2-3 DAY SELF DRIVE TOUR OF THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Taking more than one day to tour Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is definitely worth doing. If one day is all you have though, it’s possible to do and not to be missed.
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This self-drive suggested 2 or 3-Day itinerary takes in all the famous sights such as the 12 Apostles and a few extra areas, including one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area. Read our 6-day itinerary for more touring information.
Suggested Overnight Stops
Apollo Bay or Port Campbell would be fine to stop overnight if doing the trip over two days. It depends entirely on how long you spend along the way. The advantage of stopping in Apollo Bay is being close to a lovely long beach plus more choice of accommodation and places to eat whereas a stopover in Port Campbell means you can view the Twelve Apostles at sunset/sunrise…
1st night – Apollo Bay
A pretty little seaside town that has escaped mass development and high-level buildings of any sort. The beach is stunning, plenty of cafes and accommodation options as well as playgrounds and local walks. During the summer holidays, a small fairground is set up along the foreshore.
2nd night – Port Campbell
Port Campbell is a tiny fishing village that boasts a large number of accommodation options, cafes, a microbrewery, and a pretty beach plus coastal walking tracks. It is situated about 10 minutes drive from the 12 Apostles and is an ideal overnight stop, enabling people to visit the Port Campbell National Park at sunset and sunrise.
|TOTAL TIME||8 HOURS DRIVING|
|Melbourne to Torquay||104.5 kilometres/ 65 miles||90 minutes|
|Torquay to Lorne||46 kilometres / 28.5 miles||50 minutes|
|Lorne to Apollo Bay||47.3 kilometres / 29 miles||60 minutes|
|Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill||51.4 kilometres / 32 miles||50 minutes|
|Lavers Hill to 12 Apostles||40 kilometres / 25 miles||45 minutes|
|12 Apostles to Port Campbell||11.2 kilometres / 7 miles||10 minutes|
|Port Campbell to Colac||77.6 kilometres / 48 miles||60 minutes|
|Colac to Melbourne||152 kilometres / 94.5 miles||2 hours|
DAY 1 – MELBOURNE TO APOLLO BAY
Depart Melbourne and drive over the Westgate Bridge
This first section of the drive, following Highway One (Australia’s National Highway), is quite straightforward and not especially interesting.
There is a 24 hour BP Petrol Station at Little River which is about 30 mins after crossing the West Gate Bridge. A good place to fill up and grab a snack perhaps.
Geelong is Victoria’s second largest city and is a lovely city to visit with plenty to do. Visit ‘See Geelong’ for an expert guide from a local on the very best of what to see and do in this historic city.
Keep following Highway One and look for the signs to the Great Ocean Road. Go via Torquay and Bells Beach or directly to Anglesea. It is about 90 minutes from Melbourne to the beginning of the Ocean Road.
What to see between Torquay and Lorne
- Torquay – National Surfing Museum, Surfing Gear Outlet Shops, Great Beaches, plenty of places to stay…
- Bells Beach is close by to Torquay, home of the Rip Curl Classic Surf competition, held annually since 1961 during Easter time (during the event there is no free public access along the road or to the beach).
- Pt Addis beach and the wonderful Koori Cultural Walk.
- Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet
- Horse riding at Blazing Saddles... in the forest or along the beach.
- Long golden beaches and surf spots.
- Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch and numerous lookout points.
The busiest town along the coastal drive, Lorne has a beautiful beach in front and the forest comes right down to the back of the town. Lots of great cafes and restaurants, interesting shops and plenty of accommodation choices from campgrounds, to cottages and 4+ star resorts.
Erskine Falls is an easy drive or a good hike, following the Erskine River from the town. Lots of fun can be had for kids on the foreshore with a lovely beach, swimming pool, in-ground trampolines, a skate park, and playground.
Teddy’s Lookout is an ideal spot for a few walks and super views down along the Ocean Road. Turn right at the Lorne hotel and drive up the hill, following the signs.
Parking for long vehicles – During the peak holidays seasons, parking for caravans or buses is limited. The streets behind Lorne are steep and not ideal for finding parking. The foreshore parking area is the best option.
Lorne could be an alternative option for an overnight stay. Check out the best deals on Hotels Combined
What to see between Lorne and Apollo Bay
From Lorne it is approximately 1 hour to Apollo Bay… but with a number of worthy stops in between. These stops are directly off the main ocean road and signposted
- Artillery Rocks – A favorite of ours. Popular for fishing, the rock formations are worth seeing. They are about 12.5 km’s/under 20 minutes drive from Lorne (this is not signposted, but use the directions from the image below if you want to stop at one of our favorite spots).
- Sheoak and Carisbrook Waterfalls are both easy walks from the road, plus a number of other falls can be accessed further into the Otway National Park.
- A number of lookout points and parking areas provide views and beach access, some are suitable for long vehicles.
- Kennett River and Koalas in the wild! The tiny community of Kennett River boasts possibly the best koala viewing in the area. Turn right towards the shop and then left up Grey River Road. Koalas can be anywhere here and it is a good spot for seeing the colorful King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas. Drive a couple of km’s up the road to escape the crowds perhaps and look for koalas. Further up is the Grey River Reserve, a pretty picnic area and well known for viewing glow worms after dark.
- Some good accommodation options are in the area, for anyone wanting to stop over and maybe see the glow worms.
Such a beautiful town for a holiday. Apollo Bay is not overdeveloped and has a super relaxed feel. The long golden beach, hills coming down beyond and a lovely foreshore area with playground, information centre, sculptures, free BBQ’s and walking tracks.
Nearby attractions include Maits Rest Rainforest Walk, drives up into the Otways and Marriners lookout. The ‘Great Ocean Walk‘ starts here, 8 days and 100 kms of adventure all the way to the 12 Apostles…
Accommodation in Apollo Bay
Accommodation varies from caravan parks, youth hostels, cottages, whole houses, luxury accommodation, and holiday units. There is somewhere fabulous to stay suitable for singles, couples, groups, and families.
Apollo Bay Caravan Park
Caravan and camping parks in Apollo Bay offer a range of options from campsites, powered caravan sites, and cabins.
DAY 2 – APOLLO BAY TO PORT CAMPBELL
What to see between Apollo Bay & Lavers Hill
- Maits Rest This is a gorgeous rainforest walk and worth taking the time to see. It is about 20 minutes from Apollo Bay and the walk is only about 15-20 minutes.
- Cape Otway A stunning area with a dramatic coastline, shipwreck history and historic lighthouse (there is a cost to enter the lighthouse). Koalas live here in the wild and can be easily spotted in the trees. A couple of small campsites as well as fab walks.
- Johanna Beach is a popular and well-known surf beach.
- Castle Cove has a good viewpoint and a fairly steep walk down onto the beach.
What to see beyond Lavers Hill
Lavers Hill is at the top of the Otway Ranges and a crossroads where a couple of options are available.
Visit Triplet Falls and the Otway Fly Tree Tops Walk or the Otway Park Trees Adventure Course then on to Port Campbell for the night or continue to Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles then return this way on the 3rd day. It all depends on time, weather and daylight hours available.
If the decision is to visit Triplet Falls first:
- Turn right at the Lavers Hill junction, one of the prettiest waterfalls, Triplet Falls, is a 25 minute / 23.6 km drive away and definitely worth seeing. A number of other falls can be found in the area, check our map for more information.
- The Otway Fly is on the same road as Triplet Falls. an elevated tree tops walk and zip lining course. This is one of the most amazing treetops walks in the country and has a lookout tower that rises up above the tree canopy. There is a cost involved to enter. Read more about the Otway Fly, Zip Lining and nearby Trees Adventure climbing course here.
Otherwise – Turn left at the junction and continue towards Port Campbell
What to see between Lavers Hill and Port Campbell
The drive to the 12 Apostles area from Lavers Hill takes about 50 minutes. It passes through forest and farmland before returning to the coast and all the famous sights people come to see in the Port Campbell National Park.
- Melba Gully – Another pretty rainforest walk just past Lavers Hill. Ancient Myrtle Beech Trees and a small cascade. At night, this is a popular spot to see glow worms. Maybe stay nearby if you are keen to see them.
- Moonlight Head – about 20 minutes past Lavers Hill is a place many people miss! A steep walk down to the beach at Moonlight Head rewards visitors with a classic scene of a ship’s anchor embedded in the rocks. The result of the shipwrecks Marie Gabrielle (1870) and Fiji (1890). Accessible at low tide only
- Princetown – A tiny township, very close to the Twelve Apostles. Princetown has a boardwalk to the beach, a cafe, and a fairly basic campground.
Port Campbell National Park –
- Gibsons Steps – This is one of the best beaches, in my opinion. 88 steps cut into the limestone cliff face with stunning views towards two of the famous rock stacks of the 12 Apostles. During storms or high tides, the steps may be closed off but the lookout platform is still worth stopping for.
- Parking is extremely limited at Gibsons Steps. From the nearby 12 Apostles car park it is possible to walk back to Gibsons Steps if you have been unable to park.
- Twelve Apostles – It is a very short, 2-minute drive to the 12 Apostles car park. Loads of free parking, plenty of space for caravans and motorhomes. Helicopter scenic flights leave from here and are highly recommended! Mid to late afternoon is the busiest time here. Staying overnight in Port Campbell will enable visitors to return for sunset or sunrise and when it is less busy. The walk from the car park takes a couple of minutes to reach the viewing platforms. Toilets and a basic cafe for drinks etc.
- Helicopter Rides – Book ahead to do one of these tours or just show up on the day.
- Loch Ard Gorge – Named after one of the most famous shipwrecks along the coast, Loch Ard Gorge is… gorgeous. Walk out to the ‘Razor Back’ formation, follow the shipwreck trail and head down to the beach. Walks continue around the cliff top to the historic cemetery, Mutton Bird Island to the Blow Hole and further on to another beach. It is easy to spend a couple of hours exploring this area.
- Return on the 3rd day to see more of the area perhaps.
A sweet little fishing village with good restaurants, a lovely beach and cliff top walk plus an ideal place to stay overnight. Lots of accommodation options.
Not far from Port Campbell, towards Warrnambool are more places to visit.
- The Arch (about 5 minutes from Port Campbell)
- The Famous London Bridge, which fell down… (a few minutes past The Arch)
- The Grotto – A sinkhole that is rather spectacular too. (another few minutes from London Bridge)
DAY 3 – PORT CAMPBELL TO MELBOURNE OR ONWARDS
Plenty of time to see more of the Port Campbell National Park, return to Lavers Hill and visit Triplet Falls or perhaps visit:
- GORGE Chocolates GORGE Chocolates was established in 2004 in the countryside just minutes from the 12 Apostles. A modest beginning soon gave way to a business appreciated by locals and tourists in the area.
- Apostle Whey Cheese“Dairy farmers Julian and Dianne Benson launched Apostle Whey Cheese on October 29, 2005. Since that day, Apostle Whey Cheese has taken out a number of major cheese awards and become an important tourism drawcard for the region. Just a short drive from the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road, Apostle Whey Cheese is a genuine paddock to plate operation”
- Timboon Distillery “The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery offers a distillery experience and daily lunch service in a location with a real ‘sense of place’. Both our dining spaces are relaxing. Choose our covered and heated deck or the rustic and relaxed atmosphere inside the shed which is air-conditioned”
- Experience Timboon and the Rail Trail by hire bike. The Crater to Coast Bicycle Hire service specializes in hiring out mountain bikes for a fun day in the outdoors. They also have bike trailers available so the whole family including your pets or kids can come along too.
The return to Melbourne via Colac takes 3 hours / 229 km / 142.5 miles.
Heading to Warrnambool, Adelaide… the Grampian Mountains?
|Port Campbell to||62 km / 50 minutes||209 km / 2.5 hrs||664 km / 7.5 hrs|
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