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A budget-friendly Great Ocean Road travel guide.
Australia has so many bucket-list-worthy attractions: watch the sunrise over Uluru, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, visit Sydney harbor, pet kangaroos in Western Australia, and the list goes on and on.
The Great Ocean Road almost always has a place on that list, with its rugged cliffs, charming coastal towns, green national parks, and abundance of Australian wildlife.
Driving along the Great Ocean Road, taking in the gorgeous views and watching koalas laze away in Eucalyptus trees, is definitely one of the best things to do in Australia.
For any first-time visitors, here is some useful information to help you plan your trip to this beautiful strip of the Australian coastline.
Great Ocean Road Travel Guide
How To Visit The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is very easy to get to, and all sights are clearly marked with signs.
The road stretches from Torquay in the east all the way to Allansford in the west, covering a total of 243 Kilometers.
For the most flexibility, you’ll want to drive yourself.
If you don’t have your own car, you can rent one in Torquay at the start of your trip. If you are flying into Melbourne, you can hire one there but it might be more expensive.
Great Ocean Road Tours
Or if you’re just traveling and would prefer to book a tour, you can do so through Get Your Guide.
There are plenty of highly-rated tours that leave from Melbourne, and you can easily see all the best sights in one day or stretch it out to a few days and include more sights.
- Great Ocean Road Day Trip from Melbourne
- Two Day Great Ocean Road & Grampians Mountains Trip from Melbourne
- Three Day Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne or Adelaide
The 14 Best Sights To See Along the Great Ocean Road
This will take up the bulk of the Great Ocean Road travel guide.
Because, of course, the sights are the whole point! Here are all my favorite sights and places to stop.
1. Bells Beach
Right at the start of the Great Ocean Road near Torquay is Bells Beach.
This is a world-famous surfing beach, so you can watch the amazing surfers shred the waves or get out there yourself if you’re brave enough!
About 45 minutes down the road from Bells Beach is Lorne, a charming and quaint town.
Lorne’s town center has a few nice cafes, an art gallery and a sculpture park.
Around Lorne you can also find great surfing beaches, forest walking trails, lookout points, and waterfalls.
3. Sheoak Falls
Just after leaving Lorne you’ll see signs for Sheoak Falls off the right side of the road.
Pull over, hike about 20 minutes through the forest, and you’ll find a beautiful waterfall.
If you want, you can continue following the woodland path to see some cool rock formations and more waterfalls.
4. Kennett River
Everyone wants to see koalas on the Great Ocean Road, and Kennett River is the best place to go to ensure you see at least a few.
Koalas pop up unexpectedly throughout Victoria, but there are almost always some in the tall trees in Kennett River.
You can park your car anywhere and walk or drive slowly up Grey River Road. Keep your eyes peeled for the fuzzy gray bodies of koalas that might be sleeping or eating in the trees.
5. Apollo Bay
Apollo Bay is one of the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road.
It has a long and gorgeous beach, a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, and it is surrounded by scenic, rolling green hills.
Mariner’s Lookout offers a stunning view over the entire bay, and it is open from 6 am to 10 pm.
6. Great Otway National Park
This is one of the few sections of the Great Ocean Road where the road curves away from the ocean.
Here, the road heads inland for a bit, cutting through the lush forest of Great Otway National Park.
To see some of the thriving and almost tropical jungle, take a few detours off the road to absorb the greenery.
Drive towards the coast on Lighthouse Road and stop at Cape Otway Lighthouse, or drive inland towards Beech Forest along Binns Road and admire all the massive palms and towering trees.
Or to get the legs moving you can do the 30-minute boardwalk loop called Maits Rest Rainforest Walk.
7. Castle Cove Lookout
After passing the rainforest when the road starts to lean back toward the ocean, make sure to stop at Castle Cove Lookout.
You’ll see the sign for the lookout on the left side of the road, and there is a small area to park your car.
It’s just a short walk to a viewing platform, but the view overlooking the cliffs, golden sand and the turquoise ocean is breathtaking.
8. Twelve Apostles
As the most famous stop along the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles is definitely the most crowded and touristy place on this trip.
But you can’t miss it; the Twelve Apostles truly are beautiful and there are lots of amazing lookout spots and photo opportunities in the area.
Just follow the walking track as it curves around the headland and you’ll see lots of different viewpoints.
Word of advice: We showed up at the Twelve Apostles around 4pm, and the sun was directly overhead and we could barely see/photograph the famous scene. The other viewpoints, where the sun was behind us, looked gorgeous.
We actually went back to the Twelve Apostles at sunset to see it better, so I recommend visiting this spot in the morning or in the evening for better views.
9. Loch Ard Gorge
This was definitely my favorite stop along the Great Ocean Road.
The Loch Ard Gorge consists of two massive cliffs that curve around a small bay where you can swim in the cold, refreshing water.
There were quite a few tourists, but most of them weren’t actually swimming so Matt and I felt like we had the bay to ourselves when we swam out.
There are also stalactites hanging around the edges of the gorge and there are a few viewpoints atop the cliffs where you can see the gorge from above.
10. The Razorback
In the same car park as Loch Ard Gorge, there is another pathway leading to the Razorback.
This is an interesting collection of rugged cliffs and rocks in the ocean, one of which is long and sharp like a razorback.
11. Port Campell
This charming town is a lovely place to eat, refuel, and even camp overnight while traveling along the Great Ocean Road.
There is a nice beach, lots of cafes and shops, and an affordable campground with a kitchen and hot showers.
It is conveniently located near the best sights of the Great Ocean Road, so it’s an ideal place to stop and take a break from driving.
12. The Arch
For yet another incredible photo opportunity, pull over on the left side of the road following signs for The Arch.
Here you’ll find a massive natural rock formation shaped like an arch that juts out into the crashing waves.
13. London Bridge
This stop along the Great Ocean Road is quite similar to the Arch, but the curved rock formation is completely surrounded by the sea.
It is so interesting to see how these independent rocks used to be attached to the cliff face many years ago.
Most of these majestic sights along this section of the Great Ocean Road were created because of erosion, when massive chunks of cliff broke away from the land over time and slowly drifted out to sea.
14. Bay of Islands Coastal Park
Just past the town of Peterborough is the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. where the rugged, wild coastal scenery continues for 32 kilometers.
There are plenty of lookout points where you can marvel at the mingling of crashing waves with sharp, unique cliffs and rocks, and there are a few nice beaches as well including the Three Mile Beach.
The Bay of Martyrs is a highlight of the Bay of Islands Coastal Park and the Great Ocean Road.
Beautiful beaches and more odd rock formations fill your view, and there are significantly fewer tourists here than elsewhere along the road.
Great Ocean Road Travel Guide Wrap-Up
Thanks for reading my Great Ocean Road travel guide!
I loved that all the sights are natural, so there are no opening or closing times and you can explore by your own schedule.
We turned around and drove home after the Bay of Islands, but the road does continue quite a ways and there are plenty more things to see.
For a full list of everything along the Great Ocean Road, as well as more tourist information, check out the official website!
If you are traveling to Australia, you will need a tourist visa! Visit iVisa.com to apply for your visa online.
For more inspiration about places to travel in Australia, check out these articles!