The Great Ocean Road
The seaside route from Melbourne to Adelaide winds its way through some of the country's most scenic ocean and forested locations. Famous for sites such as the Twelve Apostles, Bell's Beach, Otway National Park and the Yarra wine region, this drive is an essential addition to any Australian road trip and is highly recommended if you're considering a visit to Victoria.
Accessed by the Great Ocean Road, the spectacular scenery and many enchanting stops along the way will have you in a state of awe and counting the days until you return again. The journey can be completed in a weekend, but to truly experience the best of the area four to five days is ideal.
Best Time to visit: Any
- London Arch
- Port Campbell National Park
- The 12 Apostles
- Bells Beach
- Bay of Islands
- Otway National Park
For best access, visitors should consider starting their journey in Melbourne where you can rent a vehicle (subject to availability). Various camp sites are available along the route with ample signage and directions to major attractions. Prepare for all weather conditions and don't forget to pack your camera!
Starting your trip in Melbourne is the best idea when considering the Great Ocean Road drive (especially if you are driving one way) as this ensures you are on the side of the road closest to the views and makes for easy pit stops when you want to pull over to take photos
From Melbourne, your first stop is Torquay ; an easy 1.5 hour drive via Geelong that will lead you onto the beginning of the Great Ocean Road and the beginning of Victoria's surf coast. This area is known for many different unique sights and activities which include surfing museums, galleries, Victoria's first cafe and colourful bathing boxes that adorn the beach adding a flair of individuality to the town.
The must see sight of this area is the famous Bells Beach which is home to the Ripcurl Pro Surf Competition and has been used competitively since 1961. This fascinating inlet is made famous by its cool and temperate conditions set amongst a backdrop of scaling cliffs and wild ocean-side greenery. Its somewhat secluded location allows for favourable surf conditions year round and is known as a place where surfing enthusiasts both casual and professional can be seen sharing waves.
Continue on to Lorne and spend the night in one of the well-equipped camping grounds tucked away into the surrounding forest.
Heading west from Lorne; Apollo Bay is your next stop. The stretch of road from Lorne is littered with some of the most spectacular sites of the trip with photo opportunities all the way up to Port Fairy. The Twelve Apostles is the key feature in this area and is located around the curving coast near Shelley Beach. Walking trails grant access from Gibson's steps where the sheer stone pillars and abundant pools form grottos along with other famous formations such as the London Arch providing for more than a days’ worth of spectacular sightseeing.
Visitors can follow the road west to the neighbouring Great Otway National Park which boasts glow worm caves, waterfalls and breathtaking ancient rainforest walks. Get up and close with Australia's largest fur seal colony and calving Southern Right Whales off the coast of Warrnambool before arriving at Point Fairy to explore quaint Georgian boardwalks and a thriving local food scene.
Mt Gambier is your next stop as you head across the Victorian state line into the South Australian lowlands. Mount Gambier is considered one of the top attractions of the regions with amazing views, an extinct volcano and an incredible body of water known as Blue Lake that commands the backdrop of the landscape for miles around.
A short trip further down the trail will lead visitors to Coonawarra where you can sample cabernet sauvignon from some of the richest wine country in Australia. Drive on further to the fishing town of Robe and enjoy fresh local lobster with an afternoon swim at Long Beach.
Camp overnight at Robe.
Further down the road from Robe you will encounter the Wellington crossing which will lead you over the Murray River to your next destination - The Fleurieu Peninsula. The peninsula itself is a great location to relax and take in some outdoor recreational activities. Open woodland and the Langhorne Creek wine region are waiting to be explored with kayaking and canoeing a popular pastime on The Coorong.
Close to Coonawarra is the Naracoorte Caves National Park which is World heritage listed and home to 26 limestone caves all which exhibit remains of ancient giant marsupials. The nearby wetlands reserves are famous for their links to the local Ngarrindjeri culture, with guided tours available for a more authentic experience of aboriginal history in and around this region.
Camping grounds are available in this area with all facilities and amenities.
Your final leg in the journey ends in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and the home of Australia's southern wine industry. The area is best explored via the surrounding peninsula to take in the true essence of this special area.
Visit Encounter Bay and Cape Jervis along the Heysen trail as you traverse the enchanting trails of Deep Creek Conservation Park. Enjoy the beaches at Sellicks and Aldinga before passing into the McLaren Vale wine region via the hilly mountain pass of Mt Compass and Yankalilla.
Feast on the freshest olives, cheese, berries and almonds from the roadside stalls and sample drops from any of the 45 cellar doors located in the region.
End your journey in Adelaide.