The second installment of the posts on road tripping on an Australia’s Great Ocean Road tour. Australia’s most famous road tour routes. I recently shared the first installment a few weeks ago which included a video with views of the 12 Apostles from a Helicopter.
The pictures in this post are from ground level while driving through the famous B100 road and wheezing past cute seaside towns, postcard picture kangaroos in open fields, tree-hugging koala bears and those beautiful beaches that we are used to seeing on Home and Away. The beaches are plenty! Many you will have all to yourselves this beautiful stretch of the road gives you.
Great Ocean Road is one of those Road trips that you have to do in a lifetime. Even if you are limited on time, at the very least, a Great Ocean Road trip itinerary for 1 day is a must! The history behind the road is also beautiful in itself in that is serves as a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War 1. It was built by returned servicemen who upon return, many had no jobs and lacked the skills to get back into work.
It was through campaigning and lobbying by Alderman Howard Hitchcock to bring about the idea to get the servicemen involved in this audacious task of building this road and bring about an end in the isolation of many of the little towns in this part of the country. It’s quite sad that he never actually got to see the end of it. However, it is said that they drove his casket road the whole stretch of the B100 Great Ocean Road.
The Perfect Great Ocean Road Itinerary For 1 Day
I would strongly advise you leave as early as possible if doing this tour via self-drive. Instead of embarking on the trip on my own as my friend wasn’t going to join me, I opted to do a full-day tour of GOR instead to save me having to drive for hours on my own. The tour lasts about 10-12 hours. I left my friend’s place where I was staying at in Melbourne at 6.30am and rode the tram to the tour offices. We then set off around 7am driving past quiet beaches, charming little towns, coast-hugging lighthouses, snaking through forests of eucalyptus trees.
We had a chatty Australian tour guide giving us the round down of a little history of Australia. From how the Aboriginal lost most of their land, to how most of the Koala bears have chlamydia to the best surfing spots in Australia, as well as how surfing has spawned some of the best sports surfing brands out there.
If you are able to do this road trip and take your time over, say, 2-3 days, I would highly recommend it. On this occasion, though I only had time for a one-day road trip. Which was supplemented by other road trips around Sorrento, Geelong, Yarra Valley and a few other spots that I can’t quite recall the names of? You can read about my other adventures in Australia’s Sydney on the blog. If you decide to the longer version of this trip check out this handy guide on places to stay along Great Ocean Road.
First Stop: Torquay and Bells Beach
The first stop is the surf centric town of Torquay which marks the beginning of Great Ocean Road. If you are doing a tour, you may have a quick stop here that may allow leaving the bus to check out Bells Beach. Belles’s Beach is located on the southern coast of Victoria and near Torquay. This is where you will find the world’s best surfers carving up the waves. This is also where the Rip Curl Surfing Competition is held.
If you are on a self guided tour, you have the option for a longer stop as well as take advantage of what is on offer. Here you can also learn to surf in Torquay, home of Australian surfing. Lessons range from about 2 hours for about £35, which is not a bad price.
Pass Through Cute Towns And Villages Along Surf Coast
With only one day, there is not enough time to see everything, so you pass through Anglesea where the Marine National Park is located, the skip through Airneys Inlet where Split Point Lighhouse is located.
Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
The historic Memorial Arch marks the start of the Great Ocean Road. Pretty much all tours will stop here for people to take pictures and as the Arch is on the coast, right next to it is a lovely beach to check and stretch your legs from the long drive from Melbourne.
Next Stop: Kennett River To View Wild Koalas
Kennett River is located halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road. This is a quick stop for a toilet break and of course, check out the native animals are certainly. You can spot koalas, king parrots, rosellas and kookaburras here. Many are around the trees and perfect for a little selfie with the cute furry bears in the background. From here it is onwards towards Apollo Bay.
Cape Otway Lightstation
While there are plenty of attractions along Great Ocean Road, you cannot miss a stop to visit Cape Otway Lightstation. This is Australia’s most important lighthouse and established in 1848 above Bass Straight. There is a cafe here also known as the Lightkeeper’s Kitchen, with limited options but nonetheless offers a nice stop to refresh.
You can also experience the thrill of going up the spiral stairs in the lighthouse to the balcony offering amazing views of the rugged coastlines. If you are lucky you can also spot whales frolicking in the water below.
Drive To Port Campbell To Explore The Main Attractions Of Great Ocean Road
After a quick lunch from Cape Otway, is a drive towards Port Campbell National Park. This is where many of the must-see attractions on Great Ocean Road are located and all very close by to each other. Not to see are:
The 12 Apostles
The name was given to limestone rock formations which have been carved out of the headland by the fierce waves of the Southern Ocean. The erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland began 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs. The 12 Apostles are located a cool 275 kilometres west of Melbourne, but even the four-hour-long drive doesn’t deter visitors. The rock formations have been shaped by nature into stacks that rise up majestically on the dramatic coastline. While you are here, I highly recommend taking the scenic helicopter of Great Ocean Road. Check out my post for more details.
Located only 6 kilometres west of Port Campbell, this natural rock formation was formed through erosion, much like the 12 Apostles at its best during rough seas when the waves crash in and around the arch. For great photo ops, take in an excellent view back towards the 12 Apostles.
Witness London Bridge, originally a natural archway and tunnel in an offshore rock formation, however, it collapsed in 1990 and became a bridge without a middle.
Loch Ard Gorge
Stand on top of the cliff and you’ll be amazed at the sheer size of the cliffs and the narrow opening out to sea at the Loch Ard Gorge. In rough weather the crashing waves put on quite a show.
Take 86 steps down to the beach below to be dwarfed by the 70-metre high vertical cliff line. Walk along the beach to the enormous offshore rock stacks – Gog and MaGog.
Alternative Itineraries For Great Ocean Road
If you have more time or doing a self-drive, you can add many more attractions to your itinerary for the beautiful coastal road trip.
Great Ocean Road Itinerary of 2 Days: If you have two days to do the road trip, rent a car add Bays of Islands and Bay and Martyrs which is located west of Peterborough and just a little beyond Port Campbell. Also right at the start of Great Ocean Road, you can also add Rainforest Walk to your itinerary, explore the Great Otway National Park.
Great Ocean Road Itinerary of 3 Days: You could literally spend a few hours in the town of Lorne which has 10 beautiful waterfalls all within 10 minutes of town in addition to the above. In addition, to could hit up all the cool look out points between Torquay and Lorne; Belles Beach, Point Addis, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Cinema Point, and then between Lorne and Apollo Bay there is Mt Defiance, Cape Patton Lookout, Marriners, The Gable and many other depending on your planning.
What To Pack For Your Great Ocean Road Tour
- Wear comfortable clothing and if visiting during warmer months, wear loose clothing that can be layered for when the temperature drops int the evening.
- Bring a bottle of water and a snack or two. Even though you will stop for lunch and refreshments, this is a long drive when there may not be a lot of opportunities to shop.
- Wear comfortable shoes that can also easily take on and off as you will be walking in sand and up and down steps to get to some of the viewpoints.
- Bring a bathing suit and quick dry towel as you may want to partake in surfing lessons, the last thing you want is to start hunting for a swimsuit or trunks.
- Bring battery/power bank and additional USB cable to charge any additional gadgets you might have.
- Pack a hat and some suncream, the sun in Australia can be relentless.
- Of course, pack a camera!
Tips on booking your Great Ocean Road tour
- First, things first, this is not a drive I would recommend doing alone, its pretty long and tiring even with a group, let alone taking to this long coastal road alone. If you do, please make sure to take lots of breaks to rest along the way.
- If you are In Melbourne then head to the Visitor Centre in Federation Square. They have plenty of leaflets on just about any tour you can do in Melbourne.
- Pick up the leaflets and compare how many stops are included in the tour. Most will include the rainforest, a couple of beach stops or surfing stop, a stop at the lighthouse, Gibson Steps, Loch Arch Gorge and the 12 Apostles.
- Check out the price of adding a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles. The helicopters used are the same but some tour companies will charge between $99AUD or $130AUS.
- The Visitor Center are usually only allocated a number of seats by the tour companies as they also sell tickets for the same tours. So if you happen to find that the places are sold out for the tour you want when booking from the Visitor Center, then book directly with the tour company as they may still have a spot for that tour from their own allocation.
- For example, if each tour has about 10 places, they may sell 5 or 6 places from the Visitor Center while they also hold and sell the other spots left. You can also check out day trip tours on Get Your Guideand Viator.
Great Ocean Road Accommodations | Where to stay great ocean road
There is plenty of beautiful scenery as you explore The great Ocean Road so naturally, you will want to stop and explore. This will mean stay overnight along this stretch of the coastline. There are a few towns along the way to make the choice easier. I would love to re-do this trip as I met a couple of people who were doing Great Ocean Road tour on a much slower pace.
There are plenty of options for where to stay. From camping,Airbnb, guesthouses, hotels, and hostels. If you are self-driving, this is a long journey I would highly recommend at a minimum doing an alternative to one day and doing 2 days itinerary of Great Ocean Road instead, this way you can add a bit more to your itinerary as well as to not rush through the one-day itinerary because you don’t have a lot of time or have the pressure of returning the car.
Another option for those that prefer to rent motor homes, there are plenty of caravan parks along the route where you can park up, rest and refresh.
How To Get To Great Ocean Road
If you are doing a tour, you really dont have to worry about how to get to Great Ocean Road but if you are doing a self-guided, self-drive tour of Great Ocean Road, the journey is fairly easy. My friend and I had done have of it by rental car before taking a detour to Gunamatta Beach. So, by car from Melbourne to Great Ocean Road, you simply take the Princess Freeway and Geelong Ring Road to read the Surf Coast, Great Ocean Road and beyond.
If you are choosing to fly in, the best airport is Melbourne and from here you can collect a rental car and go exploring.
For getting to Great Ocean Road by public transport, there are trains that run regularly between Melbourne and Geelong, Colac, Warrnambool and from there you can take the buses that run the coastal route. I would only advise this if you have a longer flexible itinerary and are staying along the route because you need to factor in waiting times for the buses in addition to what time places close along the route.
Planning A Trip To Australia? Also Read:
- How To Plan A Trip To Australia
- Top Tips For Solo Travel In Australia
- The Perfect Itinerary For Sydney And Melbourne Combined
- How To Spend 2 Days In Sydney
- The Best Weekends From Sydney
- Where To Stay In Sydney For Tourists
- How To Spend One Week In Melbourne
- The Best Brunch Spots In Melbourne
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