The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous roads in Australia and one of the top tourist attractions close to Melbourne. The winding road provides access to many famous landmarks like Bells Beach, the Twelve Apostles and the London Bridge. If it is the first time for you to drive on this beautiful road, then we have some recommendations. 18 stops along the Great Ocean Road you shouldn’t miss.
We highly recommend that you drive the Great Ocean Road from East to West. You will drive on the left side of the road and you will be closer to the sea. If you drive from East to West it is also much easier for stops along the Great Ocean Road, taking pictures and enjoying the breathtaking views along the road.
Did you know that the Great Ocean Road is a War Memorial? The Great Ocean Road is dedicated to the soldiers that have fallen during the First World War. It has been built by 3’000 returned First World War soldiers and sailors in honour of their fallen comrades between 1919 and 1932. It has been officially opened in 1932 and it is the world’s biggest war memorial.
Our favorite stops along the Great Ocean Road
If you have enough time we would recommend to plan at least three days for the Great Ocean Road. There are so many places where you can stop along the Great Ocean Road. From Melbourne, it’s only a short drive of about 1.5 hours to get to Torquay, the Eastern Gate of the 243 kilometres long Great Ocean Road or B100.
Torquay is the starting point of the Great Ocean Road. This town is famous for its surf beaches, with Jan Juc and the world famous Bells Beach located on the town’s south-west outskirts. The surf industry is the main draw card of this area. It’s the birthplace of many of the world’s most famous surf companies and some of them still have their home in Torquay, including Rip Curl, Piping Hot and Quiksilver. If you like, you can learn more about the history in the Surf World Museum.
Bells Beach (4km)
Bells Beach is Australia’s most famous surfing beach. Every year, the Rip Curl Pro Easter Classic surfing event is held at this spot. If you’re a sightseer, Bells Beach is a popular spot with great vantage points along the cliff. For surfers, Bells Beach is really for the experienced, so leave it to the pros if you are inexperienced. The beach is an exposed reef and it can be dangerous. If you are keen to try surfing there are plenty of beaches with easy conditions for beginners and surf schools in this area.
Aireys Inlet (28km)
The Split Point Lighthouse or ‘The White Queen’, as the locals call it, stands 34 metres and was constructed in 1891. You can join a guided tour where you have the chance to climb the staircase and experience the view from the balcony just below the lantern room. You don’t have to climb the lighthouse. There is a lookout close by where you can enjoy the amazing views over the ocean and the Eagle and Table rocks. This is a one of the best stops along the Great Ocean Road.
Eastern View (34km)
At Eastern View near Aireys Inlet you can stop and inspect the Great Ocean Memorial Arch and the “Diggers” Statue. It has been erected to commemorate the returned servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road from 1918 to 1932 mainly by hand.
Lorne is a small town on the Great Ocean Road. It only has a population of around 1’000, but during peak season in January, the population can swell over ten times. The town has a good pier for fishing. We have even seen a seal hunting for fish underneath it. At the pier the fish co-op is selling fresh fish and seafood, or you can have it freshly cooked in the restaurant next door. We have stopped here for a lunch break. If you want to stay, there are two pubs and many different types of accommodations.
Apollo Bay (92km)
The picturesque town of Apollo Bay in the heart of the Great Ocean Road is the perfect stop to have a coffee, take a lunch break or a stroll along the beach. There is also a good variety of accommodation available if you like to stay for the night or a few days. You can try surfing or hire a kayak.
Cape Otway (123km)
Cape Otway is about in the middle of the Great Ocean Road. It’s well worth to leave the Great Ocean Road for a while and explore the cape. You can explore the Great Otway National Park with its rainforests, rivers, waterfalls and abundant wildlife including Koalas. Or you can visit the Cape Otway Lighthouse and enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline. Cape Otway Light Station is the oldest light station on the mainland and in constant use since 1848. If you are camping Cape Otway is perfect. There is free camping with basic infrastructure in the middle of the nature. You can do some bushwalking or explore the beaches close by. Don’t forget to look up into the gum trees, there are many Koalas living here. This is one of the best stops along the Great Ocean Road for camping.
Gibson Steps (175km)
The Gibson Steps leads you down the steep cliff to the beach and the windswept rock-formations. Here you can experience the power of the rolling waves and the height of the rock stacks. You can touch the rocks and feel how easy they crumble. Now you can understand why the coastline with its rock formations is in constant change. You can walk along the beach and along the cliff but keep the tides in mind. We have seen some soaking wet walkers coming back. They have walked around a corner and then the tide came in. The only way back was through the water.
Twelve Apostles (176km)
Now you have reached the number one tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road. You can feel that already on the huge parking lot. It’s packed with cars and every minute a new bus is unloading its tourist load. It almost feels a bit like a visit to Asia on some days. Park your car and dive into the tourist mass. Take your time to appreciate the dramatic scenery and you will find a few seconds where the stream of visitors is easing.
Loch Ard Gorge (180km)
At Loch Ard Gorge there are different walking tracks that will lead you to different places along the cliff. You can walk the paths and also learn about the disastrous wreck of the Loch Ard in 1878.
Port Campbell (188km)
Another small town, along the Great Ocean Road, that offers tourists a good opportunity for a stop. There are restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shopping opportunities.
The Arch (194km)
The Arch is only a short walk from the car park. It’s best to be photographed in the afternoon.
London Bridge (195km)
The London Bridge has changed dramatically in 1990 when the connection to the mainland collapsed which left the arch formation without connection to the mainland. It’s the perfect example for the changing landscape of this coastline. So whenever you are here, take plenty of photos, you never know when the next dramatic change to the coastline will happen. This is one of the best stops along the Great Ocean Road.
The Grotto (196km)
If you have the right timing and visit the Grotto with high tide, you can see the water reaching the rock pool.
We camped in the Caravan Park in Peterborough. It’s a perfect base to explore the western part of the Great Ocean Road. The Bay of Islands, the Bay of Martyrs, the Grotto, the London Bridge and the Arch are just a few minutes away from Peterborough. There are public toilets and picnic facilities available. You have easy access to a long beach and the river is good for fishing.
Bay of Martyrs (218km)
In the Bay of Martyrs you can get close to the action again. A short stroll will lead you down to the sheltered beach. You can walk along the beach and around some rocks. But keep in mind that the tide could raise and your way back could be blocked. So check the tides before and be prepared.
Bay of Islands (223km)
The Bay of Islands is for us something like the secret pearl of the Great Ocean Road. It is much less visited than the Twelve Apostles but almost as impressive. There are different viewing platforms that you can reach on walking tracks. The rock stacks are breathtaking and the constant crashing waves really impressive. Take your time to explore these formations without the hustle of the tourist masses on the Twelve Apostles.
The end of the Great Ocean Road.
Have you driven along the Great Ocean Road? What are your favorite stops along the Great Ocean Road?