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The Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary including the London Bridge and the 12 Apostles

The Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary [with map to 12 Apostles]

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Last updated on June 16th, 2018 at 01:16 am

Although I travel a fair bit, I always love to come back home to Melbourne for a little while. The summer, between December and March, is my favourite time to be in the city. There are so many things to do and things to see in Melbourne and around. The Great Ocean Road self-drive is definitely an experience that I love to do once a year. I will never be tired to see places as the 12 Apostles, the London Bridge or the Loch Ard Gorge.

I have just finished my last trip and once again I found a couple of new incredible spots I have never seen before. The first one is the Carisbrook Creek stacked rocks beach and the second one is an awesome Port Campbell High Viewpoint suggested to me by a local I met at the pub. I will talk more about them later.

I like to do this itinerary in reverse order, from The London Bridge and the 12 Apostles to Torquay and Melbourne. The Great Ocean road itinerary is all beautiful however I think the best sector is probably the one around Port Campbell, which is the town I suggest to stay for an overnight stay.

Great Ocean Road map of attractions

This is a Great Ocean Road map of attractions along the coast, and in the Otway Nation Park, to save or print and take with you during your trip. 

It starts in Torquay and it goes through almost 30 places to visit till the 12 Apostles and the London Arch. It will keep you busy for 2-3 days or even more.

My personal favourite spots that you should not miss are:

  • London Bridge
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Wreck Beach (if you are into photography)
  • Hopetoun Falls (photography and a nice walk to the waterfall)
  • Lorne Pier for the fish restaurant
  • Split Point Lighthouse
  • Point Roadknight Beach (great family beach)
  • Anglesea Golf Club (to watch kangaroos)
  • The Torquay surf shopping centre (for amazing deals)

Map of the Great Ocean Road Self Drive

Click here for a Google Interactive Map

How can I do the Great Ocean Road self drive

There are many ways to experience the Great Ocean Road.

The most physically demanding one is surely walking. The complete Great Ocean Walk is a 104km that can be accomplished in 7 days. There are smaller walks as well to cover only part of it. All in all, it must be an awesome experience and sure enough, I will do it sooner or later. If interested in this experience I suggest you to check the Regional Tourism GOR website.

Cycling is another option, although it may be dangerous due to the very narrow road

Cycling the Great Ocean Road at sunset

 

The other possibility is by bus and organised tour. This is an easy going option. You jump on the bus in Melbourne and you will be taken to the major spots. The advantage of this solution is that you just have to follow the group you are with at any stop planned by the organiser. The drawback is you will end up seeing only what is planned with the time decided by the driver. If you think that the 12 Apostles is very busy, that is most probably because you will be there around 3pm when all the buses arrive. The same applies to all the other places to see.

My suggestion is to have a go and organise your self-drive itinerary to the Great Ocean Road. If you are in 2 of you it may cost the same as the bus option. If you are in 3 or more people you may end up saving. Moreover, you will enjoy your trip at your pace, stopping whenever and wherever you want.

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If you love photography and generally speaking travel photography, the Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary will allow you to visit the planned attractions at the time you want, staying at the place for the time you want. You can even organise your sunset and sunrise as you wish. To my eyes, this is the option to go.

You can rent your car in Melbourne or Adelaide and drive it back to the same city or the other one. When I have friends from overseas and they ask me where to rent a car I usually tell them to check on CarRentals.com. This is an Expedia owned website that compares prices from over 30 rental companies, a sort of broker, giving you the best option. So far we always got the best deal around. From time to time they have special discounts too.

Best deal at CarRentals today

The only question mark is about your driving capability and adaptability. In Australia we drive on the left, the British way. If you decide to drive yourself I can give you just three suggestions

  1. never drive in the night in Australia, unless you are on a freeway or major city (there is plenty of wildlife, especially kangaroos that they suddenly become alive at sunset time)
  2. drive following other cars. If you are alone you will be more likely to begin driving on the other side
  3. if unsure that you drive on the correct lane, just stop on the side of the road and wait for cars coming. You will most likely be on the wrong side.

In this post I assume a Melbourne back trip

Where does the Great Ocean Road start and finish

The Great Ocean Road is actually a route registered in the Australian National Heritage list. It is a road 243km long, or 151 miles, that starts in Torquay and ends in Allansford, a small town between Port Campbell, the major village closed to the London Bridge and the 12 Apostles, and Warrnambool, the biggest town in the area where you can find all you want, including the major chain superstores.

As you probably already know, the Great Ocean Road is the world’s biggest war memorial. It was built by the returning soldiers, between 1918 and 1932, and dedicated to the many soldiers killed during the WWI. You may want to stop at the memorial arch, between Lorne and Aireys Inlet, however this should not be confused with the official start. It is indeed a great place for photos πŸ˜‰

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Can I do the Great Ocean Road in 1 day

The length of the Great Ocean Road itinerary is by itself 243km. You may want to skip the last 30km between the London Bridge and Allansford, which makes it around 210. If you add also the road from either Melbourne or Adelaide you soon end up with at least 600-650km.

Yes you can do the Great Ocean Road in 1 day but at least take an organised a tour. It will be a very tiring day by itself. Driving all these km in one day will be a real exhausting esperience.

If it is true that the road from Melbourne to Geelong (around 80km) is a straight freeway, keep in mind that the speed limit is 100kmh. It is hard to keep an average of 50kmh on Great Ocean Road itself, very beautiful however very winding as well.

If your time is limited and you can spare 1 day only, I probably suggest to drive from Melbourne to Port Campbell the direct way in the early hours (6am) and start the Great Ocean Road self-drive itinerary from there.
Drive_Melbourne_Port_Campbell

The advantage of this solution is that you will enjoy the best part without the crowd of tourists. Most of the buses from Melbourne do the route to Torquay, Anglesea, driving the Great Ocean Road with few stops and arriving at the 12 Apostles around 2-3pm. Some of them will not make the London Bridge at all.

If you are in the Port Campbell area by 9am you will experience all of these major Great Ocean Road attractions with just another bunch of visitors. Most of the viewing platforms will be empty.

Budget 2-2.5 hours in the area if you want to visit the London Bridge, The Arch, the Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, the Tom and Eva point and finally the 12 Apostles. I would personally not skip any of them, they are all beautiful and spectacular in the own way.

Again, my suggestion is to not drive your own vehicle if you want to do the Great Ocean Road in 1 day.  From time to time I have visitor from overseas and I have suggested these couple of tours:

  • The Reverse Experience: they drive straight to Port Campbell and than back through the Great Ocean Road. It has the benefit to be less busy as most of the tours drive first through the coast. The van is on the small size, for one day is fine.
  • The Most Awarded Tour: all of my friends were really happy with this tour, so well organised in every single detail. You may also experience the sunset at the 12 Apostles. They drive through the usual route

Special price for the Reverse Experience      Best deal for the most awarded tour    

Great Ocean Road itinerary 2 days

This is usually my weekend trip πŸ™‚ (sometime more days in a long weekend). I self drive the Great Ocean Road with this itinerary in 2 days and I look for new corner to explore and hidden gems. 

If you still have to rent a car you may have check on CarRentals.com. It’s an Expedia website that picks the best price among 30+ rental companies. I use it myself when I rent overseas.

My favourite village to stop is Port Campbell. It’s a nice little town and just 15km from all of the major attractions. This means I can go to any of them either on sunset or sunrise.

The sunset at the 12 Apostles is spectacular. The last time I was even able to watch the penguins parade down at the beach (take a binocular with you).

In this case I usually drive straight to Port Campbell as all of the top sites are almost empty in the morning.

This would be my schedule

Day 1

Drive to Port Campbell (around 2.5-3 hours). Once there you can visit, driving west:

  • The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
  • The Grotto is another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around
  • Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles

and driving east:

  • The Blowhole
  • Loch Ard Gorge
  • Tom and Eva Lookout
  • The Razorback
  • Twelve Apostles

Accommodations I suggest in Port Campbell are

Click on any below to check the best deal running at the moment

Parkview Apartments    Best Western Motor Inn     South Ocean Villas  

Day 2

You can start driving to the platform view of the 12 Apostles, once again. Light is different in the morning especially at sunrise. Than drive to Gibson Steps for a beautiful beach walk and some photos with the coast in the background.

Finally time for the drive back to Melbourne through the GOR stopping at one or more of these site:

  • Lorne Pier: the seafood restaurant is highly suggested for lunch
  • the Teddy’s lookout for the beautiful view
  • Split Point Lighthouse
  • Point Roadknight beach, the safest beach on the Great Ocean Road
  • Bells Beach for the best surfing, to watch or do, if you some great skills. Torquay beach is also great for surfing and not that challenging as Bells Beach
  •  Torquay outlet surfing city (look for the Reef shop, they have most of time AMAZING discounts like flip flops for $5 and most of the stuff at $10-20, but it’s about luck like many outlets)

And back to Melbourne through Geelong

The description of all above sites follows in this post, just keep reading πŸ˜‰ 

Riding the Greeat Ocean Road is a unique experience

Great Ocean Road itinerary 3 days

With 3 or more days you can have also a bit of lazy time, experiencing the best of the area. It’s not just about viewing the top sites but also about having some lazy time at the most beautiful beaches in Australia. You can take some surfing lessons. You can go and look for the koalas and the kangaroos, you can experience some magnificent walks in the Great Otway National Park or just enjoy some lazy hours with a beer at the pub.

My favourite villages along the coast are Aglesea and Apollo Bay and that is where I would spend the second and possibly the third night. The first town I would stay in Port Campbell.

Here is a possible itinerary and plan of action

Day 1

I would start my self drive 3 days on the Great Ocean Road with a similar pattern as the two days, therefore direction Port Campbell (around 2.5-3 hours). From there I would visit all the natural attractions as on the 2 days trip. From the Bay of Islands to the 12 Apostles (see above for all the details).

As I suggested previously, I would go for one of the below 3 options for my accommodation in Port Campbell. 

Parkview Apartments    Best Western Motor Inn     South Ocean Villas

Day 2

Morning start at the 12 Apostles (different light in the morning, just a short break). If you would like to have a walk then stop at the Gibson Steps, my favourite place together with the Wreck Beach (especially if you are into photography). Immaculate beach in both cases with an amazing coastal background.

For lunch I like to stop at the Shoppe Cafe in the middle of the Great Otway NP. It is a nice little place, providing not only drinks and food but also local products and handicrafts. 

I would spend the afternoon driving to the Cape Otway Lightstation for the beautiful view and the incredible scenery. 

Next destination is Apollo Bay where I would personally stay for the night.

My suggested accommodations are:

Check out the best deals at the moment

Beeches by the Sea      Seafarers Getaway     Motel Marengo     Big 4 Cabin

The Apollo Bay beach is awesome, boards can be easily rented in town for some easy surfing and, if needed, you can also organise an inexpensive lesson.

An alternative is to spend the afternoon in the Great Otway National park. There are some beautiful walks and waterfalls, unique to Australia I would say. You can check a full map on the Parks Victoria website.

Day 3

This is the day for the drive back to Melbourne. It’s going to be an intensive, however beautiful, day. The main stops are :

  • Carisbrook Creek for the stacked rocks
  • the Koala spot before Kennet River. Unfortunately this area had a terrible fire last year and the Koala were moved to a different place till it would be safe to go back. I haven’t personally verified if the area has been repopulated.
  • Teddy’s lookout
  • Lorne Pier (stop here for lunch at the nice Seafood Restaurant)
  • Memorial Arch for the people that built this road
  • Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet
  • Point Roadknight Beach for a swim, probably the safest beach in the GOR
  • the kangaroos at the Anglesea Golf Club (check on my map the best side to stop)
  • the elevated viewpoint on Anglesea
  • and if the shops are still not closed have a look at the Surfing Shopping area, with some amazing deals. Look for the Reef shop, they have most of the time INCREDIBLE discounts like flip flops for $5 and most of the stuff at $10-20, but it’s about luck like many outlets

If you have a third night then I would spend it in Anglesea. In this way you can leave more time to the beach and the town is actually quite nice. 

There are two beaches I suggest

  • Point Roadknight, very safe and beautiful too, a favourite of many families with kids staying in the area. You can also do some long board surfing on one side of it.
  • Anglesea River beach, with a safe side towards the river for kids (there is a playground too) and a rough side facing the ocean

With the third night you may also add a visit to Bells Beach to watch the pro and Torquay Beach, a nice town and great spot for picnic too.

My recommended accommodations for Anglesea are:

You can also decide to spend :

  • 1 night in Port Campbell and 2 nights in Apollo Bay: I would suggest it if you are more of an action person and you want to do some surfing and visit the waterfalls in the Otway NP
  • 1 night in Port Campbell and 2 nights in Anglesea, if you like more of an easy beach time, especially if you have small kids with you and walking is quite limited

I hope I was able to give an idea of how to spend your time driving the Great Ocean Road however if you need more info, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

And now it’s time to go through all the attraction on the Great Ocean Road.

Luxury accommodations on the Great Ocean Road

If you are planning for a memorable stay and you after a luxury accommodation on the Great Ocean Road than I would personally suggest one of the below two options.

Unfortunately there is not a wide choice in this area of Australia

  • The RACV Torquay Resort is probably the most famous luxury accommodation on the Great Ocean Road. It is located actually at the start of it, in Jan Juc just after Torquay. This resort has all you need for a great stay, from the swimming pool to the gym, from the beautiful view to the fantastic service and unique architecture. It is an awesome option for few days next to the beach.

Find best price at the Torquay Resort

Luxury resort on the Great Ocean Road

  • The Apollo Bay Guest House is the second option, better positioned to the 12 Apostles and to the waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park. The guest house has a French inspired decor, with some units facing the sea. The breakfast will get you started, especially the homemade yogurt πŸ™‚

Check availability at the Apollo Bay

The Arch and the London Bridge

These are the two sites I would start the Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary. They are both 15km west of Port Campbell and 1km from each others.

The Arch is not visible till you walk down to the bottom of the small viewing platform. This is not a site where the buses usually stop. That is because the parking is limited as well as the platform is too small in size. And that is a pity because you will miss a great site. Opposite The Arch is a never ending cliff. Definitely a place for some amazing photos

The Arch at the start (or end) of the Great Ocean Road

The London Bridge is one of the most popular destination on the Great Ocean Road. I went twice there. The first time during a cycling trip I was doing around Australia. I was there at 3:30pm and it was packed. The second time, with a self drive, was at 9:30am and there was nobody there. The viewing platform is gigantic, which tells a lot on the number of people visiting this spot.

The London Bridge

 

Once you arrive at the London Bridge parking area, check the view from all of the main platforms, it’s really hard to say which one is better. The only tip I can give here is to go also to the small platform on the left side (there is a small path taking you down). From there the view is completely different, from the bottom up, as you are getting closer to the beach.

The London Bridge is actually not anymore a bridge, it is nowadays the London Arch. In fact in 1990 the London Bridge collapsed. This video here below, from 1975, shows the entire bridge, the way it used to be

Interesting that you could actually walk on it.

Tourists were there at the collapse time and a couple was lucky enough to be just past the bridge, on what is now the remaining arch. I was reading few days ago the interview of Dave Darrington, the guy that got trapped on the arch “We did what most tourists did, we took a photo and had a look around….she (the wife) noticed small rocks falling and said  that it might fall down….I said β€˜no, bits and pieces must fall off’…it just went bang”.

An helicopter rescue mission was needed to take them off the island! This is also to say that many signals are around the area suggesting not to leave the designated path for the same exact reason, ground erosion. Up to you the decision

Port Campbell High Viewpoint

On the way to the 12 Apostles from the London Bridge, I stopped at the Port Campbell High Viewpoint. One of the locals suggested it to me the night before. You can also walk up from the beach. The view to Port Campbell and the river is quite spectacular. Check the exact point on the map below

Port Campbell High Viewpoint

Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, Tom and Eva point

Loch Ard Gorge is one of my favourite spot between all of the attractions on the Great Ocean Road, probably only second to the 12 Apostles.

This is the place where I spent most of my time and I could spend even more ahahahah. This is the beauty of any self drive itinerary, you can stop wherever you want spend more or less time, based on your feeling

Loch Ard Gorge is one of my favourite spot on the Great Ocean Road

 

Loch Ard Gorge is named after the ship “Loch Ard” that in 1878 crashed against the nearby Muttonbird island. It was a ship that navigated for three months, from England and destination Melbourne. There were only 2 survivors in that night. A real tragic event.

Beside the history of the place, the gorge is just grand and reminded me the one of “The Beach”, the movie with Di Caprio in 2000. In the film the full bay was actually created with the computer. Here, what you see in the photo is what you get, a grand gorge with two beaches and a beautiful green/blue water.

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Do not be foolish to have a swim there, the sea current can be really strong and you will be in trouble in no time.

Loch Ard Gorge is a fantastic beach, but don't be fooled by the beauty of it, do not take a swim, quite dangerous

If you walk on the left side of the parking area you will see the other two attractions. The first one is the Tom and Eva viewpoint, just 200 meters from the car.

Interesting enough, Tom and Eva are the names of the two survivors from the Loch Arch ship. The names were given only in 2009. The two pillars were actually connected before that year making the so called Island Archway. Again the cliff around looks quite stable, till you read all of these little stories that tell a lot about the ground erosion

Tom and Eva viewpoint, just 200 meters from the car

The last interesting attraction in the area is the Razorback. Walk past the Tom and Eva viewpoint and there is a loop with two platforms. Again an incredible view!

The Razorback viewpoint is another great location to see the beauty of this coast

I planned to visit the Loch Ard Gorge for sunset however the sun was visible only till 45 minutes before sunset and it was covered by the cliff after that. I will go back in winter as I suspect the sun will be perfectly aligned with the gorge.

The Razorback is better for sunrise

The 12 Apostles

I was here two years ago during a cycling trip, around 2pm. It was literally packed. This year I made it at sunset time and around 11am.

The sunset was quiet. Few photographers and few others with the binoculars looking at the penguin parade.

The 12 Apostles is definitely popular between photographers, probably the most know site on the Great Ocean Road

At 11am the site was already busy but still lots of space to move through the different platforms.

It’s hard to describe the view. I leave the photos below to talk.

To have the best view of the 12 Apostles walk up 50 metres of the main path

How many twelve apostles are left?

This is one of the most interesting questions about the Great Ocean Road. In reality Apostles come and go. Of the original 12 only 7 are left, with the last one, just in front of Razorback, crashed in 2009.

However, as the old apostles go, new apostles come when the arch between two pillars collapses, as it was the case of Tom and Eva and as it will be the case, sooner or later, of the London Bridge.

The most amazing experience would be to see the collapse of one Apostle, from really far away, but the waiting time may last decades…or just minutes πŸ™‚

How did the twelve apostles formed?

Erosion is the simple answer. I was lucky in most of the cases I was there. I had mostly sunny nice weather. However this is not usually the case, especially in winter. The southerly wind can be strong and the weather condition can be really harsh.

The Ocean, with the time, eroded the limestone of the cliffs to form caves which became arch and, after the collapse of the bridge, here they are two huge pillars, 2 new Apostle,

The London Bridge is the typical example. The bridge collapsed in 1990 and once the arch is gone we will see another 2 apostles

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If you desire to see the 12 Apostles from the beach, you need to drive your car for another 2 km and park at the Gibson Steps. This is an experience for my next trip

Great Otway National Park

The drive through the park is magnificent. Cycling here is a dream although it can be dangerous as the road has few potholes here and there.

There are few interesting attractions in the Great Otway National Park. The Cape Otway Lightstation is one of them (fee applies), look also for the waterfalls (see map below).

Carisbrook Creek stacked rocks beach

The road from Apollo Bay to Lorne is probably the most scenic part of the Great Ocean Road self drive. A succession of beaches, cliffs, rock formations, majestic waves. I usually take my time and I stop for a break and a swim.

Unfortunately in December 2015 there was a huge fire that destroyed a big part of the forest on the coast leaving a cemetery of black trees. There was also a famous spot for koalas but not anymore as there are no more leaves. The koalas were moved to a different area.

In my last trip I found a new attraction on this part of the Great Ocean Road. I do not think there is still a name for it. I like to call it Carisbrook Creek stacked rocks beach. People stop here and pile rocks one of top each other building remarkable towers of stones. Think of a wish and it may happen! There are thousand of these towers.

Carisbrook-Creek-stacked-rocks-beach

The balance is temporary and I am sure that at the first big storm most of them will crash down. It’s like a dynamic art exhibition.

Lorne Pier and the Teddy’s lookout

Lorne is another nice village where you can stay for the night. The size is almost there to be called town.

One of the top attractions to see is the long Lorne Pier. There are two reasons for that.

It’s a great spot for a walk, a dive, a photo and probably the longest pier in the area too. If you love fishing this is the place to be, based on the number of fishermen around. The second reason is the Pier Seafood Restaurant, an hidden European/Greek corner of the Great Ocean Road

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The second place to visit in Lorne is Teddy’s lookout with its magnificent view of the windy Great Ocean Road.

Memorial Arch at Eastern View

It’s the memorial arch for all the workers that built by hand, literally, this incredible road. The arch is nothing to call back home about however it is the point where most of the photos are taken. This is not however the start, or finish, of the Great Ocean Road itinerary. In saying that, does it really matter where does it start or finish? The most important thing is that we enjoy our self drive itinerary!

Split Point Lighthouse

This is another nice place to visit and possibly take a coffee at the lovely cafe just before the lighthouse. If you come from Torquay you will have here the first preview of the magical Great Ocean Road cliff. Walk down the path to the two platforms to have the best view.

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It’s a popular place and there is a good reason for that. I would add it to any Great Ocean Road itinerary and it is just 5 minutes off the main road.

The access to the area is free however the access to the lighthouse has a fee and you may have to book in advance.

I never went into the lighthouse, it’s not my kind of visit. I just love the view from the lighthouse area, magical.

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Point Roadknight beach

Point Roadknight beach is still one of my favourite beaches on this itinerary. This is the great advantage of the Great Ocean Road self drive experience. You can stop wherever you want, even if just for a quick swim.

This is a beautiful bay covered by the big ocean waves. The water is crystal clear and if you stay on the right side you still have some nice swells, mostly for long boards.

The sea current is not a big problem, however I would never swim too much out. This is a great place for kids too, as the water is shallow for few hundred meters.

Body riding the small waves is a great fun as they are not that powerful to feel in a washing machine but still have the energy to take your body for tens of metres

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Anglesea Viewpoint

This is on the road and it can’t be missed. It’s a great viewpoint to admire, on the left, the Anglesea village and beach, and on the right the Roadknight bay.

Just behind the viewpoint there is a more elevated point of view. You can easily walk there

If you have some spare 20 minutes drive to the Golf Club to see the big colony of Kangaroos living there. Always a good fun.

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Bells Beach and Torquay

Bells Beach is the mythical surfing beach where every Eastern the Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival is organised. If you are around this time of the year you should not miss it. It’s a lot of fun. The best surfers in the world are there. There is an entrance fee however both times I was there I did not pay πŸ˜‰

The first time I rode my bike past the gate and I went to the beach through a secondary unsealed road. Nobody asked me for the ticket πŸ™‚ It was my first time there and I did not even know there was a fee. I just wanted to ride my bike as close as possible to the beach πŸ™‚

The second time the crowd was so big that they reached capacity and they open the gates. I had to park my car so far away that by the time I was there I could get in free of charge. Quite lucky!!

Bells Beach is the place to be on the Great Ocean Road if you are in big surfing waves

Torquay is the last, or the first, village of the Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary. There are two things to do in Torquay:

  • visit the surfing village where you can buy surfing clothes and gear at incredible low prices (my favourite shop is the Reef outlet). There is also a surfing museum
  • go to the Torquay beach for a surfing lesson. The waves are nice and gentle however there is a bit of a crowd in summer. Point Danger is one of my favourite spots for windsurfing. Very popular with kitesurfers as well. You can go out on the east side and take the swell back to the beach. Definitely a good fun

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Accommodation

Beside all of the accommodations I suggested in the 2 or 3 days itinerary you may also have a look to the below two, especially if you decided to stay in Lorne.

My favourite in Lorne is the Lorne Hotel, the accommodation behind the pub. It’s not noisy in the night, it has kitchen facilities and it is meters away from the last beer. What can I want more

Check Availability and Price at Lorne Hotel

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In Port Campbell my favourite is still the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn. It’s only two blocks from the beach and it has great facilities to cook in as well. They have some special offers from time to time. The price is very competitive anyway for what you get.

Check price & availability at the Best Western

PortCampbell

Hot or Not

The Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary is most definitely hot. I usually do it in 2 or 3 days and that is the minimal length of stay I suggest. It can be done in a single day but it’s a bit of a tapas trip, spending most of the time in the car/bus and not really enjoying the place

My best tips are:

  • stay overnight at Port Campbell (2 days trip) and Anglesea or Apollo Bay
  • start your trip from London Bridge and the 12 Apostles area
  • budget at least 2.5 hours for the area around Port Campbell (all of the cliff areas), first thing in the morning
  • stop at Carisbrook Creek stacked rocks beach for the dynamic exhibition 
  • plan a sunset at the 12 Apostles or the London Bridge
  • take a surfing lesson in this great side of the Ocean
  • rent a car and do it yourself for 2 or more days
  • take a tour for just one day

How long does it take to drive the great ocean road

The full drive is over 200km. Here is usually the time I spend at each leg or attraction. This should give you a rough idea of the timing involved with the trip.

  • The drive Melbourne to Torquay in normal traffic condition : 1h and 30m
  • Torquay Surfing Village: 1h (this really depends if you are looking for something particular. I suggest a visit to the Reef outlet, best prices if you find your size)
  • Bells Beach for few photos: 30m (counting the small drive off the main route)
  • Anglesea High viewpoint and kangaroos at the golf club: 45m
  • Point Roadknight beach: at least 1h for a swim (bypass it if the weather is not that good). Showers are available next to the cafe (sign in the middle of the beach)
  • Split Point Lighthouse: 45m without the actual visit to the inside of the lighthouse
  • Memorial Arch at Eastern View: 10m for the photo
  • Lorne Pier and the Teddy’s lookout: 30m for a walk and few photos of the amazing view
  • Carisbrook Creek stacked rocks beach: 20-30m
  • Great Otway National Park: 20m for a coffee brake (few cafes when you start your way down from the peak)
  • The 12 Apostles: at least 45m – 1h (parking is far away from the platforms)
  • Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, Tom and Eva point: all from the same parking area, 1h
  • The Arch and the London Bridge: two separate spots, 5m drive from each other. I suggest 30-45m for both
  • The actual drive from Torquay to Port Campbell along the coast: 3h 30m
  • The direct drive from Melbourne to Port Campbell (road M1 + A1, direct way): 3h


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Stefano Ferro
Photographer
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o
    • Faliza
    • June 11, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stef, thank you for the comprehensive details of reversed GOR. I am a mother with 2 children age 6 and 9, and we’ll be in Melbourne from 18-21 June 2018 (just next week). At first, I was looking at 1 day tour but after reading your post, a 2 day self drive (19-20 June) with a night at PC actually sounds better for our little family as we may need our own sweet time without rushing too much with the tour. I only have one question to clarifuly, since June is the starting month of winter, how harsh the weather and temperature usually are at all the sites you have mentioned along the GOR? I believe swimming and surfing are definitely out of question here? Thank you in advance for your response.

    • Reply

      Hi Felize, I believe you have done the best choice. Weather is really unpredictable in June. Usually is not that windy and sort of mild, at least in the morning. The cold southerly wind tends to come around 3pm-4pm. In saying that, as I said, it’s hard to say.
      Surfing is an option but take with you. or rent, a 4mm wetty. Water is very cold. Apollo Bay is a great spot for surfing with kids.
      Enjoy your break
      I hope I was able to help
      Cheers

    • bronwyn > accessible places to elderly
    • June 9, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stef, Thanks for the great info. I am travelling theGOR next week with my 80 year old Mum. I would appreciate an indication of the best places to see the views that doesn’t involve walking very far. Thanks,
    Bron

    • Reply

      Hi Bronwyn. So great you take your Mum to the GOR. Sure you will enjoy it.
      Most of the sites around the 12 Apostles are accessible with an easy walk.
      I would probably avoid:
      Port Campbell Platform – Sunset
      Gibson Steps, though you can still park your car and have a view from the top, beautiful beach
      The sites around the Otway National Park are also not suitable
      The Split Point Lighthouse has a 200m walk from the car park. It’s a nice point of view and slightly uphill
      Every other place mentioned in this post should be suitable (unless changes due to rainy weather)
      I hope I was able to help

    • Hidayah
    • May 17, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stefano

    What a comprehensive guide to GOR! Just a question. I will be travelling to Melbourne from Malaysia on 2 September 2018 and planning to start journey to GOR on 5 September and go back to Melbourne on 6 September. Say I will start my journey at 11am, which route you suggest? Start from Torquay and overnight at Apollo Bay or from Geelong and overnight at Park Campbell. I prefer to get back to Melbourne before dusk on the 6 September? Your answer will surely help my itinerary πŸ™‚ Thanks in advance!

    • Reply

      Hi Hidayah,
      no worries. So glad I could help out.
      My preference would go for a direct drive to Port Campbell and spend the night there. In that way you can already see the most beautiful sites close to Port Campbell on the afternoon of the 5th. On the 6th you can drive the road back to Torquay and from there to Melbourne
      Enjoy your trip!!
      Cheers

    • Giri
    • April 9, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stefano, your post is extremely helpful.
    Planning to visit Australia from Delhi and do a 2 day/1 night trip to the Great Ocean Road area in June’18 first week with my wife and 2 teenage daughters from Melbourne. Like your 2 day itinerary. Just had a doubt that if i start early on day 1, would it not be better to take the longer GOR route and see the sites on the way and reach Port Campbell by dusk as on the left side the views would be good while driving ? And on day 2 see the sites suggested and as i would be keen to reach Melbourne before dark, take the direct shorter route back to Melbourne by starting at say 3.30 pm if thats fine as would be the expressway ? Pls advise if makes sense as if follow your suggested itinerary of GOR route on the way back to Melbourne, need to start 12 pm from Port campbell to reach Melbourne before becomes dark.

    • Reply

      Hi Giri,
      your plan is doable, no worries. The only drawback is that the 12 Apostles is usually way busier in the late afternoon when all the daily-tour buses arrive. That is why I suggest to do it in the morning. In summer things are a bit different because sunset is quite late and by that time the buses are all off to Melbourne.
      I hope I was able to help

    • Paul
    • April 7, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    My wife and I are planning a 5 day Melbourne city to Melbourne city trip on the iconic GOR, Your posts and the advice that you give is extremely detailed which comes to my questions. I love travel photography myself and we are first staying in Melbourne city for a week. The time-frame for this trip is unfortunately QLD school holidays (first 2 weeks of July) hence my wife is a teacher. So knowing that the places will be very busy, can you suggest an itinerary for our trip for both accommodation towns and viewing areas for photo shoots, please. Also, if possible do you have a shop or area you hang out in Melbourne so maybe I could catch up with you and compare shots? We will be renting a car from the airport at 8 am on a Friday till 1400 on a Tuesday.
    Hope to hear from you soon,

    • Reply

      Good day Paul,
      with 4 nights you may extend your trip to Port Fairy as well (1 or 2 nights). It’s really a lovely town with superb walks and great photo opportunity for both sunset and sunrise.
      For the stay I suggest the Comfort Inn Port Fairy. Large rooms in the best location in town, right in the center.
      My fav cafe is the pretty hidden Farmers Wife Harvest Cafe. The Yellow House Cafe & Thai Restaurant offers great Thai food although service sometime can be a bit slow, but worth the wait believe you me.

      From Port Fairy you can drive to Port Campbell, or vv, and stop at Bay of Islands (best time is sunset) and Childers Cove, a beautiful spectacular bay.

      Other photo opportunities are listed in my post. If you have time I would include also 1 or 2 waterfalls in the Otway NP.

      I will be travelling overseas and back on the 10th of July. Happy to meet for coffees. Have a check to my about page and send me an email from there (I can’t write emails in the comment section unfortunately)
      Have a great trip!!

    • Helen
    • April 4, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    I’m so glad I find your blog, it’s excellent and so informative with lots of good suggestions about the GOR.
    Me and my husband plan to do a trip to GOR with our caravan in few weeks time. How many days and where to stop for photographs and sightseeing you would suggest us to do? Also, are there any places we can stop for a night with our caravan, either free camp or paid?
    Thank you so much.

    • Reply

      Good day Helen and tank you so much for your feedback,
      I used to visit the GOR a lot with my van, however 10 years ago when you could literally park and sleep everywhere. My top spot was the parking area above the Jan Juc beach, however I think this is not possible anymore….as in many other places.
      This site run by Visit GOR is a great source as well as this one run by Parks Victoria.
      Try to camp in Otway NP….it’s really great down there. And plenty of photo opportunities with the many waterfalls. Anglesea camping is also in another great spot.
      I hope I was able to help

    • Shannon Carpenter
    • March 22, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks so much for this great schedule. We were planning on doing it in one day but switched to two after reading this and were so glad. The Best Western in Port Campbell was great. We took a quick detour up to Tower Hill Reserve for some kangaroo siting on day 2 then headed back toward Tweve Apostles. And the koalas are back in Kinnett River. We saw at least 6.

    • Reply

      Thanks Shannon
      It’s always so great to receive a feedback like yours, after the trip. So awesome to see koalas back. They were not there in my last trip 2 months ago. Nature can be really amazing, isn’t it.
      So glad I could help out.
      Cheers

    • Teresa Ancukiewicz
    • March 13, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stefano,

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and advice, this is by far the best blog on the GOR!!!
    We are planning a 1.5 day tour, self-driving. We would leave Melbourne around 1 pm, and plan to drive to Port Campbell via Colac. Then we would see the 12 Apostles late afternoon/sunset. The following day, we would go to Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, the Arch, and then back to 12 Apostles, Otway NP, Anglesea, Bells Beach, back to Melbourne. Is this a reasonable itinerary in that amount of time?
    Also, any advice on the walking trails in the Great Otway NP, with the amount of time we have.
    Thank you again – greatly appreciated!
    Teresa

    • Reply

      Hi Teresa, thanks for your feedback. Always great to receive such a positive comment.
      If you leave at 1pm you should be in Port Campbell at around 4:30pm. you may have time to fit in Loch Ard Gorge as well on the way to the 12 Apostles.
      I may suggest also a visit to the Bay of Islands, really a beautiful spot.
      You can do all you said on the second day (in a bit of a rush, try an early start).
      About the walks. I suggest these two options:
      > Cape Otway Lightstation : nice walk around (there is an entrance fee though). You will be very likely to see koalas on the way to the lightstation, around 2km from it.
      > Triplet Falls or Hopetoun Falls : both beautiful however it’s a bit of a driving to get there (30min-1hour based on the road you make and the car you have).
      I hope I was able to help
      Cheers
      Stef

    • Siri
    • March 6, 2018
    Reply

    Hello Stefano,
    We are planning to do a Melbourne – Adelaide self drive in March 3rd week. We are slightly unsure if we should do this. If you could clarify some of our doubts it would help us get things clear in our head.
    1. We are from Dubai and we are coming to Melbourne for the first time. We would like to know if the roads are safe to drive(2 reasons for this- one because we drive on the opposite sides of the road and second we hardly have single lane highways here)? Does GPS work in all location?
    2. We plan to do this trip in 3 days – 1st stop Warrambool, 2nd – Robe and the 3rd day we reach adelaide.
    Plz suggest!!!

    • Reply

      Hello Siri,
      the trip in 3 days can be done without problems. The road after Warrnambool is easy going, quite straight and without major traffic. GPS does work everywhere. The Great Ocean Road is single lane and it’s probably the most challenging part (winding road).
      I would personally opt to stay in Port Campbell for the first night otherwise you will probably miss out on few of the most spectacular places which you can otherwise do in the late afternoon of the arrival and in the morning after, when you leave Port Campbell.
      If Warrnambool is definitely your choice you may look for a place around the Lake Pertobe, that is my favorite part of town.
      There are also plenty of accommodation on the Raglan Parade however it can be quite noisy, although cheaper
      Enjoy!!!

    • Violet
    • March 5, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Stef, I am impressed with the details you have shared. Great Post and very informative.

    We are a family of 4 and will be heading the GOR on 22-23/3 from Melbourne mainly for sightseeing. Seems that Port Campbell is a good choice for a night but we have already reserved a place at Apollo Bay πŸ™ If we were to stay for the Sunset at Port Campbell, is it safe to drive back to Apollo Bay, as it is more dangerous to drive at night. How long will it take and is it a winding road? Can we still cover these places else please advise. Thanks.

    – early start and drive straight to Port Campbell through the direct way (M1 > A1 > C163 > C162)
    – Once in Port Campbell you can visit, driving west:
    >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
    and driving east:
    >> The Blowhole
    >> Loch Ard Gorge
    >> Tom and Eva Lookout
    >> The Razorback
    >> Twelve Apostles
    >> Gibson Steps
    Based on the available time drive back through the GOR stopping to one or more of these site:
    >> Lorne Pier and the Teddy’s lookout
    >> Split Point Lighthouse
    >> Point Roadknight beach
    >> Bells Beach for the best surfing

    • Reply

      Driving back at sunset should be safe. The issue with driving in the night is more for the wildlife that starts roaming around, just take care πŸ˜‰
      The drive takes around 1:30h. There are 2 segments, when you drive inland to Lavers Hill and in the Great Otway National Park, that you may want to take it slower than usual as these are the areas where most of the wildlife is.
      It is a winding road, but nothing major.
      You can still cover most of the places. Gibson Steps is probably the one that takes most of the time, as you need to walk down to the beach. It’s also the last one too which makes the life easier. If there is no time left you can just skip it πŸ˜‰
      Apollo bay is a nice town and you may enjoy an early swim at sunrise πŸ˜‰
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Rduke
    • March 1, 2018
    Reply

    Hello Stefano,
    I am so glad to have read your incredible post of information about the GOR.
    I would like to ask your advise based on the time we have. Its for a 2 days itinerary (16-17march) where we’ll be driving from Melbourne.
    We wish to start an early drive but our rental car provider only allow us to pick up the car at 10:00am.
    Not sure if we could start the drive to Port campbell doing the reverse trip or starts from Geelong on the 1st day.
    I look forward for your reply and Thank u for your time and effort for the post and appreciate ur help greatly!
    Rduke

    • Reply

      Hi Rduke,
      great to hear from you. Considering the time I would probably drive through the GOR from Geelong. Late arrival in Port Campbell, hopefully for sunset at the 12 Apostles. The morning after driving around Port Campbell (from Bay of Islands to Gibson Steps) and, based on time, back on the direct inland road or the GOR
      Enjoy !!

    • Ruth
    • February 23, 2018
    Reply

    Hi…wow, as an avid traveller your page is the best I have come across. I came across it when googling GOR and Grampians trips. I would love to know if you have written about any other destinations. You really know your stuff and it’s laid out so clearly. You must be the world’s most knowledgeable person on this area…so thankyou! I have a couple of questions for you if you wouldn’t mind. We (couple from NZ) are planning heading over to Melbourne over Easte Weekend. We arrive on Melbourne early Sat morning and would like to leave for a 3 day Grampians and GOR trip early Monday morning. After reading your blog we were thinking on leaving early, heading to Grampians to Halls Gap (would LOVE to see Kangaroos) for a night, Port Campbell for a night and then back on Wednesday for our 6.45pm flight to Auckland. A couple of questions –
    – we would love to get out if the car and do some hikes. Can you suggest a decent one in Grampians and maybe a shorter one in Great Otway?
    – any other suggests swimming spots as well as Roadknight beach?
    – I heard the Kennet forest sadly had a fire…do you know if the koalas have returned?
    – We could possibly go the following weekend for less crowds. Do you reckon we would be ok going Easter Monday as driving against the traffic?
    – would you still recommend Port Campbell as the stop in the 2nd night? Would it be too much of a rush getting back to airport along GOR for our 6.45pm flight?
    – any seafood recommendations?
    – finally, my husband is into photography..any recommended spots?
    Thanks again…your blog has been way more informative than 4 evenings of trawling!

    • Reply

      Hei Ruth,
      thank you so much for your comment, really appreciated πŸ™‚
      I have plenty of destinations I have written about. Of course the GOR is my backyard, so I was able to visit it multiple times as well as other areas nearby like the Grampians. You have a fabulous plan ahead of you, I really like it. Now about your questions:
      -1- The Pinnacle Lookout is quite an amazing viewpoint that can be reached from the Wonderland Car Park. It’s not a high demanding hike however it will keep you busy for few hours. This is the one I like the most in the area.
      – swimming along the GOR can be a hit and miss, based on the weather and the wind. The Roadknight beach is unique as it is always safe. The Port Campbell beach is also perfect, no waves, easy. Another one that I found few weeks ago in my last trip (I still have to add it to the post actually) is Childers Cove. This is the most spectacular beach I have ever been on the GOR however I was there with northerly wind, I am not sure how can it be with a southerly wind as it is partially exposed to the open sea.
      – I have still not seen koalas in the Kennet forest. However if you are after koalas watching you can find them on the road to the Cape Otway Lightstation (C157), around 2km from the lighthouse. There are few Koala families there….and usually a few cars parked πŸ™‚
      – I am not sure about the Easter Monday, it will be busy and you may go through some queues in the towns but it should be ok otherwise
      – From Port Campbell you can make it in 3 hours using the direct inland road or budget 5-6 hours through the coast with stops etc. I would personally stay in Port Campbell as I could go to the 12 apostles for sunset (gorgeous).
      – for photography:
      >> For Bay of Islands go to the Boat Bay Road. Better view than from the signaled viewpoint (I have still to post this info too LOL)
      >> 12 Apostles at sunset is magic. From the visitor Information Center walk down to the platform however just few meters from it step right into the bush, you will have an amazing view from there, and without anyone…usually πŸ™‚
      >> Teddy’s Lookout
      >> Erskine Falls for a long exposure of waterfalls. Do it as early as you can because it can be quite busy

      I hope I was able to help πŸ™‚
      Cheers

    • Aina
    • February 14, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you for the very informative blog! We are a family of 4 adults and 2 young kids going to Melbourne mid-march. TBH, i have booked accomodation at apollo bay and port campbell before i started reading on this reversed GOR itinerary. I do however, could cancel the booking and rebook. May i know if doing the reversed GOR, we will be crossing the road to be on the picturesque side/view points?

    • Reply

      Hi Aina, the road is the same, so you will come across the same sites but in reverse order. Port Campbell is the perfect town to stay for the most of the attractions. Beside the 12th apostles spare some time for the bay of islands, just as beautiful
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Rachel
    • December 14, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for all the great advice. We will be arriving into Melbourne around 3:30pm December 24. We were planning to do the GOR on 12/25 and 12/26 returning to Melbourne on 12/26. We do have a non-refundable hotel booked for 12/25 in Apollo Bay. Would it be best to drive the afternoon we get in the direct route to Port Campbell and stay there 12/24 and do the GOR in reverse? Or we it better to drive to Geelong or Lorne and stay there on 12/24?
    Thanks,
    Rachel

    • Reply

      Hey Rachel,
      the drive from the Airport to Apollo Bay through the GOR may take 3.5 hours, if not busy.

      The drive from the Airport to Port Campbell (direct route) will take around 3 hours. Than budget in 1.5 hours from Port Campbell to Apollo Bay. Also you may spend another 1.5-2 hours on site to see the coast in different places.

      In say that I would go to Apollo Bay through the GOR and leave the rest for the day after otherwise you may end up driving a lot in the night and not seeing much πŸ˜‰

      Have a fantastic trip!!!

    • Maddy
    • December 11, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stefano,
    Excellent piece of information. Thanks for posting and replying to all the comments. For the first time I am going to Visit Australia next week. I would like to take a trip ( i.e 17th to 19th) Melbourne-Grampions- Great Ocean road-Melbourne. Please advise if this can be done in 3 days. We are family of three (Single driver), planning to self drive ( though currently I am driving Left hand drive car and Right side of the road) in my country. I have read a lot about Great Ocean road stop overs,places of interest in your blog. Will you please reply with more details of Grampians, places of interest enroute and minimum required time to cover. Thanks in advance

    • Reply

      Hey Maddy,
      yes, it can be done this time of the year. The days are quite long. The Great Ocean Road is quite popular therefore you will not have any issue driving on the left side, just follow other cars. Pay only extreme attention when you come out from parking areas. That’s usually where our brain gets confused.
      The Grampians can instead be different. Unless you visit it in the weekend you will not experience many people around, so always ask yourself if the lane you are driving on is correct and if you have any doubt (sometime happens when tired), just stop on the side and wait for cars driving on the road, that will reassure you.
      Also keep in mind that especially in the Grampians area there are lots of wild animals. I would not suggest to drive at sunset/sunrise. You may end up with kangaroos jumping on the street and stopping (they get hypnotised by the car lights). A crash with one may be an expensive experience, beside possibly injuring them. Avoid driving in the night if you can.
      About your trip
      DAY 1
      I would probably leave early from Melbourne, drive to Grampians (Halls Gap), around 2 hours drive. Explore the area, there is an amazing viewpoint to walk too. Easy enough for kids (5y or older). Stay at Halls Gap for the night to watch the kangaroos. They usually come out at sunset time, mostly in the big green area used for camping, and for the kids it is really the best way to experience the Aussie wildlife, so much better than the zoo. The kangaroos are used to the locals and usually you can get very close to them. Accommodation at the Grampians Pioneer Cottages or the Mountain View Motor Inn.
      DAY 2
      Drive to Port Campbell (around 2.5 hours). Once there you can visit, driving west:
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      >> The Grotto is another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around
      >> Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles
      and driving east:
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Twelve Apostles
      >> Gibson Steps
      Accommodation in Port Campbell at the Port Campbell Parkview Apartments or any in the suggested list of the Day 1 in the post.
      DAY 3
      Drive down the Great Ocean Road with stops as in the post.
      I am sure you will love both!!
      Have a great trip πŸ™‚

    • Sam
    • December 4, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stefano,

    I’m glad to find this website. It is very informative and helpful. I hope you will continue writing for many more interesting places.

    BTW, my wife and I will be coming to Melbourne in March 2018 for the F1. We want to do GOR (Reverse) in 4 days. We will rent a car and start our road trip from MEL airport. Our plan is based on your 3 days trip suggestion. On the other hand, since we are going to do this in a slow 4 days pace, could you please tips us which place are worth to stay a bit longer.

    Thanks You and looking forward for your reply/

    • Reply

      Hello Sam,
      thanks for your kind words. Really appreciated πŸ™‚

      I believe that Apollo Bay is the best place because it offers lots to do, beside the beach time. I am thinking of
      – The Great Otway National Park, amazing for walks and trekking through the waterfalls
      – Cape Otway Lightstation beautiful road to arrive there and great view
      Blanket Bay for a secluded trip (you need a 4WD though)
      – you can do part of the Great Ocean Walk
      Wreck Beach is just 1 hour from Apollo Bay

      If you are more into a relaxed time, beach, reading a book, coffee and restaurant then Anglesea. It has nicer beaches and some good surfing too

      I hope I was able to help out πŸ™‚
      Cheers

    • Jane Hsu
    • November 30, 2017
    Reply

    Hello Stefano!

    Thank you for your prompt reply to my previous post. Appreciate it! πŸ™‚

    After reading your suggestions and recommendations to those driving the Great Ocean Road on a ONE DAY trip, I will take up your advice to start my trip from Geelong direct to Port Campbell National Park first, with my itinerary for a few stops/attractions as follows:-

    – Drive straight to Port Campbell through the direct way (M1 > A1 > C163 > C162)
    – Once in Port Campbell, visit, driving West:
    >> The London Bridge/London Arch
    >> The Grotto

    and driving East:
    >> Loch Ard Gorge
    >> Twelve Apostles
    >> Gibson Steps

    Based on the available time, drive back through the GOR stopping to:
    >> Split Point Lighthouse

    What time should I start the drive from Geelong to Port Campbell and what time should I drive back to Geelong after I’m done with the above itinerary?

    Thank you.

    Jane

    • Reply

      I always suggest to start the trip as early as possible. It takes always longer than expected because of the beautiful road and because of the many unplanned stops to watch the scenery.
      My personal suggestion is avoid driving in the night as there are many wild animals around.
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Myo
    • November 29, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef
    You suggested that it is better to take a tour if we are doing just a day trip along the GOR. Was that recommendation just for overseas visitors? We live in Canberra. We are going to Melbourne in January 2018. Can we do a self-drive tour of the GOR based on those recommended tour itineraries? Thanks.

    Regards,
    Myo

    • Reply

      Hi Myo,
      I would recommend a tour to anyone, Australian or foreigner, that has just 1 spare day. The main reason is that from Melbourne, just for driving you would need to budget at least 3 hours to Port Campbell and 4.5 hours back through the Great Ocean Road. If you add possible delays than you come up with 8 hours of driving. And the road is very winding of course. I did it once on a single day and I was so tired of driving that I personally did not enjoy the stops along the coast (it may be just me of course).
      Usually the tours have also all the food organised so that the stops do not take too long otherwise you may end up with at least 2 hours for lunch and dinner. You jump on the bus for an early start and you can have a nap till you arrive on the GOR πŸ˜‰
      It can all be done, and we are all different I guess πŸ˜‰
      Either way you will have a memorable day πŸ™‚ I am pretty sure
      Enjoy your trip

    • Jane Hsu
    • November 29, 2017
    Reply

    Hello Stefano!

    My family (hubby and son) and I will be driving on the Great Ocean Road in Dec 2017 and we are planning a ONE day trip due to our tight schedule. We will be staying at Geelong and intend to stop by a few places such as Bells Beach Torquay, Split Point Lighthouse, London Arch, Gibson Steps, The Grotto and finally, Port Campbell National Park. In terms of convenience and to save time, should we start our planned itinerary to Bells Beach first and end up at Port Campbell National Park and then drive back to Geelong? May I know your kind advice and suggestion if any?

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

    Jane

    • Reply

      Hi Jane,
      that’s a great plan πŸ™‚ . I would personally start from Bells Beach if you are after some surfing (waves are usually better in the morning) otherwise from Port Campbell as you may end up spending more time than you think around that area.
      I hope I was able to help
      Have a lovely trip !!

    • Danette
    • November 25, 2017
    Reply

    SO helpful – thank you! My nephew (18) and I will explore the Great Ocean Road round trip from/to Melbourne early next June. We have four days and three nights for the GOR. Could you recommend a good itinerary for that time of year? I like your idea of doing the “reverse” direction starting in Port Campbell. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Good day Danette, no worries, always a pleasure to help out.
      In that time of the year the days are quite short, sunrise is around 7:30-8am and sunset is at 5-5:30pm. It’s the best time of the year for sunset in my opinion as the sun goes down almost along the coast (on the other side sunrise is not as spectacular being from mainland).
      The water is cold and surfing is not really an option.
      I would personally spend the 3 nights as described on my 3 days itinerary with 1 day in Port Campbell and 2 days in Apollo Bay.
      I would probably spend more time around Apollo Bay and the Great Otway National Park. There are some amazing walks and impressive waterfalls, surely full of water in June. I would skip any beach time (quite cold time of the year) and if you have some time left on the 4th day you may even visit Queenscliff, the most beautiful historical town on the coast. Also Geelong, along the esplanade, is a nice town to spend few hours
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • ben
    • November 23, 2017
    Reply

    hello great guide we are heading to Melbourne and driving the great ocean road in feb next year. are u able to help us out with a travel plan. its so confusing reading so many guides. we are staying 3 nights doing the great ocean road then heading to ballarat for the night then the last two nights in melb. what would u recommend.

    we are a family of 3.

    • Reply

      Good day Ben,
      that will be an awesome week!!
      I would probably spend 2 nights in either Apollo Bay or Anglesea and than 1 night in Port Campbell. Let me better motivate my suggestion, which is mostly based on the age of your kid
      >> if he/she is over 6-8 years old and quite active than Apollo Bay is a great spot. It’s a nice quiet beach but still you can do some surfing and/or take a family lesson, which is quite fun. You can also organise 1 or more walks into the Great Otway National Park and visit the several waterfalls. You can visit the remote Lightway Station (pretty unique) and experience the Otway Fly Treetops, and for some adrenaline have a look at the Otway Fly Zipline
      >> if he/she is much younger or less active than Anglesea is a great spot with a couple of quiet family beaches. My fav is Point Roadknight. You can also do surfing with long boards if you walk a bit along coast. Such an easy spot, very popular with families. Another great place with calm water is the Anglesea river with a wavy side and a quiet side, facing the river. A playground is also there.
      From both destinations you can also take half days to explore around

      Spending one night at Port Campbell will allow you to see all the most beautiful places around, also at sunset, or sunrise. The beach there is also awesome.

      About the accommodation I would suggest:
      Apollo Bay
      –> Beeches by the Sea Villas Apollo Bay is recognised as one of the best
      –> Seafarers Getaway is another great choice
      –> the Motel Marengo has usually some great deals, cheaper however not as beautiful as the previous two accommodations
      –> a cabin at the BIG4 Apollo Bay Pisces Holiday Park, probably the most economical option

      Anglesea
      -> the BIG4 Anglesea Holiday Park as well as the Anglesea Family Caravan Park are both a great value option
      -> the Great Ocean Road Resort is a great alternative, although a bit more expensive
      -> the Freshwater Creek Cottages and Farm Stay is a unique experience, although not in Anglesea.

      Port Campbell
      –> Port Campbell Parkview Apartments
      –> the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn for a competitive price
      –> the Southern Ocean Villas for a boutique choice

      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Nicole
    • November 19, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stefano,
    I am looking at doing a 3 day self-drive trip in December with my two nephews (10y.o and 8y.o). The section of the Great Ocean Road you’ve written about is the main highlights correct? I was wondering if you had any tips on places to visit particularly with two young boys along the way? Thank you for such a comprehensive article.

    • Reply

      No worries Nicole, Always happy to help out.
      Let me say I am sure you will have an awesome time. I will be on the Great Ocean Road (once again LOL) in December too. I have a new toy, a drone LOL
      With young kids I may suggest to add in your bucket list one or more of these activities:
      > Surfing. You can rent boards pretty much everywhere. If you have already surfing experience probably Torquay is the best spot and the Torquay Surf Beach is the place to be. In this case rent your board in town. If you do not have experience and you prefer just some easy waves than Apollo Bay has some amazing easy spots. You can organise directly in town a surfing lesson, always great fun with kids
      > swimming and best beaches. My fav easy beach, especially when I am there with my kid, is Point Roadknight. You can also do surfing with long boards there. Such an easy spot, very popular with families. Another great place with calm water is the Anglesea river which has the benefit to have calm and rough water, based on the side of the beach, a bit of both . Port Campbell has also a nice calm beach.
      > fun stuff to do: Otway Fly Treetops, great and unique experience and for some adrenaline have a look at the Otway Fly Zipline, it can be done by kids as young as 6-7y. This is really fun!

      I hope I was able to help. Enjoy your trip!!

    • Rohit Saraf
    • October 31, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stefano,

    I am planning to visit Melbourne in early Dec. I plan for a 1 day trip to explore the GOR. Can you guide me with the Itinerary I should plan for? I am coming there for my Honeymoon.
    Also, is self drive the best option or taking a minivan tour is better?
    Also if a minivan tour is better then can you suggest me a good tour operator?

    Thank you

    • Reply

      Hi Rohit,
      first of all congratulation!!
      Now about the GOR. You can drive yourself however it will be a really tiring day. It will involve at least 7 hours drive. Probably not the best on honeymoon. If you really want to do it, have a very early start and drive to Port Campbell through the inland route. You visit the 12 apostles and all the attractions around and than slowly you can drive back through the GOR. You will arrive back in Melbourne just in time for a long sleep πŸ™‚

      Alternatively take a tour as you mentioned. There are many available however this tour run by Autopia Tours does exactly what I usually suggest when driving, it goes straight to Port Campbell and avoid the crowd. The trip is so much better.
      Enjoy!!

    • Joyce
    • October 12, 2017
    Reply

    Hi,

    I’m planning a trip to the GOR in Dec and it’s my first time in melb. Im looking to spend 3 days on the road how would you suggest my itinerary be and where should my accommodation be at? I’m having trouble figuring out the accommodation.

    • Reply

      Hi Joyce,
      that’s the perfect time to be on the Great Ocean Road, start of summer however not that busy, great choice.

      See below my suggestions, assuming your trip is based on 3 days and two nights.
      DAY 1
      Arrival in Melbourne. Drive to Port Campbell using the direct internal road (M1 > A1 > C164 > 163). The drive is around 3 hours, subject to traffic.
      You will be in Port Campbell for the lunch time I guess. In the afternoon you could visit, driving few km west (direction Adelaide):
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      >> The Grotto is another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around
      >> Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles
      Sleep in Port Campbell. Accommodation I suggest:
      –> Port Campbell Parkview Apartments
      –> the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn for a competitive price
      –> the Southern Ocean Villas for a boutique choice
      DAY 2
      In case you have an early wake up call for a sunrise view then start with the Twelve Apostles (beautiful). Than drive around to check
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Gibson Steps
      This will take most of the morning. You can have lunch on the way to Lavers Hill. There are few nice cafes there on the way up, my favourites I must say on the all GOR.
      In the afternoon you can have a visit to the Great Otway National Park and drive down to the Cape Otway Lightstation.
      Than drive to Apollo Bay (fantastic surfing there btw). Sleep in Apollo
      –> Beeches by the Sea Villas Apollo Bay is recognised as one of the best
      –> Seafarers Getaway is another great choice
      –> the Motel Marengo has usually some great deals, cheaper however not as beautiful as the previous two accommodations
      –> a cabin at the BIG4 Apollo Bay Pisces Holiday Park, probably the most economical option
      DAY 3
      Drive down the Great Ocean Road. Have a stop at the Apollo Bay Pier than, based on the available time, drive back to Melbourne through the GOR stopping at one or more of these site:
      >> Lorne Pier and the Teddy’s lookout
      >> Split Point Lighthouse
      >> Point Roadknight beach
      >> Bells Beach for the best surfing
      >> Torquay outlet surfing city (look for the Reef shop, they have most of time AMAZING discounts like flip flops for $5 and most of the stuff at $10-20, but it’s about luck like many outlets)
      If you are spending another night in the area I suggest to sleep in the old town of Queenscliff, the most beautiful around. Have a look to the Vue Grand for an hotel with lots of character, like stepping back in time to the Victoria era or the Queenscliff Inn, cheaper, but again, with lots of character.

      I hope I was able to help. Enjoy your trip!!

    • Shruti
    • October 3, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks, great comprehensive article. Read many before this, however this one helps me plan my trip much better.
    Looking forward to enjoying this experience in Nov πŸ™‚

    Cheers,
    Shruti

    • Reply

      Thanks Shruti,
      I am really happy you found the post useful. Enjoy your trip!!
      Cheers
      Stef

    • Sandy
    • September 25, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    We will be doing a self-drive with elderly in early November. Have to go slow as the elderly are unable to walk long distance.
    Could you advise if we arrive at Melbourne airport early morning, 7am and would like to drive straight to Great Ocean Road, would Geelong be good to rest for the day and starts the next day to Great Ocrean Road.
    Which accommodations and sight-seeing would you recommend at Geelong which is convenient to supermarket, stores etc..
    Day 1 – Stay at Geelong
    Day 2 – Morning, start of great ocean road self-drive and stops for a night rest along the way
    Day 3 – great ocean road self-drive and back to Melbourne city touring in the evening.
    Day 4/5 – Melbourne city
    Day 6 – Melbourne city half day and back to airport.
    * Required your great advise for the above self-drive visits to Great Ocean Road as well as to the other areas in Melbourne. Thank you.

    • Reply

      Good day Sandy,
      sorry for this late reply. I was on a 5 weeks trip with limited Internet access and I am now trying to catch up with all the comments πŸ™‚
      Let me know if you still need the information (just add another comment) and I will answer back with more details πŸ™‚

      Cheers
      Stef

    • Sandy
    • September 25, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    We will be doing a self-drive with elderly in early November. Have to go slow as the elderly are unable to walk long distance.
    Could you advise if we arrive at Melbourne airport early morning, 7am and would like to drive straight to Great Ocean Road, would Geelong be good to rest for the day and starts the next day to Great Ocrean Road.
    Which accommodations and sight-seeing would you recommend at Geelong which is convenient to supermarket, stores etc..
    Day 1 – Stay at Geelong
    Day 2 – Morning, start of great ocean road self-drive and stops for a night rest along the way
    Day 3 – great ocean road self-drive and back to Melbourne city touring in the evening.
    Day 4/5 – Melbourne city
    Day 6 – Melbourne city half day and back to airport.
    * Required your great advise for the above self-drive visits to Great Ocean Road as well as in Melbourne. Thank you.

    • Alessandro
    • September 24, 2017
    Reply

    Hello Stefano,
    Incredible post of information about the great ocean road.
    I would like to ask for your advise based on the time we have.

    So part of our honeymoon we want to experience the great ocean road for the short time we have, not ideal. We have 2 nights, we land in Melbourne around 4pm then I plan to drive to/near Port Cambell and stay the night. So this is the first route. Then in the morning drive back to Melbourne taking another route? Though the first route from Melb to Port Cambell will be slightly rushed since it will be late afternoon.
    Summary: Which route to take from around 4pm from Melbourne to Port Cambell? Then which route to take from Port Cambell to Melbourne the next day(more time to stop and enjoy)

    Thanks so so much for your help. Alessandro

    • Reply

      Hey Alessandro,
      sorry for this late reply. I was on a 5 weeks trip with limited Internet access and I am now trying to catch up with all the comments πŸ™‚
      I suggest you to drive through the M1 > A1 > C164 > 163 which is the inland route. It is the most direct way, without anything really to see but it will take you to Port Campbell in about 3 hours.
      The day after you can drive on the scenic route along the coast. It will take the full day, with stops here and there.
      I hope this helps
      Cheers
      Stef

    • Gladys
    • September 10, 2017
    Reply

    Planned a self-drive 3 days 2 N from Melbourne airport at 8am direct to Port Campbell n return on 26/11-28/11. Stay at Port Campbell n Lorne, wish to cover as many interesting places, return way via Torquay. To watch sunsets at 12 Apostle, what’s the time of arrival required, etc

    • Reply

      Hi Gladys, that will be an awesome trip!! End of November the sunset is around 6:20pm. I suggest to plan to be there at least at 5:30 to park the car and walk down to the platform. Sometime the place can be quite busy as well.
      Enjoy!!

    • Sam
    • August 15, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    Great site and I’ve found a lot of valuable information here!
    Would be great if you can advice for a 2 days itinerary where I’ll be driving from Box Hill (3128).

    Not sure if I can do everything here, but here goes:

    Day 1
    —————————-
    Torquay
    ———
    Bells Beach

    Aireys Inlet
    ————-
    Split Point Lighthouse

    Lorne
    ———–
    Erskine Falls
    Teddy’s Lookout
    Lorne Beach

    Kenneth’s River Koala Walk

    Apollo Bay
    ————
    Mait’s Rest
    Great Ocean Walk

    Otway Fly Treetop Adventures

    Cape Otway
    ———————
    Cape Otway Lightstation

    Day 2
    ——————————

    Lavers Hill
    ———–
    Melba Gully National Park (Glo Worms)

    Port Campbell
    ————–
    12 Apostles
    Loch Ard Gorge
    London Bridge
    The Grotto
    Gibsons Steps
    The Arch

    We want to be in time for the sunrise (7.10am) /sunset (17:55) (Travelling in August) at the 12 Apostles and I’ve booked in my accommodation at the Port Campbell Parkview Motel & Apartments (as per your advice to stay at Port Campbell). Plan to start from Box Hill at about 6-7am to allow us more time to see more place.
    I know we most probably won’t be able to cover all the places in day 1 so would be really great if you can advice us on the itinerary (places we can give a miss/what should we do instead, if it’s achievable etc)

    • Reply

      Hi Sam,
      sorry for the late reply. I have been myself on a trip without much of an internet access.

      You have a great plan!! Well done. It’s a long list of things to do along the Great Ocean Road. I added some comments to your plan πŸ˜‰
      Day 1
      β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”-
      Torquay >>>>> The town is nothing really unique however if you are into shopping I suggest a 1 hour stop at the surfing shopping village, lots of bargains there, from clothes to boards and much more. The Reef shop is one of my favourite
      β€”β€”β€”
      Bells Beach >> if you are into surfing, otherwise you may miss it

      Aireys Inlet
      β€”β€”β€”β€”-
      Split Point Lighthouse

      Lorne
      ———–
      Erskine Falls
      Teddy’s Lookout
      Lorne Beach

      Kenneth’s River Koala Walk it will take a while, based on your available time

      Apollo Bay
      β€”β€”β€”β€”
      Mait’s Rest
      Great Ocean Walk >>> this takes days, maybe another time πŸ™‚

      Otway Fly Treetop Adventures Interesting walk, again it takes time which you may not have

      Cape Otway
      β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”
      Cape Otway Lightstation

      Day 2
      β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”

      Lavers Hill
      ———–
      Melba Gully National Park (Glo Worms)

      Port Campbell
      ————–
      12 Apostles
      Loch Ard Gorge
      London Bridge
      The Grotto
      Gibsons Steps
      The Arch

    • Mohammed
    • July 15, 2017
    Reply

    Hi its amazing to read through your detailed itinerary. I plan to do the GOR in winter this july. What would you suggest if i have no choice but to move off from flinders street @ 1300hrs ? SHould i head directly to apollo bay and spend the night there?

    *your blog is incredible and keep up the awesome posts!

    • Reply

      Hi Mohammed, my preferred choice would be still to go to Port Campbell and spend the night there. From Flinders Street you probably need around 2.30-3hours (M1+A1). It’s a similar time frame to Apollo Bay (the road is shorter in km however more winding).
      You should be in Port Campbell by 4pm, which is a great time as you can head straight to the 12 Apostles for the sunset (magical). The day after can be spent to see all the site around Port Campbell and than back through the GOR
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Eve
    • July 11, 2017
    Reply

    This post with great details is of great help. I will be staying in Boneo. What do you suggest if I wish to do in one day from Boneo for this GOR self drive? Thanks.

    • Reply

      Good day Eve,
      wow, Boneo, great place to be, I love the Mornington Peninsula, definitely a must visit/explore.

      The drive to Port Campbell is a long on, it will take probably around 3.5-4 hours, either through Melbourne or with a ferry from Sorrento (although you you are going to save few km with the ferry). It will be a long day. Doable but very tiring. Be prepared to be round 8-9 hours in the car.

      If taking the ferry, you may want to check the timetable, just to avoid missing the last ferry πŸ˜‰

      Personally, I would probably not do it on a day trip. Think about having a night in Port Campbell. It will make your visit so much more enjoyable.

      Have an amazing trip a fabulous time in the Mornington Peninsula

    • Jay
    • June 26, 2017
    Reply

    I am so glad I came across this post. I have got to say, this is detailed and superb. Not trying to sound cliche but I never ever leave a comment but I must acknowledge the effort you have put into this blog post. Just amazing and I thank you so much!
    I’m a local from Sydney and have never been to Melbourne but am thinking it’s time. I am planning to go in the next week. I do know this post was intended for summer but would the attractions be the same for winter?
    I plan on doing this for 2-3 days, undecided yet but will take your advice and start from Port Campbell and work my way back to the CBD. Would it matter where I spend my time for sunsets/sunrises or is it all the same. I ask because in your post, you mention that the cliff blocks the sun at Loch Ard Gorge during sunset; would this be the case for any of the attractions in relation to the now winter axis?
    Also are there any quiet get aways along the GOR that is located in bush land where I can just chill out with my partner (plug off all electronic devices and soak in natures energy on a farm or cottage like accommodation)?
    I look forward to your reply and once again, thank you for your time and effort for the post and appreciate your help greatly (also sorry for bombarding you with questions).

    Jay

    • Reply

      Hei Jay, thank you for your comments. Really appreciated.
      This post is not actually uniquely made for summer. It has to be said however that the GOR is very popular in summer and this may be better for any visitor in winter as they will experience less of a crowd I believe.
      About the sunset and sunrise locations…going through each location may be too hard. I suggest to visit the Suncalc website. It is my reference when I want to check where is the sunrise/sunset based on the day of the year (very useful for photography). You just need to select the point on the map and the website will tell you everything. They have also an app for your mobile, very useful!! Highly suggested. Nothing more disappointing to go to a place and the sunrise is just not there as on some photos you saw.
      About the plug-off location, I suggest a place in the Otway National Park. My favourite it still the Cape Otway Lightstation, very romantic and unique, absolutely a lovely location. As an alternative you may also check the Shearwater Cottages (this is really isolated :).
      Enjoy your trip Jay!

  1. Reply

    Hi Stef…Your blog post is incredibly amazing. I learned something history here on how the London Bridge became London arch, in 1975 YouTube video you shared, it looks mesmerizing. How much more to see now the 12 apostles. Very interesting, I feel to pack my bag and hit the road. GOR is a dream for many tourist to experience for real. Self-driving is ideal for me to have more freedom to stop and go. A day will not be enough, for sure along the way I need a place to stay for a rest and continue the journey the next morning to catch up the sunrise. Looking for a buddy to come with me.

    • Reply

      Thank you so much Steven for your feedback. The London Arch video is actually one of my best finding ever. Real Australian News as they used to be πŸ™‚

    • Sam Cole
    • June 7, 2017
    Reply

    Hi,
    I am planning a self drive day trip to GOR i am staying in Melbourne. After reading your article i have now decided to drive straight to 12 Apostles and och Ard Gorge and back along the GOR to Torquay. How much time at each stop would you recommend and where? also what time would you suggest to leave at that time of year? Any other tips for a 1 day self drive in July would be great.
    Thank you

    • Reply

      Good day Sam,
      a 1 day trip in July may be challenging, especially in July when the light is limited. Sunrise is around 7:30am and sunset 5:15pm. I personally do not suggest to drive in the dark unless you are used to the Australian wildlife, and even in that case you really need to pay attention. Driving back from Geelong at night is not a problem (hway). If you really want to drive yourself try at least to be by around 5pm at Geelong. Plan to leave Melbourne around 6:30-6:45am (hway to Geelong is fine).
      How much time? This is very very subjective. The most interesting walks/view points are around Port Campbell:
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Twelve Apostles
      From there you can stop, or not, based on the time you have left.
      My personal suggestion, for a day trip in July, is to take an organised bus, at least you can have a nap here and there (it’s really a long day) and they will drive the bus in the night, no worries for you, with more time at the points of interest. The GOR in July is not that busy, especially during the weekend, low season.
      The Great Ocean Road Reverse Experience is a day tour that starts from Port Campbell, as I usually suggest.
      The other option is Great Ocean Road & Rainforest where they include some trekking, however less sites stop. This is an option for the more active people. They do include also meals which make it a great value.
      Enjoy your trip!!!

    • Amy
    • June 1, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    We are a families from Norway and travel with 4 kids ( 3 years old, 5 years old , 7 years old and 8 years old). We will be at Melbourne for 12 days on July 2017.
    We are planning a self driving tour that cover Ballarat, Grampians, GOR and Phillip Island. We would like to it easy and no stress and rush since we travel with kids. We plan to drive for 6 days and 5 nights. What is your suggestion for stopover and place to overnight ?

    Regards
    Amy

    • Reply

      Hi Amy, sure you will have an amazing trip. 12 days in the Melbourne area will allow you to experience most of the attractions. You will love it.
      About the trip, with 5 nights you should have enough time for the trip you are planning. If you have 1 night more it would be great.
      I assume in Ballarat you have already planned to visit Sovereign Hill, great fun for the kids. In July the days are very short and it becomes dark quite soon, around 5ish. As I said many times, I personally do not suggest to drive in the dark or sunset/sunrise times, too many wild animals around, especially in the areas you plan to visit. Try to drive during the day only.
      I would personally plan the trip as:
      Day 1 : Ballarat with accommodation at Quality Inn Heritage on Lydiard or the Seymours on Lydiard for a better value option.
      Day 2 : Drive to Grampians (Halls Gap), around 2 hours drive. Explore the area, there is an amazing viewpoint to walk too. Easy enough for kids to (probably not the 3y old, he/she may get tired). Stay at Halls Gap for the night to watch the kangaroos. They usually come out at sunset time and for the kids it is really the best way to experience the Aussie wildlife, so much better than the zoo. The kanguroos are used to the locals and usually you can get very close to them. Accommodation at the Grampians Pioneer Cottages or the Mountain View Motor Inn
      Day 3 : Drive to Port Campbell (around 2.5 hours). Once there you can visit, driving west:
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      >> The Grotto is another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around
      >> Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles
      and driving east:
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Twelve Apostles
      >> Gibson Steps
      Accommodation in Port Campbell at the Port Campbell Parkview Apartments.
      Day 4: Drive down the Ocean Road till Queenscliff where you can have the accommodation for the 4th night. It’s an historical town, with some great gold era 18th century buildings. My suggested accommodation for your family size is probably the BIG4 Beacon Resort. They have really nice Bungalow, perfect for 1 night stay.
      Day 5 : Take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento (great for children). From Sorrento drive to Phillip Island (around 2 hours). Accommodation for last night close to Cowes, the main town, at the Ramada Resort (this is one of the best value options around I believe. It’s usually booked out but worth a try).
      Don’t miss the penguin parade πŸ˜‰

      When in Melbourne have a visit to St.Kilda. There are few penguins there at the end of the pier. Best time to see them is around sunset. In St.Kilda you can go also to the Adventure Playground with the kids, free entrance, open 3:30 to 5:30pm during the week, not sure in the weekend however you can google it, easy

    • Ishan
    • April 20, 2017
    Reply

    Hi stef
    this post is excellent and very informative. I’m planning to do a melbourne trip end of april. I’ll reach Melbourne at 8:30am and plan to hire a car and go on the GOR. Drive to port campbell and see the attraction you mentioned. stay the night at port campbell and then back to melbourne the next day.
    Considering I port campbell is 3-4 hours from melbourne, I reach there by 1pm. do you think i’ll be able to see and enjoy all the attractions on the same day? on my drive back to Melbourne, is there any place i should stop at? what time should i leave port campbell the next day?

    • Reply

      Hi Hishan,
      Thanks for your commemt πŸ™‚
      Keep in mind that sunset is around 5:30pm by end of April so work towards being at the 12 apostles around 5ish, probably the best time of the day to see this amazing place.
      In 4 hours you should be able to see all of the attractions around Port Campbell, it depends also on how much time you spend and walk around it.
      Check the weather too. The 12 Apostles are great also at sunrise, although the light is not as good, with the sun coming from north-east in April/May, more of an inland position.
      On the way back i suggest a visit at the surf shopping area in Torquay, if you are after some casual/surfing cloths. My favourite shop is Reef, a small outlet with amazing prices.
      Geelong beach is also a nice area for a walk with dinner at the pier, great view of the bay.
      I hope it helps
      Cheers

    • Net
    • April 19, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks Stef! Enjoy your holiday!

    • Reply

      Hi Net,
      here I am back with proper internet connection.
      About your trip in October. If you are planning end of October there are two great events you may be able to stop and enjoy.
      – UPWELLING FESTIVAL, PORTLAND this year on the 29th of October
      – TOAST TO THE COAST FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL on the same weeekend in the Geelong area
      You can google them for more info.
      About the direction of the trip. I would personally do Adelaide to Melbourne because the most beautiful part of the trip is closer to Melbourne, so you spend the first day travelling out of Adelaide.
      If you spend a night in Adelaide I would stay at the The Playford Adelaide MGallery by Sofitel. It’s a great hotel right in the center of the city. Adelaide is actually more of a town, so do not expect big traffic jam etc. I was at the Playford during a long cycling trip and I had such a relaxing time, really needed LOL
      In Adelaide you may also consider a trip into the hills to visit some of the most amazing world famous wineries. Also a stop in Hahndorf is mandatory, you will feel suddenly in Germany with German bakeries, German restaurants, German shops and of course German pubs and beer.
      On the way to the Great Ocean Road I would spend a night in Port Fairy, a beautiful small village around 1 hour from the start of the Great Ocean Road. The Oscars Waterfront Boutique Hotel is my suggested accommodation, right on the water.
      I would book 2 nights in Port Campbell or around. In Port Campbell there is the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn for a competitive price or the Southern Ocean Villas for a boutique choice
      The last 2 nights I would either stay in Torquay or along the Great Ocean Road, in a more romantic and isolated cottage. One in my go-to list there is the Aireys Inlet Lighthouse and the Shearwater Cottages.
      I hope I was able to help. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need more tips.
      Cheers

    • Onan Pinto
    • April 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stefano, This is an awesome post on planning a self drive of the GOR. I will be Melbourne around first week of May and was planning a 1 day trip from Melbourne to GOR. I planning on going with your suggestion of doing it from port campbell > melbourne. But if I wanted to do an Eco tour, what would be the best itinerary for 1 day driving in order to cover the major (read postcardesque) views and in what sequence of destination do we stop in order to optimize time and appreciate the views.
    I would really appreciate your help.

    Thanks
    Onan Pinto

    • Reply

      Hi Onan, with just 1 day you will be a bit limited on what you can do and visit.
      Keep in mind that the Melbourne to Port Campbell trip takes around 3 hours and budget in a 2 hours from Torquay to Melbourne on the way back. That’s already 5 hours without seeing any site. Sunset is aroun 5:30pm in May
      If one day is all you have than, indeed, drive to Port Campbell and visit all of the sites around(check the list in the post or in a few comments below – sorry i am on a trip with limited internet), probably excluding the Bay of Islands, otherwise you would be still there at 5pm LOL. From there drive back stopping at the sites I described in the post….till you have light.
      Have a great trip!!!

    • Net
    • April 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef
    Thank you for sharing your photos and tips! I’m planning a 4-5 day self-drive for 2 persons on the GOR from Adelaide to Melbourne in October, plus a few days each at both Adelaide and Melbourne as well. Would you have any recommendation on a suitable itinerary and accommodation (especially on the GOR)? We’re looking more into a relaxing tour. Also, would you recommend Melbourne – Adelaide or Adelaide-Melbourne? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Hi Net,
      here I am back with proper internet connection.
      About your trip in October. If you are planning end of October there are two great events you may be able to stop and enjoy.
      – UPWELLING FESTIVAL, PORTLAND this year on the 29th of October
      – TOAST TO THE COAST FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL on the same weeekend in the Geelong area
      You can google them for more info.
      About the direction of the trip. I would personally do Adelaide to Melbourne because the most beautiful part of the trip is closer to Melbourne, so you spend the first day travelling out of Adelaide.
      If you spend a night in Adelaide I would stay at the The Playford Adelaide MGallery by Sofitel. It’s a great hotel right in the center of the city. Adelaide is actually more of a town, so do not expect big traffic jam etc. I was at the Playford during a long cycling trip and I had such a relaxing time, really needed LOL
      In Adelaide you may also consider a trip into the hills to visit some of the most amazing world famous wineries. Also a stop in Hahndorf is mandatory, you will feel suddenly in Germany with German bakeries, German restaurants, German shops and of course German pubs and beer.
      On the way to the Great Ocean Road I would spend a night in Port Fairy, a beautiful small village around 1 hour from the start of the Great Ocean Road. The Oscars Waterfront Boutique Hotel is my suggested accommodation, right on the water.
      I would book 2 nights in Port Campbell or around. In Port Campbell there is the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn for a competitive price or the Southern Ocean Villas for a boutique choice
      The last 2 nights I would either stay in Torquay or along the Great Ocean Road, in a more romantic and isolated cottage. One in my go-to list there is the Aireys Inlet Lighthouse and the Shearwater Cottages.
      I hope I was able to help. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need more tips.
      Cheers

    • Reply

      Gooday Annette,
      You will have a great time on the GOR. I am currently on a trip myself, with limited internet. I would need a bit of time to answer with few suggestions. But i will be back in the Internet life in around 10 days. I will give you all of the details.
      Cheers Stef

    • Vinoth
    • April 9, 2017
    Reply

    Don’t miss the Chocolatarie restaurant+ice cream parlour+chocolate factory+souvenir shop

    • Reply

      I have a try next time I pass by πŸ˜‰ thanks for the tip

    • Vinoth
    • April 9, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    Great blog and I cancelled my guided tour and took a car on my own to make it a two day trip with my two sons aged 11 and 6 along with my wife. I must thank you as this gave a complete different perception and have just finished seeing one of the most beautiful places on the earth. I took a rental car which had ample space (a 4WD for a good rate) and accommodation in Port Campbell. Wish I had reached earlier so that i could have spent some time in the accommodation where we could have used barbecue and other facilities. But GOR just did not allow us to ignore the beautiful places and we kept stopping and enjoying the scenic views. Even if you do 10 trips, there will be always something that would interest you. And seeing it by yourself gives you more bandwidth to spend at spots where you and your family likes. I felt the Loch Ard Gorge is a gorgeous place and there was a secluded beautiful beach where it was just 4 of us for an hour. Thanks again for the blog and we intend to visit there many more times…

    • Reply

      Thanks Vinoth for your message. It really looks you had an awesome time. Renting a car gives indeed more freedom and it seems you had a real ball!

      Cheers

    • Eric Puah
    • April 5, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    This post is fantastic & really informative.
    I am from Malaysia, we will be at AUS by mid of May. 10 of us rent a mini bus & plan 1 day trip from Melbourne to GOR. Could you please advise the best itinerary for 1 day driving in order to cover the few major spot? Kindly advice the sequence of destination that we stop in order to save time.
    By the way, could you please advise the best place to have lunch & dinner around GOR?
    Appreciate your kindly help.

    Thank
    Eric Puah

    • Reply

      Good day Eric,
      thanks for your feedback, really appreciated.

      1 day at the GOR will be a very tiring one, something I usually do not suggest however if that is the only spare time you have here it is what I suggest:
      – early start and drive straight to Port Campbell through the direct way (M1 > A1 > C163 > C162)
      – Once in Port Campbell you can visit, driving west:
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      and driving east:
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Twelve Apostles
      >> Gibson Steps
      Based on the available time drive back through the GOR stopping to one or more of these site:
      >> Lorne Pier and the Teddy’s lookout
      >> Split Point Lighthouse
      >> Point Roadknight beach
      >> Bells Beach for the best surfing

      Port Campbell is probably the best spot for a brunch/lunch, one of my favourites is Forage on the Foreshore Cafe
      For dinner you will probably be in Lorne and I suggest the Pier Seafood Restaurant, great place

      Have a great trip!!

    • Eiden
    • March 26, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,

    Great post here. Read up all your comments as well. Understand a lot more about GOR during our read up here.
    Planning with a GOR trip this coming May. We plan to stay in Apollo Bay for a 3 days 2 night.
    We will be taking a long drive from Yarra Valley in the morning on our first day. There will be only 1 of us driving.
    Will you still advice us to visit London Bridge or 12 Apostles for sunrise or sunset during our trip to GOR?
    Also, as Cape Otway Lightstation is quite near Apollo Bay, will this be a good place to see sunrise or sunset in case
    we are unable to catch sunrise or sunset at either London Bridge or 12 Apostles?
    On the last day, we will head back to Melbourne CBD area. Should we plan any sites visits or just take a slow drive along GOR back directly?

    • Reply

      The Yarra Valley to GOR trip is quite a long one. I may only suggest you to have a really early start in order to pass Melbourne in the early hours otherwise you may find yourself in the traffic for 1 or 2 hours. Stay on the M80 and avoid the M1. It looks slightly longer but you will get less traffic.
      The weather in May is quite unstable. If you have a sunny/cloudy day, yes I definitely suggest a sunset at the 12 Apostles, less so at the London Bridge. If it’s cloudy/rainy than you can avoid the trip. Sunrise in May is not as great for both locations because the sun will rise from inland.
      Cape Otway Lightstation is also very good for sunset, less so for sunrise in May
      For sunrise you can checkout the Apollo Bay Coastal Reserve Victoria. Stay on the Pier or even better the breakwater for the best view.
      If you have an early start on the last day I would suggest to drive to Queenscliff and take the ferry to the Mornington Peninsula. Check my comment on the 15th of March where I wrote some suggestions on sites to visit there. It’s really a nice area, as beautiful, however different, as the GOR.

      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Song Ern
    • March 20, 2017
    Reply

    Hey Stefano,
    Just want to say how AMAZING and INFORMATIVE this post is! Finally, I can have a good sense of a workable self-drive itinerary on the GOR. Loving the tip on doing the Port Campbell -> Melbourne route to escape the traffic. Can’t imagine being stuck behind buses on a single-lane road!
    My friend and I will be heading over to Melbourne early June later this year and am excited reading about the amazing sights along the GOR. Basically, we have set aside 1 entire week (arriving Monday morning, leaving Sunday late morning) to explore Melbourne city and the areas around. As I will be the only person at the wheel, I am hoping to plan a road trip that does not require me to be on the road for long periods of time at any single time. Tentatively, apart from the GOR, I am also thinking of checking out Ballarat and Grampians. I’m not that great with Geography, but I was just wondering the feasibility for me to do: Melbourne -> Ballarat -> Grampians -> Port Campbell -> Melbourne (along GOR). If feasible, how many days on the road am I possibly looking at? Also, where should I be considering staying the night in? My priority is most definitely to check out the main sights at the best timings (sunrise/sunset). For Grampians, I am looking at the possibility of fitting in a hike.
    Also, if I’m not mistaken, it is winter during June. Are there anything that I should take note of? I’ve heard that the sun sets earlier during winter.
    Thanks in advance! πŸ™‚

    • Reply

      Hi Song,
      wow, one week around driving, what a great idea. I definitely think you can drive through all of the sites you mentioned, no worries.

      By the way, yes, June is the start of the winter and days are much shorter with sunrise around 7:30am and sunsets around 5pm.

      The first suggestion I can give you is NOT to drive at night. There are lots of wild animals around and it can be dangerous. Keep in mind that the animals, and especially the kangaroos, come out just before sunset for food, so try to avoid driving when dark, and if you have to, than pay extreme attention.

      And now my suggested trip:

      DAY 1: early drive to Ballarat in the morning (less than 2 hours). Stay in the city the all day. Take your time. A visit to Sovereign Hill is a must and it will keep you busy for at least 3 to 4 hours (I suggest to visit also the mines, you will need more time but well worth). Back to the city center to visit the botanical garden, beautiful, and the amazing Victorian buildings. For the night I suggest a stay at the Craig’s Royal Hotel. It will be like stepping back in time to the Gold Era. Just beautiful. It’s really a unique experience, on the luxury side. Another option is Quality Inn Heritage on Lydiard, also inspired by the Victorian age. For dinner I suggest you Rocks on Rosalind

      DAY 2: early drive to the Grampians (Halls Gap, less than 2 hours). If you are looking for some trekking go to The Pinnacle. Budget in 2-3 hours return for that. If you have still some time left you can also check the Chatauqua Peak (more challenging). Sleep in Halls Gap (my favourite accommodations are the Grampians Pioneer Cottages or the Mountain View Motor Inn, for a cheaper option). There is a good reason to stay for the night in Halls Gap. The kangaroos that come at sunset in the village. They come to the camping area and they almost mix with the local population. They are used to the humans and they do not get scared. It’s so much better than a zoo experience.

      DAY 3: Drive to Port Campbell (less than 3 hours). Once there you can visit, driving west, the London Bridge (you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk), the Grotto (another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around), Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles. And driving east: The Blowhole, Loch Ard Gorge, Tom and Eva Lookout, The Razorback, Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps. I have described all of the above in the post, including my suggested stay. Breakfast at Forage on the Foreshore πŸ˜‰

      DAY 4 : Back to Melbourne through he GOR, early start if you are after sunrise at the 12 apostles. Keep in mind this is a long drive. It’s a beautiful one however you will need the all day.

      If you have another spare day I would consider spending half day more in Ballarat and half day more in the Grampians (June is great for the waterfalls). As an alternative also consider taking the ferry in Queenscliff and spend a day in the Morning Peninsula (read more in the previous comment for that)

      Have an amazing trip!!!

    • Victoria
    • March 15, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    I am from Singapore & am heading to Melb in May for 9 days.
    I have some questions & appreciate your advice.
    1. I am looking to doing a “rural” kind of 1 or 1 nights, perhaps a cottage in Gippsland…do you have any recommended accomodation?
    Or would you have any recommended region to stay?
    2. How would I be able to slot in Gippsland on a GOR drive? (i intend to do a 2 or 3 day GOR…actually not sure where to start).
    3. Would you recommend to do Wilsons Promontory?
    4. Current intention is to stay a night or two in Melbourne city..

    Thanks!

    • Reply

      Good day Victoria,
      sure you will enjoy your time here and, based on your comments, you will be pretty busy as well.

      Gippsland is east of Melbourne, meanwhile GOR is west of the city. You can do both however you will have to come back to Melbourne, unless you go through the Mornington Peninsular and you take a ferry there.

      Wilson Prom is absolutely an amazing experience however you can only camp there, no hotels available.

      If you want to do both Gippsland and GOR I may suggest to start your trip from Melbourne and head to Port Campbell. Once there you can visit, driving west, the London Bridge (you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk), the Grotto (another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around), Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles.
      And driving east: The Blowhole, Loch Ard Gorge, Tom and Eva Lookout, The Razorback, Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps
      I have described all of the above in the post.
      Stay for the night in Port Campbell, either at the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn or at the Anchors Apartments.
      On Day 2 you can go back to the Twelve Apostles for another quick visit (different light in the morning) and from there drive back through the GOR to Torquay where you can spend the night. I suggest a stay at the Beachfront Cottages.
      On Day 3 you can drive to Queenscliff, a beautiful old Victorian style town. I suggest you to take 1-2 hours to wonder around. From there you can take the ferry to Sorrento , on the other side of the bay. It takes about 30 minutes.
      Sorrento is another nice town to visit. Another lovely village to check and stay is Mornington, a bit of a sleepy town with a nice beach. The Brooklands of Mornington is my favourite accommodation. Have a pizza at the DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar Delicatessen.
      You can actually spend two nights and take your time to visit some of the most famous Aussie wineries in the area. My favourite is still “Ten Minutes by Tractor“. You can also spare half a day at the Peninsula Hot Springs.
      From there, on day 5 (or 4) you can drive to Gippsland. My favourite town is Walhalla. There are many reasons.
      > the drive through the Gippsland forest, really amazing
      > the old gold mine under the mountain that you can still visit on a tour
      > the tiny village with lots of character and still a tea room πŸ™‚ and ofcourse the pub, now more upscale
      > the steam train
      > and the cemetery, really unique, an experience by itself, right on the side of the mountain, into the forest (to be checked during the day πŸ˜‰ )
      You can spend the night at the Walhalla’s Star Hotel. You will feel like going back to the 18th century, really fascinating.

      I hope I was able to help.
      Enjoy your amazing trip!!

    • WJ
    • February 27, 2017
    Reply

    Hi stef, I have been told that it’s preferably to drive down the GOR in the direction of Melbourne -> port fairy so that the ocean will be on the left for ease of stopping our car. Is that necessary?

      • Stef
      • February 27, 2017
      Reply

      Good day WJ,
      I personally do not find that necessary. That’s my personal opinion of course. The road can be busy but not mad busy. Moreover, on the major point of interest there is usually a parking spot on both sides (like the 12 apostles or all the villages along the coast).

      Also, driving from Port Fairy towards Melbourne you will find less traffic in the morning than on the other direction, where most of the busses drive, and sometime you may get stacked for many km behind one.

      I hope I was able to help πŸ™‚

      Cheers
      Stef

    • Mohamed
    • February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    planing a two day self drive on GOR in mid april with my family.As you ve suggested port campbel for the stay, should we drive directly there and come back to Melbourne through GOR?
    please advise..
    Thanks

    • Reply

      Hi Mohamed,
      I am sure you will have a great time on the GOR. It can be really magnificent in April.

      If you have two days I would personally suggest to stay in Port Campbell. You can drive directly there from Melbourne on the M1 and A1. It should take around 3-4 hours based on traffic. You can have lunch there. One of my favourite place is Karoa (Mediterranean food). Another I would suggest is Forage on the Foreshore, just in front of the beach, fantastic on a sunny day.

      Once in Port Campbell you can visit, driving west:
      >> The London Bridge, you can also access the beach side for a different corner and a great walk.
      >> The Grotto is another place with scenic view and a good area for kids to play around
      >> Bay of Islands Coastal Park, another underestimated destination which can be, in some respects, comparable, or even better, than the 12 Apostles
      and driving east:
      >> The Blowhole
      >> Loch Ard Gorge
      >> Tom and Eva Lookout
      >> The Razorback
      >> Twelve Apostles
      >> Gibson Steps
      I described all of the above in the post.

      This should take you busy for the entire day LOL If time runs out leave the 12 Apostles and Gibson Steps for the day after. If you can, have a sunset/sunrise at the 12 Apostles (also based on the weather forecast)

      Accommodation wise, in Port Campbell you can check at the Best Western Great Ocean Road Motor Inn or at the Anchors Apartments for a real unique stay with an amazing view.

      Enjoy your trip and let me know how it goes!!
      Cheers
      Stef

    • Sarah
    • February 12, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef!

    Will be heading to Melbourne in mid april, and will do as you have suggested on your website. Am thinking of spending a night on GOR, however I’m not sure where I should stay. Would you also suggest going to Grampians right after GOR? I was thinking if we stayed a night on GOR, then head to Grampians, would you recommend staying at Port Campbell or Warrnambool? Am not sure if doing Grampians right after GOR might be too tiring as well. What would you suggest?
    Thank you so much!

    Sarah

    • Reply

      Good day Sarah,
      sure you will have a fantastic time there. April is one of my favourite time to drive there too. The weather is still good however it is not as popular as in January and February (read crowd LOL)

      I would suggest straight away Warrnambool if your trip was in July August. In that time of the year the female Southern Right whales return to the waters of Warrnambool’s Logans Beach to calve. There are few watching platforms there. It can be really magnificent. Warrnambool itself is more of a busy town with a nice beach and port area. I had there one of my best breakfast ever at the Pavilion Cafe πŸ™‚ . It is not really a touristic center. It is more of a business town.

      Port Campbell is coastal village with a great beach, some nice small restaurants and very close to both the 12 Apostles and the London Bridge, actually right in the middle. I would personally stay there.

      I stayed previously in Warrnambool but it did not excite me. I used it more as a stop-over on the way to Adelaide.

      Most of the time on the GOR you will be in your car with several stops on platform views and possibly the beach. It’s not really physically demanding, unless you are planning a walk somewhere, like in the Great Otway National Park. So it could be done together with the Grampians, which is more physically demanding.

      This would be my 2 days plan.

      – DAY1: early start from Melbourne and drive to the Grampians. Spend most of the day there. There are some fantastic walks and view point. I was there for a week few years ago and I enjoyed the area so much. Drive to Port Campbell for the night (around 2.5 hours from Halls Gap). If you arrive before sunset, head to the 12 Apostles to enjoy the last minutes of the day.

      – DAY2: start with the London Bridge. From there you can drive the GOR through the 12 Apostles (or bypass it if already done on sunset). It will take the all day with so many stops!!

      This would be my 3 days plan.

      -DAY1: drive to the Grampians and plan few stops like the viewpoint and waterfalls around. Book in Halls Gap (my favourite accommodations are the Grampians Pioneer Cottages or the Mountain View Motor Inn, for a cheaper option). There is a good reason to stay for the night in Halls Gap. The kangaroos that come at sunset in the village. They come to the camping area and they almost mix with the local population. They are used to the humans and they do not get scared. It’s so much better than a zoo experience.

      -DAY2: Drive to Port Fairy, one of the most beautiful town on the South Cost of Victoria. Have brunch or lunch there. Drive towards Port Campbell stopping at London Bridge and other amazing sites around. Stay the night in Port Campbell but try to go to the 12 Apostles for sunset.

      -DAY3: drive back to Melbourne along the GOR

      I hope I was able to add some value….hopefully not too much information and new question marks LOL
      Cheers and enjoy your trip

    • Etienne
    • January 29, 2017
    Reply

    Etienne,
    hi Stef, I am from Paris and I am not really sure if driving on the left is a good idea. What do you think?
    Do you have alternatives to self driving? Do you know any good operator that could take me in the Great Ocean Road.
    Do you suggest to go for a day trip or maybe 3?
    Many thanks

    • Reply

      Good day Etienne,
      difficult to say or suggest. Driving on the “other” side, whatever is the “other”, can be challenging at the beginning. The Great Ocean Road has plenty of signals reminding to drive on the left side, especially when coming out from side streets and from parking area.
      If you do not feel confident you may book one of the organised tours leaving Melbourne, probably the best option in this case.
      You can do it in 1 day, a very tiring and long one, or in 2-3 days. Usually accommodation is provided with the tour, therefore it is all very relaxing.
      The Great Ocean Road Reverse Experience is a day tour that starts from Port Campbell, as I usually suggest. This is probably the best option as you will avoid most of the afternoon crowd. It’s an early start though
      The other option is Great Ocean Road & Rainforest where they include some trekking, however less sites stop. This is an option for the more active people. They do include also meals which make it a great value.
      If you can spare 2-3 days for the Great Ocean Rod you may have a try to these two options:
      The 3-Day Great Ocean Road Small Group Eco-Tour is the luxury option with boutique accommodations, an introduction to the Aboriginal world and walks in the wild looking for koalas and kangaroos.
      The 3-Day Great Ocean Road & Grampians Tour from Melbourne. A very affordable tour including also a trip to the Grampians, remarkable sandstone mountain ranges with an amazing viewpoint. You will be very likely to spot a few kangaroos at the camping ground, especially around sunset time when they all come out to eat. I still remember when I was there and I had one kangaroo almost with the head inside my tend looking for food LOL

      I am sure you will have an awesome time, either with a self drive or a tour operator itinerary.
      Cheers

    • Jamie
    • January 29, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef,
    great post. Lots of amazing tips. I think I will try as well to go first to Port Campbell. It looks the way to go to avoid most of the crowd.
    I am planning to stay in the area for 2-4 days and I was wondering if you have more suggestions on hotels along the drive.
    I was thinking about a stop in Torquay or Queenscliff.
    Any suggestion on any special activity in the area?
    Thanks!!

    • Reply

      Hi Jamie,
      indeed most of the tour operators start the trip from Melbourne through Torquay to end in Port Campbell. From there they go back to Melbourne through the main road (not the GOR). The 12 Apostles tend to be crowded from 2-3pm to 6-7pm.
      Sleeping a night in Port Campbell allows you to visit the site also during sunset, which is the best hour in my opinion. It’s really a quick drive from there. If the Best Western is booked out in Port Campbell you may also try the Anchors Apartments. This is a lovely boutique type accommodation with spa and everything to relax after a long day exploring the coast. Definitely a big plus. The Portside Motel is instead an affordable alternative, especially if you arrive very late and leave very early, basically when you need just a comfy bed πŸ™‚

      Torquay is one of my favourite town along the coast. Surfing is quite amazing there, although it can be quite busy on weekend. If you are already a surfer you may try Jan Juc beach. I slept there in the van too but there was a talk about stopping that, which is a pity. Waking up with the waves sound and walking down to the beach was just awesome.
      Torquay has a quiet beach for families and another one for surfing. There is also possibility for windsurfing and kitesurfing, it’s actually one of my favourite spots for that. Point Danger has amazing waves however the name says it all. You can rent the gear from one of the many shops in town.
      If you are not familiar with surfing I suggest an intro course (you can book it at the beach or in one of the shops). It’s absolutely fun.
      In Torquay, on the main road, you can find all the surfing shops and outlets. I suggest the Reef one for the best deals, small shop however with very cheap options, if you can find the size.
      Accommodation here tend to be booked out quite quickly, especially in the weekend and school holidays. Have a look at the Beachfront Cottages. When available they are a good boutique option. Alternatively the Bells Beach Backpackers is famous to provide affordable and good quality accommodation.
      If you are thinking about a surfing intro activity you may also have a look at Lorne or Apollo Bay, both fantastic bays with an easy wave to surf.
      If you need more Adrenaline you can also contact the Great Ocean Road Skydive. They run in St.Kilda (where also I usually live, when not travelling πŸ™‚ ). They offer also free transportation to the Great Ocean Road as part of the activity. This is definitely a different way to see the GOR, from the top πŸ˜‰
      Queenscliff is not anymore on the Great Ocean road however it is a place I suggest to pass by. It’s one of the oldest towns in Victoria with lots of character.
      You can add it to the Great Ocean Road itinerary and this is the best when you do a self-drive trip, you just add, or take away, destinations as you please. If you have 3-4 days, you can start your trip from Port Campbell, drive down through Lorne and/or Torquay (where you can sleep). The day after you can drive to Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove (lovely beach there, one of my favourite) and you may spot Cadel Evans around πŸ™‚ and have a sleep at Queenscliff. Have a look to the Vue Grand for an hotel with lots of character, like stepping back in time to the Victoria era or the Queenscliff Inn, cheaper, but again, with lots of character.
      The day after you can take the ferry to Sorrento, on the other side of the bay, and drive back to Melbourne through the morning peninsula, another awesome area to visit with lots of wineries and the amazing hot springs.

      I hope I was able to help Jamie…happy travelling

    • Lucie
    • January 16, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this wonderful insite into this beautiful area. We took your advice and started from port Campbell and worked our way down. This was the best as we avoided all the tourists and were able to take pics at leasure.

    • Reply

      So happy you enjoyed your trip. Port Campbell in the early morning is magical and tourist-free…almost LOL

    • Janelle
    • December 23, 2016
    Reply

    This post is excellent, thank you! I am from Canada and plan on doing a 1-day whirlwind trip from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles + stops in between. It will be myself and my partner. Would you be able to estimate the cost of a rental car and gas? I have seen one-day guided tours to be around $95-$120/person.

    Thanks!

    • Reply

      Hi Janelle,
      probably the guided tours will be a better option money wise, however you will not experience tha GOR in the same away, stopping wherever you want and at your own pace.
      A return trip is around 500km and at least half of it is along the winding coast. If you decide to drive there I suggest you a very very (yes, twice) early start and drive down to Port Campbell for sunrise. It will be a very tiring day (in this respect the bus works better as you can sleep on it).
      Cost wise. Extremely difficult to say. Cars can be rented from $30/day however it really depends on the period and day you want to rent it. Petrol is currently $1.25/litre and the consumption is based on the car you rent.
      I hope it helps
      Enjoy the awesome trip
      Cheers
      Stef

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