If you’re looking for an independent Great Ocean Road Tour, then we have you covered. One of Australia’s most acclaimed attractions, the Great Ocean Road will not disappoint! Take in the crystal blue waters surrounded by jagged cliffs; wind through the coastline packed with native gum trees. With over 300 kilometers to cover, get ready for a road trip. But, don’t rush it! Take the time to enjoy your hike, visit the waterfalls and go for a dip in the refreshing waters. While some people spend as little as a day on this stretch, you could easily stay here forever. Here’s an itinerary that will take you around 5 days to cover. Trust me, you deserve to take the time for yourself, and the Great Ocean Road is eagerly awaiting your arrival!
LIVE, TRAVEL, ADVENTURE, BLESS, AND DON’T BE SORRY. – JACK KEROUAC
Many people will start their journey to visit the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. Starting 100 km southwest of the city, you’ll need a car. If you don’t have your own, make sure to rent one. Companies like Budget and Hertz have great car rental plans available.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a camper van to cruise along in, check out Wicked Campers and Juicy. You’ll definitely want the flexibility to go at your own pace, stop when you want to and take in the sites along the way. There are signs to serve as a reminder too, but always remember to drive on the left in Australia. Welcome to a journey that will stay with you for years to come!
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
- Spring or Summer (September – February) are typically the best times to visit
- Avoid weekends and holidays to steer clear of the large crowds and traffic
- If visiting during peak season (December – February), its wise to book accommodation in advance in order to avoid disappointment
- There are too many lookouts along the route to name; be sure to stop and have a look at any that strike your fancy
Aussies (Australians) love their slang, so here is a couple handy terms to get you started
- Pot & Pint: small & large beer sizes
- Cuppa: cup of tea or coffee
- Tea: dinner
- Sunnies: sunglasses
- Thongs: flip flops
Whilst in Torquay, be sure to take a stroll along the Surf Coast Walk. Understandably, the 35 km walk from Torquay to Aireys Inlet may not be feasible with your car in tow, but be sure to check out the path for as long as you so desire before continuing your drive down the coast.
With so much to see, be sure to book in at Bells Beach Backpackers to rest your head for the night. If you’d rather be ocean side, and have a few extra bucks to spare, check out the Wyndham Resort instead.
There are a number of good eateries in town. Try Spudy to get your fresh salad or loaded potato fix. Blackman’s Brewery is a great place to drop in for a locally brewed beer or two. And Growlers is the perfect spot to stop by anytime, day or night, to enjoy a bite to eat while taking in the scenic ocean views.
Afterwards, be sure to stop in at the Anglesea Golf Club. Don’t worry, you don’t need your clubs for this one. The Golf Club is a great spot to stop and get a close-up view of Australia’s native kangaroos. While you will notice their ears are tagged, they are not caged. They run freely on the golf course and are such an incredible species to watch for a few minutes or a few hours if your schedule permits. Although there are signs posted advising not to stop and look at the kangaroos, there are always plenty of onlookers, so I’d suggest ignoring the signs and stopping to take a gander (shhh, don’t let anyone know I told you that 😉
Be sure to stop and put your toes in the sand at Front Beach. Always packed, this part of the beach is representative of Lorne as a whole. By arriving in Lorne, you’re officially entering the Great Otway National Park. With plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, it’s definitely worth your while to check out Erskine Falls. With heaps of steps leading to the falls, this short hike is not for the faint-hearted. But, if you do make the effort, I promise you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Why not spend a night in Lorne, to relax and refresh before continuing on your journey? For those on a budget, Great Ocean Road Backpackers and Erskine River Backpackers will be able to assist. If you are looking for something a bit more fancy, be sure to check out either Mantra or Cumberland hotels.
Fuel your energy with a delicious hamburger at Bottle of Milk. For some food with a view and a few cheeky beverages (for the passengers), you can’t go wrong with the Lorne Hotel Bistro. An extensive menu with rooftop seating has got you covered. To support local efforts, pick up some fresh seafood at the Fisheries Co-op. And, Lorne Beach Pavilion is a great pit-stop for a coffee with uninterrupted views of the water.
WYE RIVER & KENNETT RIVER
Not too far from Wye river you will arrive at Kennett River. This slower paced town has a great family feel and is perfect for camping. Be sure to keep an eye out for koalas, that often can be found eating gum leaves on the roadside or throughout the camp ground.
For one of the best panoramic views on the Great Ocean Road, take the steep climb up to Mariner’s Lookout. Home The scenery is unbelievable! Also, make sure you check out one of the Great Ocean Roads best kept “secrets.” Marengo Marine Sanctuary is a rocky beach that serves as a habitat for a local seal colony. Local boats provide tours to the Sanctuary, and if you’ve never been up close and personal with seals, it’s well worth a visit.
Stop at the Apollo Bay Bakery to treat yourself to some custard tarts for on the road. These are said by many to be the best on the Great Ocean Road.
Your trip to the Great Ocean Road would not be complete without a visit to the Twelve Apostles.
Unfortunately, the name is now a bit misleading, as only eight apostles actually remain. The others have succumbed to the ocean in recent years, but a visit here will be one of your highlights nonetheless! For a different perspective, splurge on one of the Twelve Apostles Helicopter tours.
With so much to see, get up early to take in sunrise and stay out to catch an amazing sunset. Head down Gibson’s Steps before visiting Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch (formerly Bridge), The Grotto and the Bay of Islands. All part of the Port Campbell National Park, the area will not disappoint.
Relax for the evening in the Port Campbell Hostel. And if you haven’t already, enjoy an Australian classic – fish n’ chips on the beach!
FORK IN THE ROAD
- Start heading back and discover everything the Australian countryside has to offer. Here, you’ll head inland and visit places like TIMBOON (From Port Campbell. 15 km.) and the OTWAY FLY (From Timboon. 83 km.) Timboon boasts a distillery , cheese factory and delicious ice cream (which if you have a sweet tooth, you likely would have tried on your Great Ocean Road journey). The Otway Fly is home to the longest Treetop Walk of its kind. For the adventure seeker, it also has a zip line tour on offer.
- Continue onwards to Warrnambool (From Port Campbell. 60km) & PORT FAIRY (From Warrnambool. 28km). Whilst technically west of the Great Ocean Road, many combine Warrnambool with their visit to the area. Warrnambool is a great place for whale watching, especially if you’re visiting between June and October. And Port Fairy is great to visit when the Folk Festival is on, which is held Labour Day long weekend, each year.
Of course, if time is on your side, take the time to explore both! Either way, by this point you should have enough pictures to fill your camera, and memories to last a lifetime!