The Great Ocean Road quickly rose to be one of my all time favorite road trips ever, which says a lot considering I’ve done many of the gorgeous ones in California over the years. It’s one of the worlds most iconic coastal road trips, and how a lot of people picture Australia. Joe and I traveled with a close friend of ours, and we had the absolute best time. I’m eager to share our favorite stops & recommendations along the way! This guide will walk you through a 2-3 day itinerary of where to stop along your drive!
We decided to do the trip over 3 days (flew in Friday night/out Sunday). You can easily do the trip in a day or two as well, it just depends how often you like to stop & how rushed you mind being. With 3 days, we were able to take our time at the stops and spend one day driving the inland track stopping by Halls Gap & The Grampians National Park on our third day. If you want to do it in 2, you can follow this itinerary & cut the Halls Gap part. I would recommend flying into Avalon Airport, which is south of Melbourne & close to the Great Ocean Road starting point in Torquay.
Before you spend too much time planning, it’s worth noting that I have created a custom map with routes, sights, and bar + restaurant recommendations along the way! It’s now available on my shop for just $5, which will save you tons of research time! You’re able to use it directly on your google maps app too, which is very convenient on a road trip - I actually used it the entire way too! Shop it here.
The trip starts in Torquay, a cute surf community, then continuing on the Bells Beach, which is famous for International Rip Curl Pro surf competition! The beaches and towns along the way are too cute. Teddy’s Lookout is definitely worth a stop, with a view to die for. You’ll continue on for miles and miles on the coast, and eventually cut inland through The Great Otway National Park which is full of eucalyptus trees (and if your lucky, koalas!) 🐨
My absolute highlight was seeing 2 koalas! We saw one up in a tree at Kennett River, and one actually just crossing the street, making us stop while he took his sweet time. I was beyond excited & got out to take some photos! He was too cute & I was able to get up so close — life complete! Following Kennett River, we drove through Apollo Bay, which is an awesome little town to stop in too with lots of fresh seafood and cool cool beachside restaurants!
The other highlight was the Twelve Apostles. They are as stunning as you picture them to be. The erosion of the limestone from the mainland started 10-20 million years ago to start forming this gorgeous collection of rocks in the water, making it such a popular attraction today! There are actually only 8 standing today, since one completely eroded (not sure why they were ever called '12'!)
After the Twelve Apostles, we stayed in Port Campbell, which is the tiny town the rock formations are home to. There’s a few restaurant options here, a bar or two, and brewery (that’s actually located inside a hostel), but it’s a sleepy & quiet little beach community overall.
The farthest town we went to was Port Fairy, which was another sleepy little town that felt like you stepped out of a time warp. The architecture and homes were fun to wander by, and the marina area provided a nice little walking path. Port Fairy is a little fishing town, and the perfect place to stop for lunch & break up the drive; however it’s a little out of the way and you might cut this out if you’re strapped for time!
From there, we headed back toward Melbourne on an inland route, passing through miles and miles of yellow flower fields, which are used for making canola oil. They are so vibrant they looked like the color of yellow Gatorade! I was mesmerized. These fields eventually led us to Halls Gap & The Grampians where we stayed our 3rd night. We did 2 hikes (The Pinnacle & The Balconies) in the national park & had wonderful weather, as it’s typically warmer inland than on the coastal route. You’ll be sure to see tons of kangaroos as this little town sits between two huge mountains and seemed to be the perfect place for the roos to hang and lounge around.
Finally, about half way between Halls Gap & Melbourne, we stopped in Ballarat for lunch. Ballarat was a thriving gold rush town (about 150 years ago), but now is famous for its historic colonial architecture and feeling of being stuck in a time warp (however, it has nothing on Cuba!) Ballarat is also home to Sovereign Hill, one of the coolest outdoor folkloric museums in the world.
3 DAY TRIP
Day 1: Torquay to Port Campbell --> stay in Torquay night 1 when you fly in so you're right at the start on Day 1. Stay in Port Campbell night 2.
Day 2: Port Campbell to Halls Gap --> Optional drive to Port Fairy before heading inland to Halls Gap & Stay in Halls Gap night 3.
Day 3: Halls Gap to Melbourne or Avalon Airport --> fly out in the evening.
2 DAY TRIP
Day 1: Torquay to Port Campbell --> stay in Torquay night 1 when you fly in so you're right at the start on Day 1. Stay in Port Campbell night 2
Day 2: Port Campbell to Melbourne or Avalon Airport --> fly out in the evening.
I can’t recommend this road trip (or at least pieces of it) enough!! Enjoy it!
PS: Shop my 12 Apostles wall print for your home here! A great souvenir from your road trip!