while tree to tree attached to a cable 30m above the forest floor. (walk-up price $ 120/ person, online $ 114/ person – duration 3 hours – Tree Top Walk $ 25)
A short detour (15km) from the Great Ocean Road takes you to the Cape Otway Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Victoria ($ 19.50/ person).
Port Campbell National Park
The Twelve Apostles are the most famous rock formations on the Great Ocean Road. These limestone towers, some of which are more than 45m high, seem to watch over the coast, constantly changing with the breaking waves coming from Antarctica. Forces of winds and tides have been shaping these rocks for centuries and have gradually eroded the smallest rock formations. Today there are only 8 out of the 12 limestone towers left. You can admire them from one of the observation platforms accessible from the car parks. You can even go down to the beach to see the rocks from below, a different and amazing view.
East of the Twelve Apostles, Wreck Beach marks the beginning of a walking track that takes you to the anchors of two ships stranded there at the end of the 19th century.
A little further down the road, Loch Ard Gorge is a place filled with history. The ship of the same name left England in 1878 with 54 passengers. Three months later, it sank, leaving only two 18 year-old survivors. They were washed up on the beach now called Loch Ard Gorge. Take a walk to discover the story of the survivors and visit the cemetery of the crew members.
At the Bay of Martyrs, a group of small islands separated from shore by less than 100m, another tragedy occurred. A long time ago, white farmers settled in this area, taking land from the tradtional landowners. No longer able to hunt on their land, the Aborigines began to kill farm animals. Subsequently, war broke out, which led farmers to tragically capture aborigines and throw them off the cliffs.
Port Campbell to Warrnambool
The small town of Port Campbell (year-round population 400) is the perfect place to stop for a coffee. The Discovery Walk is a great opportunity to enjoy the view of the bay from high up.
West of the town, the next stop is London Bridge. After a series of storms in 1990, a rock separated from the main land and formed this natural bridge.
Largest town on the Great Ocean Road, Warrnamboll has shopping malls, hotels, and even a nursery for whales! The town’s beach, Logans Beach, is the playground of the Southern Right Whales, which pass by every year between June and October.
The Great Ocean Walk
Doing this hike is a great way to be closer to nature than just as a spectator and to experience this stunning coastline differently. It stretches over 104km from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. Crossing beautiful parks and deserted beaches, it is possible to start and stop the walk wherever you want. It is strongly recommended to be used to hiking and in a good physical condition. If you want to do this unique walk, find more information on the Great Ocean Walk website.
Great Ocean Road: Travel Information
You can go there from either Melbourne or Adelaide. It is best to drive the road in your vehicle and to plan 2 or 3 days for it. For those who do not have much time, you still have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Great Ocean Road in a 1-day tour from Melbourne.
There are different spots along the road, where you can spend the night for free in your vehicle. To find them, it is best to use the Camps guide or the WikiCamps app. You also find caravan parks.
There are also organized tours of 1 to 3 days from Melbourne or Adelaide. A day tour costs about $ 130 / person.
One of the star attractions on the Great Ocean Road is the helicopter tour over the 12 Apostles. You can book it on site or online. A 15-minute flight costs about $ 300. For more info: 12 Apostels Helicopters
The ideal season to visit this region is from September to February. But be warned that the place gets packed during school holidays, which slightly spoils the experience. For those doing a round trip from Melbourne, it’s probably a good idea to do the same trip twice. When the weather conditions are not great, you can move faster and hope for better weather on your way back. Otherwise, there is another road further inland with more points of interest (forests, waterfalls etc)