There are so many more things to do on the Great Ocean Road Australia than look at the scenery. We share all the best Great Ocean Road attractions not to miss.
The Great Ocean Road Victoria is the most famous road trip in Australia. It is famous for its incredible views and sights along the way, in particular the Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road’s most famous landmark.
The Great Ocean Road drive itself is incredible, with stunning clifftop views out over the ocean and of its amazing natural rock formations.
There are plenty of other fun things to do on the Great Ocean Road along the way too.
During our Great Ocean Road holidays we enjoyed rainforest walks, waterfalls, visiting lighthouses, beaches and even zip lining through the trees!
It is possible to take a Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne, but these are usually done in one day. We chose to take four days for our Great Ocean Road trip, and would happily have had even longer.
I definitely recommend hiring a car and taking a few days to fit in all the amazing places to visit in Great Ocean Road.
We did this awesome Great Ocean Road self drive tour as part of an extended road trip, including the Mornington Peninsula and the Grampian Mountains. We finished off our trip with 3 days in Melbourne at the end. Fun!
Our Favourite Great Ocean Road Attractions
The following Great Ocean Road highlights can be found along the Great Ocean Road route in chronological order that you come to them, from Torquay to Warrnambool. And the best news is – most of these attractions are FREE!
Surf City Torquay
Torquay is not only famous as the starting point of the Great Ocean Road, but also as being home to two big Aussie surf brands: Rip Curl and Quicksilver.
Both of these surf brands started off as backyard businesses back in 1969, started by local surfers, and have gone on to become two of the world’s most famous surf brands.
Both companies still have their headquarters here in Torquay and have large retail outlets at Surf City. You will also find plenty of other iconic brands within the shopping plaza here, including Oakley, Billabong, Patagonia and more.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of board shorts, a surf board, wetsuit, baseball cap or clothing, make sure this is your first stop on the Great Ocean Road.
Surf City is also home to the Australian National Surfing Museum. Here you can learn all about the history of Australia’s favourite pastime and learn about local surfing heroes in the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.
Once you have all the gear and are up-to-speed with your surfing knowledge, head to Bell’s Beach to watch the surfers in action in real life. One of Australia’s most famous surfing beaches, Bell’s Beach is renowned for having one of the world’s best surfing breaks.
You can go down to the beach here, but its not really a beach I’d choose to spend much time on. You come here to surf – or watch others catch some waves.
Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
If you’re looking for ways to bribe the kids along the first stretch of the Great Ocean Road, this is it.
Here you can do free chocolate and ice cream tastings, watch hand crafted chocolate being made, and enjoy lunch, high tea or dessert in the café, which also has a sand play area.
Split Point Lighthouse
The Split Point Lighthouse stands 34 metres tall on the cliffs outside Airey’s Inlet. Guided tours run every day on the hour between 11am and 2pm.
These give you the opportunity to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the fate of the ships along shipwreck coast, in addition to providing fantastic views over the coastline.
Great Ocean Road Beaches
As you would expect along a 243km stretch of coast, there are so many beaches to choose from along the Great Ocean Road.
The most popular beaches are those clustered around the beach towns of Angelsea, Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Beyond these popular beaches, there are loads of secluded beaches to find. Almost every turn of corner in the car reveals another beautiful deserted beach where you can park up and jump out.
As we were visiting the Great Ocean Road during school summer holidays, we found the main town beaches super crowded, especially in the afternoons. We did spend a lovely morning on Lorne beach, but we went directly from breakfast and left by 10am.
If you prefer your beach a little less crowded, either do as we did and plan to be there early, or jump in the car and head out of town a bit to find your own slice of sand.
Be warned though that beaches outside of the towns are not patrolled and Life Saving Victoria advises against swimming at these beaches due to dangerous rip tides.
One of the best views of the Great Ocean Road can be found at Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne.
The first lookout is just a 5-minute walk from the carpark, making it an easy stop off. From here you get a real sense of how the Great Ocean Road hugs the coastline from its aerial viewpoint.
There is also a 45-minute loop walk that takes you to two more lookout points. Although the views are essentially the same from all three lookouts, it is fun to look out for koalas in the gum trees along the way (we didn’t spot any though).
If you are going to do this loop walk, I recommend taking a photo of the walking trail map before you set off. We didn’t find the signage very clear along the trail.
Teddy’s Lookout is just a 5-minute drive from the centre of Lorne.
There are lots of different Great Ocean Road waterfalls to visit in the Lorne area, and Erskine Falls was our favourite walk we did here.
Despite us visiting during a dry spell, there was still enough water cascading over the falls to make it a beautiful spectacle.
The upper lookout for the falls can be reached within a 5-minute walk from the car park. For a more fun adventure with the kids, brave the 250ish steps down to the lower lookout for an up-close view of the waterfall.
As water levels were low when we visited, we got to scramble over the rocks to the bottom of the waterfall. Great fun for the kids!
The Erskine Falls are a 15-minute drive from the centre of Lorne.
See Koalas at Kennett River
For the best chance to see koalas on the Great Ocean Road, be sure to stop off in Kennett River.
The best place to find koalas here is along Grey River Road. You can park up in the car park just off the main highway and walk up the Grey River Road past the caravan park on the left.
It will be easy to tell where the koalas are as there will likely be a gathering of people below the tree taking photos.
We decided to avoid the crowds and instead of parking up here, we drove further up Grey River Road. Within a couple of minutes we were the only people on the road, and able to do our koala spotting in peace.
If you drive slowly and keep your eyes peeled, you should be able to spot several koalas up in the trees. We saw six in total.
Kennet River is located half way between Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Maits Rest is a good option for stretching your legs along the Great Ocean Road.
Located just off the main highway about 20 minutes from Apollo Bay, this self-guided rainforest boardwalk is an easy 20-minute loop that leads you past giant ferns and towering ancient trees.
Cape Otway Lighthouse
The Cape Otway Lighthouse is definitely worth the detour from the main Great Ocean Road. I read a few reviews online saying that it wasn’t worth the money when you can get much the same views for free along the Great Ocean Road.
I have to say I disagree. There is so much more to the Cape Otway Lightstation than the views. We found the history behind the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia really interesting, and we found learning about Australia’s ‘shipwreck coast’ here fascinating.
In addition to climbing the lighthouse to admire the views, we learned about the fate of the hundreds of ships that were shipwrecked off the coast here, about the submarine telegraph cable that provided communications between Tasmania and the mainland in 1859 and the kids had a go at deciphering morse code.
There are also guided tours, bush tucker talks to learn about Aboriginal medicine and you can even spot whales off the coast here during the winter and spring months, and learn all about them in the whale interpretive centre.
The Cape Otway Lighthouse is around 20-minutes from Apollo Bay, with a further 15-minute drive from the main road.
The Otway Fly was my 7-year old daughter’s favourite Great Ocean Road thing to do. It is definitely worth half a day of your time.
The main attraction here is the zipline course, which is done as a 2.5-hour tour (30 minute safety briefing and 2 hour tour). Be sure to book ahead as spaces on each tour are limited. Click here to buy discounted tickets online.
As my son didn’t reach the height requirements to do the zip line tour (125cm), he and I instead explored the awesome Otway Fly Treetop Walk, a 600m long elevated walkway suspended at 30m in the rainforest canopy.
If you are visting with young kids, be sure to pick up the fairy scavenger hunt sheet at the ticket desk and follow the fairy trail through the rainforest to the walkway.
Top Tip: Merlin Annual Pass holders can enter the Treetop Walk for free and get discounted Zipline tickets.
The most famous waterfall in the Otways, Triplet Falls is just 3 kilometres from the Otway Fly. An approximately one-hour loop walk takes you to various viewing platforms to view the three different waterfalls.
The walks are self-guided along signposted walkways. Be aware that there are some steep steps to contend with.
The most famous of all Great Ocean Road sights, and one of the most famous landmarks in Australia needs no introduction.
Having seen so many photos of the 12 Apostles over the years, I was worried I would be underwhelmed by the actual sight of them. Luckily this was far from the case and I had goose bumps as I stood in awe of this incredible natural wonder.
What I didn’t know before visiting is that there is in fact only eight ‘Apostles’ and that there were only even nine of them in the beginning (the ninth collapsed in July 2005) when they were named in the 1920s.
But that doesn’t make them any less impressive to view.
My main advice for visiting the Twelve Apostles is to get there early. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia so you can expect it to be busy.
The majority of tourists visit the Twelve Apostles as a Great Ocean Road day tour from Melbourne and these tour buses arrive around 10am. We were there at 9am and almost had the lookout to ourselves, despite it being peak season.
If you can tick off both the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge before 10am, you should be able to enjoy a relatively crowd-free visit.
Loch Ard Gorge
Just a few minutes drive from the Twelve Apostles brings you to the stunning Loch Ard Gorge. This was one of my favourite Great Ocean Road stops.
Not only does it boast incredible natural beauty, but it holds an intriguing history of survival and bravery.
This Great Ocean Road must see is named after the ship Loch Ard that shipwrecked on Muttonbird Island just off the coast here in 1878, on its way from England to Melbourne.
There were just two surviviors from the Loch Ard’s 52 passengers and crew: an 18-year old ship’s apprentice, Tom Pearce, and a 17-year old Irish girl named Eva Carmichael.
Tom awoke on the beach to the sounds of Eva crying for help. He swam back into the ocean and pulled her to safety, leaving her to shelter in a cave while he climbed out of the gorge to fetch help.
You can discover more about their incredible story (which includes tales of how Tom Pearce survived two other shipwrecks in his life) at the Flagstaff Hill Museum in Warrnambool.
When you visit Loch Ard Gorge, be sure to first head out to the lookout to get an idea of where the Loch Ard shipwrecked, then climb down the steps into the gorge itself to play on the beach and paddle in the water. It would be the ideal spot for a breakfast picnic.
As with the Twelve Apostles, to avoid the crowds, aim to be at Loch Ard Gorge early in the morning, so that you can leave before the 10am tour buses arrive.
Another not to be missed attraction in the Port Campbell area is the Gibson’s Steps, another of the most famous Great Ocean Road places to visit.
Here you get the opportunity to get down onto the beach and feel the force of the wind and waves that have created the incredible rock formations here.
It’s not safe for swimming here, but it makes for an invigorating walk along the beach as you see the cliffs and rock formations up close, and the kids loved playing chase the waves.
Continuing along past Port Campbell, the next Great Ocean Road attraction you come to is The Arch.
There’s not a huge amount to see or do here, but it is just a short walk from the main road, so worth jumping out of the car to see.
London Bridge is pretty cool to see. This rock formation is named due to its resemblance to the London Bridge, and it’s easy to see why.
In 1990 the inner arch collapsed, leaving two tourists stranded atop the outer arch. There were later rescued by helicopter! That’s some story they had to tell their friends when they got home!
The next stop along the road between Port Apollo and Warrnambool is The Grotto.
This naturally formed sinkhole can be visited via wooden steps, where you can view the ocean through the archway at the bottom.
Bay of Martyrs
The Bay of Martyrs is a good place to get out and stretch your legs on the beach, or have a picnic with stunning views.
There is also a clifftop trail here, although we didn’t have time to find it.
Bay of Islands
The final lookout point of the Great Ocean Road is definitely worth a stop. The lookout is just a short walk from the carpark and the views are incredible.
You can’t get down on the beach here, but the views are worth the stop.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village
We were so intrigued by the stories we had learned at the Cape Otway Lighthouse and Loch Ard Gorge, that we added Flagstaff Hill to our itinerary to learn more. We were glad that we did.
This museum has an excellent exhibition about the Shipwreck Coast and the perils of travelling by sea from Europe, America and Asia to Australia in the 1800s.
There is a significant section dedicated to the story of Tom and Eva of Loch Ard fame, and plenty of personal accounts bring the stories in the exhibitions to life.
Beyond the museum exhibition, Flagstaff Hill is a recreation of the village as it was during the 1800s. Visitors are free to wander around the village stores, houses and workshops learning more about village life and the stories of the former residents.
If you are visiting with kids, be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt sheet at the ticket desk, and food to feed the ducks.
In the evenings a sound and laser show “Shipwrecked” brings the stories to life in a fun contemporary way (we didn’t have time to stay for this unfortunately).
Top Tips for Driving the Great Ocean Road
Here are a few tips from our experience of driving the Great Ocean Road:
- Call in at the Tourist Information Centres along the way. We found them really helpful with local information such as local walks, parking, restaurants, picnic areas, beaches etc. They will also be able to provide you with local maps and leaflets for local attractions.
- Try to build in time to your Great Ocean Road itinerary to stop occasionally and enjoy the views, and spend some time on the beach. We found the best road views and beaches to be on the section from Torquay to Apollo Bay.
- Beware of swimming at unpatrolled beaches.
- Be aware of driving distances and ensure you have enough petrol to get to the next town. However, rest assured that all the Great Ocean Road towns have petrol stations.
- As with most of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road weather can be extremely unpredictable. Be ready for all weather situations!
- Bring refillable water bottles and coffee keep cups to keep your rubbish to a minimum!
Great Ocean Road FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about visiting the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is located on the Southeast coast of Australia in the state of Victoria.
The Great Ocean Road is 244 kilometres long.
The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay. It officially ends in Allansford, which is near Warrnambool. However, where it ends is somewhat up for debate as many towns claim to be the end point of the Great Ocean Road! A lot of people consider Port Fairy to be the end of the Great Ocean Road.
It can take as long as you like! We took four days/three nights to drive the Great Ocean Road.
I would love to have had at least one extra day though as it did feel a bit rushed and I would love to have had some time to chill on the beach for a day or two. Having said that, many people do it in a lot less.
Many people do, and there are plenty of day tours from Melbourne. Click here to find out more and book a day tour from Melbourne. These tours tend to drive the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to the Twelve Apostles and then return via a more direct route back to Melbourne.
If you have the time, I would definitely recommend spending at least two nights along the way though.
Great Ocean Road Accommodation
There are loads of choices when it comes to Great Ocean Road accommodation, with everything from Great Ocean Road caravan parks to luxury resorts. For our Great Ocean Road trip, we spent one night in Lorne and two nights in Port Campbell. We chose the following places to stay on the Great Ocean Road:
This Great Ocean Road resort is located right on the beach in popular beach town Lorne. The location is fantastic, being right on Lorne beach and right on the main town stretch of restaurants and shops.
We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment, which had a fully fitted kitchen and living area. The resort also has an onsite restaurant and indoor swimming pool.
It wasn’t particularly luxurious but it had everything we needed and I would definitely recommend it as one of the best places to stay along the Great Ocean Road.
Lorne is one of the best stops on the Great Ocean Road for an overnight stay. It has a lovely beach, and a good choice of bars and restaurants. There are also lots of things to do in Lorne, including plenty of good walks and waterfalls in the area.
Southern Ocean Villas Port Campbell
Port Campbell is another great choice for an overnight stay on your Great Ocean Road road trip. We actually chose to stay two nights here as there are lots of things to do in Port Campbell, including many of the most famous things to see on the Great Ocean Road such as the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.
We chose the Southern Ocean Villas as our base. These Great Ocean Road holiday rentals are just a short walk to the foreshore of Port Campbell where you will find a choice of restaurants, and is a great place to watch a beautiful sunset.
The villas are available as 2- and 3-bedroom units and come with fully fitted kitchens and living rooms.
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