Your Ultimate Guide To Great Ocean Road

by Meri Gasem

Rated as the best drive on the planet, Great Ocean Road stretches over 243km, connecting Torquay and Allansford near Warrnambool. Operating since 1932, this road circles around the cliff’s edges, takes you through well-known sites and provides jawdropping views.

Get closer to the wilderness and beauty of the Southern Ocean, take some memorable hikes through the rainforest or sit down and enjoy a tasting of the local produce. The Great Ocean Road can be fit in as much time as you want – a long weekend, a week, or a day!

A fair warning: the perfect mix of picturesque sites and adventure will have you longing to go back time after time!


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Important Travel Tips

  • Basic Road Info: The Great Ocean Road is a sealed, 243km long road with one lane in each direction and a speed limit ranging from 50km/h to 100km/h. It’s the largest war memorial, built by returned soldiers in 1932 and dedicated to those who gave their lives in World War I. As a major tourist attraction, it provides access to popular landmarks. In December last year, an act called “Great Ocean Road Environs Protection Act 2020” went into effect to legally protect the road.
  • Best Travel Time: December to February is peak season, nature is in full bloom, and festivals are happening everywhere. But prepare for crowds and traffic jams. During winter, June to August precisely there are fewer crowds, it’s less expensive, and you can catch the whale migration. September to November, the weather is fine, waterfalls are flowing, nature is awakening. However, you can expect rainfall here and there.
  • Estimated Travel Time: You can drive the Great Ocean Road in a day, but if you allow time to take in the scenic coastal views, visit the towns, wineries, and landmarks, it can take you anywhere between 3 days to a week. There’s so much to see!
  • What To Bring: You’ll be driving on a sealed road, so a regular 2WD with a filled-up tank is all you need. Great Ocean Road passes by many towns where you can stock up on groceries, fuel, and other necessities. Bring your adventurous spirit and curiosity!
  • Tickets and Permissions: Cape Otway Lightstation $10; Bass Strait Shell Museum $10; Apollo Bay Museum $5; Otway Fly Treetop Adventures $25-$120; Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village $19.

Takeoff, East to West – Torquay

If you’re starting from Melbourne, make sure to leave early. You’ll reach Torquay in 100km and then officially be on the Great Ocean Road or B100. Torquay is a surfers haven, full of surf shops and sublime beaches, including Bells Beach – the most popular one and host of the longest-running surfing contest in the world.

If you’re not keen on surfing, get back on the road to Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery for a sweet break. Stop for a moment at Loveridge or Eagle Rock Lookouts to take in some of the majestic coastal views.

Places To Stay

Paid: Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park

Free: Tanners Road Bend Campground or Hammond Road North


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Torquay To Lorne

Lorne is a friendly town filled with cafes, shops, and delicious local food. It’s a popular holiday destination for locals so plan your visit accordingly. Take a walk on the pristine beach, in the rainforest, or bike along the seashore. If you’re up for a challenge, pack a lunch and visit Cumberland Falls, just be aware the hike is 9km long.

For an easier detour from Great Ocean Road, leave your car, and do the 30-minute steep climb to Teddy’s Lookout right outside Lorne. You’ll be rewarded with two lookouts – Otway Ranges Lookout and St George River Lookout

Places To Stay

Paid: Lorne Caravan Park

Free: Sharps Camping Area or Allenvale Mill Bush Camp


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Lorne To Apollo Bay

Wake up early and head to Apollo Bay. This is another popular stop along the road offering the best of both worlds – a commercial centre, museums, pristine beaches, and scenic backdrops.

Check out the Cape Otway Lightstation, where you can spot some wallabies, and the Old Cable Station Museum, which was the only connection between Tasmania and Australia in the past. The Bass Strait Shell Museum keeps some interesting marine life species.

Hit up some of the lookouts to enjoy a scenic sunset. Marriner Lookout is at the end of town on Marriners Lookout Road or Evans Lookout, a couple of kilometres inland from Skenes Creek.

Places To Stay

Paid: Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve, Marengo Family Caravan Park, or Apollo Bay Holiday Parks

Free: Beauchamp Falls Reserve or Ferguson Recreation Ground


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Great Otway National Park

Prepare to get lost exploring the magnificent Otway National Park. Start the morning by walking in the Californian Redwoods forest, settled along the Aire River. These trees were planted in 1939 and now reach up to 60 metres in height!

Check out Hopetown Falls, just a short walk from the Redwoods. You can admire the falls from the platform or walk down to the base. If you like chasing waterfalls, go to Beauchamp Falls next. These 20-metre tall waterfalls rest beside the lush ferns and the mystic rainforest.

For the bold souls, there is Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. They provide a 600-metre long treetop walk at 47 metres height or a zip line tour over the Otway forest.

Places To Stay

Paid: Bimbi Park

Free: Aire River Crossing


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The Twelve Apostles

Less than an hour’s drive from Otway National Park will take you to our next stop – the Twelve Apostles. Best to be visited in the early morning to avoid the crowds and you might even get the place to yourself.

The magnificent limestone stacks rise 45 metres above the sea and are one of the most breathtaking sceneries imaginable. Today there are only eight left and even those standing will slowly vanish due to natural erosion. It’s best to stop by on a clear day, and don’t pass them by – next time you’re around there might be even less! Walk the boardwalks around the cliff tops and take in the view from different perspectives.

Drop back later in the day to catch the sun going down behind the apostles.

Places To Stay

Paid: Port Campbell Recreation Reserve

Free: Panmure Campground


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Port Campbell

Port Campbell is a colorful little town that holds a rich history. Nearby is the Loch Ard Gorge – the site where a terrible shipwreck happened in 1878. Only two passengers managed to reach the beach and survive the wreck. London Bridge is another epic landmark, a limestone stack formed by a gradual erosion process. Up until 1990, it created a whole double-span natural bridge.

The Arch is another natural rock formation in the shape of an arch with waves crashing below. The Grotto, a scenic hollowed put cave, is settled just outside Port Campbell. Just a short walk down the wooden stairs will take you to this fantastic photography location. It’s best to visit it at low tide and expect to get misted by the waves crashing into the rocks.

Enjoy the sunset at Port Campbell Jetty.

Places To Stay

Paid: Port Campbell Caravan Park

Free: Mt Emu Creek.


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Port Campbell To Warrnambool

The official end of the Great Ocean Road is at Allansford, where you can stop for a yummy cheese tasting at the Cheese World and Museum. Or pick some food and go for a picnic at the Hopkins Falls.

Continue to Warrnambool to relax on Bathing Beach, which runs in front of the immense Lake Pertobe Adventure Park. For a piece of history, visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, which holds an impressive shipwreck collection.

As a perfect end of your road trip, spend the afternoon at Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform. If you’re visiting during whale migration season, it’s a sight you can’t miss!

Places To Stay

Paid: Surfside Holiday Park

Free: Caramut Western Hotel


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Bonus: The Great Ocean Walk

Are you an avid hiker?

The Great Ocean Walk is a moderate to difficult eight-day, 100-kilometre walk that starts at Apollo Bay and ends at the Twelve Apostles. It’s a unique experience for those up for the challenge. It would be best if you carried your tent to stay at the bush camps along the walk.

You can join a guided tour or do your own research and take a self-guided walk.


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