TheGreat Ocean Roadis one of the most famous and spectacular road routes inAustralia, for us the most beautiful. The views of theTwelve Apostlesare its most popular attraction, but the Great Ocean Road is so much more:
Spectacularpanoramas,surfing beaches,coastal towns,prehistoric forests,koalasandkangaroosare some of the most outstanding attractions that you can enjoy along the Great Ocean Road .
It is possible to do the Great Ocean Road with one of theorganizedtoursthat depart daily from Melbourne and reach theviewpoint of the Twelve Apostles, but we recommend that if you can do it on your own.
We traveled the Great Ocean Road at our own pace, rented a car at Melbourne airport and made our own particular itinerary, stopping where we wanted.
On this trip we take the opportunity to also visitPhillip Island,Mornington PeninsulaandMelbourne. If you also want to add these places to your trip, complete this guide by reading these articles:
Southeastern Australia, what is now the state of Victoria, had been populated for more than 40,000 years by indigenous tribes before the English occupation. These aborigines belonged to different tribes, spoke several languages and practiced a semi-nomadic life. In 1803 there was the first contact between Westerners and Aborigines in this region of Australia.
In the area on which the Great Ocean Road was built, during the early years of Western settlement, the aboriginal tribe of theGadubanud lived. A curious story about this region was that of the doomedWilliam Buckley, who spent 32 years living among the Aborigines.
William Buckley was sentenced to 14 years in New South Wales after being caught with a bundle of stolen cloth in London, although he defended himself by claiming that he did not know it was stolen.
Upon learning that he was to be transferred to Tasmania after a failed settlement on the Mornington Peninsula, he escaped with other prisoners and wandered along the coast of now Melbourne. After a few weeks without wanting to contact the natives of the area, he finally joined them, and lived with the aboriginal tribe that populated the Great Ocean Road area for 32 years, reaching the status of respected person and expert in aboriginal weapons .
In 1835 he appeared in an English camp with two other Aborigines, later pardoned and became an interpreter and guide. He spent his last years in Hobart (Tasmania) working in a factory. The bookThe Life and Adventures of William Buckleyrecounts all your adventures.
Another story that surrounds the Great Ocean Road area is that of the Massacre Bay, Massacre Point and Bay of Martyrs lookouts . In these cliffs the men of theKarrae-Wurrongaboriginal tribe were killed,whowere forced to jump into the sea by the European colonizers. The women and children of the tribe were also murdered in a nearby swamp.
Although there is no written evidence of these stories, it is verified that the aboriginal population of the area decreased a lot to the point of disappearing. Although the colonizers speak of migration, the oral tradition of the area suggests other more macabre motifs.
Later, between los 1919 and 1932, the Great Ocean Road was built by veterans of the First World War to honor fallen soldiers in it. This road is the largesttribute monument inthe world and runs along the coast of the state of Victoria for 243 km (151 miles). Today it has become a tourist attraction for its beauty and for the Twelve Apostles, icon of the Great Ocean Road.
How to get to the Great Ocean Road
The distances in Australia are enormous and the time spent traveling by road is very high, but if that is your plan, here is the approximate time it takes from the main cities of Australia:
Sydney: 10 hours
Adelaide: 7 hours
Brisbane: 20 hours
Perth: 34 hours
Uluru: 24 hours
Canberra: 8 hours.
We measure distances in hours because the kilometers do not give an exact perspective of the time used, since the state of the roads varies a lot from one state to another and the speed limits in Australia are very low
To get to the Great Ocean Road you must go to one of these towns: Torquay or Port Fairy , considered by Victoria Tourism as the beginning and end of the route respectively. Therefore, if you are in Adelaide or Perth, you would start the Great Ocean Road at Port Fairy and if you are in Melbourne, Brisbane or Sydney, by Torquay.
If you want to rent a car in Australia to get to the Great Ocean Road, we advise you to do it through the Airport Rentals search engine because it compares prices between many car rental companies and you can find the cheapest one. It is the one that we always use.
There are two airports in Melbourne: Melbourne airport (MEL) located very close to the center and Melbourne Avalon Airport (AVV) halfway between Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. The latter is a good option if you are not planning to visit the city.
To find the best flight deals to Melbourne we recommend that you use the Skyscanner search engine .
Australia's train system connects its major cities across the entire country. You can get to Melbourne from almost anywhere in Australia and once there you can get to Geelong, from this point you can take a bus that connects with Warrnambool stopping at different points along the way.
We were very surprised by this entire region of Australia, we thought that the Great Ocean Road were just viewpoints with spectacular views, but we found much more. We would have loved to spend two weeks in this area to do some hiking routes into the prehistoric forests of The Otway and enjoy more calmly its surfing beaches, pending we leave it for another trip.
If like us you only have a few days to enjoy this coastal route, here we leave you thehighlightsof the Great Ocean Road. We have listed them in the order you will find them if you start the Great Ocean Road in Torquay.
It is the first town on the Great Ocean Road, known for the famous surfing beaches Bells Beach and Jan Juc Beach.
The village atmosphere is very good, especially at sunset when all the surfers gather on the terraces of bars and cafes to have a drink and rest. It is highly recommended to stay overnight and start the Great Ocean Road from there.
It is one of the most famous beaches in Australia, where one of the world surfing championship events takes place. It also has a viewpoint from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the cliffs and a world-class wave.
If you are interested in knowing which are the best places in Australia for the south, this article will enchant you: Where to Surf in Australia.
It is another of the main towns on the route. It is located on the banks of the Erskine River and from there you can access the waterfalls that we will talk about in the next point. It is a picturesque place, with a lot of charm, perfect to stop and have a coffee or lunch before continuing the route.
If you like Lorne so much that you decide to spend the night there and use it as a base camp, we recommend that you take a look at the Booking website where you have more than 52 places to stay in Lorne .
If you are one of those who like to stay in houses to cook or even share the house with a local to live an Australian experience, you may be more interested in looking for accommodation on Airbnb.
If you still don't know what Airbnb is, we'll explain everything to you in this article: Airbnb Tutorial .
It is one of the best-known places on the Great Ocean Road and is very surprising for its beauty.
Doing the Triplet Falls trail is to enter a prehistoric forest and enjoy beautiful waterfalls, the environment is impressive. The 2km circular path that leads to the platform from which you can see the waterfalls is very easy to do and 100% recommended.
If you have more time, we advise you to also do other longer trails that are in the area and go further into the forest, which is beautiful. If you want more information about hiking in this area here is this link:Parks Victoria.
Koalas - Kennett River
This is the best place in Australia that we have visited to seeKoalas in the wild.
When you get to the Kennett River campsite, follow a road called Gray River Road and look in the branches of the trees along the side of the road, sureyou see a koala.
Another picturesque fishing village with a beautiful beach where you can enjoy a swim, surf or sunbathe.
Apollo Bay is the place we chose to spend the night and we liked it a lot because it is a very quiet coastal town, but does it have the odd Australian pub where you can have a beer at sunset? We stayed with our friends at the Apollo Bay YHA. If you are looking for a cheap hotel we recommend it 100%.
If you are looking for a hotel with more comforts then we advise you to take a look at the Sandpiper Motel.
Cape Otway Lightstation
The station is open every day from 9am to 5pm, and admission for adults costs AUD 19.50 (If you buy it online AUD 16.50?) Inside the complex you can visit what was once the most important lighthouse in Australia, a Old Telegraph Station and learn a bit about Aboriginal life and culture at The Otways through a guided tour.
Just before reaching the Twelve Apostles Visitor Center is Gibson Steps. Go down the steps for a stroll along the beach and take in views of the Twelve Apostles up close. We recommend watching thesunsetat Gibson Steps beach, the views are spectacular and the beach is much less crowded than the Twelve Apostles viewpoint.
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles are the jewel in the crown of the Great Ocean Road. Rock formations located along the coast created as a result of the erosion of limestone cliffs by the force of the wind and the sea over millions of years.
Although they are called the Twelve Apostles, the truth is that today there are only eight rock formations standing.
Loch Ard Gorge
This area is located just minutes from the Twelve Apostles. Go down the steps that lead to the beach and explore the area following one of the marked trails to enjoy the views, the limestone rock formations, the caves that have been formed as a result of erosion ... etc.
Although it is a very small town, it has a very beautiful natural harbor and is a good place to stop for a drink before resuming the march along the Great Ocean Road.
It is another indispensable stop on the Great Ocean Road to observe the natural arched sculpture that has been formed as a result of the erosion of the cliff.
Until 1990 this rock was connected to the ground, it was part of the cliff and it was possible to walk over the bridge to enjoy the views, hence its name. In 1990 the natural rock walkway broke and fell into the sea, leaving two tourists trapped on the outside of the bridge. The tourists were rescued by a helicopter and there were no injuries.
It is a sinkhole, a hole in the rock created as a result of the force of the sea. Go down the steps and take a look, because the ocean views are so pretty.
Bay of Martyrs (Bay of Island)
Although the Twelve Apostles are the most famous rock formations on the Great Ocean Road, the Bay of Martyrs lookout is simply spectacular. The view is not able to reach all the rocks lined along the coast, beautiful.
If, like us, you want to stop at all these viewpoints and enjoy the Great Ocean Road to the fullest, we recommend that you rent a car and do the route along the Great Ocean Road at your own pace.
As we explained at the beginning of our article, we took advantage of this trip to see the famous Phillip Island penguins and get to know Mornington Peninsula. Our entire road tour lasted five days and we drove through: Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula, Great Ocean Road, and Melbourne. This is how we show it to you on the map:
In this post we have decided to talk to you only about the Great Ocean Road, but if like us you want to complete your trip visiting Melbourne, Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula, we advise you to read these post:
In the afternoon we began to walk theGreat Ocean Road,we passed throughTorquay, the first town on the Great Ocean Road, which was super lively with all the surfers having beers on the terraces of the bars at sunset, we visited the famous beach ofBells Beachand we end the day inAnglesea.
Day 2: Great Ocean Road from Anglesea to Apollo Bay.
FromAngleseawe drove toLornewhere we stopped to shop at the supermarket and gather information at the Town Tourist Office.
From Lorne we went to see theErskineFallsand continued our route to theKennett River,where koalas can be seen in their natural habitat.
We spent the night atApollo Bay,where we had booked accommodation for two nights.
Day 3: Great Ocean Road. Apollo Bay - Bay of Martyrs - Apollo Bay
The first stop of the day wasCape Otway, to see the most important lighthouse in Australia.
We continued our route until we reached thevisitorcenter ofthe Twelve Apostles, parked the car and went to the viewpoint of the Twelve Apostles, the most famous sight of the Great Ocean Road and the most awaited moment by all the visitors who make the route.
A thousand photographs later we continued our way to Port Campbell, and from there to the Bay of Martyrs, stopping at all these viewpoints:The Arch,London Bridge,The Grotto,and of course theBay of Martyrsviewpoint, one of the most beautiful in the city. route.
We saw the sunset atGibson Stepsbeach,simply spectacular, one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen.
Day 4. From Apollo Bay to Melbourne
The last day we left to visit Melbourne, although we already knew him, we wanted to show the city to our friends.
Best time to do the route (Climate and temperature)
The weather and climate on the Great Ocean Road varies between its different areas as a consequence of the geographic variety of this area. For example, it is rainy and humid in Otway National Park, but more arid in coastal areas.
In general, the temperatures in this region are temperate . Winters are mild and summers are cool and cloudy. The Great Ocean Road is not as hot as Melbourne and other parts of the state of Victoria.
It seems that the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road is February and March , when temperatures are around 20 degrees and the rains are not as abundant as in winter or spring. Still, don't forget the raincoat at home.
You should bear in mind that being a coastal area the winds are constant throughout the year , so we recommend you wear a light jacket to protect yourself from the wind. At night the temperatures drop quite a bit both in summer and winter, so during the months of June to August you will need a thicker jacket.
It is difficult to find updated information on the camping areas that are free. Another drawback is that they are usually far from the coast. Learn more about campsites and campgrounds at Victoria Parks .
On this page you can find the entirecamping offer, you just have to enter the neighborhood or town where you want to stay and all the campsites that exist in the area will automatically appear.
Hotel / hostel
There are many hotels and hostels scattered along the Great Ocean Road, but we recommend staying in Torquay, Lorne or Apollo Bay, which are in our opinion the liveliest towns on the Great Ocean Road.
On our trip down the Great Ocean Road we stayed in hostels, to save some money on room and board, because that way we could prepare our breakfasts and dinners at the hostel.
Of all the hostels in which we stay on the Great Ocean Road, we would like to highlight theApollo Bay Eco, due to its location, its spacious common areas and the amount of facilities it offers.
These are the top-rated accommodations in Torquay :
So that you can get an idea of what it costs to travel the Great Ocean Road by car, here we leave you the budget per person that we drive on our trip.
It is important that you bear in mind that we travel five people, so the costs of car rental and gasoline were much cheaper.
On this trip, we also stayed in a hostel and a youth hostel to reduce costs for both accommodation and food, because we shop in supermarkets and cook in the hostel. Although a couple of days we did eat atFish and Chips.
The amounts are in Australian dollars AUD, if you want to convert them to the currency of your country you can do it through this link: Online Currency Converter .
Budget per person 3 days Great Ocean Road Drive (5 people)
Flight Sydney - Melbourne (Tiger Airlines)
Car rental + Insurance
Cape Otway Lightstation Entrance
So far our guide to the Great Ocean Road, one of the places that we like the most in Australia and that we highly recommend adding to your itinerary through Australia.
Thank you very much for reading us, following us and if you want to tell us, criticize us or ask us something, we would be happy to answer you. There is nothing we like more than talking about travel.
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Article published in May 2017 and updated in October 2018 and February 2020.
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