One of the most spectacular coastal stretches of road in the world is the Great Ocean Road. Located in the Australian state of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road starts just 1.5 hours drive south west of Melbourne in the town of Torquay and runs for about 250km to Warrnambool.
A drive on the Great Ocean Road takes you along the rugged weather smashed coast and through ancient coastal rainforest. Around every bend you’ll see sights more and more spectacular than the last.
Before you create an itinerary and decide how long you should spend in the region, check out this list of things to see on the Great Ocean Road. I’ve listed it in order travelling from Torquay in the east to Warrnambool in the west.
Great Ocean Road Map
To help you get orientated, here is simple map of the Great Ocean Road showing the main towns and sights along the route.
When thinking about what to do on the Great Ocean Road first, a stop at this world famous surf beach makes sense. Bells Beach is home to the Ripcurl Pro surfing competition each year and is known for its huge waves. There are some spectacular viewing platforms at either end of the beach where you can pull in and watch the never ending cycle of massive waves roll in and the surfers brave enough to ride them.
One of the coolest towns along the Great Ocean Road is Lorne. Whether you make it an overnight stop or just stop by on your way through to stretch the legs and grab a bite to eat, you will easily see the charm this little town has. The main streets is lined with drool worthy cafes and surfer stores for you to browse. Make sure you take the time to walk down to the Lorne Swing Bridge which runs over the Erskine River.
Kennett River Koala Walk
The Kennett River Koala walk winds along Grey River Road through heavily populated gum trees in the Otway Rainforest. If you have not seen a koala in the wild before, then a walk here gives you a pretty good chance of doing just that with this being one of the best places in Australia to see them in the wild.
Mariners Lookout, Apollo Bay
Located on private land with access made available to the public by the generous owners, Mariners Lookout has some pretty spectacular views over the town and Apollo Bay and across the stunning coastline. A great spot to enjoy sunrise or sunset if you happen to spending the night in Apollo Bay.
Want to get down on the beach and look up at the vertical 70 metre limestone cliffs that line this part of the coast? Then you’ll need to venture down the Gibson Steps, one of my top picks for things to do on the Great Ocean Road. Depending on the tide and weather, you can walk down the 86 steps to marvel at these cliffs and see some of the 12 Apostles from the ground.
While only seven of the original 12 Apostles remain, a stop at the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road should definitely be top of your list. These limestone stacks were formed millions of years ago by erosion due to the harsh conditions in the Southern Ocean. At the Visitors Centre you can learn more about them as well as walk out on the viewing platforms to get the best views. I highly recommend trying to come both during the day and at sunset on nice day to get the full effect.
Loch Ard Gorge
One of the top attractions on the Great Ocean Road, walk down into the gorge and onto the beach to get a close up look of the limestone cliffs where one of the regions most well known shipwrecks occurred. If you happen to be down there at dusk, you might be lucky enough to witness thousands of Muttonbirds flocking home to their burrows in the limestone.
Mutton Bird Island Lookout
To get to Mutton Bird Island Lookout it is 2.4km walk each way from the Loch Ard Gorge Carpark. The island is a high piece of sandstone standing about 40 metres tall out of the ocean and was formed over 200 million years ago by ocean debris and rough seas. This is one of the loveliest lookouts along the Great Ocean Road and a little less packed then some of the more popular spots.
The Thunder Cave is one of the funnest attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Water rushes deep under the gorge and then makes a loud booming sound as it tries to escape through the narrow gorge and back out again.
Port Campbell Lookout
Another must stop town along the Great Ocean Road is Port Campbell and it is also a great place to stay the night on your journey as it is surrounded by all the top attractions. While you are there, check out the Port Campbell Lookout which provides lovely views over this picture perfect town and the Southern Ocean and coastline beyond.
Exactly as you would expect, this attraction is an arched rock formation of limestone leading from the cliffs out into the ocean. Check out the two viewing platforms for different view points and see the waves crashing around below, you’ll be wondering how long it will be before the narrow arch gives way into the ocean.
This is my personal favourite, London Bridge. Now cut off from the mainland after its collapse in 1990, the London Bridge gets its name from the bridge in London of the same name because of its similarity (pre-collapse of course). The lookout point here has some of the best beach and coastline views along the Great Ocean Road.
Winding stairs lead you down into a sinkhole geological formation where you will find a stunning tidal pool at the right time of day. Make sure you also stop at the above viewing point to get a fantastic birds eye view of this incredible structure.
Bay of Martyrs
A quick stop at the lookout here on your way through offers great views of the bay and rugged coastline. This is also a popular spot for fishing and for the brave, swimming along the eastern part of the beach, probably the best of the beaches on the Great Ocean Road.
Bay of Islands
This massive bay is litter with limestone stacks, similar to the 12 Apostles but smaller, that are constantly being hammered by waves crashing around them. It is quite mesmerising to spend time sitting and enjoying the view of the full force of the ocean.
Accommodation on the Great Ocean Road
While visiting the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne in one day is achievable (albeit a really long day), I highly recommend allowing yourself at least one or two nights to truly immerse yourself in the amazing surroundings and stretch your legs on a few walks.
There are a number of towns along the Great Ocean Road with plenty of accommodation options available for all budgets and tastes. Here are my suggestions in Port Campbell and Apollo Bay, two of the best places to stay on the Great Ocean Road because they are towns perfectly positioned near some of the best sights on the Great Ocean Road making them the perfect towns to base yourself in.
Budget – NRMA Port Campbell Holiday Park
Mid-Range – Port Campbell Parkview Motel
Luxury – Southern Ocean Villas
Budget – Apollo Bay Eco YHA
Mid-Range – Seaview Motel
Luxury – Beacon Point Ocean View Villas
Over to you!
Which of these things to see on the Great Ocean Road is top of your list? Have I missed anything?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.