After only a short 60-minute drive, you find yourself on one of the world’s most beautiful coastal roads, better known as The Great Ocean Road. We guess that everyone has already heard or seen pictures of The Twelve Apostles, the series of rock formations that stand out in the ocean. But besides this, there’s a lot more to discover along the way. You pass along the best surf beaches in the world, into thick rain forests where you can spot wild koala’s to rugged coastlines in just a couple of hours.
There are multiple tour operators that do the main tourist spots along the way in one full day. But that just doesn’t do justice to this fantastic route in our opinion. Rent a car or van, take your time and discover all the secret corners in a multiple-day road trip. For your convenience, we’ve already summed up all the must-do stops so you can fully experience The Great Ocean Road as it should.
BEST STOPS ALONG THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Torquay is home to world’s best surf brands like Quicksilver and Rip Curl, and some real iconic surf beaches. One of them is Bell’s Beach. Yes, that’s the beach of the final scene in Point Break. Surfers from all over the world come to Bell’s for its perfect waves. The annual Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition is also held on this beach in March/April. If you’re into surfing, don’t drive past this stop!
Head up to Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne for spectacular views over The Great Ocean Road. Here you can see the Saint George River running into the clear blue waters of the Bass Strait and the mountains that lie ahead of you.
SPOT KOALAS IN KENNETT RIVER
If you traverse half of the world to Australia, you want to see all of its wildlife, right? Kangaroos are easy to spot when you go out of the city, but some wildlife like koalas are a bit trickier to spot. Luckily, along The Great Ocean Road, there are a few spots where there’s always some koala action going on. One of the prime spots is Kennett River. Look up into the eucalyptus trees and have a good look. Sometimes it’s hard to spot them right away, but they are there! Another prime spot to see them is on the road towards Cape Otway.
Apollo Bay is an excellent stop for a quick bite or to stretch your legs a bit. From Marriners Lookout, you have great panoramic views over the beautiful bay. To tell you a little secret, head to the boat ramp at the harbor/sailing club and if you’re lucky, you can spot a big stingray swimming around in the neighborhood of the fish washing tables.
Drive through the lush green forest of the Great Otway National Park – don’t forget to look up because there are a lot of koalas hiding on top of the trees – all the way to Cape Otway. It’s Victoria’s most southern point and the place where the Southern Ocean meets the Bass Strait. Head down to the lighthouse and see the rugged coastline on both sides, with the wild open ocean in front of you.
MELBA GULLY RAINFOREST WALK
Most people drive right past the sign of the Melba Gully Rainforest Walk. We recommend taking the time of stopping here and do the short 30-minute loop walk through the rainforest. The walk is really tranquil and easy. If you go after dark, you may be lucky to see glow worms on the side of the paths! Just don’t shine your lights towards them or they will turn out theirs.
Just minutes away from The Twelve Apostles are the Gibson Steps. Head down the stairs that lead up to the beach and be amazed at how small we actually are. The cliff walls are enormous when you stand next to them on this long stretch of sand. The perfect place to witness the power of the ocean from up close.
THE TWELVE APOSTLES
This is probably one of the most well-known stops along The Great Ocean Road, and you’ll definitely notice this on the number of crowds at the parking lot. The Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone towers sticking out of the sea. Millions of years ago, these rocks were still part of the mainland, but water and wind have slowly eroded the rest of the cliff. Fun fact: there have never been twelve rocks, but only nine, from which one fell down in 2005, leaving eight standing.
Travel Tip: Go early in the morning or just before sunrise to be there before the tour buses arrive and to escape the crowds a bit.
LOCH ARD GORGE
A bit less known and just a few minutes further is Loch Ard Gorge, named after the Loch Ard, a ship that sank in front of this rugged coastline. You can take the stairs down to the beautiful beach that has formed between the rocks. Great spot to bring your picknick!
From the Loch Ard Gorge carpark, you can take the short walking trail to Sherbrook River, where the river runs into the sea at Sherbrook Beach. People often skip this place, but when the ocean’s tide is low, you can walk on the limestone rocks and see the waves hitting the rocks with tremendous power before you.
The London Bridge is one of the top stops on the Great Ocean Road. It’s not only a beautiful rock formation but also has a fascinating history behind it. 27 years ago, a naturally formed bridge connected the offshore island to the mainland, which is why it’s called London Bridge. But in 1990, the bridge started cracking and collapsed into the sea, leaving two tourists stranded on the little island. They had to wait there for several hours until they were rescued by a helicopter! Now, because of the lack of a bridge, this rock formation is known as the London Arche.
The grotto is actually a hole in the rocks formed by waves. At the lower viewing platform, you can look right through it to see the ocean at the other end. During low tide, a pool is formed underneath the arch between the viewing platform and the sea.
BAY OF MARTYRS
The Bay Of Martyrs and Bay Of Islands are often overlooked on a Great Ocean Road itinerary, but are definitely worth the stop! The Bay Of Martyrs is part of the Bay Of Islands Coastal Park and consists, like the Twelve Apostles, of different limestone bluffs in the sea. According to some stories, a lot of local aboriginals have been pushed down these cliffs by European conquerors.
BAY OF ISLANDS
Some people find the Bay Of Islands more beautiful than the Twelve Apostles, maybe because of the lack of crowds? But the Bay Of Islands should be on everyone’s itinerary! You can admire the solitary limestone cliffs and sea views from different viewpoints along this 32km stretch between Peterborough and Warrnambool.
At the very Western end of the Great Ocean Road there are a couple of bays that are worth visiting but rarely have visitors. Perfect place to escape the crowds! It’s a great place for a beach walk or a refreshing swim on a hot day while being awe-struck by the beauty of the surrounding nature. We camped here a night and seeing this place during sunset and sunrise was just amazing!
GREAT OCEAN ROAD MAP OF ATTRACTIONS
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