The Great Ocean Road
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The Great Ocean Road is the most famous travel route in Australia – even though it is only 250 kilometers long. The Great Ocean Road starts west of Melbourne and you’ll get to see a lot – if you commit to the tour. This is because the route, which is very short for Australia, tempts you to drive it very fast, but you can easily miss many highlights in the process. In this post, I’ll tell you how to get the most out of the Great Ocean Road with a day-by-day itinerary!
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The Great Ocean Road offers spectacular views of the coast, including the famous 12 Apostles, limestone cliff formations rising from the sea. There are also rainforests, waterfalls, beaches and wildlife reserves to see along the road.
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Great Ocean Road on the map
To give you an overview of the Great Ocean Road, I have drawn the route on this map once in the entire length, but here directly with the start in Melbourne, because most travelers travel from here. Below you will also find our itinerary for the Great Ocean Road trip.
How to get to the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road begins 100 km west of Melbourne in the famous surfing metropolis of Torquay. From there it stretches for almost 250 kilometers along the coast to Warrnambool. It is because of this routing that it bears its name, by the way, which is “Great Ocean Road” in German.
To travel the Great Ocean Road, you fly into Melbourne Airport in Australia. From here you have several options to get to the famous travel route of Australia:
- Guided tour along the Great Ocean Road
- As a self-driver with a camper
- As a self-driver with a rental car & in hotels
The Great Ocean Road by camper or rental car
The best way to travel this coastal road is either on your own in a rental car or camper. I drove the Great Ocean Road in a camper and enjoyed the adventure very much – however, the roads are very winding especially in the area between Anglesea and Apollo Bay. Basically, you should pay attention to this, because especially with a motorhome with an alcove you have to drive the curves carefully – the center of gravity is quite different than with a normal car. Camper rental is especially worthwhile if you are going to travel further than the Great Ocean Road, for example to the Grampians National Park, Kangaroo Island and Adelaide. Check out our camper price comparison to see if there is a suitable camper for you. Be sure to read our experience report about renting a camper in Australia.
You can rent a car directly from the airport in Melbourne and travel the route. A rental car is especially worthwhile if you are coming from Melbourne and want to experience the Great Ocean Road on your own and then drive back to Melbourne. In the many small towns along the famous coastal road you will also find accommodations for every taste. My tip: Always drive the Great Ocean Road from the direction of Melbourne, because this way you can reach the lookouts more easily on the winding road.
The Great Ocean Road – day by day
You can drive the Great Ocean Road – if you want to – in one day. The length of the tour is quite doable, but does not do justice to the beautiful spots along the way. The best way to enjoy the many great highlights of the coastal itinerary is to take a few days to do it.
Drive the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Warrnambool. This way you drive along the coast and can comfortably stop at viewpoints without having to cross the road. From the opposite direction you can’t drive directly to some lookouts because of the winding coastal road.
Unlike many other itineraries in Australia, you won’t have to travel long distances on this tour, but can focus on the places and highlights.
Drive the route from the direction of Melbourne so you can easily approach the many lookouts.
Day 1: Melbourne – Anglesea (approx. 120 km)
On day 1 of this road trip you will start the tour from Melbourne heading west. Your destination on this day will be Anglesea, with a big stopover in Torquay. Here you will meet many travelers who have already driven the fascinating coastal road, just come and talk and take the numerous travel tips for driving Australia’s dream road. Torquay is best known as the surf capital of Australia. Bells Beach hosts the Rip Curl Pro Surf Cup every year at Easter time, with the world’s best surfers taking part. I myself was not here at the time, but have seen the construction of the barriers – a huge event! By the way, you will not drive on the Great Ocean Road today, because we will reach it tomorrow.
Even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll really feel the surf in Torquay and Bells Beach. By the way, there are many great stores of the big surf brands like Rip Curl, or Billabong in Torquay. The Australian National Surfing Museum is also worth a visit, here the history of surfing is presented with many exhibits.
The next stop is Anglesea, which is known for the many kangaroos you are sure to see here. Anglesea is a beautiful resort with beaches, which is also good for families. Here also the surf on the ocean is not too strong, so you can go swimming here even with children. Near the village there is a beach suitable for families at Point Roadknight, the main beach of the village is good for surfing beginners. Whether you’re into surfing or you’re a novice surfer, why not schedule a surf lesson at your next stop in Anglesea?
Day 2: Anglesea to Kenneth River (approx. 65 km)
The most beautiful stretch of road along the uniquely beautiful cliff landscape is between Anglesea and Apollo Bay. Here you will drive along the coast on beautiful serpentines. Almost every place is located in a kind of valley, into which rivers or even riverbeds flow. If you’re traveling with time, why not hike a few hours along the Surf Coast Walk.
In the tranquil village of Aireys Inlet there is a lighthouse that you can visit on guided tours. From here you also have a beautiful view of the surrounding cliffs of the Great Ocean Road.
Lorne is a popular vacation spot among Aussies, with great cafes, restaurants and stores just begging you to kick back for a few days. There is a beautiful sandy beach here and also many great hotels and apartments. Lorne Pier is known as one of the best fishing sites along the Great Ocean Road. In the interior you will even see rainforest with many smaller and larger waterfalls – especially famous are the Erskine Falls, to which you can reach via a 7.5 km long hiking trail. From the viewing platform Teddy’s Lookout at the entrance of Lorne you have a wonderful view over the George River and the Great Ocean Road.
Although there is a lot to see in Lorne, the 2nd day’s destination is day. And for a very specific reason: animals! This place is quite famous for the koalas that you can see in the trees here.
Along the GOR you will see a lot of nature – if you want to. After you’ve already met the kangaroos, you need to meet the next animal landmark: koalas! For sure you will see koalas at the Kennett River.
Day 3: Kenneth River – Cape Otway – Melba Gully (approx. 100 km)
Cape Otway Lighthouse is located at the southern end of Otway National Park. It was built in 1848 and from here you have a wonderful view of the coast with its great cliffs.
My absolute insider tip on this day is to visit Melba Gully at Great Otway National Park. This area is the wettest area in Victoria and therefore there is a lot of rainforest and a very special highlight that you can see especially at dusk: Fireflies! To get to them, you have to walk along the Madsen’s Track Nature Walk from the picnic area. On the way you will see (with a little luck) wallabies and possums, plus some (for us rare) bird species. Be sure to be quiet so you get to see and hear them? Once it gets dark, you’ll get to see the fireflies – really enchanted it looks! Please do not touch them so that they continue to feel comfortable in the area. By the way, for the way back you should definitely take a flashlight – it will be dark!
If you have more time for the Great Ocean Road, you should definitely hike a part of the Great Ocean Walk. The famous long-distance hiking trail along the southern coast is 104 km long and stretches from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles. You can hike it either as a whole or in individual stages.
Day 4: Melba Gully – Port Campbell (approx. 50 km)
An absolute highlight and the reason why many tourists travel this route at all are certainly the 12 Apostles – cacao rocks in the ocean. And what can I say: rightly so. The beauty of the rock formations surrounded by the turquoise to dark blue ocean is indescribable. It is truly the most visited attraction along the entire GOR. But beware: when you come to the 12 Apostles, you must be aware that there will be masses of tourists here. Nevertheless: A definite MUST SEE in Victoria.
Besides the 12 Apostles, there are other rock formations like London Bridge or Loch Art George along the Great Ocean Road that you must visit. These are all very impressive places that are worth a visit.
Day 5: Port Campbell – Warrnambool (approx. 65 km)
Warrnambool is the next larger town where the itinerary also ends. The biggest highlight of this place is Logan Beach. From this beach, at the right time of year, you can watch whales giving birth to their young here.
From here you have several options to continue your journey. You can either return to Melbourne or continue the tour to Adelaide. I can absolutely recommend the latter, because here you have many beautiful highlights like the Grampians or Kangaroo Island, which is one of the most beautiful islands in Australia.
Travel planning in the overview
Plan a relaxing 5 days to drive the Great Ocean Road so you can explore the highlights and sites along the way. You just have to decide what to do at the end of the Great Ocean Road in Warrnambool. Do you turn around and drive the route back to Melbourne? Or do you extend your road trip and drive further to Adelaide? From my own experience I can say that the journey towards Adelaide has to offer dreamlike beautiful places (Mount Gambier) and also a crossing towards Kangaroo Island was one of my most beautiful highlights in Australia so far.
Great Ocean Road
Highlights on the way
Distance in km
Melbourne Airport - Anglesea
Anglesea - Kenneth River
Kennett River - Cape Otway - Melba Gully
Melba Gully - Port Campbell
Port Campbell - Warrnambool
Whale Watching at Logans Beach in Warrnambool
When is the best time to travel the Great Ocean Road?
The itinerary is located in the southernmost area of Australia. Here the climate is temperate, summers are warm, sometimes hot. I recommend the trip in the summer months.
Great Ocean Road
Ü= Transitional period: sometimes warm, sometimes cold
Of course you can also drive this route in the Australian winter, then the route will be much less busy. You should definitely put thicker clothes on your packing list, though, because it can get pretty nippy here.
Is the drive along the Great Ocean Road worth it?
The Great Ocean Road in Australia is considered one of the most beautiful travel routes in the world. I drove this itinerary accordingly with a very high expectation and must say that I was a bit disappointed at first. Disappointed because the Australia as I know it for example from Western Australia was not really to be found. The GOR is a busy route and the tourist rush especially at the 12 Apostles was clearly too much for me.
But I can assure you that this itinerary is worth the drive if you put your mind to it!
A big advantage are the short stretches of road, which are hard to find anywhere else in Australia. Even though they are cluttered, the 12 Apostles were really impressive – I made my peace when we made the descent to the beach via the Gibson Steps, because here we were also alone for quite some time and could take our time looking at the Apostles. And by the way we were able to watch penguins!
To avoid just being driven, you should take your time and take in all the highlights along the way like the waterfalls, the rainforest and the many stops to see Australian wildlife.
If you don’t plan to spend a few days in one of the small and also touristy towns, a guided day tour to the Great Ocean Road is just the thing.
Fun Facts about the GOR
Here are some interesting and fun facts about the Great Ocean Road:
- The GOR was built as a memorial road for the soldiers who died in the First World War.
- It is one of the first tourist projects in Australia and is considered one of the first examples of road construction as a tourist attraction.
- The famous Australian coastal road is part of the Australian Government’s National Heritage and was declared an Australian National Monument in 2005.
- The famous limestone rocks 12 Apostles are actually only 8, as four of them have crumbled over time.
- The Great Ocean Road is a popular road trip destination and offers a variety of accommodations, from luxury hotels to campgrounds.
- The road runs through several national parks and protected areas that are home to a variety of rare animal and plant species.
- It is also known for its spectacular sunsets and offers some of the best sunset views in Australia.
- A popular photo motif along the Great Ocean Road is London Bridge, a former cliff formation that has since become an island.
- The itinerary is also a popular destination for whale watching, as it is an important resting place for whales on their annual migration route.
- There are numerous walks along the Dream Road, including the popular 104-kilometer Great Ocean Walk.
Frequently asked questions
Can I drive the Great Ocean Road in one day?
We hear this question a lot and I always answer it with “it depends”. Because it depends on what you’re interested in. If it’s mainly the 12 Apostles, the most famous highlight, you can travel the route within a day. You can then either get a rental car or join a guided tour.
However, if you are also strongly interested in nature and wildlife, you should definitely plan a few more days. Check out my itinerary for a guide to everything you can see during your visit.
What animals can I see on the Great Ocean Road?
Not only the indescribably beautiful views of the coastal landscape and the ocean make the panoramic route fascinating. The itinerary is also known to be home to many animals:
Animals along the Great Ocean Road
Spots to find them
You can see kangaroos everywhere in Australia. On the Great Ocean Road, you're sure to see kangaroos at Anglesea Golf Course.
You are almost certain to find koalas at Kennett River Campground.
You will see fireflies in the evening at Madsen's Track Nature Walk in Melba Gully.
12 Apostels/Gibson Steps: If you're lucky, you'll get to see nesting penguins on the cliffs by the beach as you descend the Gibson Steps and head toward the Apostles.
Bay of Islands Coastal Park
Whales pass by Logan's Beach in Warrnambool from mid-May to mid-October.
Where is the Great Ocean Road sign?
The famous Great Ocean Road sign is called Memorial Arch at Eastern View and is located in Lorne. This monument was erected in honor of the World War I soldiers who built the Great Ocean Road.
Where are there waterfalls along the Great Ocean Road that I can visit?
Among other things, the Great Ocean Road is known for its beautiful waterfalls, which you can visit here. You can admire some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park. Sheaok Falls can be found near Lorne and you can reach it via a short hike from Sheoak Falls Car Park. In the same national park you will also find the Hopetoun Falls, which are a full 30 meters high. Very close to Lavershill you can reach the beautiful waterfalls Triplet Falls via the Phillip Track hiking trail. Here you have a great view of both the waterfall and the rainforest at various lookouts.
Should I drive the Great Ocean Road or the East Coast?
Depending on when exactly you are in Australia! Because the east coast from Australia to Cairns makes sense to drive mainly in the Australian winter (i.e. in the European summer). This itinerary is in the tropics and at this time it is the dry season here. By the way, you can find my travel report about the tour from Brisbane – Cairns here. The Great Ocean Road is especially beautiful to drive during the Australian summer months.
Can I go hiking on the Great Ocean Road?
Yes, you can even go hiking along the Great Ocean Road very well. The so-called Great Ocean Walk stretches over 100 km from Apollo Bay. Depending on how fit you are or what you want to see, you can walk parts or plan a trip over several days. If you are traveling with your own vehicle, you can also make many hikes in the individual towns.
Can I travel the Great Ocean Road by bus and train?
I am happy to recommend the Greyhound Australia buses, but they do not serve the Great Ocean Road themselves. The small Australian bus service Popes Timboon does run from Melbourne to Warrnambool, but takes the inland route. You can, however, take the V/Line local transport service from Melbourne by train to Warrnambool, and from there V/Line buses will take you to the towns on the Great Ocean Road. You’ll be best served by finding an alternative Great Ocean Road drive.
How long does it take to drive the Great Ocean Road?
You can basically drive Australia’s dream road in one day, because the route is absolutely doable (and for Australian standards). However, I recommend you to plan much more time for the route. Because you should not only visit the well-known highlights like the 12 Apostles and some of the beautiful viewing platforms, but you can explore the rich nature with rainforests, animals and waterfalls on short or longer hikes. Five to seven days is a good time to get to know the Great Ocean Road well.
Interested in more itineraries in Australia? Then be sure to check out our overview of the most beautiful travel routes in Australia.
Loving Travel Insider Tip
The Great Ocean Road has so many highlights to offer on one of the shortest routes. You will see them, provided you take the time!
The Great Ocean Road has so many highlights to offer on one of the shortest routes. You will see them, provided you take the time!
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I love traveling! Whether it's the Australian outback, the fjords of Norway or city trips to the most beautiful cities in the world like Paris, Singapore, Barcelona or New York - I'll write down my best tips so that your trip will be a very special highlight.
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