The Great Ocean Road is one of the best drives in the world with some amazing places to see along the way. Easily accessible from Melbourne, it stretches across 243 km starting from the coastal town of Torquay and finishing at Allansford. There is plenty to do and see here, so while Great Ocean Road can be done and driven in a day, we recommend spending at least two days. From small beach towns, epic coastline views, legendary surf beaches, Australian wildlife, and even an ancient rainforest, it won’t disappoint.
Here is the list of 20 places not to miss on the Great Ocean Road:
Torquay is the start of the Great Ocean Road. It’s known for incredible beaches, surfing competitions and there are some great brunch options. If you wish, you can base yourself here for the first night and start your Great Ocean Road drive from here, rather than coming down from Melbourne. And if you get up early, go watch the surfers catch the waves at Back Beach at Rocky Point. We loved our brunch at Bomboras Cafe.
2. Bells Beach
Surf is definitely up here at Bells Beach. The Rip Curl Pro surfing competition is held here every year over Easter for the past 50 years, making it the longest-running surfing competition in the world. Naturally, it attracts many surfing enthusiasts throughout the year too.
The Famous Bells Beach
Once you leave Torquay and hit the Great Ocean Road, your first small town will be at Anglesea. This is the best place to spot kangaroos, especially if you are here early morning. They seem to love the golf course, so just drive past it and park up – you are guaranteed to see some.
4. Split Point Lighthouse at Ayers Inlet
Another must-see on the Great Ocean Road is this iconic lighthouse in a spectacular setting. Park up and walk up the hill for the best views.
5. Memorial Arch at Eastern View
Stop here for more information on how Great Ocean Road was built. And of course, get a photo with the arch.
This charming seaside town can not be missed on the Great Ocean Road. You might consider spending less time at previous stops to have time for lunch or coffee and a walk here. The beach in Lorne is also really suitable for swimming. If you enjoy eating good food, there are some great options here and if you are staying for the night, dine at Movida for some Spanish flavours.
7. Teddy’s lookout
We missed this lookout on our previous trips along the Great Ocean Road and we really don’t know why. It is a bit of a steep drive, but it offers drone-like views of the St George River and the road.
8. Erskine Falls
Head 10km inland from Lorne to chase some waterfalls. The Erskine Falls are 30m high and make for a nice change of scenery.
If you would like to slow down, stop here for your lunch/coffee break. We hear the Wye General Store is one of the best places to eat on the Great Ocean road.
10. See Koalas at Kennett River
To tick off another Aussie animal, wander around Kennett River. Just behind the caravan park is a huge eucalyptus tree that seems to be a koalas favourite. Or walk up the nearby street and look for them high in the trees.
Koala at Kennett River
11. Apollo Bay
Another coastal town along the Great Ocean Road. Stop for a break or stretch as the next part of the journey involves a lot more driving.
Driving along the coastline and only about 25 minutes from Apollo Bay, you would probably not expect to find a rainforest. Maits Rest is a 20-30 minute walk through the incredible sub-temperature rainforest. Imagine big ferns, ancient trees and tranquility.
Lush and green at Maits Rest
By now you have entered the Otways National Park which offers some great hikes, the oldest light station on mainland Australia and even some adventure. If you prefer more adrenaline-packed activity, then check out the Fly Tree Top Walk in Weeaproinah. You can zip through the leafy treetops of the magnificent Otway Ranges from one ‘Cloud Station’ to another, suspended up to 30 meters above the forest floor.
14. Gibson steps
Now we are talking! While the Twelve Apostles are the best known of the must-see places on the Great Ocean Road, don’t miss the turn-off for Gibson steps just before it. The views here are remarkable, so be sure to take a moment to marvel at the surrounding landscape before making your way down the 86 carved steps onto the beach below. The beach itself is wide with cliffs and two jutting rocks.
15. Twelve Apostles
The famous sea stacks, the twelve apostles are the postcard picture of the Great Ocean Road and the must-see place. You can easily spend an hour or two here so build this into your day. These rock formations have been carved by the strong ocean over the years, and while there are no longer twelve of them, they are simply breathtaking. The best time to see them is at sunrise or sunset, but this can be tricky to do if planning to see more places afterward. The information centre offers parking, shop, and facilities. Simply follow the short path and it will guide you to the Twelve Apostles’ lookout.
The highlight of any trip to Great Ocean Road – The Twelve Apostles
16. Loch Ard Gorge
Only three minutes from the Twelve Apostles you’ll find another mighty rock star and a protected, sandy beach nestled amongst cliffs. Loch Ard Gorge was the scene of the Shipwreck Coast’s most famous shipping disaster. You can read more about the tragedy at the lookout and imagine how the two survivors felt when making it out of the ocean onto the beach.
The story of the two survivors at Loch Ard Gorge
17. London Bridge
A few minutes further you will find the site of London Bridge. Originally a natural arch and tunnel, London Bridge crumpled on 15 January 1990 and became an isolated arch no longer connected to the mainland. Two tourists stranded on top of the remaining island had to be rescued by helicopter. You can also spot little penguins here at dusk and in the winter season migrating Humpback Whales.
18. The Grotto
If you think you have seen enough rock formations, the grotto will surprise you. Part-blowhole, part archway, part-cave it’s easy enough to get to. Just follow the path all the way down to sea level. This is your final stop in the Port Campbell National Park.
19. Bay of Islands
Only 10 minutes from the Grotto, the Bay of Islands offer the final view of some epic formations. The wild Southern Ocean has carved a stunning collection of rock stacks and sheltered bays with clifftop walks, scenic lookouts, and a nice beach. This is where the locals come during the summer to avoid the more touristy parts of the Great Ocean Road.
20. Childers Cove
This lesser-known beach is more off-the-beaten-track. You might get lucky and have it all to yourself. A great place to swim and if you are staying in the nearby town of Warrnambool at the end of your Great Ocean Road trip, you might come back here in the morning.
Need accommodation for your trip along the Great Ocean Road?
Check out Booking.com for the best range of budget to luxury accommodation at the right price.
A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide and endless optimist. The brain behind getting from A to B for the www.veryhungrynomads.com - 2 women visiting every country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".