4 days, 720km, 13hrs driving
Spread this iconic Australian drive over three nights on a round trip from Melbourne.
The Great Ocean Road is an approximately 250km long highway running along the southern coast of Victoria, Australia. Whilst this trip can be completed in one busy day, a return trip spread out over four days lets you spend more time seeing sights, experience the route in both directions, and gives you the chance to head inland to some of the gorgeous countryside and attractions that most people will miss.
▐ Day 1 – Melbourne to Apollo Bay (~200km, ~3.5hrs)
▐ Day 2 – Apollo Bay to Port Campbell (~130km, ~2.5hrs)
▐ Day 3 – Port Campbell to Melba Gully (~150km, ~2.5hrs)
▐ Day 4 – Melba Gully to Melbourne (~250km, ~4.5hrs)
Click on thumbnails for enlarged image:
B100 – (Great Ocean Rd, Surf Coast Highway)
C119 – (Skenes Creek Rd)
C159 – (Beech Forest-Lavers Hill Rd)
C155 – (Colac-Lavers Hill Rd)
C162 – (Timboon-Port Campbell Rd)
C166 – (Princetown Rd)
C157 – (Lighthouse Rd)
Starting in Melbourne , make your way straight for Torquay, the official start of the Great Ocean Road, . The icon on the map is the Esplanade, a street with a nice introductory view of the coastline. Continue along to Airey’s Inlet, home to Split Point Lighthouse made famous by the classic Australian show ‘Round the Twist’. The drive really starts to get impressive approaching Lorne, and there are brilliant views all the way along to Apollo Bay . There are several places to pull over for a picture, and it is easiest to do so driving in this direction, so any spot you can pull over and fancy a photo, take the opportunity. Before you reach Apollo Bay, drive up to Marriner’s Lookout for a short walk and fantastic view of the bay. Apollo Bay is one of the larger towns along the road, so it can be a good spot to grab some dinner and stay for the night. Stock up on snacks, water and sandwiches for the next few days of exploring.
After breakfast in Apollo Bay , it is time to head inland to the Otway Forest. Turn off the Great Ocean Road to , the road gets windy here, but gives you a great taste of the diversity of the area, changing from rocky coastline to temperate rainforest. Turn onto , the road is very tight here, barely even enough to be considered two-way at times, so taking it slowly is best. If you feel like a walk, head to Beauchamp Falls , it takes about 1 hr to complete. The road to the carpark is unsealed. Head on to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures , (http://www.otwayfly.com/), where you can do a wonderful elevated platform walk amongst huge rainforest trees, or zipline tour. If you feel like a quieter walk, Triplet Falls , is one to consider, just a few kilometres down the road, of which some is unsealed. The next item on the list is the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. Transfer from the to , and then make your way back to . Parking at the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre , you can walk to the lookout to grab your postcard-worthy photo. There are other great walks a bit further up the road including, Loch and Gorge , Razorback, and The Blowhole. All can be done in one round trip, and it is well worth staying out for a sunset. Port Campbell has enough dining options to choose from, and staying somewhere around this area will work well for the next day.
If you missed out on good weather last evening, there is no reason not to head back out to the 12 Apostles and try your luck again. If you are happy to continue, keep going along to London Bridge and Bay of Islands . Although not technically the end of the Great Ocean Road, for me this is the last worthwhile stop along the way, and it is also where the road heads back inland anyway. Today’s route has a more foodie focus, with worthwhile stops at Timboon Cheesery (great for breakfast/lunch), Timboon Railway Shed Distillery , Timboon Fine Ice Cream (same location), Apostle Whey Cheese , and GORGE Chocolates . For a more comprehensive list and further details, visit (http://visit12apostles.com.au/food-wine/12-apostles-gourmet-trail/). The roads along the way are fantastic, and show off the lush green farmland of the area. After the last stop at GORGE Chocolates, you again have the option to head back to the 12 Apostles , and also see if the Gibson Steps are open. These are often closed due to inclement weather. If they are open, definitely take the chance to head down to the sand and see the Apostles from ground level. The next stop is Melba Gully , where you have the chance to see glow worms at night. It is recommended to stay somewhere around this area for the night to reduce the amount of night driving.
The last day can be used to fill the gaps that you may have missed. The first stop from Melba Gully is the lighthouse at Cape Otway Lightstation (http://www.lightstation.com/tours/). The road to the Lightstation had plenty of wildlife apparent when I went including koala bears. Although not amazingly tall, the Lightstation has historical significance dating back to WWII. The surrounding park is filled with historic sites and is worthy of spending at least an hour. Entry fee to the Lightstation park is roughly $20 AUD. From here it is back to Melbourne, driving eastwards along the Great Ocean Road. The Wye General Store has fantastic meat and chicken pies, and is a great final pit stop on the way back to Melbourne .