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Guide: Great Ocean Road

what to do in port campbell, victoria

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s greatest drives. The 243-kilometre drive between Torquay and Allansford (near Warrnambool) winds through the rainforest, hugs cliff edges and offers visitors the chance to see a number of renown sights, including the Twelve Apostles.

Here are my picks for some of the best things to do on the Great Ocean Road, including tourist attractions, restaurants, bars and accommodation.

Fast Facts

  • Language: The Great Ocean Road is in Victoria, Australia. English is the primary language. You may find Chinese and Japanese signage or speakers at some points along the road.
  • Currency: Australian dollars is used throughout Australia.
  • Credit Cards and Banks: Most restaurants and hotels will accept credit/debit cards. Be sure to bring plenty of cash for small purchases.
  • Climate: Hot summers and cool to very cold winters. Being by the water, it does get very windy so bring a jacket!
  • Getting to/from the Great Ocean Road: The easiest way for visitors to experience the Great Ocean Road is by joining an experienced tour bus.
    If you feel comfortable driving (on what may be the ‘wrong side of the road’ for many international visitors) and on narrow, bendy coastline then renting a car is also a good option as it gives you more flexibility.If you are staying on the Great Ocean Road without a car you have a few options; If flying domestically, some airlines fly to Avalon Airport in Geelong (20 minutes from Torquay – the start of the Great Ocean Road). From Geelong, you can take a train or bus to your destination on the Great Ocean Road.Trains and buses can also be caught to return to Melbourne or to Melbourne International Airport, where you can fly domestically or internationally.Some luxury accommodation providers will provide city transfers at an additional cost. Be sure to ask when booking.

Top Sights

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

Otway Fly

Great Otway National Park

Guide-GOR-Bells-Beach

Bells Beach

For more ideas about what to do on the Great Ocean Road
check out some of my recommended tours!

Bells Beach, Torquay

Torquay

The start of the Great Ocean Road, until recently Torquay was known as the birthplace of iconic surf brands and as the surfing capital of Australia. Today, you’ll find the town has developed greatly, but the relaxed surf town vibe still remains.

  • Bells Beach – world famous Bells Beach comes alive each Easter for the Rip Curl Pro as thousands line the cliff tops to catch a glimpse of local and international champions. Enjoy the golden sands and the cliff top views in relative privacy the rest of the year.
  • Growlers – set in a bungalow with a luxe surf vibe, Growlers serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as offering a popular bar, along Torquay’s Esplanade.
  • Nordenfine – one of the best ice cream spots on the Great Ocean Road. Ice cream cone sizes are big, flavoursome and good value for money!
  • Wyndham Resort Torquay – my pick of places to stay in Torquay. Set a 10-15minute walk from the city centre, the Wyndham Resort Torquay is a peaceful oasis offering both hotel rooms, self-service apartments and penthouses for rent. On site are two pools, a spa, restaurant, bar, cafe and plenty of BBQ’s for those long summer nights. Best of all, the beach is straight out the front door!

Anglesea

A short distance on from Torquay, and at only 90 minutes from Melbourne, Anglesea is a prime destination for holiday homes, school and scout camps.

  • Surf Coast Walk – the Surf Coast Walk – stretching through Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet – is a popular way to see the great just a few of the Great Ocean Road’s stunning vistas. Anglesea is my favourite because the walk takes you along the cliff tops at one of the highest vantage points along the road.
  • Anglesea’s Unique Plant Life – native heath and rare orchids are just a few of the rare flora that bloom during the spring months around Anglesea. There are a number of vehicles and walking tracks available for enthusiasts, photographers and artists interested in learning more.
  • Anglesea Art Walk – take the 2.5-kilometre walk spans from the stunning LE Loveridge look out to the valley in which the Anglesea Primary School sits. Along the way, you’ll encounter six mosaic art pieces depicting the history, flora and fauna of the area – a must visit for the art lovers and active alike.

Split Point Lighthouse

Airey’s Inlet

The tiny town of Airey’s Inlet may be small but it’s my ‘must have’ stop on any Great Ocean Road trip. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the pond or on the enclave beach.

  • Split Point Lighthouse – set a little off the main road, follow the signs to the Split Point Lighthouse, more famously known as the lighthouse from Australian TV show Round-the-Twist. There is a lovely walk through the vegetation, along the cliff tops and daily tours inside the lighthouse.
  • Willow’s Teahouse – Set at the base of Split Point Lighthouse, Willow’s Teahouse offers a selection of warm and cold drinks and homemade cakes in a cosy setting. Be sure to check the local artwork that is on sale, as well!

Lorne

You’ve got to love Lorne. Driving through the Otways to the seaside town, you will take winding roads through the rainforest, be able to relax in the beachside town and then get back to nature in just minutes – the perfect mix of nature and coastal town.

  • Brae – while not exactly in Lorne (Brae is in-land at Birregurra) if you take delight in fine dining then you must pay a trip to what is arguably one of the rising stars in the Australian restaurant scene. Treat yourself to a 5-star multiple course meal starring homegrown produce and local meats with an Australian flair.
    Should you want to make the most of the menu paired with wine, they also offer luxury accommodation on site.
  • Erskine Falls – One of the highest waterfalls in the Cape Otway National Park, Erskine Falls road is just 10km outside of Lorne and offers visitors a short walking trip – though steep in places – to the base of the falls, or a viewing point above.
  • Qdos Arts – At the heart of Lorne’s vibrant art scene, Qdos Arts is a studio, gallery, cafe and sculpture park specialising in fine art. On site is also boutique accommodation in the Qdos Treehouses, offering a harmonious experience for travellers wanting to get close to the natural world.
  • Events in Lorne – Beautiful Lorne is the home of many great cultural events throughout the year. Come March for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale or in December-January for the famed Falls Music and Arts Festival. As spring changes to summer, Lorne is also where Victoria’s largest schoolies event takes place – though I’d suggest travellers to avoid the Great Ocean Road at this time as things get pretty crazy!

Apollo Bay

In the foothills of the Otways, Apollo Bay is famed for its seafood (check out the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival in February!) and nature.

  • Otway Fly – Soar amongst the rainforest of Cape Otway National Park with the Otway Fly, an extensive zip lining experience. If flying isn’t your thing then consider taking the Tree Top Walk, the longest and tallest of its kind in the world.
  • Ship Wreck Coast – over 400 ships have come to grief in the deceptively low waters of the area. A few ships can be seen today, the history of a forgotten maritime history, and there is no better way to do it than with Mark’s Tours. If shipwrecks aren’t quite your style consider a Great Ocean Walk Tour, Glow-Worm tour, or tours that will help you get up close to some of Australia’s native wildlife that calls the Great Ocean Road home.

Twelve Apostles

Port Campbell

Often overshadowed by the famous limestone formations on their doorstep, Port Campbell is a tranquil town with plenty to offer visitors who want to stay awhile. From artisan foods

  • Twelve Apostle Gourmet Food Trail – get off the Great Ocean Road and head inland for a local taste of high-quality artisan produce. Whether it’s whisky, snails (yes, snails!), chocolate, cheese, strawberries or wine, you’ll find it all along the trail!
  • Forage on the Foreshore – situated on the waterfront, Forage serves up fresh local produce and delicious coffee. Be sure to try their Baked Eggs, you won’t regret with!
  • Anchors Port Campbell – for the most luxurious stay in Port Campbell, be sure to stay at Anchors private villas. A short drive outside town, three private villas overlook the countryside, town and out to the sea.
  • Spence Australia – whether you want a souvenir to remember your Great Ocean Road trip, to treat yourself to a handmade hat perfect for race day and events, or to simply enjoy a shop filled with fun eclectic goods that just make you happy; Spence Australia, right next to Forage on the Foreshore, is the place to come!
    Think a shop full of fun, design friendly (and mostly Australian-made!) good to rummage through. There’s also plenty of art and the owner is a former milliner so you’ll also find plenty of decorative headpieces!
  • The Twelve Apostles – the dramatic limestone stacks are are the highlight of the Great Ocean Drive. See them from the viewing platform, take a boat tour or for the ultimate luxury experience take a helicopter flight over the area. You might even spot penguins if you stay until sunset!
  • Stunning limestone formations – it’s not just the Twelve Apostles that the area is known for. Be sure to make a stop at London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and the Bay of Islands.
  • The Shipwreck Coast – it’s said that more than 700 shipwrecks line along the coast from Loch Ard Gorge all the way to Warrnambool and only a third of them have been found. Make sure you pack your walking shoes and bathers – there are plenty of hikes and picturesque beaches to relax by.
  • Play a round of gold in Peterborough – just past Port Campbell, the town of Peterborough is the home to one of the most scenic golf courses along the Great Ocean Road.

Warnambool

Warrnambool

Marking the end of the Great Ocean Road, the former bustling port city of Warrnambool has now turned into a lively city attracting people looking for adventure, history, nature or just to relax in this beautiful part of the world.

  • Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum – the proud maritime museum features historically accurate houses, shops and churches as well as the prized Minton peacock that was salvaged from the ill-fated Loch Ard. Be sure to check out the many treasures recovered from local shipwrecks and see the Lady Bay Lighthouse, the original lighthouse of the area that the museum is built around.
  • Get on your bike! – The Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic cycle race is the longest one-day bicycle endurance race held anywhere in the world. Each October hundreds of people take part in the physically gruelling but stunning race.
  • Warrnambool Whale Watching – come mid-May to mid-October and you may be lucky enough to see the majestic Southern Right Whales that pass the city on the way to their feeding grounds. Be sure to head down to Logans Beach Whale Viewing Platform or follow the Wonderful Warrnambool website for the most up-to-date information.

Where to stay

I’ve mentioned a few of my favourite places above, but here are a few more spots of accommodation on the Great Ocean Road that I’d recommend:

Looking for more hotel recommendations, search HotelsCombined below for a full list of what’s available on the Great Ocean Road:

 

If you in search of a home away from home, I’d consider checking airbnb. If you sign up through this link, you’ll get $40 credit towards your stay!

Tips you need to know for the Great Ocean Road

  • Most Aussie’s will go out of their way to help you. If you have any problems, just ask a local and they’ll try and help you out.
  • The Great Ocean Road is long and there is often big stretches of road between towns and fuel stops. Make sure to fill up with petrol, water and snacks to be safe… especially water!
  • Even in summer, it’s advisable to bring a warm jacket. It gets pretty chilly along the coast as the sun sets! I’d also pack bathers, thongs (for the beach!), plenty of sunscreen, and hiking boots/sturdy sneakers.
  • If you choose to drive, in Australia we drive on the left-hand side of the road!
  • If you break down, ring your rental car provider or the RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) on 13 11 11 for assistance.
  • Don’t feel confident driving? There are lots of tours on the Great Ocean Road.
  • It’s highly likely you’ll see wildlife along the road or trails. Please stay at a distance and don’t try and pet the animals (even kangaroos and koalas). If you see injured wildlife, let a local know or ring Wildlife Victoria for free on 1300 094 535 to report it.
  • Make sure you know the steps to treat a snake bite. It’s their home as well and it’s best to be prepared if you do decide to do any hikes, including the Great Ocean Walk.
  • Fires are not allowed along most of the Great Ocean Road, but you are able to use gas or fuel stoves in campsites.
  • Make sure you are aware of total fire ban days and stay vigilant for bushfires.

Don’t forget to pack these items!

Lonely-Planet-AustraliaLonely-Planet-East-Coast-AustraliaDK-Eyewitness-AustraliaNorth-Face-CondorHavianas-BlackVapur-Water-Bottle

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Now it’s over to you:

Share your best road trip tips!

Where would you stop on the Great Ocean Road?

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Check out my other city and travel guides from around the world.

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen Seligmann
    April 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Despite travelling all over the world I still think that the Great Ocean Road is one of the most amazing places I have ever been and it’s so close to home. I haven’t been down there for about 10 years and my husband has never visited so we are planning to try and get there in the next year or so. Great guide Nicole!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Thanks Jen! 🙂

      Sounds like an exciting adventure for you and your husband! It’s such a lovely weekend getaway and I’m sure so much has changed in 10 years. Have a fantastic trip!

  • Reply
    Fran Bibby
    April 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I loved the GOR, would go back in a heartbeat. Always something more to see every time you go I reckon!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

      Glad to hear you love the GOR Fran! It’s a beautiful part of the world. 🙂

      Agreed! So much is happening in the towns along the Great Ocean Road and even the natural beauty is so unpredictable, you never know what you’ll see.

      Happy travels!

  • Reply
    Marie-Eve| A Montrealer Abroad
    April 25, 2014 at 12:07 am

    So helpful. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to Australia but the Great Ocean Road is definitely a good motivator!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:31 am

      I hope you do manage to get down to Australia, Marie-Eve! It’s a stunning part of the world – though Canada is pretty great as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    James
    April 25, 2014 at 12:55 am

    The Great Ocean Rd is fantastic. The sunsets are a something to behold the sky is filled with beautiful pink and purple hues. I really miss that part of Australia.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

      It’s a stunning part of the world James!
      Do you have a favourite place to view sunset on the Great Ocean Road?

  • Reply
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren
    April 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Such a great post and SO helpful. I’m definitely bookmarking this one. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:29 am

      Do let me know if you have any other questions when you do plan your Great Ocean Road road trip Lauren. 🙂

      Hope to see you down under soon!

  • Reply
    Sammi
    May 1, 2014 at 3:28 am

    I met a girl last summer who promised we’d drive the Great Ocean Road together when I eventually get to Australia 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:28 am

      You better come down under and get driving, Sammi!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda
    May 3, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Awesome guide, lady! I would LOVE to drive the Ocean Road one of these days!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 4, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thanks Amanda! 🙂

      Let me know when you’re in Melbourne and we’ll organise an epic road trip. I promise not to stop driving until we find wild koalas 😉

  • Reply
    Enza V
    November 13, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Burgers for a lunch stop at Aireys inlet (Freestones Roadhaven). Then just after Port Campbell (heading towards Warnambool) head to the Bay of Isles for amazing views of ocean rock formations.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Rachel
    March 6, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Thank you for posting this! Helps me a lot with my planning for our trip in late April this year. There a lot of helpful insights here! 🙂
    I was wondering how’s your return trip. I was thinking taking the return through Camperdown and Ballarat if there’s anything worth driving to see there. 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      March 6, 2015 at 2:51 am

      Hey Rachel,
      Great to hear this! Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with when planning your road trip. 🙂

      Personally, I haven’t taken the road between Warrnambool and Camperdown/Ballarat. I have heard that Ballarat is beautiful (but my friends are biased because they were born there!)

      Safe travels!
      Nicole

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Kylie
    June 30, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Thank you so much for this! I’m going to Melbourne in two week’s and I’m all psyched and raring to visit this wonderful place! 🙂

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  • Reply
    Gurdeep
    September 27, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Hi Nicole,

    Very well written article on GOR. I am sure will be of great help.
    Kindly suggest, if I have to cover most of the places mentioned above on the way to 12 apostles and drive back to Melbourne and reach by evening the next day, (i.e. two days trip) which will be the ideal place to stay overnight so that all can be spaced out well. On the second day I also want to visit De Bortoli Winery.

    Thanks.

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