The Great Ocean Road is one of the best known stretches of road in Australia. It is 243 km (151 miles) long and winds along some of the most rugged and picturesque coastline of Victoria. Starting at Torquay you pass through some great beach-side towns and see some of the most scenic pieces of shoreline that Australia has to offer. Here is our ultimate 3 day Great Ocean Road itinerary to help you make the most of your time along this great drive in Australia.
It was built after the war between 1919 and 1932 to provide many of the returned soldiers with a job. The road is dedicated to the soldiers killed during the war and those who built it. There is a memorial to them at the east entrance of the road.
The best time to visit the Great Ocean Road
Anytime is a great time to visit the Great Ocean Road. It is available all year round to travel along. However, the summer months sees the population swell in many of the major towns. This is due to the number of Australians who spend their summer holidays enjoying the coastal life. So summer time will be hot while winter cold. If the day is windy and the seas rough you can see how Mother Nature has carved out this part of Australia’s coastline.
How to travel along the Great Ocean Road
The best way and the only way to travel along the Great Ocean Road is by vehicle. This could be in a car or bus or on a motorbike. If you don’t own a vehicle then you can easily rent one from car rental companies. To see what is available and to get the latest pricing on a rental check here. If you want to sit back and relax in the comfort of a bus and watch the scenery unfold there are plenty of tours available. Have a look at these ones following.
Where to stay along the Great Ocean Road
Accommodation available along the Great Ocean Road is diverse. It ranges from camping grounds to hostels to small hotels to beach houses with spectacular ocean views. There is plenty available however, in the summer months particularly over the school holiday period you will need to book well in advance. A lot of the accommodation is well signposted so you should be able to find it easily.
Let’s get this itinerary started
Day 1 – Melbourne – Torquay – Bells Beach – Lorne
Leaving Melbourne far behind you will travel over the Westgate Bridge, along the Westgate Freeway and pass Geelong. Before arriving at your first stop at the seaside town of Torquay.
Torquay is at the east end of the Great Ocean Road and is a quaint town. it has great beaches, coffee shops and a vibrant beach-side atmosphere. There is excellent shopping of ‘surf’ brands like Rip Curl and Quicksilver at their factories nearby. So you could take a dip in the ocean, maybe learn to surf, do some shopping in the quirky shops or sit in a coffee shop. It is also home to the Australian National Surfing Museum to get you in the mood for the next stop, Bells Beach.
Bells Beach is famous for great surf and hosts the pro surfing competition every Easter. If you are at Bells Beach over Easter you too could see the world’s best if you want to fight the crowds. If not, the beach is accessed by steep stairs so I hope you are feeling fit?
Did the stairs at Bells Beach make you a little thirsty or in need of a sugary pick-me-up? Then follow the signs to the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Once refreshed pass through Anglesea then Aireys Inlet, both seaside towns with eateries, shops, beaches and beautiful scenery. Then on to Lorne.
Lorne is another beachside town and is a very popular surfing spot. It has a well-known arts community. You might want to visit a gallery and the sculpture park. Head up to Teddy’s Lookout which provides sweeping views over the town and along the coast. Take a drive in to the state park to visit Erskine Falls. Set amidst a rainforest with ferns and Bell Birds take the easy walk to the beautiful waterfall.
Lorne has plenty of accommodation available. You could take a drive through the town and see what takes your fancy or you can book ahead. If seeking budget accommodation I can highly recommend the Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park and The Lorne Hotel. For a little more upmarket try the Mantra Lorne. If wanting an apartment I recommend the Lorne Beach Break Apartments. For more options visit Booking.com.
Day 2 – Lorne – Otway National Park – Apollo Bay
Leaving Lorne follow the coastal road through small towns of Separation Creek, Wye River and Kennett River before reaching Apollo Bay. In Apollo Bay head to Mariners Lookout for panoramic views over the ocean.
From Apollo Bay drive into the Otway National Park to spend the afternoon. This national park is home to a 57-mile hiking trail, forest, waterfalls and native wildlife. You may see many koalas in the trees, learn about Aboriginal history and dinosaur fossils. You can walk around the area visiting the buildings to learn about the area, including dinosaur fossils that have been found. If feeling energetic climb to the top of the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Then back to Apollo Bay for the evening.
There are a number of accommodation options available in Apollo Bay from hostels to budget hotels to resorts. If you are wanting a bed in a hostel check out Apollo Bay Hostel. For budget hotel accommodation you might be interested in the Apollo Bay Hotel and Apartments. or maybe a guesthouse such as the Apollo Bay Guesthouse. Visit Booking.com for more accommodation options in Apollo Bay.
Day 3 – Apollo Bay – Twelve Apostles National Park – Warrnambool
From Apollo Bay take the long and windy drive to the Twelve Apostles National Park. This is a must see stop with spectacular coastline where you will see the Twelve Apostles plus many more nature-made landmarks. You may want to take a helicopter ride to truly appreciate the area.
Next stop Loch Ard Gorge where you can walk along the platforms down to the beach to discover about the shipwrecks that happened along the coastline. Yes, it’s not called the Shipwreck Coast for nothing! Leaving the Gorge drive through Port Campbell and on to London Bridge. London Bridge is a natural arch which unfortunately due to erosion has now been separated from the mainland. Spectacular all the same.
From London Bridge take roads back to Melbourne or you could continue to Warnambool for the night. Warnambool is a great place for whale sightings and is also home to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. This great place lets you step back in time and discover the area’s seafaring history. There is a large collection of items from shipwrecks including the famous peacock. This is well worth a visit if you have an extra day to add to our 3 day itinerary.
If you decide to head to Warnambool you will find many accommodation options. If you are seeking budget accommodation in a hostel book a bed ahead with the Warnambool Backpackers. Wanting a hotel room or apartment then I can recommend the Blue Whale Motel and Apartments. There are also options from camping to cabins at the Warnambool Big4 Caravan Park. More options can be found at Booking.com.
The Great Ocean Road should be one of the great road trips you undertake while in Australia. It has beautiful beaches, vibrant seaside towns and lots of natural wonders to visit and see. Whether it is one day or you follow my 3 day itinerary I hope you enjoy the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Hi. I’m Sharyn. I have travelled most of my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. I love coffee, chocolate, eating in pubs and living, working and playing in Australia. I currently call Melbourne home. Read More.