Great Ocean Road Trip
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The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic road trips. Stretching 243 kilometres along Victoria’s southwest coast, this picturesque journey takes you through lush rainforests, rolling hills, and the breathtaking Twelve Apostles. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a long weekend getaway, plenty of great ocean road tours are available to suit your needs.
What Is the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most picturesque and famous coastal drives, running along the southern coast of Australia. The road stretches for 243 km (151 miles) along the rugged coastline of Victoria, from Torquay to Allansford. The drive is an iconic Australian road trip that takes visitors through stunning scenery, from sweeping ocean views to lush rainforests and towering limestone stacks.
Named one of the world’s best road trips, the Great Ocean Road offers a wealth of natural beauty and wildlife, making it a must-see destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Seaside towns and coastal villages along the way provide a unique look into local life in the region, adding an extra layer of charm to the already breathtaking experience.
The Great Ocean Road is also home to numerous famous surf beaches, including Bells Beach, where surfers from around the world gather to ride the waves. It’s a surfer’s paradise and a sight to behold for anyone interested in catching a glimpse of the action.
Visitors can also explore numerous national parks rich in wildlife, such as the Port Campbell National Park, where visitors can experience the majestic Gibson Steps and the famous Twelve Apostles, a series of limestone stacks that rise from the ocean. The nearby Loch Ard Gorge is another popular natural attraction, named after a shipwreck in 1878.
Driving the Great Ocean Road is more than just a scenic drive. Visitors can immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty and explore famous landmarks, heritage sites, and cultural attractions. The road trip is truly one of the most unforgettable adventures and a must-see for anyone looking for a spectacular experience in Australia.
Overview of the Route
The Great Ocean Road stretches along the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, spanning over 243 kilometres from Torquay to Warrnambool. This scenic drive provides visitors with an abundance of stunning coastal scenery, from rugged cliffs and pristine beaches to lush rainforests and charming seaside towns.
Visitors from Torquay’s surf town can experience the iconic Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch as they journey towards Apollo Bay. Along the way, numerous opportunities exist to stop and take in the breathtaking coastal views, including the famous Bells Beach, where surfers come from far and wide to ride the waves.
Continuing westward, visitors will reach the picturesque seaside town of Lorne and the cascading Erskine Falls, which offer a stunning natural backdrop for photos. Further down the road, visitors can explore the Great Otway National Park, home to ancient rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, and native wildlife.
Visitors can marvel at the towering limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles, one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks, as the road winds towards the western end. Nearby, the Port Campbell National Park offers visitors a chance to experience the stunning scenery of Gibson Steps and Loch Ard Gorge, where visitors can learn about the history of the famous shipwreck that took place there in 1878.
Finally, the Great Ocean Road culminates in the charming coastal town of Warrnambool, which boasts its range of attractions, including the Whale Watching Platform, a popular spot for visitors to spot the majestic southern right whales that pass through the area during their annual migration.
Overall, the Great Ocean Road offers a diverse range of natural beauty, cultural landmarks, and charming coastal towns, making this one of the most iconic road trips in the world. Whether you’re an avid surfer, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking to experience the beauty of nature, the Great Ocean Road has something to offer everyone.
Best Time to Visit
The Great Ocean Road is a stunning sight to behold any time of year, but choosing the best time to visit will depend on your preferences and interests. Generally, the peak season for tourists is during the summer months of December to February, characterised by warm weather and longer days. However, this also means dealing with larger crowds and higher prices for accommodation and attractions.
If you prefer to avoid crowds, the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November may be a better choice. During these months, you can still enjoy mild temperatures and fewer visitors, immersing yourself more fully in the region’s beauty. Additionally, wildflowers are in full bloom during the spring months from September to November, adding even more colour to the already stunning landscape.
For those who want to experience the Great Ocean Road uniquely, consider visiting during the winter months from June to August. While temperatures can be chilly, this is the time of year when you can witness the southern proper whale migration along the coast. You can enjoy the region’s lush rainforests, roaring waterfalls, and crisp, clean air without crowds. Many cozy cafes and restaurants offer warm meals and drinks to keep you snug during your travels.
What do you need to bring?
If you’re planning a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, one of the first things you should consider is what to bring. While the region offers plenty of stunning scenery, unique wildlife, and delicious food, preparing for the trip is also important. Here are some essential items you should pack for your epic adventure:
Comfortable clothing and footwear – Whether you’re planning to hike through the Rainforest, stroll along the beaches, or explore the seaside towns, you’ll want to be sure you’re dressed appropriately. Pack comfortable sneakers or hiking boots, lightweight clothing that can be layered for changing weather conditions, and a waterproof jacket in case of rain.
Sunscreen and insect repellent – The sun can be intense, even on cooler days, so be sure to bring high-quality sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Additionally, the region is home to various insects, including mosquitoes, so it’s wise to pack some insect repellent for protection.
A camera or smartphone – You won’t miss capturing the breathtaking views, unique animals, and memorable moments along your journey. Pack a camera or smartphone with plenty of storage space and an extra battery or charger.
Snacks and water – While plenty of tasty restaurants and cafes throughout the region, bringing snacks and water with you on your road trip is always a good idea. This will help you stay hydrated and energised and ensure you don’t go hungry if there are delays or unexpected stops.
Packaging these essential items ensures that your Great Ocean Road trip is comfortable, enjoyable, and full of unforgettable experiences. Happy travels!
Accommodation options along the Great Ocean Road are plentiful and varied, catering to all types of travellers and budgets. Many accommodation options are available, from luxury coastal resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts.
Those seeking luxury and comfort can check into one of the region’s many high-end resorts, which often feature breathtaking ocean views, spacious rooms, and five-star amenities such as spas, restaurants, and fitness centres. Alternatively, various beachfront holiday homes and apartments are available for rent, offering a more private and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for families and groups.
For those on a mid-range budget, many hotels and motels are dotted throughout the region, providing comfortable accommodation with all the basic amenities such as air conditioning, television, and tea/coffee-making facilities. These options are often located in or near popular tourist towns and attractions.
For those seeking a more authentic and personalised experience, staying in a bed and breakfast or a guesthouse is a great option. Friendly hosts are often happy to provide local recommendations and insider knowledge on the best places to visit and eat, and guests can enjoy an intimate, home-away-from-home atmosphere.
Camping and caravan options are also available for those who prefer a more rugged and adventurous experience. Many national parks along the Great Ocean Road offer campsites and cabins nestled amid lush rainforests and stunning coastal landscapes, providing a unique and unforgettable experience.
No matter your budget or travel style, plenty of accommodation options are available along the Great Ocean Road that will make your journey memorable.
Sightseeing Highlights Along the Way
The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world, offering a plethora of stunning sights and attractions along the way. This epic road trip has something for everyone, from seaside towns and famous surf beaches to lush rainforests and natural habitats.
One of the must-see attractions along the Great Ocean Road is Apollo Bay, a charming coastal town nestled between the Otway Ranges and the Southern Ocean. Visitors can stroll along the picturesque harbour, indulge in fresh seafood, or explore the town centre’s many art galleries and boutiques.
Another journey highlight is the Port Campbell National Park, home to the famous limestone stacks known as the Twelve Apostles. These towering structures are a testament to nature’s power, providing a stunning backdrop for photos and scenic walks.
A visit to Kennett River is a must for those seeking wildlife encounters. Visitors can spot wild koalas perched high up in the eucalyptus trees and watch as native birds swoop overhead. Similarly, the Maits Rest rainforest walk in the Otway National Park offers a chance to see ancient trees, lush ferns, and native wildlife up close.
Along the Shipwreck Coast, travellers can witness the power of the ocean as it crashes against the rugged coastline. The Gibson Steps and the Hopetoun Falls are both incredible sights to see, with the former offering sweeping coastal views and the latter showcasing a spectacular waterfall nestled in the heart of the Otway Forest.
If you’re embarking on a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll want to stop in the charming seaside town of Apollo Bay. This idyllic coastal town is nestled between the Otway Ranges and the Southern Ocean and boasts stunning natural beauty, charming shops and restaurants, and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities.
One of the biggest draws of Apollo Bay is its picturesque harbour, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ocean. Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk and stop by the fish co-op to sample some of the freshest seafood in the region or relax and watch the boats bobbing in the water.
For those interested in exploring the town’s cultural offerings, there are numerous art galleries and boutiques to peruse, showcasing the works of local artisans and craftspeople. And if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, there are plenty of options, including hiking, biking, fishing, and even surfing at the nearby beaches.
Of course, only a trip to Apollo Bay would be complete with indulging in some renowned local cuisines. From fresh seafood at the harbour to gourmet burgers and wood-fired pizza at the local restaurants, there’s something to please every palate.
Port Campbell National Park
Nestled along the iconic Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, Port Campbell National Park is a stunning natural treasure that draws visitors worldwide. Boasting diverse landscapes and seascapes, this park stretches over 1,750 hectares of lush forests, rugged coastlines, and pristine beaches.
One of the highlights of Port Campbell National Park is the breathtaking collection of limestone formations that dot the coastline. The star attraction among these formations isis the towering Twelve Apostles, a series of majestic pillars that rise out of the ocean. Visitors can marvel at these impressive rock formations from the designated lookout points, which offer stunning views from above.
In addition to the Twelve Apostles, the park is home to other limestone stacks, such as the Loch Ard Gorge and the London Arch. Each of these formations holds its fascinating history and provides visitors with a unique experience.
Aside from the mesmerising coastal formations, the park also has an abundance of recreational activities to offer. Visitors can hike through the lush rainforest trails, picnic on scenic coastal roads, or swim and surf at the beautiful beaches. The Port Campbell National Park is also a fantastic place to spot native Australian wildlife, such as koalas, echidnas, kangaroos and various bird species.
A guided rainforest walk is available for visitors at the Great Otway National Park.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and step into nature, look no further than the Great Otway National Park. With a varied landscape encompassing a rugged coastline, lush Rainforest and stunning waterfalls, there’s no shortage of sights to admire. One of the best ways to explore the park’s ancient Rainforest is through a guided rainforest walk.
With knowledgeable guides, these walks give you a deeper understanding of the natural environment and ensure you get all of the park’s hidden gems. You might discover secluded waterfalls, rare flora and fauna, or learn about the rich Aboriginal history of the land.
One of the must-visit spots on the guided rainforest walk is Maits Rest, a magical enclave that features towering eucalyptus trees, ferns and moss-covered rocks. Strolling along the boardwalk, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a verdant wonderland where time stands still.
Another highlight of the guided rainforest walk is the stunning Hopetoun Falls. With its striking, cascading waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery, this spot is a photographer’s dream come true.
In addition to experiencing the beauty of the Rainforest, a guided walk is also a way to support the conservation efforts of the national park. By booking a tour with a licensed guide, you’re helping ensure the park remains protected and sustainable for future generations.
The Twelve Apostles
Behold the majestic Twelve Apostles – an awe-inspiring spectacle that graces the Great Ocean Road’s unparalleled beauty. Named after the apostles of Jesus, these towering limestone stacks rise majestically from the Southern Ocean, offering breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience.
Formed by millions of years of erosion from wind, waves, and rain, these formations have become one of Australia’s most beloved natural wonders. Although there were only nine stacks initially, “The Twelve Apostles” has stuck.
Visitors can admire the stunning beauty of The Twelve Apostles by walking the boardwalks that lead to different viewpoints. Whether it’s a bustling summer day or a peaceful winter morning, seeing the stacks in all their glory is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
Aside from admiring the spectacular views during the day, The Twelve Apostles is also an excellent spot for watching the sunset. As the sun sets over the horizon, the stacks take on a beautiful golden glow, creating a magical atmosphere that’s hard to describe.
But it’s not just the views that make The Twelve Apostles unique. The area is also home to diverse wildlife, from playful dolphins and seals to majestic birds of prey and rare plants.
The destinations mentioned are Loch Ard Gorge and the Shipwreck Coast.
The Great Ocean Road is often associated with the famous Twelve Apostles, but there’s another natural wonder that’s just as fascinating: Loch Ard Gorge. Located along the Shipwreck Coast, Loch Ard Gorge is a stunning limestone gorge named after the clipper ship Loch Ard that was wrecked there in 1878.
Visitors to Loch Ard Gorge can explore the area by walking along the boardwalks that lead to different viewpoints. Visitors can take in breathtaking views of the turquoise waters and rugged coastline from the top of the cliffs. Some stairs lead down to the beach, where visitors can get close to the limestone cliffs and natural archways.
Aside from admiring the stunning scenery, Loch Ard Gorge is also a place of historical significance. The area is named after the famous shipwreck 1878, where only two of the 54 passengers and crew members survived. Plaques and information signs tell the story of the Loch Ard and other wrecks along the Shipwreck Coast.
Visitors to Loch Ard Gorge can also take a short hike to nearby sites, such as the Razorback and Island Archway. These sites offer equally stunning coastline views and the opportunity to see more unique limestone formations.
The Shipwreck Coast is known for its treacherous waters and harsh weather conditions, but it’s also known for its natural beauty and rich history. From the famous Twelve Apostles to the lesser-known Loch Ard Gorge, the coast offers visitors a chance to explore some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in Australia.
Search for Wild Koalas and Native Birds
As you embark on your great ocean road trip, one of the must-do activities is searching for wild koalas and native birds. The Great Ocean Road is known for its stunning coastal views, famous surf beaches, and abundant wildlife.
One of the best places to spot koalas in their natural habitat is in Kennett River, a small coastal town tucked away in the forest. As you stroll through the city, watch for the furry creatures perched high up in eucalyptus trees. They are often spotted dozing off during the day but become more active as dusk falls. The best time to spot them is early morning or late afternoon when they are likelier to be out and about.
Another place to spot native birds and koalas are the Maits Rest rainforest walk within the Otway National Park. The lush Rainforest is home to some of the most beautiful and colourful birds, such as the Crimson Rosella, King Parrot and Superb Fairy-wren. Wandering along the boardwalk, you will also encounter towering trees, ancient ferns and tranquil waterfalls. As you walk through the pristine Rainforest, keep your eyes and ears open for the haunting calls of the koalas.
If you are lucky, you may even spot wild kangaroos and wallabies grazing in the fields around the Otway National Park. They are often more active at dawn and dusk, so keep your camera ready.
The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch is a designated landmark.
The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch is one of the most iconic landmarks along the famous coastal drive. Located in Eastern View, just a short drive from Lorne, this historic arch marks the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, a winding stretch of road that hugs the rugged coastline of Victoria.
The Memorial Arch was built as a tribute to the soldiers who fought in World War I and is inscribed with the words, “Great Ocean Road – Built by returned soldiers as a memorial to their fallen comrades”. The arch was erected in 1939 and has become an essential landmark for locals and visitors.
The arch is a popular spot for taking photos and starting points for road trips along the Great Ocean Road. Visitors can park their cars nearby and take a moment to admire the craftsmanship that went into building this impressive structure. Although it might look like a simple arch, the design incorporates intricate carvings and details representing Australia’s military history.
As you stand under the arch, you can feel the weight of history and the significance of the sacrifice made by the soldiers it commemorates. It is a powerful reminder of the bravery and heroism of our troops and a testament to the importance of honouring their service.
It depends on how much time you want to spend at each attraction, but the trip can be completed in as little as a day or can be spread out over multiple days.
The Great Ocean Road can be visited all year round, but the best time to visit is from late spring until early autumn (October to April) when the weather is warmer and the days are longer.
The Great Ocean Road is a sealed road, so any vehicle should be able to handle it, but a car or campervan is the trip’s most popular option. Some parts of the road can be quite narrow, so a compact car may be easier to navigate.
Yes, it’s possible to do the Great Ocean Road as a day trip from Melbourne, but it can be quite long and rushed. It’s recommended to take at least 2-3 days to truly appreciate the scenery and attractions along the way.