The Ultimate Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary | 2023 Guide

The Great Ocean Road epitomizes the phrase ‘taking the scenic route.’ Located just a short distance from Australia’s coolest city, Melbourne, a classic Great Ocean Road drive itinerary takes you through some of Australia’s most grandiose landscapes.

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You will never be at a loss for what to see on the Great Ocean Road. Get ready to weave along mountainsides with your own car, chase waterfalls, or revel in striking seaside vistas and delve into Australia’s verdant lush rainforest. 

The towns that dot this Great Ocean Road itinerary are laid back, surfy, and sophisticated. They offer everything that travelers would expect from this part of Australia, including places to stay along the Great Ocean Road that are comfortable, clean, and provide the seaside escape you may be looking for. 

But don’t even think about doing a Great Ocean Road tour in just one day. It may technically be about 5 hours from Torquay to Warrnambool, but you’ll be crawling along at a snail’s pace. There are just so many things to see on Great Ocean Road drives!

That’s why a Great Ocean Road trip has always made its way onto our list of the top 5 road trips to do in Australia. Continue reading for more tips and advice. 

great ocean road
The Great Ocean Road in Angelsea
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Where Does The Great Ocean Road Start?

Torquay marks the start of the Great Ocean Road self-drive. The drive ends in Warrnambool

However, some people chose to extend their road trip to include Melbourne or Adelaide via Great Ocean Road.

Starting from Melbourne when touring the Great Ocean Road is the superior choice because when you are traveling from Melbourne on an Australia Great Ocean Road tour, you will be on the side of the road closest to the ocean. 

The start of the Great Ocean drive from Melbourne is about 1 hour and 20 minutes away. Remember to factor the traffic around the city into your drive time from Melbourne to Great Ocean Road. 

Towns & Stops Along The Great Ocean Road


Torquay is oozing with surf culture. Thanks in part to Bells Beach (home of the annual Rip Curl surf competition) and other great surf breaks in the area, Torquay has been dubbed the surf capital of Australia

It’s not out of the ordinary to run into big-name surfers while grabbing a coffee at one of the town’s trendy cafes. Torquay marks the start of your Great Ocean Road-Melbourne tour, although some stretch the journey all the way to South Australia after!

Great Ocean Road: Torquay, Australia
Torquay, Australia

Things to Do in Torquay

  • Visit Front Beach: Located in the heart of Torquay, this sandy beach is great for swimming and should be added to your Great Ocean Road trip planner.
  • Learn to Surf: This 2-hour lesson will have you catching waves in no time!
  • Surf at Point Danger: Or just watch! This reef break is located out front of Torquay Surf Beach and is suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers. 
  • Stroll the Surf Coast Walk: Follow the path onwards to Juan Jax Beach. You’ll start to notice the monolith yellow sand cliffs that the beaches and Great Ocean road tours are famous for.
  • Go Cafe Hopping: Explore the maze of restaurants and cafes that line the Esplanade and innards of Torquay.
  • Visit Bells Beach: The be-all and end-all of surf beaches if you have seen the movie Point Break. Watch experienced surfers navigate the treacherous waters at Winki Pop surf break from the viewing platform. Try some of the best Southern European cuisines here and fresh seafood at its best. Then descend the staircase and take in all the glory at one of Australia’s famous surfing beaches. But beware of swimming as there are strong currents and a big undertow, so it is not advised.
Bell's Beach, Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Bell’s Beach, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Places to Stay in Torquay:

  • RACV Torquay Resort is an eco-hotel in Torquay, just a short walk from the beach. It’s the perfect weekend getaway accommodation. At Number One restaurant, you’ll enjoy meals crafted from local ingredients, offering both buffet and gluten-free options.
  • Bells Beach Cottages offers two-bedroom pet-friendly villas. The wood heater was really appreciated, and they have a comprehensive sustainability policy that ensures the accommodation’s footprint is reduced to the minimum.


Torquay to Anglesea Drive (via Bells Beach): 24 kilometres // 24 minutes 

The next stop on your Great Ocean Road map is Anglesea. Marvel at the town’s expansive sandy beach, and if the mood strikes, take a dip! 

This is one of the ‘lesser touristy’ spots along a Great Ocean Road tour, but still remains one of the top things to see on the Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary: Best Way to Tour Great Ocean Road, Anglesea Beach
Anglesea Beach, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Things to do in Anglesea:

  • Spot Roos at Anglesea Golf Course: Say hello to the population of eastern Grey Kangaroos who call this place home. You don’t need to golf, either. Stop by the restaurant or take a “Roo Tour.” 
  • Visit the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery: Located just before Angelsea, this interesting attraction has free chocolate tastings. You can’t say you have had the best Great Ocean Road tour unless you have stopped here.
  • Hire a Canoe or Kayak: Meander down the Anglesea River; it’s a great way to take in the natural surroundings.
  • Learn to Surf: The shallow waters at Anglesea make this the ideal place to catch some waves for the first time. 
  • Hit the Beach: Anglesea Beach is one of the quieter beaches to go for a swim along the Great Ocean Road route.

Places to Stay in Anglesea:

  • Great Ocean Road Resort: This modern and stylish hotel has rooms of various sizes and is located on the Anglesea River, just 5 minutes from the beach. There is a bar and restaurant, spa, tennis courts, fitness centre, and children’s playground on site.
  • Anglesea Riverside Motel: Each room at Anglesea Riverside Motel includes a closet and a private bathroom with toiletries. The rooms feature a flat-screen TV and air conditioning, and some also have a seating area. They have Vegan and gluten-free breakfast options.

Aireys Inlet

Anglesea to Aireys Inlet Drive: 10 kilometres // 10 minutes 

The darling little town of Aireys Inlet is not far from Anglesea and is the next stop on your Great Ocean Road drive.

Things to Do in Aireys Inlet:

  • Visit Split Point Lighthouse: Once in Aireys Inlet follow the signs for Split Point Lighthouse. You’ll have to climb a steep trail to the base of the lighthouse, but the views are definitely worthwhile. Weather permitting, daily guided tours of the Split Point Lighthouse are available.
  • The Great Ocean Road Gin Distillery: Visit the tasting room to discover what this award-winning craft distiller offers en route to the Great Ocean Road 12 Apostles. 
  • Eagles Nest Art Gallery: Located in the centre of town, this gallery has a rotating collection of pieces from local and international artists. It should not be missed on a Melbourne Great Ocean Road tour. 
Split Point Lighthouse
Split Point Lighthouse

Where to Stay in Aireys Inlet:

  • Sunnymead Hotel: Suitable for couples, this hotel has a solar-heated swimming pool and a barbecue area, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV. They maintain a comprehensive sustainability policy that aims to minimise the environmental impact.
  • A River Bed Cottage: This lovely, self-contained cottage is stylishly decorated and perfect for a couple. There is a great outdoor area, and it is only a 5-minute walk to the beach.

Drive Through The Great Ocean Road Sign

Aireys Inlet to Great Ocean Road Sign Drive: 6 kilometres // 6 minutes

Picture time! Get your iconic Great Ocean Road photo here. The hordes of tourists and parked cars will alert you that you are nearby.


Great Ocean Road Sign to Lorne Drive: 13 kilometres // 15 minutes

The small town of Lorne has long been a favourite stop on Great Ocean Road tours from Melbourne. Lorne is best known for its picturesque sandy beach and relaxing but social atmosphere.

Things to Do in Lorne: 

  • Picnic on the Foreshore: Laying directly across from Louitt Bay, there is everything you need for a picnic at the Lorne Beach foreshore. Any day of the week, you’ll find families picnicking along the shore.
  • Visit Lorne Beach: This beach appeases surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers. You can’t miss it on a map of Great Ocean Road. 
  • Stroll along Lorne Pier: Located on the edge of town, the Lorne Pier is a popular fishing spot. Plus, sometimes migrating whales can be spotted from its vantage point on a Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne. 
  • Attend Falls Festival: If you time your Great Ocean Road trip just right, you may be able to attend one of Australia’s biggest music festivals.
  • Go Shopping: Lorne is known for its boutique shops located on the town’s main strip.
  • Wine and Dine: The Bottle of Milk is famous for their awesome selection of burgers and brunch items (veggie options available too!). 
  • Watch the Sunset from the Lorne Hotel: If you get a chance, try to take in the views from the Lorne Hotel rooftop patio. It is an institution amongst places to visit in Great Ocean Road itineraries. This rooftop patio has expansive views of shimmering Louitt Bay.
Great Ocean Drive Itinerary: Best Way to Tour Great Ocean Road, Lorne Beach, Australia
Lorne Beach, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Lorne Pier
Lorne Pier
Lorne along the Great Ocean Road
Lorne, along the Great Ocean Road

Where to Stay in Lorne:

  • La Perouse Lorne: This bed and breakfast is one of the prettiest Great Ocean Road hotels. It is a 5-minute walk from the beach and comes highly rated. Each room has its own balcony and is suitable for 2 people.
  • Lorne Surf Apartment: Lorne Surf Apartments offers adults-only accommodations featuring comfortable studios with a flat-screen TV, a sofa seating area, a kitchenette, a balcony, and a dining area. 

Teddy’s Lookout

Lorne to Teddy’s Lookout Drive: 2.4 kilometres // 4 minutes

To take in some stunning views of the coastline, make sure to stop at Teddy’s Lookout. Located just minutes from Lorne, you’ll find sweeping vistas of the Saint George River draining into the Pacific Ocean. It is a short walk from the car park to the viewing platforms, and sometimes you can spot koalas along the way.

great ocean road drive
Teddy’s Lookout. Photo Source: Unsplash

Phantom Falls

Teddy’s Lookout to Phantom Falls Drive: 5.2 kilometres // 12 minutes

Head 12 minutes inland from Teddy’s Lookout to Phantom Falls. This impressive waterfall can be reached via a 800-metre walk from the car park. You can cool off in the waters at the foot of the waterfall, however, there are no facilities onsite. 

Detour: Sheoak Falls And Swallow Cave Trail

Phantom Falls to Sheoak Falls Car Park Drive: 9.4 kilometres // 16 minutes

This 2.8 km walk is a great way to get amongst nature at Otway National Park. The trail culminates at Sheoak Falls and Swallow Cave, where birds can be seen nesting from spring to fall. It is a fairly easy walk that should take no more than 1 hour.

Otway National Park Waterfalls
Otway National Park Waterfalls

Kennett River

Sheoak Falls Car Park to Kennett River Drive: 17 kilometres // 22 minutes

Blink, and you might miss the quaint town of Kennett River. It’s made up of a small collection of sea-facing holiday homes, a holiday park, and a cafe that services the area. However, what really makes this section of the Great Ocean Road special is the Kennett River koalas.

Leave your car at the Kafe Koala parking lot and follow the road upwards. In our experience, it won’t take you long to spot a koala or two at the heights of the eucalyptus trees. However, it will likely be encircled by a crowd of gawking, ground-dwelling tourists. For a more personal encounter, continue further up the road. Once we were away from the crowds, we were lucky enough to spot a koala, up close, on the ground, running from tree to tree.

Koalas aside, this place affords a great opportunity to stretch your legs and take in some amazing hilltop views. You’ll notice tourists feeding and posing with swathes of wild birds at the entrance on this section of your Great Ocean Road itinerary.

While we wholeheartedly agree that it is great to see these incredible King Parrots, Cockatoos, and Rainbow Lorikeets up close, we wouldn’t recommend feeding them out of hand. These are wild animals, so it’s simply not great for their welfare to be touching them.

Great Ocean Drive Itinerary: Best Way to Tour Great Ocean Road, Grey River Road Koala, Australia
More koalas along Grey River Road

Places to Stay in Kennett River

We recommend passing through Kennett River, but if you want to spend a night in this small town, consider staying at one of these spots. 

  • Fern House: The eco-friendly vacation home features 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a terrace with garden views.
  • BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park: This holiday park has basic and upgraded self-contained units and villas as well as standard campsites and RV sites. There are great communal areas like the kid’s playground, games room, and BBQ area.
Kennett River, Great Ocean Road
Kennett River, Great Ocean Road

Apollo Bay

Kennett River to Apollo Bay Drive: 23 kilometres // 27 minutes

Apollo Bay is next up on your Great Ocean Road itinerary. This lovely seaside town is all yellow sand and laid-back vibes. 

Apollo Bay is a fantastic choice for an overnight destination. Its strategic location between Torquay and Great Otway National Park makes it an ideal base for exploring the region’s attractions. The town has a sandy bay with an expansive beach, great for swimming and soaking up the sun. Along with easy access to fuel stations and supermarkets, Apollo Bay offers various accommodation options. 

We suggest enjoying the daytime at the beach and harbour, followed by a visit to the Maits Rest Rainforest Walk. Wrap up the evening in town, treating yourself to the abundant entertainment options available in Apollo Bay.

Being a favoured tourist spot, you’ll find a variety of activities and lodging options to consider. Here are our top recommendations.

Things to Do in Apollo Bay:

  • Check out Mariners Lookout: This is a highlight of any one day Great Ocean Road tour. The expansive views of Apollo Bay and the waters which flank it are stunning. From the Mariners Lookout parking lot there is a short but steep 0.5 km climb to the top. You might even spot hang gliders jumping from its height.
  • Go to Apollo Bay Beach: This 3km calm beach is located in town. It is a great place for sunbathing or swimming. 
  • Visit Apollo Bay Harbour: Watch working fishermen coming in with the day’s catch and try to spot stingrays and fish in the waters beside the dock.
  • Indulge in Craft Beer: The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse has the largest selection of craft beer along the Great Ocean Road.
  • Experience Fine Dining with a View: Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant is Apollo Bay’s go-to for high-quality food with an even higher quality view!
  • Explore self-guided Maits Rest Rainforest Walk: Located a mere 17km or 15-minute drive from Apollo Bay. Initially, we held modest expectations for the brief 800m boardwalk journey through the dense rainforest. Yet, we were pleasantly surprised. This section of the Otway National Park showcases a stunning rainforest featuring abundant ferns and towering trees that have stood for up to 300 years. 
Apollo Bay Beach
Apollo Bay Beach
Apollo Bay Harbour
Apollo Bay Harbour

Places To Stay In Apollo Bay: 

  • Apollo Bay Eco YHA: YHA is our favourite hostel chain in Australia for their commitment to sustainability. The Apollo Bay YHA is no exception, so in our opinion, it is one of the best accommodations Great Ocean Road has to offer. It is eco-certified and has clean private rooms, dorms, and great communal areas like the rooftop patio.
  • Apollo Panorama Guesthouse: Offering ocean views and an expansive outdoor patio, Apollo Panorama Guesthouse is great for couples or groups of 3 looking for places to stay on the Great Ocean Road. The open-concept living area and kitchen are perfect for meeting other travellers. 

Beauchamp Falls 

Apollo Bay to Beauchamp Falls Drive: 39.7 kilometres // 56 minutes

Another couple of spectacular waterfalls are Beauchamp Falls and Hopetoun Falls. If you are chasing waterfalls don’t miss these two. 

Beauchamp Falls is a 20-metre high waterfall that can be reached via a half-hour walk. There are picnic facilities at the entrance of the track and a viewing platform once you get there. However, there is no access to the waterfall itself or its pool. 

Hopetoun Falls

Beauchamp Falls to Hopetoun Falls Drive: 7.5 kilometres // 18 minutes

Hopetoun is located just 7.5 kilometres down the road from Beauchamp Falls. Nestled in the Beechwood Forest, Hopetoun Falls has an impressive 30-metre drop. There are a couple of viewing platforms and steps available to descend to the bottom of the falls. However, they can get quite slippery, so be careful and wear sturdy shoes.

hopetoun falls australia
Hopetoun Falls

Cape Otway Lightstation

Hopetoun Falls to Cape Otway Lightstation Drive: 64.5 kilometres // 1 hour 5 minutes

Cape Otway Lighthouse is located about 14 km off of the Great Ocean Road. Perched on towering cliffs, it is Australia’s oldest mainland lighthouse and recently celebrated its 170th birthday.

Things to Do at the Cape Otway Lighthouse:

  • Explore the Grounds: They are open from 9am-5pm each day and admission is $20. Learn about the lighthouses’ history, its keepers, shipwrecks, and the history of the aboriginals that originally occupied this land.
  • Take a Hike: There are a number of great trails that spring from the light station grounds. If you have the time, we recommend that you do the 8-hour loop to Blanket Bay. Not only is Blanket Bay both beautiful and secluded, but the trail towards Blanket Bay is a great way to catch whales just off-shore.
Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary: Best Way to Tour Great Ocean Road, Cape Otway Lighthouse, Australia
Cape Otway Lighthouse, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Places to Stay at the Cape Otway Lighthouse:

  • Cape Otway Lighthouse: You can stay onsite at the Cape Otway Lighthouse. They offer unique cottages that can accommodate 2-9 people, including the option of luxury accommodation Great Ocean Road in one of their upgraded cottages. 
  • Bimbi Park: Located just 5km from the Lightstation, Bimbi Park has a range of accommodations, including their solar-powered eco-cabins, camping pods, caravans for rent, and more. This eco-friendly accommodation also has e-bikes for rent, a fire pit, and hosts lots of activities. It’s one of the most eco-friendly options for accommodation along the Great Ocean Road.\

Places to Stay at the Cape Otway Lighthouse:

  • Cape Otway Lighthouse: You can stay onsite at the Cape Otway Lighthouse. They offer unique cottages that can accommodate 2-9 people, which include the option of luxury accommodation on Great Ocean Road.
  • Bimbi Park: Located just 5km from the Lightstation, Bimbi Park has a range of accommodations, including their solar-powered eco-cabins, camping pods, caravans for rent, and more. This eco-friendly accommodation also has e-bikes for rent, a fire pit, and hosts lots of activities. It’s one of the most eco-friendly options for accommodation along the Great Ocean Road.

Castle Cove

Cape Otway Lightstation to Castle Cove Drive: 25 kilometres // 27 minutes

Castle Cove is an expansive sandy beach that is popular for surfing, sunbathing, or just stretching your legs. However, it is unsuitable for swimming due to the powerful rip that dominates the waters out front of the beach.

Castle Cove is one of the few places where the Great Ocean Road and the Great Ocean Walk converge. This is an off-the-beaten-track stop, which most sightseeing tour companies miss. 

Australia Great Ocean Road walk 0588
Castle Cove, Great Ocean Road

Johanna Beach

Castle Cove to Johanna Beach Drive: 5.5 kilometres // 8 minutes

Johanna Beach was named after a ship that was wrecked on its shores. Like Castle Cove, it is known for its powerful surf and convergence with the Great Ocean Walk. 

In previous years, the Bells Beach surf competition has moved to Johanna Beach because the swell has been better and bigger at Johanna Beach than at Bells. 

Overlooking Johanna Beach, Great Ocean Road
Overlooking Johanna Beach, Great Ocean Road

Port Campbell National Park

Johanna Beach to the 12 Apostles Drive: 52 kilometres // 50 minutes

The 12 Apostles are what really put the Great Ocean Road on the map. When visitors are travelling on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, 12 Apostles are what is on most people’s minds. These massive wind-sculpted formations that stand out of the Southern Ocean are truly impressive, however, there are some close runners-up in Port Campbell National Park. 

Things to Do in Port Campbell National Park:

  • See the 12 Apostles: Spend some time getting to know Port Campbell National Park and appreciate all the sites by traversing the park’s countless cliff-top boardwalks. You will have to park on the side of the road opposite the shore and take the short pathway to the viewing platforms. Most people head to the 12 Apostles at sunset, which is a spectacular time to see them. However, keep in mind it can be quite busy at that time.
  • Visit the Gibson Steps: To feel really tiny, descend the Gibson Steps and stand at the foot of Port Campbell National Park’s mammoth cliffs, or walk down to the beach below Gibson Steps for a ground-level view. 
  • Loch Ard Gorge: This stunning Loch Ard Gorge has an interesting history, which you can read about on the plaques surrounding the attraction. Loch Ard Gorge is one of the most beautiful sights along the Great Ocean Road. You can stand on top of the cliff of Lord Ard Gorge’s spectacular coastline and enjoy the view of huge cliffs and narrow openings out to sea. 
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Port Campbell

12 Apostles to Port Campbell Drive: 11 kilometres // 10 minutes

Port Campbell itself is a tiny gem of a town. It is mainly a place to base yourself while you explore the area rather than a destination in and of itself. However, there is an attractive beach for the days you don’t want to go far.

Things To Do In Port Campbell:

  • Visit the Beach: There is a small beach and a great foreshore, which makes for the perfect picnic spot. As one of the few swimmable beaches in the area, Port Campbell Beach can get very busy during the summer months.
  • Eat and Drink: Visit the Grassroots Cafe for tasty loose-leaf tea or Sow and Piglets micro-brewery for a craft beer. While you’re there, ask for the story behind the Sow and Piglets’ name (hint: it was the original name of the 12 Apostles). 

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Places to Stay in Port Campbell:

  • Eastern Reef Cottages: This rural option offers individual cottages which were crafted with sustainability in mind with materials like reclaimed timbers. Each cottage is clean and has its own kitchen and personal touches like fresh flowers on arrival. It’s a great place to lay your head on a Great Ocean Road Itinerary, 2 days long.
  • Port O’ Call Motel: Located in the centre of Port Campbell, this stylish boutique motel has comfy beds and is steps from the beach and close to restaurants and shops.

The Arch

Port Campbell to the Arch Drive: 7 kilometres // 7 minutes

This interesting natural attraction was formed like most other rock formations along the shipwreck coast. Simply by waves persistently crashing into the cliffside. The Arch is a reminder of the power of the sea. 

To reach the viewing platform at The Arch, follow the short path from the car park. It is about 300 metres return. 

London Bridge

The Arch to London Bridge Drive: 1.5 kilometres // 4 minutes

London Bridge got its name because it was originally connected to the mainland. Visitors to the area would often take an inland route onto the top of the London Bridge or walk. However, in 1990 the connecting piece collapsed. No one was injured but the few tourists who were on top of the bridge had to be rescued by helicopter. 

Today, visitors come to see the rock formation and the stunning beach that fringes the coastline. There are two viewing platforms which can be reached via a short walk from the car park.

The Grotto

London Bridge to the Grotto Drive: 2 kilometres // 5 minutes

The Grotto is another unique natural attraction along the Great Ocean Road. The sinkhole naturally frames the ocean beyond it and can be reached via a set of stairs. It is a popular spot to snap a pic! The trip from the car park can take 40 minutes to return. 

The Bay Of Islands

The Grotto Drive to the Bay of Islands: 10 kilometres // 10 minutes

En route to your final stop, you’ll pass the gorgeous (highly underrated) Bay of Islands. Along this 32-kilometre stretch of coastal reserve, you’ll find plenty of clifftop viewing platforms to pull off to. Like the 12 Apostles, the Bay of Islands is known for its interesting limestone stacks, which are located just off shore. If you want to put your feet in the sand then stop at Three Mile Beach or Childers Cove. 


The Bay of Islands to Warrnambool: 48 kilometres // 40 minutes

Things to Do in Warrnambool:

  • Visit the Logan Whale Watching Platform: From May to October you’ll likely spot Southern Right Whales just off shore. They come to the area to give birth on their way south. 
  • Head to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village: Here, you’ll learn all about the coastline’s dramatic history of shipwrecks, sailors and folklore.
  • Visit Allansford Cheese Factory: During a visit, you’ll be able to see how the cheese-making process unfolds in their onsite museum, and you’ll be treated to a free cheese tasting. There is also a cafe onsite and lots of cheese to choose from if you want to support a local vendor and take home a tasty souvenir from your Great Ocean Road Adelaide to Melbourne road trip.
  • Visit Hopkins Falls: This 90-metre wide waterfall is a popular picnic spot. In the winter months, you may be able to spot baby eels in its waters. 
  • Explore Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve: Generally speaking, the Great Ocean Road concludes at Warrnambool. However, if you can spare an extra 13-minute drive, consider heading to Tower Hill and Port Fairy. These locations provide a natural habitat for native wildlife of Australia, and excellent chances to encounter them, including roos and colourful birds. To find wild koalas, take a leisurely stroll along the 30-minute Lava Tongue Boardwalk, keeping an eye out for the slumbering grey creatures in the treetops.
Let’s go for a walk with our bffs!

Where to Stay in Warrnambool:

  • Quest Warrnambool: Located in the heart of Warrnambool, Quest is a family-run location. They have modern, well-equipped rooms and a solar-heated swimming pool. 
  • Elm Tree Motel: This motel is known for its clean, bright rooms. There is plenty of parking on site, and the staff are generous with check-in and check-out times.
  • City Heart Motel: You’ll find free Wi-Fi, a cool outdoor barbecue spot with shades, and complimentary parking in this budget-friendly lodging in a good location close to shops, restaurants, and bars. Plus, they’ve got a solid sustainability policy in place to keep their environmental impact as low as possible.

Port Fairy

Warrnambool to Port Fairy: 26 kilometres // 28 minutes

If you have time to go past Warrnambool, the quaint seaside town of Port Fairy makes for a fantastic last stop on your Great Ocean Road journey. The main attraction is a beautiful white sand beach framed by dunes and scenic viewpoints. The main street is bustling with charming boutiques, shops, and a variety of dining options. 

The place has bagged some impressive awards like being named Best Small Tourism Town in Australia and World’s Most Liveable Small Community. The locals are definitely living a good life. But for us visitors, it’s a charming spot to enjoy a few days wandering around the streets and coastline.

Things to Do in Port Fairy:

  • Explore Griffiths Island Reserve: Griffiths Island, at the Moyne River’s mouth, is a stunning nature reserve that’s home to native animals and birds like swamp wallabies, mutton birds, and echidnas. Explore the island on foot or by bicycle.
  • Visit Port Fairy Lighthouse: Constructed in 1859 by skilled Scottish stonemasons, the lighthouse remains functional today, powered by solar panels and a wind-assisted generator.
  • Spend the day at Port Fairy Beaches: East Beach spans Port Fairy Bay, offering a tranquil and family-friendly shoreline for surfing and whale watching. To the south, you’ll find Southcombe Beach and Pea Soup Beach. These sandy coves are nestled among rocks and reefs with crashing waves. During low tide, you can explore rock pools.
  • Head to Battery Hill: Built in the 1800s, the fortress is among several along Victoria’s southern coast. Today, you can explore the memorial site with cannons, preserved artillery buildings, and bunkers. It’s a fantastic spot for families to bring their kids and enjoy sea views from this vantage point.
  • Visit the Farmers’ Market: On the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, a Farmers Market takes place in the community house grounds behind the Visitor Centre.
A pink coloured beach in Port Fairy
A pink-coloured beach in Port Fairy
Lighthouse in Griffits Island, Port Fairy
Lighthouse in Griffiths Island, Port Fairy

Where to Stay in Port Fairy:

  • Oak & Anchor Hotel: This heritage-listed eco-friendly hotel offers some of the finest accommodations in town. The elegantly designed rooms provide a perfect setting for a romantic getaway, featuring king beds and spacious en-suite bathrooms with free-standing baths.
  • Seacombe House Motor Inn Port Fairy: This eco-friendly lodging was originally built over a century ago. Beautiful location, serene tranquillity, friendly locals, charming shops with surprises, and a delightful culinary scene all around.
  • Port Fairy YHA: For a budget-friendly hotel, consider Port Fairy YHA. This hotel really captured the essence of the heritage-listed building. The area is popular for cycling and fishing. Here you can experience the historic surroundings with old town charm.

If you’re in Melbourne (or Australia as a whole) then the Great Ocean Road drive should definitely be added to your Australian itinerary. From Warrnambool or Port Fairy, most people continue onwards to Adelaide, or up towards the incredible Grampians National Park. Enjoy the ride!

The Best Time To Visit The Great Ocean Road

There are four seasons along the Great Ocean Road: summer, spring, fall, and winter. Summer takes place from December to February. It is the most popular time to complete the Great Ocean Road map of attractions because the hot weather means visitors can take advantage of the beautiful beaches dotted along the way. However, peak season means that attractions can sometimes get crowded, and prices are at their highest. 

Spring is from September to November, and Fall is from March to May. In our opinion, this is the most pleasant time to visit the Great Ocean Road. The weather is still warm, and crowds have largely dispersed. 

A winter Great Ocean Road itinerary has its perks as well. From June to August, the weather can be blustery, but prices are at their lowest, and you will likely have the majority of Great Ocean Road attractions to yourself. It also coincides with the whale migration. From June to October, Southern Right Whales can often be spotted from the shore. 

Great Ocean Road Drive Time & Distance: 

If you are wondering how long the Great Ocean Road is, it can be completed within the following distance and drive time. 

Total Distance: 281 kms.

Total Drive Time: 5 hours

However, keep in mind these are the durations for the most direct route of the Great Ocean Road on map. Detours inland will add kilometres and time to your overall Great Ocean Road road trip. 

Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary

You could really spend days getting to know each of these towns but if you really want to just see the best sights and attractions without rushing too much we suggest giving 5 nights, 5 days to your Great Ocean Road itinerary.

That means spending one night in Torquay in order to start your Great Ocean Road tour itinerary early in the morning. Then, spend your next night in Lorne, Apollo Bay, and Port Campbell before finishing in Warrnambool or Port Fairy.

On the other hand, if you only have time for a Great Ocean Road day trip, then you can start in Melbourne and make it to 12 Apostles for sunset with lunch in Apollo Bay without too many other Great Ocean Road stops on your Great Ocean Road day tour. 

Don’t Feel Like Driving? The Best Great Ocean Road Tours Melbourne

If you are coming from overseas and don’t feel comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road, if you don’t have a car, or if you simply want the freedom to watch the scenery then why not take a Great Ocean Road tour? 

This Great Ocean Road 1 day tour is perfect for the travellers who are short on time. You’ll start your day in Melbourne, stop at the Great Ocean Road sign, and stroll through the Otways and some of the most popular attractions like Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles before heading back to Melbourne that evening to conclude your 1 day Great Ocean Road tour.

However, if you want more flexibility, then consider a private Great Ocean Road one-day tour

This 2-day Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne could be considered a “cheap” Great Ocean Road tour. It is geared towards a younger crowd and includes sleeping in a communal teepee.

If you have even more time, then consider a 3 day the Great Ocean Road tour. Not only does this 3-day Great Ocean Road itinerary include the Great Ocean Road highlights, but it also includes a stop in the Grampians.

Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary: Best Way to Tour Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Short On Time?

Don’t fret; you can still experience this Great Ocean Road itinerary even if you don’t have the luxury of 5 days or more. Here is our advice when choosing what to see on the Great Ocean Road:

  • Pick and choose the Great Ocean Road attractions that interest you the most. Don’t try to squeeze in all the things to do on Great Ocean Road itineraries. It’s not an episode of The Amazing Race.
  • Consider waking up early to get the most out of your day and the things to do in Great Ocean Road itineraries like this one. 
  • End your Great Ocean Road drive in Port Campbell rather than Warrnambool or Port Fairy. Especially if you are taking a Great Ocean Road day trip from Melbourne. Ending in Port Campbell, you’ll be able to see the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road – the twelve apostles in Australia. A shorter trip will also help you save money on places to stay along the Great Ocean Road.

Have You Ever Done This Great Ocean Road Itinerary? Or Experienced The Twelve Apostles In Australia? What Was Your Favourite Stop Along The Way?


READ NEXT: Road Trip Essentials: 50 Things To Bring On A Road Trip

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Great Ocean Road Drive Itinerary | 2023 Guide”

  1. Thanks for the great tips on the various points of interest. Am planning a 2DS1N (portcampbell 1N) Do you use highway B100 or the coastal roads? A little confused while looking at the map.

    1. B100 is the Coastal Route. You can take B100 one way and the road through Ferguson on the way back. There are some lovely waterfalls and other attractions to hit up if you drive a bit more inland. Have fun!

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