The Ultimate Great Ocean Road Tour Guide
Everything you wanted to know!
Great Ocean Road Guide Quick Links
- Quick Facts about the Great Ocean Road
- Weather along the Great Ocean Road
- Best time to see the Great Ocean Road
- Which way to travel along the Great Ocean Road
- 12 Apostles
- London Bridge
- Loch Ard Gorge
- Where to see wildlife along the Great Ocean Road
- Great Ocean Road Visitors Centre
- Accommodation along the Great Ocean Road
- Our Great Ocean Road Tours
Great Ocean Road Quick Facts
- One of the world's great coastal road trips
- Starts an hours drive from Melbourne at Torquay
- Stretches over 240 klm to Allansford.
- Most popular way to visit the Great Ocean Road is a day trip
- Days tours around 14 hours
- Extended trips, 2 or 3 days from Melbourne or Adelaide also popular
- Most tours spend between 40 and 90 minutes at the 12 Apostles
- Several other sightseeing stops along the way.
- If your budget allows, include a helicopter flight.
Please keep reading for the most comprehensive guide to the Great Ocean Road.
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Our Great Ocean Road Staff Picks
This tour offers the lot. This coastal road trip with stops along the way will delight all your senses. After being captivated with the beauty then you get to see it from above and I assure you it will not disappoint, in fact it will bring it all together for you.
- See the beauty from above
- Spot the wildlife
- Be overwhelmed by the 12 Apostles
- Breathe in the Rainforest
The 12 Apostles viewed at Sunset, the vision will remain with you forever. For those budding photographers, the golden hour will deliver images to be proud of. You will also get to experience all the other delights of a drive along the Great Ocean Road.
- 12 Apostles bathed in golden light
- See wonderful flora and fauna
- Magnificent natural beauty
- Great surf beaches
This tour is for those who have a little more time but prefer taking a guided tour. Hop off at Lorne, Apollo Bay or Port Campbell, spend the night there and re-join the tour the next day. Explore your highlight of the Great Ocean Road at your leisure.
- Have time? Linger longer
- Surrounded by fantastic views
- Get to know the wildlife
- Immerse yourself in nature
Don’t want to be rushed, this tour is for you. You get to see more than the day tours have time to show you. The variety is wonderful, rainforest, mountains, the sea, wildlife. Also see the Grampians, Hall's Gap, Lorne, Anglesea and Apollo Bay.
- See more with 2 days
- Forest rich in wildlife
- Grampians and all their beauty
- The majestic Great Ocean Road
What is the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular drives in the world, stretching 243 kilometers from Torquay to Allansford, just 10 minutes from Warrnambool.
It was built by returning soldiers from WW1 between the years of 1919 to 1932 and is the world’s biggest War Memorial.
Along the road there are plaques to tell their stories.The admiration for these men is two fold, surviving a war and building the road, by hand, in harsh conditions.
It follows, in part, the coastline known as The Shipwreck Coast which stretches 130 kilometers from Cape Otway to Port Fairy.
“I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline”
Explorer Matthew Flinders said that of the Shipwreck Coast.
To underline this quote over 600 ships have gone down in this area and only just over a third have ever been discovered.
This part of Australia’s coastline is unforgiving, and even on a fine day you can imagine how horrendous the conditions must have been at times.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year you are visiting make sure you take a warm jacket and something in case it rains.
Where does the Great Ocean Road Start and Finish?
From Melbourne the Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and finishes at Allansford.
Torquay is approximately 100 kilometers from Melbourne via Geelong along the M1 then join the B100 to Torquay.
The Great Ocean road follows the B100 for 243 kilometers through to Allansford which is just 10 minutes from Warrnambool.
The B100, replaces the old State road 100, which was the original Great Ocean road designation.
You can then return the 256 kilometers to Melbourne via the A1 and M1.
Should I travel East to West or West to East?
The Great Ocean Road can be traversed in either direction, but before making a decision on the best way to travel, read about the highlights of the Great Ocean Road.
What Attractions will you see on the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road is blessed with a large variety of things to see and do, attractions for all ages and for those who might like to sit back more as well as the very active.
The beauty of the Great Ocean Road is it's diversity and your ability to self pace your trip.
Here is a list of some of the highlights, we have detailed much more in the sections below:
- The 12 Apostles
- London Arch
- Bells Beach (Home of the Rip Curl Pro and don't forget Point Break)
- Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
- The Otways
- Great Ocean Walk
- and much more
The start of the Great Ocean Road is Torquay, an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
Torquay is where to head for surf. The town is full of surf shops, surf tours and everything else connected with surfing. This is also where Quiksilver and Rip Curl surf brands started and until recently were both their head quarters were.
Just outside of Torquay is Bells Beach, the home of the Rip Curl Pro Easter Classic, the longest running surfing competition in the world. You may not be able to ride the waves the professionals ride first up but there are numerous surf schools to get you started.
Torquay is also the beginning of The Great Otway National Park. The park stretches from Torquay through to Princetown. The park also goes up through the hinterland towards Colac.
The Great Otway National Park has it all, rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, tall forests, ferny gullies, and beautiful waterfalls and lakes.
The Original Start
Just past Airleys Inlet, at Eastern View is the historic original starting point of the Great Ocean Road.
In 1922 the first official opening of the road, at that time from Eastern View to Lorne took place. The Great Ocean Road spanned just over 13 kilometers. Memorial Arch marks this spot, so stop and have a read about the Memorial and the significance to the Great Ocean Road.
Lorne is where the bush meets the beach. It has lots to offer, natural beauty, great accommodation for all budgets, wonderful dining experiences, and more. There are 10 waterfalls within 10 kilometers of Lorne. Imagine what a lovely trip that is!
Lorne also hosts the famous “Falls Music Festival”. It starts 28th December through to 1st January and has been running since 1993.
What a magical place to spend New Year’s Eve, high amongst the ancient mountains of the Otway Rainforest.
From Lorne to Apollo Bay is only a 45 minute drive if you don’t stop, although I bet, for some people, it could take almost the whole day.
The rainforest comes down to meet the ocean.
Just outside of Lorne is Teddy’s Lookout, which has a walkway that takes you to a viewing platform. It should be your first stop.
Just a little further along you will find the Cumberland River meeting the sea. The gorge is spectacular. You will be able to go on beach and river walks here.
As you continue along the road the seascape continues to surprise and delight you around every bend. There are numerous stopping spots along the way.
At Wye River there is a good pub to stop at and the panoramic ocean views are second to none. Sip a local beer or wine, gaze out to sea and know this is one of the best pub locations in the world.
Along this part of the Great Ocean Road from May to September you will be able to watch the whales as they come close in to the shore.
Koalas and other Wildlife
Moving on down the road Cape Patton Lookout is just a short 10 kilometres away.
You cross over Grey River and when you reach Shrapnel Gully, home to koalas.
They are hard to spot during the day but late afternoon they are on the move! Koalas sleep for 20 hours a day!
Just a little further down the road you will arrive at Apollo Bay, and your next stop Kennett River for some more wildlife viewing. Koalas galore!
You will also see King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.
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It is on this leg of the Great Ocean Road that you will see the Twelve Apostles located in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.
They are formed by erosion of the limestone cliffs. These stacks are harder at the top and due to the base being softer the erosion follows the path of least resistance.
This initial undermining is what creates the overhangs, arches and eventually new stacks.
The wild Great Southern Ocean and its friend the wind are the reason for the erosion.
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The Visitor's Centre is worth a visit before you walk through a 500 metre tunnel under the road itself.
You will come to walkways and viewing platforms.
Gibson Steps will take you down to the beach where you will get another perspective of them being so close to them. You will realise how tall they are (rising 45 metres out of the water).
If time is on your side the Twelve Apostles are at their best at either sundown or sunrise. The colours change before your eyes.
I know it is hard to tear yourself away from these beauties but more await you.
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Loch Ard Gorge
The Loch Ard Gorge is the next beauty you will see.
It is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard which ran aground nearby.
There were only two teenage survivors, Tom and Eva.
In 2009 the nearby Island Archway collapsed leaving 2 pillars and are now known as Tom & Eva.
A lovely story.
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London Bridge (London Arch)
London Bridge now known as London Arch since part of the bridge collapsed, has a great tale to it.
The year was 1990, and the collapse occurred on 15 January around 3.00pm.
On the day it collapsed there were two people trapped on the part which didn’t fall into the sea, but was now isolated from the mainland.
The story goes they were lovers and because they had to be rescued by helicopter, their secret was out!
The real story is they were cousins.
Read the first hand account below.
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London Bridge is Falling Down!
Dave Darrington assured his cousin Kelly rocks falling into the ocean at iconic landmark London Bridge was perfectly normal.
“We were the only ones there and Kelly and I stood in the middle, as everyone did,” he said.
‘‘She asked if it was safe and I said ‘don’t be stupid, it’s been here for thousands of years.
The next thing he remembers is “it just went bang”. Mr Darrington described the sound of the collapse as like a tree cracking in half.
“We took off into the middle of what is now the island,” he said.
Fear set in for Mr Darrington, who said his first thought was the possibility that the splash caused by the rock falling into the ocean would be strong enough to wash them off the remaining stack.
They then had to wait 3 hours for the helicopter!
The Journey's End
Back on the road. The Grotto, located just outside of Peterborough is amazing. Some will say the highlight of the Great Ocean Road. Make sure you don’t miss it and then you will know whether they are right or not!
Just a little bit further and you will see the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands. Then onto Warrnambool for a rest from one spectacular site to another.
All along this route you will get to taste the local produce and wines of the area. They will not disappoint!
You have done your research, seen countless images of the Great Ocean Road, but nothing prepares you for seeing it yourself for real.
When is the best time to travel the Great Ocean Road?
You certainly get the best weather along with the most tourists and the highest prices for accommodation. If you love water activities then this is the time to go.
Autumn (Shoulder Season)
Visitors are starting to become fewer, weather becoming cooler and prices coming down.
Ideal time, less traffic on the road, fewer tourists, better prices but no water activities. There is a bonus, it is Whale Migration Season.
(Shoulder Season) Another ideal time to visit the Great Ocean Road. It is the best time to see the rainforest as the waterfalls are at their peak. Make sure you take your wet weather protection gear for the rainforest at this time. Nature is also waking up, the flowers are coming out, the wildlife is on the move!
Note: Conditions can change quickly so plan for colder or wetter weather, even if fine and warm.
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Great Ocean Road Weather
Here's what the weather is like on the Great Ocean Road:
Summer (Dec - Feb): Min 12°C Max 22°C
Avg monthly rainfall 37mm Avg rain days per month 9
Autumn (Mar - May): Min 9°C Max 21°C
Avg monthly rainfall 62mm Avg rain days per month 13
Winter (Jun - Aug): Min 6°C Max 14°C
Avg monthly rainfall 84mm Avg rain days per month 19
Spring (Sep - Nov): Min 8°C Max 19°C
Avg monthly rainfall 64mm Avg rain days per month 15
Weather averages are for Warrnambool and will vary along the Great Ocean Road.
Where should I depart From?
Which way to go, from Torquay or from Allansford?
From Torquay is the more common way, as it places you at the Twelve Apostles in the afternoon for some wonderful photos.
A reverse direction tour will avoid the crowds and gives you more chances to spot koalas in the wild.
If you can overnight then you will get to see more. There are fantastic extended trips ex Melbourne.
With time on your side I would certainly suggest you see the Twelve Apostles at both sunrise and sunset, as photographers call it, “The Golden Hour”.
Which ever way you travel try and include a helicopter flight.
The other question is to continue onto Adelaide. To give you an idea, from Warrnambool to Adelaide it is 614 kms.
The coast line is also beautiful, or can venture off to Mt Gambier, but that's a story for another time.
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Accommodation along the Great Ocean Road
As part of this guide, we will continue to expand the information to help you in planning your tours along the Great Ocean Road. As we discover interesting, unique or suitable accommodation options we will place them here so you can also research them and decide if they are suitable for you.
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A Great Ocean View Motel
Fall asleep to the sounds of the waves, of the Southern Ocean, breaking on the beach, yet remain within walking distance to the restaurants, cafes and boutiques of Apollo Bay. The address says it all Number One Great Ocean Road Apollo bay. Free Wi-fi and off street parking. See website
There are just 14 Steps between this 2 storey beach house and the ocean and nothing to interrupt your views. The perfect base for exploring the Otway Rainforest or a luxurious break while on the Great Ocean Walk. Fully equipped and just a short drive from Apollo Bay. See website
Lighthouse Keepers Inn
Overlooking Main Beach and with coastal views to Cape Paton the Lighthouse Keepers Inn offers comfortable accommodation just minutes from the heart of Apollo Bay and close to the visitors centre. Explore the Otways or just relax on the beach. See website
Located on the Great Ocean Road opposite a beautiful sandy beach just a short drive to the Otway National Park and an ideal base to visit the world renowned 12 Apostles, Chocolate Gannets offers luxury accommodation for families and couples with spectacular views of the southern ocean. See website
Whether you decide to walk one section of the complete walk, The Great Ocean Road Walk allows you to see parts of the Great Otway and Port Campbell National Parks normally inaccessible to most tourists.
Lorne Coachman Inn
Right across the road from the Erskine River and a short stroll to the beach, the Coachman Inn is an ideal place to stay in Lorne. Take in the sights of the Great Ocean Road, Surf, Fish, Bushwalk our enjoy the restaurants, cafes and shops of Lorne.
Rooms have Queen beds, kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. See website
Southern Anchorage Retreat
Nestled in a peaceful bushland environment, Southern Anchorage Retreat is 20 minutes from the 12 Apostles and 30 minutes from Cape Otway Lighthouse and the Otway Fly.
A great base for hiking, bird watching or just relaxing. See website
Situated at the midway point of both the Great Ocean Road and The Great Ocean Road Walk, The Boomerangs is a great place to base yourself to explore this area or just spend a few days relaxing and recharging.
With four different styles of accommodation, and a one hat restaurant, Seacombe House is perfect for your Port fairy stay. There are heritage cottages, a guest house or motel style accommodation all with their unique style.
Relax and enjoy Port Fairy. See website
Offering a single point of contact for High Quality properties throughout Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. Rejuvenate Stays offers a simple way to search for, and book your accommodation. Feel special with Rejuvenate Stays
Hopkins River Homestead
Stay in a reproduction federation homestead overlooking the Hopkins River, with its blend of old world charm and modern comforts. 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms make this a perfect family retreat.
Restaurants & Cafes along the Great Ocean Road
Here you can find interesting dining options along the Great Ocean Road. Check their websites and menus out for yourself and treat your taste buds to something special.
Chopstix Noodle Bar
Offering Asian flavours with a modern twist Chopstix Noodle Bar is the place to head to to have your taste buds teased. Mixing different Asian favourites to create a unique dining experience.
The Lorne restaurant is located at 96 Mountjoy Parade, and is open seven days a week for lunch or dinner
Limited delivery available. See website
A small modern restaurant within Port Fairy's historic Seacombe House, where modern dining is combined with native ingredients to produce a uniquely Australian dining experience.
One Hat Dining excellence. See website