A Guide to the Great Ocean Road Trip
I first visited the Great Ocean Road on a 3-day tour back on my first backpacking trip in 2004. A few years later, I returned and did it the right way. I hired a car in Melbourne with a friend and set off on an epic road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide. Of course, the Great Ocean Road is the highlight of this seld-drive adventure, but we didn’t quite know what to expect.
Great Ocean Road Trip Itinerary Map
You can visit the Great Ocean Road by bus or on a guided tour from Melbourne. However, I recommend hiring a car in Melbourne and self-drive on this scenic coastal road. You will benefit from the freedom of stopping along your way several times as much as you like without any tight schedule or restrictions.
Below please find our comprehensive map of the Great Ocean Road trip itinerary from Melbourne to Port Fairy, farther away from the end of the Great Ocean Road.
We recommend Discover Cars to book the best rental car deals when hiring a car in Melbourne.
Question: Is the GOR road trip worth it?
The Great Ocean Road drive itself is not an easy one, yet it’s a rewarding one. If you are not used to driving, it will be challenging with all the twists and bends, and there is no U-turn. The landscape’s diversity makes me want to go back again. We enjoyed the gorgeous scenic views from many different lookouts; we watched surfers falling into the water, walked on sandy beaches and soaked up the ocean breeze, marvelling at the top trees, ancient gum trees and the remaining rain forests too.
There is much to do and see along the Great Ocean Road. While the 12 Apostles are the major highlight of the road trip, it has more to offer than a scenic coastal drive. Plenty of small villages, secluded bays, surfing beaches, lighthouses and old buildings, local markets, and forest and national parks along the coast is just the ideal place for short and medium-long walks and multi-day hikes.
It’s about 300km to drive to the 12 Apostles, and you need two full days to stop at all places.
What to see and do on a 2-day Great Ocean Road Trip
You can consider many stops along your way, but beware that there are no U-turns on the Great Ocean Road, so plan them carefully and make sure you don’t drive past them. Here are my picks for the best places to visit on the Great Ocean Road.
Where to stay in Apollo Bay? Apollo Bay Eco YHA is a top place for a first stop on the GOR.
From Geelong to Torquay’s Sunday Market
We first stopped at Geelong’s visitor centre, a great place to collect excellent informative material and quality advice on what to do and where to stop along the Great Ocean Road. On a Sunday morning, I loved this place; local people volunteered at the Visitor Centre and were extremely helpful. They gave excellent tips on a few spots to see Koalas in the wild.
From Geelong, we drove to our next destination: Torquay, a friendly little village on the coast with a lovely Sunday market where you can view some nice captures below.
Check out the beaches along the Great Ocean Road.
The beaches along the Great Ocean Road are simply stunning. Just south of Torquay, you can stop for a short beautiful walk from where you can enjoy a magnificent view over the world-famous Bells Beach. This is just one of the many breathtaking views you can have from there.
I know a secondary road takes you down to the beach access, but do not worry if you miss out on that walk. On your drive to the 12 Apostles, there are many more beaches where to stop. Many beaches have easy access and are ideal for a lunch break, stretching your legs and filling your lungs with the fresh ocean breeze.
After this gorgeous view, we decided to stop for a walk on the beach. Guvvos Beach is a place just past Anglesea. Please take a look at the beautiful encounter we had there.
And you never know what lovely encounters you may have. Here is a friendly and playful dog who loves socialising. It’s so easy and always a pleasure to get to know the locals in Australia.
See Kangaroos and Koalas
The guy we met at the beach gave us a good tip about a place for spotting Kangaroos, the Golf Course in Anglesea. We found the golf course quickly but missed the Koalas spot. Bummer! For a second, I considered turning the car and going back, but this was not a good idea. And a U-Turn is something you should never do while driving the Great Ocean Road.
But was that bad luck, or maybe just a blessing in disguise? See what happened to us a few minutes after we realised we missed that turn onto the Kennet River Koala Walk, the best place to see Koalas on the Great Ocean Road.
Suddenly, a baby Koala appeared before us, crawling in the middle of the road. We were gasping and could not just believe it. We safely stopped the car at the edge of the way and jumped out to look at him. He ran away to escape from humans. But we felt relieved that he was now safe in the bush again. Such a cute little koala. This is a beautiful encounter; I will always treasure it.
Where to stay on your GOR Trip: In Port Campbell, stay at Anchors Port Campbell
Go for a walk in the Otway National Park.
The Otway National Park is famous for its fantastic walks. You can take a few, from 20-minute short hikes to 1-2 hour moderate walks. But you can spend days and weeks walking the Great Ocean Road. Not many know that in this old park, you can see some rainforest remains in southern Australia!
You cannot fit everything in 2 days. You have to choose what you want to do since your time is limited to a few days; we had just a few short walks.
And yes, I have kept the 91 km Great Ocean Road Walk for my next visit. Below is a sign with plenty of information about this gorgeous walk which can be done in 6-10 days starting from Geelong. A must-do for keen walkers. On this website, you can read more about how to plan your Great Ocean Walks.
I hope you enjoyed this article about my Great Ocean Road Trip.
Check out this complete Great Ocean Road Guide to plan your road trip.
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First published in 2019, last updated in April 2023