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A Guide to the Great Ocean Road in Australia

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How to visit the Great Ocean Road in Victoria

The Great Ocean Road, also known as the Twelve Apostles, is one of the world’s most famous coastal drives. It stretches nearly 300 km from Torquay to Nelson on the South Australian border.

There are so many beautiful places, scenic views, and highlights along this journey that your itinerary will be jam-packed. The best way to experience this spectacular drive is to go on a Great Ocean Road self-drive adventure starting from Melbourne. This way, you will get the most out of the diverse terrain and prominent landmarks peppered along the way.

Aerial View of the Great Ocean Road Coastal Drive
Aerial View of Great Ocean Road Drive in Victoria, Australia

A Great Ocean Road Itinerary

For your Great Ocean Road drive, Melbourne City is the best place to start and continue to the other amazing destinations. Drive from Melbourne to Torquay, which is just an hour away. The Memorial Arch is where the Great Ocean Road starts. Stop there to read the boards with the challenging stories of the workers who constructed the 240 km road after World War II.

Best Places On The Great Ocean Road

Torquay has some of Australia’s best surf beaches, including Bells Beach and the Bells Beach Recreation Reserve. You can stop at Anglesea to see kangaroos lounging under the trees at the golf course.

Lorne is the perfect place to stop for lunch. You can have fish and chips on the beach. It also has lots of great cafes, restaurants, and interesting shops.

As you travel the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Apollo Bay, you’ll encounter clifftops offering incredible views and dazzling beaches that you can stop at for a stroll. From the coastal town of Apollo Bay, the drive leads into the lush Otway National Park, where you can go zip lining or take a treetop walk.

The Cape Otway light station is about a 50-minute drive away. You could stay at Apollo Bay for the night or even in Otway National Park’s conservation centre.

Driving from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell is the highlight. There, you will find the most prominent attraction, the Twelve Apostles. One night in Port Campbell will give you plenty of time to explore the Apostles at sunset or sunrise.

Your Great Ocean Road drive from Melbourne can involve a short route with the best highlights or a longer route with more stops. Depending upon your time, there is much to do on a one-day self-driving route and many places to stay on a three—to four-day trip.

If you plan a Great Ocean Road Itinerary for seven days, you will also find some excellent camping options. If you do not fancy driving during your trip, you can check out some of the fantastic local tours available. There are short tours, 1-day tours, or longer ones ranging from 5-7 days, including walking trips or camping adventures. Check out some of the alternatives to self-driving below.

Alternatives To Self-guided Trips of the GOR

One day Tour

Some fantastic Great Ocean Road tours will allow you to experience the breathtaking coastline, pristine beaches, beautiful rainforests, and gorgeous towns within a short time. A one-day tour will have stops at all the best highlights on the way. You can take a trip to a surf beach to picnic and enjoy a relaxing swim from Melbourne. Next is the Memorial Arch, a popular destination to stop at and take pictures.

Coastal walks allow you to see some of the beautiful native wildlife on Great Ocean Road. You can head to the picturesque Apollo Bay with its lovely cafes for lunch.

Then, a guided walk through the Otway Rainforest to see the tallest eucalyptus trees in Australia. Finally, end your amazing Great Ocean Road day trip at the world-famous 12 Apostles where a scenic helicopter flight awaits you.


Aerial view of the Great Ocean Road 12 Apostles
A stunning view of the Twelve Apostles from the helicopter

A Three-Day Tour of the GOR

Another way to uncover some of the Great Ocean Road’s hidden secrets is to take a two—to three-day backpacking tour. This is a great way to return to nature and discover the beauty of these destinations.

  • Day One
    Start your trip from Melbourne and set off to Torquay, the home to the marvellous Bells Beach. Along the way, you can see the picturesque beach towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay. Don’t forget to visit the historic Split Point Lighthouse for an exciting and informative visit. You will also pass the Shipwreck coast, where you can see towering rocks of the 12 Apostles in the Southern Ocean. At night, you can sleep in a superb rugged Australian landscape or have shared accommodation depending on your chosen tour.
  • Day Two
    The best way to start your day is by seeing the gorgeous 12 Apostles and visiting the collapsed London Bridge. Only eight original 12 natural sculptures still stand, with four collapsing over the years. There is much to take here, and you will have beautiful pictures. After that, visit the Grampians National Park, where you will learn about Aboriginal heritage at the Brambuk Cultural Centre. A stay at the foothills of the Grampians is just what you need, along with a cosy roaring campfire.
  • Day Three
    Take more of the Grampians during a scenic nature walk, then cool off at the refreshing Mackenzie Falls. This is a great time to watch the beautiful native birds and wildlife. At the end of your Great Ocean Road tour, you will return to Melbourne.

10 Best things to do On the Great Ocean Road

Here are some recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road to make your trip delightful. You can read more about my Great Ocean Road Trip from Melbourne.

12 Apostles Beach at the Great Ocean Road
The Beach access near the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
  1. Great Otway Walks

    Otway National Park is one of the most beautiful Great Ocean Road attractions. It is a place with pristine rainforest and many lovely walking trails. Some paths can take 20 minutes, while adventurous travellers can take 1-2 hour walks. Walking along these paths, you will see the lovely fern gullies, waterfalls, and the park’s natural beauty.

  2. Zip Lining in the Great Otway

    Great Otway National Park also boasts a fantastic zip-line tour. Visitors have the chance to zip-line through the leafy treetops of the magnificent Otway Ranges. It is a unique eco-adventure that will help you see the trees and forest ecology in a new light. It is excellent for individuals, families, and groups. For more information, check out the Zipline Tour Website.

  3. Great Otway Treetop Walk

    The Rainforest and Treetop Walk in Great Otway is the most fantastic way to see the region’s flora and fauna in all their unique beauty. It is a long walk from a 25-30 metre-high elevated walkway and takes approximately 1 hour to complete. The treetop walk is open in most weather conditions unless there are storms or lighting. It also has a shuttle service to the Visitor Centre every hour to assist those who need it.

  4. Bells Beach

    The world-famous Bells Beach of Great Ocean Road starts just south of Torquay. It is a great place to go surfing or stretch your legs and fill your lungs with the fresh ocean breeze.

    The Great Ocean Road Trip
    Guvvos Beach Access along the Great Ocean Road Drive
  5. Wye River Beach

    The Wye River beach is one of the best along Great Ocean Road. Its beautiful rock pools and dazzling white sands make it a perfect place to relax. The local pub is lovely for cooling down, with uninterrupted beach views.

  6. Gibsons Beach

    One of the other beaches you should definitely see is Gibsons Beach. Many people wonder how to get to the 12 Apostles. To get there, you have to walk down 86 steps cut into a sheer cliff. The beach at the bottom of the Gibson Steps is top-rated for fishing, so you can catch your lunch.

  7. Visiting the local markets

    The coastal villages like Lorne, Apollo Bay, and Port Fairy have souvenir shops and boutiques. You can take their wares, artwork, and fresh cuisine from the local shops. You will also find many weekend markets along the Great Ocean Road where you can fill your baskets with locally grown produce. My favourite is Torquay Sunday Market.

  8. Cape Otway Lighthouse

    The Cape Otway Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Stepping out onto the Lighthouse Balcony and hearing the incredible history of tragic shipwrecks is a thrilling experience. The light station is just a short drive off the Great Ocean Road. You will pass through many serene forests, where you are guaranteed to see koalas.

    The view from Cape Otway Lighthouse
    The stunning view of the coastline from the Cape Otway Lighthouse
  9. Thunder Cave

    The Thunder Cave in Port Campbell National Park is a natural phenomenon you must check out. It is a narrow gorge where water rushes deep into the canyon’s end. When the water flows back out, it makes a loud boom that sounds precisely like thunder.

  10. Mariners Lookout

    This beautiful lookout at Apollo Bay is an excellent spot to get some peace. Although it is on private property, it is open to the public. It is a lovely location to take some pictures and watch the sunset.

Things to do at the Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles is an unusual attraction on the Great Ocean Road drive, a short distance from Port Campbell National Park. Its collection of limestone stacks carved by the ocean is an unusual attraction of stunning beauty. Check out some things you can do at the Twelve Apostles on Great Ocean Road.

The Viewing Platform at the 12 Apostles
Visitors on the Viewing Platform at the 12 Apostles of the Great Ocean Road
  •  Take A Walk Along The Beach

    Enjoy the rugged splendour of magnificent rock formations at sunrise or sunset. You will be able to see how beautiful they look framed against the changing colours of the sky. Take time to immerse yourself in the breathtaking views of the Twelve Apostles, Victoria.

  • The Viewing Platform

    Another way to see the 12 Apostles in full splendour is from the viewing platform. It is pretty safe and has a sealed platform with grab railings. There is also wheelchair access here, along with rest benches on the way. You will see some interpretative displays along the boardwalk. The best time to come here is from dawn or dusk when you might also see little penguins.

  • The Visitor Centre

    If you want more information on the 12 Apostles, the visitor centre has an orientation area and many displays. Before walking along the coastline, it’s best to stop here and check out the twelve apostles’ map. The 12 Apostles Centre has a lot of insightful information to offer for tourists.

  • Take A Helicopter Flight

    Get a birds-eye view of the Twelve Apostles from a helicopter. This will give you a unique opportunity to see the Twelve Apostles, Shipwreck Coast, and Port Campbell National Park from the air. From this vantage point, you can see all the major landmarks, like Loch Ard Gorge and the Bay of Islands. You might also get a glimpse of the blue whales off the coast of Portland. Here is more information about scenic flights over the Great Ocean Road.


  • London Arch

    Don’t forget to make a pit stop at the London Arch, an offshore natural arch in Port Campbell National Park. It has an upper and lower viewing platform where you can observe the London Arch up close. It is the only place in the national park where penguins return to shore.

  • The Grotto

    The Grotto in Victoria is a spectacular, enchanting sight of rock formations. It is located 9km west of Port Campbell. It offers a peaceful place for travellers to enjoy the beauty of the sea and soak up the wonders of nature. Inside, The Grotto has serene rock pools carved out of natural limestone. It is best to head here at sunset or sunrise to see the beautiful Australian sun reflect off the rock pools.



Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road

Along the Great Ocean Road drive, you will find many beautiful places to stay. If you are taking a two-day road trip, ideally, you should stop halfway, and the towns of Torquay and Apollo Bay are the best places to stay.

These are my tips on where to stay. I loved staying at Apollo Bay at the Eco YHA. This hostel-like place is an ECO building with a well-equipped kitchen, spacious dorms, and private rooms. Click on the link to see the rates.

A Great Budget Stay in Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road

For a luxurious stay at affordable prices, try the Apollo Bay Waterfront Motor Inn in the heart of the town.

Apollo Bay offers a wide range of homely accommodation options like holiday homes, apartments, and villas, and you may want to browse through all accommodations in Apollo Bay.

Closer to the 12 Apostles, Port Campbell is an excellent location for the second night. It has cabins with great views, hotels, and budget accommodation. If you want to be closer to nature, you will also find some good campsites and caravan parks along the way.

The Southern Ocean Villas is a great place to stay if you travel with friends or family,

For all other options, check out the Port Campbell Accommodation page.

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A Travel Guide to the Great Ocean Road

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First published in Oct 2019, last updated in March 2024

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