The Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular coastal road-trips not only in all of Australia but the world. Strap in as we take you on a journey to some of our favourite spots along the epic Great Ocean Road.
How to get to Great Ocean Road
Hugging the southern coastline of Victoria between Allansford to Torquay and through the Great Otway National Park is the 243km Great Ocean Road. Depending on which part of the Great Ocean Road you’re heading to, the drive is between one and three hours south of Melbourne.
The coastal towns dotted along the Great Ocean Road including Princetown, Apollo Bay, Kennett River, and Lorne give access to the ocean and its sensational surf breaks as well as the lush rainforests and waterfalls of the Otways. The proximity to the city together with its variety of outdoor activities and breathtaking coastal landscapes make a day trip to the Great Ocean Road an experience not to be missed.
Shipwreck Coast: Loch Ard Gorge & London Bridge
The Shipwreck Coast is a 28km section of the Great Ocean Road in the vicinity of Port Campbell National Park, the 12 Apostles, and Loch Ard Gorge.
The Shipwreck Coast earned its ominous name, due to the long line of seasoned mariners who’ve suffered cruel ends at the whims of its unforgiving seas. It’s thought there have been around 700 shipwrecks in the region including the most well-known of shipwreck stories, the 1878 sinking of the ship that gives Loch Ard Gorge its name.
While visiting Loch Ard Gorge you’ll witness another natural wonder of the Shipwreck Coast: the magnificent rock formation formerly known as London Bridge because of its resemblance to its British counterpart.
Before 1990, London Arch was a double-span natural bridge – until the span closest to the shoreline collapsed on January 15th of that year, stranding two tourists. The arch can no longer be directly accessed but there are three separate viewing platforms offering vantage points from which to witness the sheer wonderment of the rock formation. Of all the sites to see when visiting the Shipwreck Coast, Loch Ard Gorge and London Arch are among the most stunning. This awe-inspiring location is picturesque whether the conditions are at their calmest or at their most rough and tumble.
Moving along the Great Ocean Road, one of the next attractions is possibly the most famous of them all: the 12 Apostles.
The 12 Apostles is a series of rock formations, up to 50m tall, located in the ocean just off the coast of Port Campbell National Park. These rock stacks were formed by erosion caused by the constant waves and wind.
Despite the name, only eight ‘apostles’ remain. There is a viewing platform and interactive displays along the boardwalk so you can learn more about the history and environment of the region as you look out over the ocean and the towering 12 Apostles.
Want to feel small? Climb down Gibson Steps and stroll along the beach with the 70m high cliffs of the Great Ocean Road towering over you. Gibson Steps — which consists of 86 steps leading down to the beach — is located a couple of minutes from the 12 Apostles viewing area. The steps, though no longer in their original form, exist thanks to the ingenuity of the Kirrae Whurrong people and settler Hugh Gibson.
There are two limestone stacks in the water which are not part of the Twelve Apostles and are nicknamed Gog and Magog. Depending on tide and ocean conditions, a walk on the beach may be possible to see these rock stacks up close. They can also be viewed from a viewing platform at the top of the steps.
The Great Otway National Park (the Otways)
After leaving Gibson Steps and before arriving at Apollo Bay and Kennett River you’ll journey through the stretch of coastline home to the lush green expanse known as the Great Otway National Park, or simply, the Otways. The Otways is a popular destination for a day trip out of Melbourne.
The Great Otway National Park is home to many native Australian plants and animals and was named an Important Bird Area thanks to its thriving bird population, with species that include the rufous bristlebird, pink robins, and striated field wrens.
If you’re into waterfalls, this one is a little off the beaten track but well worth the side trip when journeying along the Great Ocean Road. Beauchamp Falls sees water cascade 20m down over mossy rocks surrounded by lush, native plants, and is one of Great Otway National Parks’ hidden gems.
The hike to the falls is approximately three kilometers long and is moderately challenging, winding through the lush rainforest and along a fairly steep descent. Beauchamp Falls remains largely undisturbed making it a special experience for anyone who appreciates exploring beautiful natural places.
Continuing our trip along the Great Ocean Road, we find Kennett River, a tiny coastal town known as one of the best places to view koalas in the wild. In addition to koalas, Kennett River is also home to plenty of king parrots. These parrots are very accustomed to visits from people and if you stand still for too long while koala-spotting you may find a bird or two perched on your shoulder or head!
As we head into the eastern stretch of the Great Ocean Road, we reach Lorne, a quintessential beach town. Take a dip in the bay or walk along the pier, and be sure to keep an eye to sea if visiting between May and September — you may well glimpse seals or Southern Right whales. Head into the lush hinterland rainforest and admire Erskine Falls — a 30m waterfall — in a fern-laden gully. The beauty of the region captured the imagination of Nobel Prize winner Rudyard Kipling, who visited back in 1891 and later referenced Erskine and Lorne in his poem Flowers.
About 40 minutes up the coast from Lorne, and on the section of the Great Ocean Road closest to Melbourne, is Bells Beach. This beach is known as one of Australia’s best surf beaches, but conditions mean it is not one for the inexperienced — nonetheless, the views from the cliff are certainly worth stopping for.
Planning your Great Ocean Road Day Trip
The Great Ocean Road is a truly great drive, but it’s even better when you stop to explore. One of the best ways to experience the Great Ocean Road is on foot and our small group guided hiking tours allow you to be immersed in the dreamy coastline and lush rainforests minus the crowds. We’ve come up with two Great Ocean Road day trip itineraries for you to choose from…
Book your day trip to the Great Ocean Road
These day trips from Melbourne offer the very best of the Great Ocean Road. All that’s left for you to do is sit back, relax. Let us transport you to the stunning southern coastline for an unforgettable Great Ocean Road day trip.