The best and most recommended day trip from Melbourne is the Great Ocean Road. The road trip is something we enjoyed, having been here more than 5 times in 2 years. It happened to be our favorite long weekend spot. It has the best coastline road journey, beautiful view points, beaches to surf and apostles (hill like free standing structure inside the sea)
It is not easy for any 90’s kid to forget the iconic “Enna vilai alage’ song from Kadhalar dhinam. It was shot here. We are going to take you through our itinerary and all the top tips and tricks to help you when planning your adventure.
What is Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s greatest drives. The 243 kilometre drive between Torquay and Warrnambool winds through rainforest, hugs cliff edges and offers you the chance to see a number of renown sights.
How to get there?
Considering you are staying in CBD and renting a car from Southern cross station around 8.30 am, gives enough time to visit the iconic spots in Great ocean road and get back to the city by dusk. Driving along the great ocean to and fro will be tiring, because of the winding roads and single track.
So we suggest to catch freeway A1 and reach the major destinations quickly, then come back via Great ocean road and enjoy the ride. Do have your lunch in Collac, that’s the last major town where you can find restaurants, McDonalds & other take away shops
We would recommend a 2-day trip to enjoy the road trip with an overnight stay, if you have just one day, you can still do a day trip, like how we used to do. Again, the question is, will you be driving or joining an organized tour. Below is the map of Great ocean road and highlights
Lack of time, budget and no car means the only option is going through organized tours. There are many good operators operating small group tours to large coach tours. Tour prices vary between AUD 60 to AUD 115. You can still cover the highlights, but it will be less flexible.
If you are staying for 3 or 4 days in Melbourne, do rent a car. It is the best option to go around.
Things to Know before you go
Peak Season & Group Tourists:
December to February is the Summer season in Australia. Coupled with Christmas holidays, you can expect huge number of international tourists & inter-state travellers. Pros - Good weather & Longer daytime
Driving & time duration:
The biggest mistake we did during our 1st visit is underestimating the roads & drive time. 250 kms didn't seem difficult and with Australian road standards we thought we could easily do it in less than 3 hours. We were completely wrong. First of all, the roads are single lane, hardly you get the chance to overtake a slow vehicle in front of you. You'll get winding roads crossing through the Otgway national park. This will make you tired. At the cliffs, it gets windy as well. if you are doing a day trip, use the Collac route( A1).
Food: You can find good restaurants, Fish & Chips & Pizza shops in Port Campbell & Apollo Bay. There is small Cafe in the 12 Apostles parking. If you want to save time & money, do some shopping in Melbourne and pack some quick foods, Snacks & drinks. We do it all the time
Fuel: If you are driving, try to fill up your tank in Melbourne. It is going to be a long drive, better to be on the safe side. you don't want to waste time looking for a petrol station. Of course you will find them on the way, but dont do that.
Water: Tap water is Clean & safe. Do carry reusable bottles and refill it in cafe's or restaurants (you don't find that many though)
Wifi & Mobile data: If you stop at any restaurant on the way, yes, there will be Wi-Fi. You will have no reception at certain points along the Great ocean Road. If you are here in Australia for more than 4 days, do get a Sim. It will be of so much value
You would have certainly read this somewhere before coming to Australia "It is home to some of the worlds dangerous Animals". Travelling into regional areas & national parks, do watch for the warning signs and be mindful of your surroundings. If you are near the seashore, check for the currents, signs of jellyfish & sharks. Do not go off the main roads, the cliffs are unstable at some places
You will find Hotels at all major towns along the great ocean road. Our recommendation is to stay in Port Campbell. Economical than rest of the places, also lots to see in this area
Must go places in Great ocean Road
Gibson steps (only place to see an apostle closer)
Overshadowed by 12 apostles, not many tour groups will visit Gibson steps. Also due to limited parking facilities. Climbing down 80 steps, you’ll reach the sandy shores & a step closer to the apostle.
Strictly no swimming or getting near the waves, it has strong currents & unmanned beach.
12 Apostles, the most iconic. (Small café for refreshments, parking & toilet facilities available here)
One of the most well-known highlights of the Great Ocean Road is The Twelve Apostles. 5 have said to be fallen since it was discovered, another 8 of these massive limestone structure remains. They are around 45m high. The sight of waves crashing against these structures and the sun set are always dreamy
We haven’t tried the helicopter tours yet, but we will do it for sure in the future. If you have time & budget (still affordable), go for it.
Loch Ard Gorge.
The Loch Ard Gorge is one of the best-loved stop-off points along the Great Ocean Road. It’s the next stop after 12 apostles. You’ll see many tour groups; such is the reputation. A short walk down the steps, you’ll reach the picturistic location of Loch Ard gorge. The waves are not strong; you can take a swim here. Be cautious at all times. There are couple more look out points & walking trails nearby, It’s up to you to decide based on your timing.
Click to Zoom
London Bridge is one of our favourite spots along the Great ocean road. 10 minute drive from Lock Ard Gorge will get you to London bridge
You can start driving back on the Great ocean road from London bridge to Melbourne via Apollobay. There are couple of look out points in Apollobay & good place to eat, relax & coffee.
Drive through the Great ocean road will get you back in Melbourne in 3 Hours time. You will not have time to stop anywhere else, except for photo stops on the way
What we could have did to make things better
An overnight accommodation in Apollo bay will fix all the worries, adds contingencies and gives you a break from the long drive. Another good this is that you start fresh the next day and will be travelling the opposite direction from the tour groups. So no rush and not much people around.
Places you can cover:
Apart from sightseeing & beaches, Great Otway National Park is a great place to spend time. Couple of waterfalls to visit & you can also have fun in the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. Enjoy the zip lines & tree top walk
You can continue driving along the great ocean road. Passing through the best beach locations, Anglesea, Lorne and Torquoy. Filled with restaurants & coffee shops, there are many beautiful view points on the way and you can do it in your own pace. Head back to Melbourne and take a good night’s rest. That sums up your wonderful Great ocean road trip.
Conclusion & Our Recommendation
You can easily spend 3 full days along the Great Ocean Road. Many activities to do and lots to see. We've been going there repeatedly and it remains our favorite road trip from Melbourne
Our Recommendation is definitely to stay overnight if time permits
Must Do Day trip from Melbourne