Postcards & Passports

Road Tripping the Great Ocean Road

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The Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia is a spectacular coastal highway, most known for its incredible views of the ocean and majestic cliffs and rock formations. It was built in the early 1900’s as a war memorial and as a work project, providing jobs during the depression.

Traveling the Great Ocean Road is best done by private vehicle, although there are tours available. Be sure to plan for a car or campervan hire and start exploring, because this is a coastal drive you have to make if you are visiting Australia! Although the Great Ocean Road is only 243 km (151 miles) long, do not try to drive it all in one day. The freedom to stop and explore along the way will make this a memorable experience. Here’s what you will discover if you make this epic road trip…

Great Ocean Road

Bells Beach, B. McLennan

Begin the Great Ocean Road at Torquay

The Great Ocean Road winds from Torquay to Warrnampool, and because you will be driving on the left side of the road, it is best to travel from east to west. Torquay is only 35 km (22 miles) from Avalon Airport or 86 km (53) from Melbourne. The speed limit along the Great Ocean Road is 80-100 km/hr (50-62 mph) and 50-70 km/hr (31-43 mph) through the towns. Since this is a very popular route, do not expect to travel fast. At Torquay, you may want to check out Bells Beach, where the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition is held.

Aireys Inlet

The Split Point Lighthouse, built in 1891, and lovingly called the “White Queen”, is still operating and is open for guided tours and amazing 360-degree views.

Lorne

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all of the beautiful sights are along the beach. At Lorne, you can take a short drive on Erskine Falls Road to a 5-minute walk to the Erskine Falls Lookout. Or takes the stairs down to the base of the falls and watch the water spill into the Erskine River. At Teddy’s Lookout, you’ll stand on a viewing platform with views of the coast, the Saint George River, and the rainforest below.

Wye River and Kennett River

Wye River and Kennett River are tiny communities situated where the rainforest meets the sea. The most notable thing to look for here are koalas in the wild. Look closely, especially at the gum trees, as you drive by. You may be able to spot a koala slowly chewing his lunch in the treetops.

Apollo Bay & Cape Otway

Apollo Bay is the starting point for the Great Ocean Walk, a 104-km (65-mile) walk that takes you along the shoreline and beneath towering cliffs with hike-in campsites at intervals. From Marriner’s Lookout, you can see Apollo Bay and much of the coast. Travel deeper inland if you’d enjoy experiencing Otway Fly Treetop Adventures!

The Cape Otway Lighthouse is another popular stopping point. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia and was built in 1848. There are tours, a cafe and store, a WWII radar bunker, and a whale interpretation site.

Twelve Apostles Marine National Park

The Twelve Apostles park might just be the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road. Eroded by the ocean over time, these limestone rock formations stand as sentinels along the coast. Where there used to be nine, only seven are now standing. Two were victims of further erosion and collapse.

Port Campbell

At Port Campbell is a beautiful gorge, known as the Loch Ard Gorge, at the site of the Loch Ard shipwreck of 1878. There were only two survivors of this wreck and there is a sign here as well as a small cemetery where four of the victims are buried. Gibson’s Steps are hand-carved steps in the rock face of these cliffs, and the London Bridge (which collapsed in 1990) and the remaining arch offer photogenic views. The Grotto is a natural open cave, caused by the waves.

Peterborough and the Bay of Islands

Peterborough is a perfect family destination, with a shorefront playground and a riding loop. Here you will also find the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. It’s a stunning view at sunset!

Warrnambool, the End of the Great Ocean Road

While Warrnambool marks the end of the Great Ocean Road, it doesn’t have to be the end of your adventures.  Other notable attractions include the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village (a step back into time with a historic lighthouse and village) Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground (great for the kids!), and the Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform, where female whales migrate close to the shore, to bear their young. 

I know your Great Ocean Road trip will be an amazing one!

This article is in partnership with DriveNow. Visit their website here, to learn more travel tips or to compare car rental rates.

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15 thoughts on “Road Tripping the Great Ocean Road

  1. mark

    The Port Campbell National Park area is the real highlight of the Great Ocean Road. Loch Ard Gorge, The Razorback and of course the 12 apostles are all within a short distance of one another.

  2. aimee horgan

    I lived in Sydney for close to 4 years and would you believe didn’t do the amazing great ocean road (I did just about everything else) but said I’d save one of the best so that I’d return. Your photos are stunning.

  3. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    I have heard enough about the Great Ocean Road to know that I wanted to visit. Hearing about Apollo Bay & Cape Otway gives me a specific destination. 65 miles isn’t a bad walk, especially if we can find accommodations along the way. I am all about backpacking (where you actually carry a tent and not just drinking in a cheap shared room with a bunch of gap year kids) but it’s kind of a pain to fly around the globe with the appropriate gear. I would much rather walk to a cozy bed and start fresh in the morning. I’ll have to start looking into that.

  4. Pola | Jetting Around

    This reminds me a little bit of California, a little bit of Michigan. I love, love road trips in such surroundings (water + mountains), so I know I’d enjoy this. If I ever make it down under, that is!

  5. Carol Colborn

    We did the Great Ocean Road Trip last June 2017. We saw everything you saw except for those Falls!

    1. Tami Post author

      In this part of Australia, temperatures are pretty temperate. The coolest season is winter, which is June to August. But really, a road trip like this could be done year-round.

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