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Great Ocean Road Getaway is a guest post contributed by Jane, to see more of her work, visit her official website Explore The Great Ocean Road – Travel Blog
- 1 Driving tips for a Great Ocean Road getaway
- 2 Day 1 – Melbourne to Apollo Bay
- 3 Lorne – Morning tea or lunch break
- 4 Great Ocean Road Attractions.
- 5 Apollo Bay – Overnight stay
- 6 Day 2 – Apollo Bay to The 12 Apostles
- 7 Day 2 First Stop – Gibson’s Beach
- 8 Day 2 Second Stop the 12 Apostles
- 9 Day 2 Third Stop – Loch Ard Gorge
- 10 Options for Discovering the Great Ocean Road
- 11 Where to stay on your the Great Ocean Road getaway.
- 12 Final Thoughts – Touring the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular touring routes in Australia and well worth spending a couple of days to explore. It boasts superb beaches and a dramatic coastline that has seen over 200 ships wrecked along what is known as ‘The Shipwreck Coast’. The most famous maritime disaster being that of The ‘Loch Ard‘ which sank in 1878 after hitting a reef. Only 2 passengers survived and visitors can follow markers to discover more of the story when exploring the Loch Ard Gorge area.
Built by returned soldiers from World War 1, construction began in 1919 and the road officially opened in 1932. It was a huge feat to construct the road along the cliff face in many sections and a tribute to the tenacity of the men involved.
Driving tips for a Great Ocean Road getaway
The Great Ocean Road drive from Melbourne and return is over 500 km’s, it is suggested if you’re taking a Great Ocean Road tour to make this a 2 night trip if possible and maybe drive down to Anglesea or even Lorne and stay the first night there and then Port Campbell the second night. The drive will be a lot more relaxed and you’ll be able to see more.
If you take this option, you may have time to visit Erskine Falls on the way. They are about 15 minutes drive from Lorne and are one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area.
Day 1 – Melbourne to Apollo Bay
Leave Melbourne early as the drive takes nearly 90 minutes to reach the Great Ocean Road at Anglesea. It is suggested to bypass Torquay unless you are major surfing fans and want to see the National Surf Museum in Torquay or nearby Bells Beach where the annual Rip Curl Surf Classic is held each year.
Before arriving in Anglesea, stop for a walk at Point Addis as there is a good boardwalk at the point and also a really pretty walk called the ‘Koori Cultural Walk’ which follows along the cliff top through Iron Bark Eucalypt forest to a viewing platform looking down onto the beach. The track does continue to the beach but it would need more time available to make the hike down and back worthwhile.
The official gateway to the Ocean Road is a Memorial Arch further on near the township of Fairhaven, it is a ‘must stop’ for a photo and to read the memorial plaques. Walk onto the beach too as it has miles of golden sand with few people to be seen. The road starts to climb up quite steeply after this section and winds around the coast with some fantastic views of the ocean and dense forests all the way to the coastline.
Lorne – Morning tea or lunch break
Depending on how early your departure was from Melbourne, Lorne will be an ideal town to stop for food and a leg stretch.
Lorne is the busiest town along the Great Ocean Road as it is often the destination for day trippers and also has a fabulous beach and plenty of accommodation options. A stop here for morning tea or lunch is a good choice, cafes and bakeries offer a variety of meals or take a picnic and head to the grassy slopes by the beach.
There is plenty to keep kids happy too as in-ground trampolines and a great playground are located close to the beach.
When leaving Lorne, turn right at the Lorne Hotel and follow the signs to Teddy’s Lookout as it has a classic view down onto the road that is often seen in advertising promotions.
Great Ocean Road Attractions.
Artillery Rocks is one of the spots we like taking visitors to. About 12.4 km’s from Lorne is a wide parking bay on the left with steps down onto the rocks, a favourite fishing spot for many. The rocks are shaped like cannon balls, hence the name. Over thousands of years, the softer sandstone surrounding them eroded away exposing them.
Sheoak and Carisbrook Falls are both signposted along this section and are short, easy walks, maybe stop and do one of these waterfalls if you have time.
Not many Australians get to see koalas in the wild, a stop in Kennett River though is definitely to be done as they are usually always very easy to find. It is a tiny township with one little store. Turn right into Kennett River and then turn left and drive up along Grey River Road. Koalas can be seen at any point, look out for them curled up in the trees or stretched out keeping cool. The road continues into the forest, drive one or two km’s and then return the same way back to the coast.
Apollo Bay – Overnight stay
The drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay is about 60 minutes, it will be mid to late afternoon by the time you reach this wonderful seaside town. Apollo Bay is unspoilt and a perfect overnight stop. The beach stretches for miles and is a safe swimming and surfing spot. Seals can often be seen swimming in the water at the end of the pier. Drive up to Marriners Lookout for incredible views over Apollo Bay and out to the ocean. There is a short walk from the car park to the viewpoint and it is a perfect spot for a picnic or afternoon tea perhaps.
Day 2 – Apollo Bay to The 12 Apostles
It is about 2 hours drive to the famous 12 Apostles from Apollo Bay, so you need to be on the road early to get the most out of the trip. Stop in at the Maits Rest Rainforest walk, 20 minutes out of Apollo Bay. It is a beautiful walk, easy to do and takes about 20 minutes to complete the circuit.
The drive now goes up into the Otway Ranges, passing by open farmland before dropping back down to the coast and the start of the Port Campbell National Park, the location of the 12 Apostles.
Day 2 First Stop – Gibson’s Beach
Gibson’s Beach, one of my favourite spots. 88 steps were carved into the cliff face nearly 100 years ago, although they are now concreted to make it safe to walk down. The view of two of the famous rock stacks from sea level, the towering cliff face and the Southern Ocean rolling in making this such a special beach to visit (not safe for swimming).
Day 2 Second Stop the 12 Apostles
The 12 Apostles. There is a massive car park here to cater for all the buses and cars as it is the busiest attraction of all. Helicopter joy flights operate, no booking required, and are an awesome way to see the 12 apostles too. From the car park follow the signs to the viewing platform where all the iconic images are photographed. Sunset and sunrise are perfect times to be here too.
Day 2 Third Stop – Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge, scene of the 1878 shipwreck when only two passengers survived. This area needs more time to see than the 12 Apostles as a number of viewpoints to formations such as the Razor Back and Island Arch require about 30 minutes to do. Walk down into Loch Ard Gorge itself and read the historical markers as you go. This is a lovely beach, not safe for swimming though as the undercurrent is strong.
A walk to the Loch Ard Cemetery is worth doing, read the headstones from some of the victims of the Loch Ard wreck and then continue to see Mutton Bird Island and the blowhole if you have time.
Port Campbell – From Loch Ard, it is about 15 minutes drive into the little fishing village of Port Campbell. Accommodation is plentiful, cafes and even a microbrewery. From the end of the beach, there is a walk that follows the cliff line and has superb views back to the town.
Not far past Port Campbell are other formations to visit, London Bridge, which did collapse and left two people stranded before they were rescued by helicopter! The Arch and the Grotto are the final two sights that can be included in a Great Ocean Road 2 day tour before returning inland to Melbourne. From Port Campbell to Melbourne via Colac, it is a 3-hour drive.
Options for Discovering the Great Ocean Road
Many people plan a trip to the Great Ocean Road as part of a larger Australia wide itinerary.
While some like to travel by car and stay in hotels, others prefer the camaraderie and relaxed atmosphere of campgrounds.
These are part of the increasing number of adventurous people who are setting off on their dream holiday around Australia in a camper trailer.
A camper trailer offers comfort without the bulk of a caravan or campervan. Buying a second-hand camper trailer is a popular money saving option.
To keep warm during your camper trailer tour be sure to see our reviews to choosing the best sleeping bags. They make a great space saving option and there are a wide selection of bags available.
Where to stay on your the Great Ocean Road getaway.
We also have a choice of accommodation on the Great Ocean Road for those travelling by car, be sure to check out our range of accommodation styles from hotel to campsite that caters to a range of budgets.
Final Thoughts – Touring the Great Ocean Road.
Australia’s coastline has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and the Great Ocean Road is no exception. Whether it’s a short 2 day trip or longer journey, I’m sure you will find something along the way to please everyone. Have you been on a road trip along Australia’s coastline? What is your favourite Australian road trip?
Jane Barnes is a former tour bus owner/driver and has driven the Great Ocean Road a couple of hundred times as well as enjoying numerous family holidays in the region. Jane’s Explore The Great Ocean Road website was established to provide expert advice on touring the most well-known tourist destination in Victoria.
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