The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s greatest drives. The 288-kilometre drive between Torquay and Griffiths Island winds through the rainforest, hugs cliff edges, and offers you the chance to see a number of renowned sights.
We created the ultimate guide with the 15 must-sees along the way and a list of insider tips.
Peak season: December – February
Summer is peak season, but there is a reason why the views are stunning, and there are plenty of festivals along the way.
Midseason: September – November
The crowds are still small, the weather is beginning to fine up, and nature is in full action. At this time of year, the waterfalls in Otway National Park experience peak run-off, the wildflowers begin to bloom, and the wildlife is active. Don’t forget to bring your rain gear, just in case!
Low season: June – August
During winter, the weather is gentler, the traffic is less chaotic, and everything is less expensive. You can come and watch for the whales during their migration, or simply sit back and enjoy the view.
Top 15 Sights along The Great Ocean Road
1. Bells Beach
Considered by many to be the ‘surf capital’ of Australia, Bells Beach is one of the best surf beaches and holds the annual Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition (3-14 April)
There’s an impressive cliff-face, and views from the cliff-top car park are spectacular and a great spot to watch local surfers.
Did you know Anglesea was originally called Swampy Creek? The creek evolved into Anglesea River, and the town adopted its name from a Welsh coastal town. Visit this charming seaside resort along the Great Ocean Road and experience more than just beautiful beaches. With family-friendly shorelines, stunning cliffs, and vibrant wildlife, Anglesea is the perfect spot to celebrate life by the water.
Admire the famous red cliffs and protected bays
Explore must-visit beaches like Point Addis, Anglesea Beach, and Point Roadknight
Discover the abundant flora and unique wildlife
Unwind with the great ocean walk trails for an unforgettable adventure
Lorne is only 120 kilometres west of Melbourne, along the Great Ocean Road. It is a picturesque town with great cafes and shops, and Great Otway National Park is at your doorstep.
Enjoy a walk on the beach, a bike ride along the foreshore out to the pier, have a coffee at Lorne Beach Pavilion and eat a pizza from Pizza Pizza – delicious!
Please note: this place swells with people over the Christmas holidays.
4. Teddys Lookout
A short drive up the hill behind Lorne is Teddys Lookout. Teddy’s Lookout offers spectacular views of the St. George River and the Great Ocean Road coastline. A walking trail connects Teddy’s Lookout with two other lookouts, and it takes about 30 minutes to return.
The upper lookout is the first one you’ll arrive at, and it provides spectacular views of the George River mouth and the Bass Strait.
The lower lookout has a more southerly view and is a better viewpoint of the river and picturesque valley to the west.
5. Marriner’s Lookout
Ascend to the breathtaking Marriner’s Lookout, perched atop a hill just north of Apollo Bay. This vantage point offers awe-inspiring views of the ocean, beach, hinterland, and town, leaving you with a truly magical experience. Make sure to bring your camera – you’ll want to capture these stunning views.
Take a 10-minute walk from the carpark for stunning panoramas
For a longer trek, walk 1.5 km along the beach or Great Ocean Road, then climb the steep hill
Watch hang gliders take off from this popular launch spot
Be mindful of private property, signage, and keep the area clean
6. Cape Otway
Cape Otway is just over 200 km from Melbourne. It is situated in a national park, and its lighthouse is amazing. Apollo Bay in Cape Otway is a fairly exposed beach and point break that has pretty consistent surf.
Cape Otway is an Excellent location for a picnic
Winter is the best time of year for surfing here
The nearby Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is a must-visit experience. This easy 800m circuit winds through cool temperate rainforest, with a huge variety of trees, fungi and ferns.
7. Gibson Steps
Just down the road from the Twelve Apostles Visitors Centre are the Gibson Steps. Walk down these steps onto the beach for a close-up view. Here you can experience a new perspective on the power of the waves and the height of the rocks. You can even touch the rocks and feel how easily they crumble away. Please b
Take time to watch the water crashing around the base of the limestone stacks to understand the true power of the ocean and how it’s constantly shaping our earth.
Keep the tide in mind: don’t walk too far around the corner, as you may have a wet walk back. It comes in quite fast.
Visit Gibson Steps at sunset. This way, you get the sun setting behind the two Apostles, which looks just magic.
8. Port Campbell National Park
Explore the awe-inspiring Port Campbell National Park, where the wild Southern Ocean has sculpted a coastline famous for its striking formations. Known as the Shipwreck Coast, this park is just 16 minutes from London Bridge and promises unforgettable sights.
Climb the scenic lookout steps for incredible views
Enjoy vistas, beach, and surrounding seaside towns
Be prepared to be amazed by the panoramic scenes
Don’t miss this must-visit stop on your Great Ocean Road adventure
9. The Twelve Apostles
It used to be called “Sow and Piglets”, and it used to have 9 limestones, so its current name cannot be clearly explained, but nevertheless, it is one of the most famous views in Australia. The 9th limestone crumbled 5 years ago, leaving 8 “Apostles” that can be admired from the many viewpoints of the cliff-top trail.
Get there for sunrise – you’ll escape the crowds and have the place almost to yourself.
Enjoy the sunset with a picnic, or grab a takeaway pizza from Port Campbell.
Walk the boardwalks around the cliff tops, which provide various viewing platforms.
Don’t rush. You may only witness this once in your life.
10. Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is amazing and only a few minutes drive west of The Twelve Apostles. The gorge is named after the ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island at the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne.
Take the stairs down to the beach and sit in wonder. And there are three easy walks you can take to discover the area and get viewpoints.
Allow 2-3 hours and be aware that there are 3 separate car parks.
11. The Grotto
Discover the enchanting Grotto on your Great Ocean Road adventure, a breathtaking blend of blowholes, archways, and caves. Crafted by wild winds and heavy seas, this Port Campbell coast marvel showcases Mother Nature’s finest engineering. Melbourne’s hidden treasure offers stunning sea views and natural wonders, making it an essential stop.
Visit during low tide for the best experience
Descend to the lower viewing platform for stunning panoramas
Admire the arch and rock pools up close
Avoid visiting at high tide and during windy conditions for safety reasons
Accessible for most fitness levels, prams, and wheelchairs at the top lookout
12. Bay of Islands Coastal Park
Discover the 32-kilometre-long Bay of Islands Coastal Park, nestled along the Great Ocean Road between Peterborough and Warrnambool, Australia. This enchanting reserve features mesmerising rock formations, secluded bays, and charming beach coves. It’s a must-visit destination with lookout areas and parking available at Childers Cove, the Bay of Islands, Three Mile Beach, and the Bay of Martyrs.
Launch a sea kayak at Bay of Islands beach on Boat Bay Road
Keep dogs on a leash at Sandy Cove, avoiding Hooded Plover nesting areas
Enjoy wildlife sightings, including Rufous Bristlebirds and wallabies
Spot Southern Right Whales offshore from May to October
13. Childers Cove
Just 20 km from Warrnambool, at the western end of the famed 12 Apostles coastline, lies the picturesque Childers Cove. This beautiful small beach features a striking bluff that graces its western edge. Unwind in this serene hidden gem along the Great Ocean Road, offering stunning seascapes, sandstone cliffs, and a sense of seclusion.
Follow signs off the Ocean Road at Nirranda South or Nullawarre for access
Explore Childers Cove, Sandy Cove, and Murnanes Bay
Enjoy fishing for Australian salmon, snapper, gummy shark, and more
Warrnambool, a captivating coastal city with a name rooted in Indigenous Australian origins, represents the land between two rivers or ample water. This enchanting destination offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and urban charm. From pristine beaches and whale watching to vibrant parks and a thriving city centre, Warrnambool promises an unforgettable experience for all.
Visit Logans Beach for southern right whale sightings (June-September)
Explore the maritime past and Tower Hill crater wildlife
Embrace the scenic Great Ocean Road on day trips
Enjoy diverse activities, from food trails to exhilarating sports
15. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Discover Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, a protected area in Victoria, Australia, encompassing the dormant Tower Hill volcano and wetland. Located 275 km west of Melbourne and 15 km northwest of Warrnambool, this 614-hectare reserve is home to some of Australia’s most beloved wildlife. Encounter emus, kangaroos, koalas, and more, as you explore this extraordinary landscape.
Choose between guided and self-guided tours to admire the reserve’s natural beauty
Spot diverse wildlife, including emus, kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, echidnas, turtles, and possums
Visit the Visitor Centre for environmental and cultural displays, Aboriginal crafts, and refreshments
Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, except Christmas Day
Insider’s Tips for the Great Ocean Road
Don’t rush! – Slow down and appreciate all The Great Ocean Road has to offer. Visit all the rock formations and towns, walk on a beach and in the rainforest, see a waterfall and wildlife, sit on the lookout and be present. We would suggest 3 days minimum!
Watch out for speed traps along the Great Ocean Road. Speed limits vary from 60 kph to 90 kph. There is a tendency to lose track of your speed, especially when the roads are seemingly empty, but there are police out there waiting for you. Fines are really hefty and can exceed $300!
If you only have time to visit one section, spend the most amount of your time in Port Campbell National Park.
If you only drive in one direction, drive from Torquay to Warrnambool (East to West). That way, you’ll be on the left side of the road closest to the ocean, and you’ll be able to pull over easier to all the viewpoints.
Fuel up your car – there can be large distances between petrol stations, so make sure you fill up.
There you go. The Ultimate Guide to The Great Ocean Road. Don’t hesitate and start planning the best road trip ever! To rent or buy one of our vehicles, please call 1800 674 374.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.