Great Ocean Road Day 1
Starting off in Melbourne you’ll first drive to Torquay. It’s optional if you want to stop here or not, there’s some nice beaches, especially for surfers. However, if you want to save some time and skip Torquay to head straight to Bells Beach, you’ll find a world renowned surf beach which is home to the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition in April. Even if you don’t surf, this area is extremely picturesque and you can enjoy your time walking along the edge of the cliffs and admiring the waves (and surfers) below.
From Bells Beach you’ll be driving to the town of Lorne to grab a bite to eat. On your way there, however, you can take a picture at the Great Ocean Road sign. There’s actually an area to park your car to take a picture with the sign so you won’t have to stop on the road.
Lorne is a popular town to stop in for a lot of people doing the Great Ocean Road. There’s many restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops along the coast where you can stop for a bite to eat with the most beautiful views. If you have time you can spend some of it in town and on your way out I recommend stopping by Teddy's Lookout.
The drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay is the most scenic portion of the Great Ocean Road, so make sure to stop frequently and take in the views as much as you can.
Before arriving in Apollo Bay you can make an optional stop off at Kennett River. Kennett River is a small seaside town about 30 minutes outside of Apollo Bay and is one of the best places on this route to see koalas. So if you’re dying to see one of these little guys, this is your best bet.
You’ll want to find a place to stay for 2 nights in or around Apollo Bay. You can spend the night exploring the town and meeting other backpackers/travelers.
Great Ocean Road Day 2
You’ll spend your only day in the Apollo Bay area detouring from the Great Ocean Road and instead exploring Great Otway National Park. While in Apollo bay there are some fun water activities that you can do like kayaking and surfing, and another worthy attraction to visit while in town is the free Stories of the Great Ocean Road QR Trail, which uses augmented reality, film, and art to tell the story of the Great Ocean Road.
When you arrive at Great Otway National Park, you will want to do Hopetoun Falls, Beauchamp Falls, and Triplet Falls, which are all nice places to trek. Each is very beautiful in their own way. These falls are all fairly close together and have walking trails for easy access. After seeing the falls you can head over to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures where you can see the treetops up close by either ziplining for $120 AUD or by walking above the trees while doing the elevated treetop walk for $25 AUD.
On your way back to Apollo Bay you can stop at the Cape Otway Lighthouse and/or Maits Rest rainforest trail.
While it may not seem like much, doing all this will take you a full day. Plus, you’ll be exhausted since most of what you’ll be doing during the day is physical. Return to Apollo Bay for some rest before starting out bright and early for day 3.
Great Ocean Road Day 3
It’s a 1.5 hour drive from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell if you drive directly. A great detour to take on your way to Port Campbell is Wreck Beach. This stop will take some energy as you’ll need to descend (and then eventually ascend) about 400 steps to where you can see the remains of different shipwrecks.
If 400 steps is too much for you, you can do Gibson’s Steps instead, which is about an 86 step descent from the top of the cliffs to the beach.
When you arrive in Port Campbell, get a bite to eat, maybe relax for a bit and then you’re off to Port Campbell National Park to see the world famous Twelve Apostles.
The Twelve Apostles are the Great Ocean Road’s most iconic site. It’s a collection of seven limestone stacks (previously eight) off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. Now, since this is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, the Twelve Apostles viewpoint can get very busy mid day. we’d recommend visiting for sunrise or sunset, it’ll be both less crowded, and absolutely more stunning.
There are Twelve Apostles helicopter tours you can take if you want to get an aerial view of these stunning rock formations.
After the Twelve Apostles you can visit Loch Ard Gorge. Named after a ship that was wrecked there by the same name. Loch Ard Gorge is best experienced from on the beach where you can truly shrink standing at the base of huge cliffs.
Other notable places to visit, all with picturesque views, include The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, The Bay of Martyrs, and The Bay of Islands which are located within 20 minutes of Port Campbell.
At this point you’ve pretty much wrapped up the Great Ocean Road. You can either stay a night at Port Campbell or you can head back to Melbourne. Or if you’d like to continue the road trip to a new city, you can head up to Adelaide.
We hope that this itinerary was able to help you plan your very own Great Ocean Road trip. Remember if you’re solo in Australia, you can always find a travelmate using GAFFL. You can also browse below to get advice from locals in Australia about the Great Ocean Road.