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Spanning across 243 kilometers that meanders along the south-western coast of Victoria is the Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage site. It was built in 1919 by returning soldiers, made to commemorate the veterans who bravely fought during World War I. Here, the breathtaking sight of the ocean sprawls over the endless horizon as rocky cliffs rise up from the beach like artfully designed structures. Along the road, you will be able to spot charming towns, lush forest reserves, beautiful wildlife and of course, Victoria's best eats.
The journey begins with a 90-minute drive from the center of Melbourne to reach highway B100. From there, buckle up — getting to the other end of your Great Ocean Road tour may take long, but you will never be bored. Prepare your camera for quick snapshots; the entire ride is truly Instagram-worthy, from the clear skies to the quaint fishing villages whose locals will keep you company during your much-needed stops.
|Total distance||243 kilometers|
|Start/end location||Begin the journey at Torquay and end at Allansford on the southwestern coast of Victoria.|
|Duration of the trip||
It is possible to drive the Great Ocean Road trip in a day, which will take you more than 9 hours. However, to fully enjoy the trip, we recommend you to plan a 3-day, 400km round journey to enjoy the views and experience the coastal towns.
|Best time to visit||
Summer (December to February) is the most popular time to visit, which comes at the cost of large crowds. To avoid this, visit during spring (September to November), where you can enjoy the natural wonders this route offers. Winter (June to August) is not as congested as other seasons; you might miss out on water activities but there is less traffic and more accommodations are available.
The 400-kilometer roundtrip will give you diverse options to plan your Great Ocean Road itinerary according to your liking. We recommend this 3-day tour that covers all this route's essential attractions – from beaches to wildlife to amazing culinary adventures!
Day 1: Melbourne to Apollo Bay
Take an hour-and-thirty minutes' drive from the heart of Melbourne to Torquay, the surfer's paradise, which also marks the starting line of the Great Ocean Road. Enjoy the company of Australia's surf culture before you hit the road. The next 30 kilometers after Anglesea (18 km from Torquay) showcases magnificent coastal views. Stop at Lorne.
From here, you can go fishing at the pier or see the Erskine Falls right inside the heart of a rainforest. Make your way to the Kennett River and catch some koala sightings. Your journey for the day ends at the incredible views of the cliffs rising from the wild beaches as you reach Apollo Bay. Take the chance to view the Grampians or visit the oldest lighthouse in Australia.
Day 2: Apollo Bay to Warrnambool
Head back to the Great Ocean Road and go straight to Port Campbell. The town is famous for the 12 Apostles, a series of rocks standing tall in the middle of the Southern Ocean. If you can, why not opt for a scenic helicopter flight, which includes the top view of Bakers Oven, Loch Ard Gorge, and Two Mile Bay?
Your last stop is in Warrnambool, where winters are magical. During the colder season, you'd be able to catch blue whales and their calves from offshore. Enjoy the haunted beauty of the Shipwreck Coast, and lodge into Lady Bay Resort for the night. If you still have time, follow the route towards Port Fairy and take a stop at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, an eco-park nearby an extinct volcano.
Day 3: Warrnambool to Melbourne
It’s time to go home, but the Great Ocean Road drive doesn’t stop yet. Follow the inland path towards Colac and bask into the sight of the Great Otway National Park, with towering trees, crater lakes and wildlife roaming around an extinct volcano. Take a stroll in the botanic garden or enjoy the bounty of food along Otways Harvest Trail. Enjoy a gourmet lunch at the multi-awarded restaurant Brae, about 20 minutes from Colac. From here, head straight to Inverleigh which leads you back to Melbourne.
Note that this drive will take the entire day. Alternatively, you can navigate back to Port Campbell and take the Princess Highway back to Melbourne for a shorter trip.
Feel the thrill of a four-wheel-drive car as you make it through the rugged roads and the sharp slopes. Local companies offer Great Ocean Road tour plans that include group packages and some, even helicopter rides.
If you're more into wandering on your own, rent a self-drive package or alternatively, select public transport options. You can either take the VLine or choose train services that go directly from Melbourne to Warrnambool, with regular stops at prominent tourist spots. As for coastal areas, you will need to ride connecting buses to get there.
- The Great Ocean Road is a hotspot for many of Victoria's hottest events (such as Bells Beach Rip Curls Pro, Apollo Bay Seafood Festival and the Warrnambool Race Carnival). If you're planning to visit during the time of these events, prepare for road congestion.
- Read the road signs. Rainforests, beaches, and cliffs are mostly composed of limestone, which is prone to erosion. A large part of the road is covered by almost-vertical cliffs and motorists should be prepared for possible rockfalls.
- Be prepared for the strong coastal winds. Keep yourself warm, especially when heading towards the coastal sights such as the 12 Apostles.
- Pack in loads of liquids and snacks on the road when you can. Stay hydrated, especially in summer, as Australia’s temperature rises to a past-feverish 40-degrees.
- Driving at night is not recommended. Wet roads, wildlife activity, and unfamiliarity are some of the risk factors you want to avoid.
With picturesque views of tall cliffs, azure beaches, and lush rainforests, the Great Ocean Road tour is nothing less than remarkable. Everyone will find something to fall in love with; may it be the adorable wildlife surrounding the reserves, the modern amenities of contemporary resorts, or the high-octane activities one can only experience here. The long drive is worth it; as long as you smartly pace the hours for sight-seeing and traveling, you will never run out of things to enjoy. Add this itinerary to your Australia tour and experience one of the best landscapes Australia has to offer.
For more information on travelling to Australia, read our Travel Guide for Australia.