The Great Ocean Road is the most famous coastal road in Australia and meanders along sheer limestone cliff tops, spectacular jutting headlands beside the edge of pristine beaches. Passing the iconic Twelve Apostles and other amazing natural features carved into the expansive coastline the Great Ocean Road is a road trip to remember.
Days – 1, 2 & 3 – Melbourne CBD
Although officially the Great Ocean Road starts in Geelong, Melbourne is the ideal start to the trip as it provides the contrast of a big city with the quiet of the small towns dotted along the Great Ocean Road. Melbourne is a city renowned for its food, shopping, sporting culture and nightlife. Explore the cobblestone laneways, dine in the world class restaurants or browse through the many unique boutiques and galleries. Melbourne offers a plethora of sites and activities to suit all interests. The Werribee Open Range Zoo is a must see along with Federation Square and the Southgate River Precinct. Surrounding areas include the beautiful Yarra Valley, the majestic Dandenongs and the picturesque Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula. Melbourne CBD hotels are numerous and range from budget to luxury 5 star hotels. There are also backpackers, holiday parks and serviced apartments readily available for travellers.
Day 4 – Melbourne to Lorne (142km)
The easy two hour drive from Melbourne to Lorne passes through Geelong which is a great place to stop for a break. Walk along the waterfront esplanade and view the painted sculptures, which tell the history of Geelong. From here, head to Lorne, passing by the famous Bells Beach, well known for its annual international surf competition, the ‘Rip Curl Pro’. Lorne is a cosmopolitan seaside resort, popular with surfers and offers a large array of restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars. The surrounding Otway National Park is famous for its magnificent ‘tall trees’ and is a haven for koalas. The beaches surrounding Lorne are beautiful and the surf is some of the best in Australia. Lorne accommodation is plentiful and varied and caters to all budgets and requirements. Visit the Lorne Visitor Information Centre for a comprehensive list of available accommodation.
Day 5 – Lorne to Apollo Bay (45km)
The stretch of road between Lorne and Apollo Bay is some of the most picturesque coastal road in Australia. On one side of the road is spectacular coastline and on the other, lush forests. Koala spotting on this road is a highlight, along with watching the dolphins play in the waves. Apollo Bay is a sleepy coastal town, revolves around the fishing and tourist industries. Enjoy some of the local seafood at one of the cosy cafes or restaurants, shop for art or peruse the weekly markets for arts, crafts and fresh produce. There are several Apollo Bay hotels along with a range of other styles of accommodation available for tourists.
Day 6 – Apollo Bay to Warrnambool (160km)
The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard and the London Bridge are along this section of the Great Ocean Road and are a must see. Allow time to walk out to the vantage points to see these spectacular natural features as they are not all visible from the road. A detour inland to the Otway Fly Treetop Walk offers a unique look at the tall tree rainforest from elevated walkways built in the rainforest canopy. Warrnambool is a large town with a long and interesting maritime history. Visit the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village for a look back in time. Accommodation in Warrnambool ranges from caravan parks to luxury hotels and is suitable for all styles of travellers.
Day 7 – Warrnambool to Portland (100km)
Continue along the Great Ocean Road past Port Fairy to Portland. In Portland, ride the historic tram and take the Seal Tour at Cape Bridgewater, 20km west, and see the largest mainland seal colony in Australia. Portland has a rich maritime history, a thriving fishing industry, excellent surf beaches and an abundance of restaurants and cafes. Portland accommodation is easy to find, although booking ahead in the summer months is essential.
Day 8 – Portland to Mount Gambier (115km)
Officially the Great Ocean Road ends at Nelson, on the Victorian and South Australian border, roughly halfway between Portland and Mount Gambier, as from here the road heads inland. Visit the famous Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, situated in one of three extinct volcanic craters. The lake famously changes colour from steel blue in winter to brilliant turquoise blue in summer. The World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves National Park is also well worth visiting, and is home to some of the most spectacular limestone caves in Australia. Accommodation in Mount Gambier is varied and caters to all budgets and needs, the local tourist information centre provides a list of available accommodation and can even organise it for you.
Day 9 – Mount Gambier to Adelaide (435km)
Adelaide is a small city, boasting colonial architecture and surrounded by beautiful parkland. Its laidback lifestyle and gourmet food and wine make it a great city to visit. The coastal town of Glenelg, (one of Adelaide’s most popular suburbs) is a popular tourist destination and is dotted with trendy cafes and interesting shops. Being a capital city, hotels in Adelaide are plentiful, and offer a variety of accommodation styles, facilities and services.