Great Ocean Road Trip
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Great Ocean Road Trip

I am going to let you into a secret. A secret which, as a born and bread Aussie, I am not proud to be admitting. After almost 21 years in this glorious sun kissed country I have never done the Great Ocean Road. Well, had never done it. Because this weekend I * finally * knuckled down and got down to exploring one of Australia’s best attractions.

 

Over three days this Great Ocean Road Trip unfolded. Although the road itself is 243 kilometres, my journey went a little further on each side. The sheer cliffs, moody turquoise ocean, outstanding 12 Apostles, and the occasional waterfall make this a road trip to never be missed.

 

However I will warn you that just like the rest of Australia, the Great Ocean Road is not that cheap to explore. The distances are long and the accommodation is pricey, so if you’re on a budget then you will need to allocate some time to researching the cheapest option.

 

Anyway here goes – my 2 night Great Ocean Road itinerary. Going Melbourne – Melbourne. 

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

 


Day 1 – Melbourne to Warrnambool/Port Fairy 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary
Port Fairy Lighthouse by Lakshmi Wijeyewickrema

 

The Great Ocean Road is usually started from the modern metropolis of Melbourne. It is best to leave Melbourne late morning so you can enjoy the drive to Warrnambool without feeling too stressed. The drive is approximately 3 hours one way.

Tip: this is the “reverse” way to do the Great Ocean Road but it pays off – trust me. When you actually begin the Great Ocean Road it means you will be travelling in the opposite way to most traffic (i.e. tourist buses) so there will be less people at attractions and fewer annoying drivers.

Warrnambool is a splendid town which hugs the unspoiled coast of southern Victoria. It is worth allocating some time to exploring the town centre and the impressive beach. I loved picking up some fish and chips and eating them while watching the sunset at Logan’s Beach.

I would strongly recommend visiting Port Fairy as well. It is smaller than Warrnambool and much more quaint. The colonial architecture infused with beach vibes is something unique. Port Fairy is dotted with amazing cafés and brunch spots. Make sure you have an early morning dip at the beach as well – it’s super refreshing. Spending some time in Port Fairy soaking up the atmosphere and the good coffee is strongly recommended. Port Fairy is only a 20 minute drive from Warrnambool so you could either spend the night here or visit it during your time in Warrnambool.

Great Ocean Road itinerary
Enjoying an early morning swim in Port Fairy


Day 2 – Warrnambool/Port Fairy to Apollo Bay 

This is where the proper Great Ocean Road begins and most of the famous landmarks can be explored. This is also where you will realise how much doing it in reverse pays off as you will encounter few tourists at the start of this trip. You can wake up and have a slow morning enjoying the food and coffee in Port Fairy as leaving around 11:30am is ideal. The total drive time for this journey is about 3 hours, but it will take much longer because you will be constantly stopping to enjoy the vistas.

From Warrnambool/Port Fairy you will drive towards Port Campbell, and just before Port Campbell the fun really begins. Along the Great Ocean Road there are so many turn offs for viewing. You will need to choose the ones that you think you want to see the most or you will be there for an eternity. I will list the places I went to and recommend but there are certainly other look outs to enjoy.

Bay of Islands

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

 

The Bay of Islands one of the most incredible places to visit on the journey. It is almost a mini Twelve Apostles. With sheer cliffs and towering limestone stacks jutting out from the swirling turquoise ocean, this is a breathtaking stop. If you are visiting the Bay of Islands, you will only need about 15 minutes to enjoy the view.

 

You can also enjoy similar views from the nearby Bay of Martyrs. 

The Grotto

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Stop off at the Grotto if you want something a little bit different. Instead of walking along cliff edges and marvelling at the ocean, at the Grotto you actually head down the cliff for something a little different. It is difficult to describe the Grotto because it’s a bit of a combination of things: a blowhole, a cliff, an arch, a rock pool, a bay… you kind of have to see this one to understand it. Seeing the Grotto will take about 15 minutes.

London Bridge

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

London Bridge is a must-see to add to any Great Ocean Road itinerary. It is also now known as London Arch because the piece of land connecting it to the cliff collapsed in 1990. But irrespective of whether you want to call it an arch or a bridge, you will definitely be calling it epic. The towering rock formation is spectacular and the nearby cliffs are arguably the sheerest of the road trip. Allocate around 15-20mins for exploring London Bridge.

Loch Ard Gorge

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

Loch Ard Gorge is incredibly close to the Twelve Apostles and is a worthy stop. There are several walks that stem from the carpark and I would recommend doing most of them. The Gorge itself is stunning and the beach can be accessed via a set of stairs. One of the paths takes you to the site of a shipwreck and there is plenty of information about the tragedy.

From the Loch Ard Gorge carpark it is possible to walk to the Razorback rock formation which is stunning and you can enjoy views over Island Arch as well. There is certainly a lot to do at Loch Ard Gorge so be sure you don’t miss it! Allocate a good 45 minutes for enjoying this site.

 

Twelve Apostles

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

Great Ocean Road Itinerary

 

This is the big ticket item — and it deserves this accolade. The Twelve Apostles (although only eight remain now) make up on of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. The towers are striking and rise dramatically from the stunning blue waters. Prepare yourself for a lot of tourists here (and a complicated car parking situation). It is definitely worth spending about 45 minutes at the Twelve Apostles, and if you like you can also walk down and getting a fantastic view from below.

After you finish up at the Twelve Apostles it is time to continue driving along to the seaside town of Apollo Bay. It is a well-deserving tourist hotspot and a relaxing place to spend the night. Enjoy the splendid Apollo Bay beach or head to a nearby one at Skenes Creek. Enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants along the beachfront (or try one of the famous scallop pies from the bakery!).

Around the Apollo Bay area is a hotspot for koalas so keep your eyes peeled! I was lucky enough to spot these two out the front of the Airbnb and it was an amazing experience.


 

 


Day 3 – Apollo Bay to Melbourne 

Great Ocean Road itinerary

Enjoy a bit of a sleep in before embarking on the final day of driving on the Great Ocean Road. Today you will see some famous (and drop dead gorgeous) Australian beach locations. The drive itself is stunning as you meander through the Great Otway National Park and along curvy cliffside road. As you drive this section of the road you will be constantly looking out to vast the ocean.

The road continues on towards Lorne via Wye River. Lorne is a spectacular location to stop off and enjoy a splendid example of Australian beaches. Many people spill out along the beach soaking up the warm sun and splashing in the refreshing lapping waves. There are a lot of fantastic cafés and restaurants in Lorne — you will be spoilt for choice! I enjoyed the pies at the Louttit Bay Bakery, and Chopstix had the best spicy tuna sushi I have enjoyed in a long time (and amazing smoothies too).

From Lorne you can visit Erskine Falls which is a part of the Great Otway National Park and well worth visiting.

After Lorne the road continues to Torquay where there is another spectacular beach to enjoy and a surf culture to lap up. Once you reach Torquay you have reached the official end of the Great Ocean Road and it is time to head back to Melbourne. I decided to add a stop to Geelong before driving to Melbourne but this is totally optional.

 


Been along the Great Ocean Road or have questions? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

 


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Follow Travel Textbook - Lucy:

Founder of Travel Textbook, Medical student

Lucy is a 21-year-old medical student who wants to cure disease, but not her travel bug. She is addicted to caffeine, documentaries and jetting off around the world, and one day wishes to set foot in every country. She writes to help other young people find the inspiration and information necessary to explore the world and its cultures.

28 Responses

  1. Ramon Pastelero
    | Reply

    Wow, great shots and nice trip! I did the Great Ocean road a few years ago (when I lived for a bit in your beautiful country as a student) but didn’t see all those places you visited! I suppose you could say I rushed it with my friend. We were in a campervan and slept on the road, did it in 2 days I think, but did NOT see the waterfalls… did see the Twelve Apostles though and the drive is just stunning!! 😀 Wanting to see half the world’s countries in 4 years WHILE being a med student sounds like a bit of a feat! 🙂 Good luck Lucy!

    • Awesome! Where were you studying? I’m at Monash University at the moment.

      The 12 Apostles are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see more of Victoria — I’ve been living here for two years without a car so need to get one and get exploring.

  2. Eemma
    | Reply

    Beautiful photos! I have never been to Australia, but have heard an awful lot about the 12 apostles , rightfully so, they are gorgeous. I have however seen the 12 apostles in Cape Town, South Africa. Who had the name first? Thanks for sharing your itinerary and tips! It seems like a great idea to do the trip backwards. Are there any areas to camp along the way? Thanks!

  3. April
    | Reply

    Your photos are so beautiful and the place is magnificent!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Road trips are the best! 🙂

  4. Eemma Iseman
    | Reply

    Beautiful photos! I have never been to Australia, but have heard an awful lot about the 12 apostles , rightfully so, they are gorgeous. I have however seen the 12 apostles in Cape Town, South Africa. Who had the name first? Thanks for sharing your itinerary and tips! It seems like a great idea to do the trip backwards. Are there any areas to camp along the way? Thanks!

    • They are gorgeous! Ooh one day I will have to visit the ones in Cape Town. There are several places to camp along the Great Ocean Road and a couple of them are free!

  5. You’re very lucky to have seen these sights on what seems to be a perfect day 🙂 We visited those same sights last November and the weather was just not the most ideal, but the sights were still breathtaking!

    • It was amazing weather but I got so sunburned! That’s a shame – you’ll have to come and do it again 😛

  6. Michelle
    | Reply

    Planning to go there very soon – had no idea it was such a long drive so your pics and list of the stops you recommend are really useful thank you!

    • It can definitely be done a lot quicker than I did it, but it’s always nice to do it slowly because there is so much to see! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  7. I really like to go to Australia. I will include this one on my bucket list. You took really beautiful pictures. My favorite is the twelve apostles 🙂

  8. Ioanna
    | Reply

    Isn’t it true that we often know least the places we come from? 😀
    That area looks absolutely stunning! I like the Grotto in particular, but all of the cliffs and rock formations are just breath-taking. I’ve never been in that part of the world (I’m from Europe), but I hope one day I can see it!
    Have a good one!
    Ioanna
    A Woman Afoot

    • 100% true! I definitely need to see more of Australia. The Grotto is one of the best spots on the road for sure. You should come to Australia one day!!

  9. Gokul Raj
    | Reply

    What a paradise. The Grotto is a real marvel. The shots of the cliffs look really nice.

  10. Lynne Sarao
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you had never done that road trip before! If I lived somewhere so stunningly beautiful I’d be driving up and down that road every weekend! Your photos are so gorgeous! Now I want to go and do the same!

    • I know it’s crazy!! Sometimes when you live somewhere it is so easy to forget how beautiful it is. Definitely need to make a commitment to see more of my own country!

  11. Victoria Hawkins
    | Reply

    Australia is one of my dream destinations , I cannot wait to get the chance to visit! Thanks for sharing your trip itinerary and tips! I hope to make the most of any trip I make Down under.

    • It is an amazing country to explore! I really hope you can make it down here one day and do the Great Ocean Road for yourself 🙂

  12. Eena
    | Reply

    This is just one of the most interesting blog entries that I have read! And it’s just amazing to read some diversity, also, the places and photographs are breathtaking!

  13. Matt
    | Reply

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the internet. I am going to recommend this site!

  14. Alice
    | Reply

    Hi, Lucy! I read your blog, and it is breathtaking. You have wonderfully described the journey, and I am pleased to read every bit of it. Thank you for sharing this useful information about traveling to Great Ocean.

    • Thanks Alice 🙂 I hope one day you can visit the Great Ocean Road – it really is a spectacular journey!

  15. Jamie
    | Reply

    Wow that’s crazy you hadn’t done it! I’ve lived in Australia just 3 years and have done that drive 7 times. LOL! It amazed me when I moved to Australia how little the Aussies travel in their own country. 🙂

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