Australia's Most Iconic Road Trip: The Great Ocean Road

Australia's Most Iconic Road Trip: The Great Ocean Road

Chelsea Davies

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's most iconic road trips and for very good reason! The journey is packed with stunning scenery, promises incredible encounters with Australia's wildlife and has quaint seaside towns dotted all along the breathtaking coastline. So grab your car keys and gather your friends for what is guaranteed to be an unforgettable few days.

First stop: Surf’s Up at Torquay


If you're coming from Melbourne, Torquay is where the Great Ocean Road officially begins and a good place to stop for some incredible surfing opportunities. Grab a coffee and admire the views from the immaculately maintained Esplanade before heading down the road to Bell's Beach. Famous across the world for the annual Rip Curl Pro surfing competition, this is a key stop on any surfers' bucket list. Or if you prefer staying on dry land, then sit back and enjoy watching the experts at work!

Next up: Lovely Lorne

Memorial Arch on the Great Ocean Road

En route to the beautiful seaside town of Lorne you will drive under the Memorial Arch at Eastern View.  This was built to honor the returning WWI soldiers who built the road and no stop off is complete without a photo commemorating your journey. Carry on into Lorne, the main resort town along the route since the 19th century, frequented by day and road trippers all year round. The town itself offers an abundance of cafes and restaurants, making it a great place to stop for lunch or even the night. Once you're fed and ready to go again, take a slight detour into the lush rainforest and discover some of the areas many waterfalls such as Erskine Falls.

On to: Koalas and Cape Otway National Park


The road from Lorne to Apollo Bay is often cited at the most picturesque section of the drive. Head off early in the morning to avoid the coach tours and you can pull over and take as many snaps as you like at your own pace. Around the mid-way point between the two towns is the unassuming Grey River Road at Kennett River. Turn in here to experience close hand encounters with dozens of wild koalas, definitely an Aussie experience not to be missed!

After a coffee stop in the quaint town of Apollo Bay, follow the road as it winds inland through the eucalypt forests of the Great Otway National Park. Drive down to the Cape Otway Lighthouse for breathtaking views or continue on to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures for an adrenaline-filled afternoon zip lining through the rainforest.

The main attraction: The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

As the road once again begins to hug the coastline, you are just minutes from the world-famous limestone stacks that are the Twelve Apostles. Formed from million years of coastal erosion, these magnificent towers are what remain of the prehistoric coastline and offer one of most iconic Great Ocean Road panoramas. Admire the scene from the lookout above before heading down the Gibson Steps for a different perspective. For a truly breathtaking experience arrive early enough to witness the sunrise and you'll have the lookout almost all to yourself.

The sights most definitely do not stop here though, with plenty more to see over the next few kilometers. Just three minutes away is Loch Ard Gorge, a stunningly beautiful bay with the bluest water flanked by yellow limestone cliffs. Further along is London Arch, once known as London Bridge before a section collapsed, leaving two unsuspecting tourists waiting for a helicopter ride back to the mainland! The Grotto is another enchanting stop, part-archway, part-cave, it provides a gorgeous framed view out to the sea reflected in the rock pools.

Ending on a high: Whale Spotting in Warrnambool


Enjoy even more impressive coastal views at the Bay of Islands lookout before winding your way to Warrnambool. World famous for its whale spotting opportunities, time your visit right and you could be just 100 metres away from whale calves! From June through to September, female southern right whales make their way from the cold Antarctic to the warmer waters to calve. You can witness them just a few hundred meters from the shore at the purpose-built lookout at Logan's Beach. In fact, keep your eyes peeled right along the whole Great Ocean Road as humpbacks and blue whales also make appearances between May and October.

Carry on to Tower Hill, a wildlife reserve in a now inactive volcano. The 4km wide crater provides the perfect haven for kangaroos, emus and koalas- watch out for the especially inquisitive emus!  Now you've experienced your final nature fix it's time to join the highway for the inland road back to Melbourne. Or, if you've not finished exploring, continue on the less trodden yet equally beautiful journey to Adelaide and discover some of the south coast's hidden gems.

This article was originally published in November 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020

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