The Great Ocean Road is known as one of the world’s most scenic drives. Most famous for The 12 Apostles, the Great Ocean Road offers incredible views during the entire drive. While this can easily be seen with a tour, I think it’s best seen yourself to allow you enough time to take in all the beautiful stops along the way. Doing a road trip allow you to get the chance to relax and enjoy the journey.The Great Ocean Road is a 550 kilometres round trip from Melbourne so it requires more than one day to enjoy it. My guide is for a two day road trip. Travelling over two days gives you the time to fully immerse in the diverse splendour of this region while not being too rushed. If you have an extra day or two up your sleeves then it’s even better to go a bit slower and relax more along the way. Here is a Great Ocean Road complete road trip guide with every stop you need to know to get the best experience.
MELBOURNE TO TORQUAY
Torquay is a beautiful seaside surf town which is home to the origins of the famous surf bands Rip Curl and Quicksilver. You’ll often see many beginner surfers in the water at the main beach. When you arrive grab a coffee at the cafe across the road from the Torquay Front Beach. Feel free to go for a swim or explore the town and shop in the surf stores. Tip: Depart early in the morning to get ahead of all the tour groups.
Around the corner from Torquay is the world famous Bell’s beach where the Rip Curl Pro competition is held every year around Easter. Here is where you’ll find the true pro surfers catching a wave, watch the best surfers showing off while spending some time on the beach.
Memorial Arch is the official start of the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is also the world’s largest war memorial which is the entire stretch of the road. Here you’ll find the iconic Great Ocean Road sign and a statue in tribute to World War 1.
Make a quick stop in Anglesea to see the lighthouse. If you’re British you might recognize the lighthouse from a popular TV show that aired in England called Round the Twist which was filmed here.
LORNE & TEDDY’S LOOKOUT
Lorne is a beautiful beach town and generally the most popular one along The Great Ocean Road. Lorne has a lot of summer holiday homes and is popular for camping so if you have an extra day I would suggest spending a night in Lorne. While you’re here head to the beach and check out the local shops. If you’re hungry for lunch head to the Lorne Pub which has an awesome outdoor patio overlooking the beach. For the best lookout you’ll see along the entire Great Ocean Road (in my opinion) is Teddy’s lookout. It’s an easy one to miss as it’s not along the main road so put it in you Google Maps.
Between Lorne & Kennett River you’ll pass a lot of beautiful picturesque beaches so be prepared to pull over and check them out. When you see the sign for Kennett River pull over next to the store and search for wild Koalas. You’ll almost always find wild Koalas in the trees in Kennett River.
Next up is Apollo Bay, another beautiful beach side town. Head to the beach here or check out the stores along the main street.
MAITS REST OR BEAUCHAMP FALLS
From Apollo Bay you have two different options for routes depending on what you want to see. You can either continue on the Great Ocean Road and head towards Maits Rest where you’ll find a beautiful rain forest walk. Or you can drive inland and go towards Beauchamp Falls. Beauchamp Falls is a beautiful waterfall hidden at the end of a rain forest walk. This walk will take about 30-40 minutes round trip but so worth it for this gorgeous waterfall.
12 APOSTLES SUNSET
Seeing the 12 Apostles for sunset is a must do experience. The 12 Apostles are the most well known part of the Great Ocean Road and witnessing them at sunset is nothing short of spectacular. The sun sets right over the Apostles lighting up the sky in such a picturesque location. Be warned, the 12 Apostles is always incredibly crowded at sunset. If crowds aren’t your thing, head down to Gibson Steps instead to see a couple of the Apostles from the beach. I prefer the sunset from here to be honest, however Gibson Steps can only be accessed at low tide so check the tide times before you go.
Photography Tip: To get a view of the 12 apostle at sunset without a lot of people in your photos, head up the boardwalk to the left and get a photo on an angle. There are almost never any people in this area.
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Head to Gibson’s Steps to see some of the Apostles from the beach. Make sure you check the tide times before you go as you’ll only be able to access the beach at low tide. If you have extra time, allow yourself some beach time at this beautiful beach.
Go back to the 12 Apostles the following day to see them during daylight hours. You’ll get an entirely different experience here, equally as beautiful, but be sure not to skip it.
LOCH ARD GORGE
Loch Ard Gorge is my favourite place to see along the entire Great Ocean Road. I like to pack a lunch and spend a good amount of time laying out on the beach. You’ll see an incredible beach with the waves rolling in between two limestone cliffs.
The final beachside town that you’ll pass though is Port Campbell. If you’re looking for lunch there are a number of great cafes here. Make sure you spend some time at the beach here.
OTHER GREAT OCEAN ROAD SIGHTS
Continue to drive along Great Ocean Road and stop off at loads of great sights. It’s a pretty easy self drive route with signs pointing out all the must see stops. Some places to look out for include London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs, and Bay of Islands
HEAD TO YOUR NEXT DESTINATION
After passing Bay of Islands you’ve officially finished your Great Ocean Road drive. From here head towards you next destination. If you’re continuing to Adelaide drive via Warnambool. If you’re returning to Melbourne, drive inland via Colac. You can also choose to heard towards the Grampians here (highly recommend to check out).
Have the best time traveling the Great Ocean Road. It truly is such a beautiful part of Australia to experience. If you have any questions as always add it to the comments below. Happy Travels!