14 Recommended Stops on the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s top road trip destinations. Discover these 14 recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road in this detailed guide to Australia’s south coast.
The Great Ocean Road is a 248-kilometre road which winds its way along Australia’s south coast from Torquay to Warrnambool. It passes iconic attractions, sweeping ocean views, enchanting national parks and beautiful coastal towns along its way.
Here are 14 recommended stops for your Great Ocean Road itinerary. These destinations are from east to west (Melbourne to Adelaide) which you should definitely include on your trip.
This is where the Great Ocean Road itinerary begins. Torquay is an great little coastal town just one and a half hours drive from Melbourne. It is a popular surfing spot with a few great beaches scattered around the coast. Hire a board at Go Ride a Wave for AUD 20 for two hours, then head down to either Surf Beach or Jan Juc Beach to catch a few waves.
After a few hours surfing, grab the best burgers and milkshakes in town for lunch at the Bottle of Milk. Be daring and try the Blue Cheese Burger for a serious cheesy kick.
- Split Point Lighthouse
For Aussies who grew up in the 90’s, the Split Point Lighthouse is where our childhood show called Round the Twist was filmed. It is a bit hidden from the view of the main road, however, the signs will guide you up a back dirt road where you can easily access the lighthouse.
There are daily tours running at 11am, midday, 1pm and 2pm. For AUD 14 you can climb to the top and enjoy the 360-degree coastal views. Add the Split Point Lighthouse to your Great Ocean Road itinerary for that bit of 90’s television nostalgia.
Lorne is one of the larger towns and recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. it is a popular surfing beach, also surrounded by waterfalls in the mountains to the north. Lorne offers plenty of accommodation options from camping to holiday houses for weekend travelers escaping Melbourne. The entire road west from Lorne to Apollo Bay is coastal and offers amazing views of the Bass Strait below.
- Erskine Falls
The Erskine Falls is the first forest destination in the recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. These waterfalls are set back 10 kilometers north of Lorne. There is an easy five-minute walk from the carpark to either one of two Erskine Falls lookouts. For more enthusiastic hikers try the full 23km circuit hike from Lorne right up to the falls.
Love Waterfalls? Check out The Atherton Tablelands
- Apollo Bay
Apollo Bay is located in the foothills of the Otways Mountains Ranges and is one of the top surfing beaches along the Great Ocean Road. The beach here stretches 3.5 kilometers in length. That is a huge beach!
Similar to Lorne, Apollo Bay is frequented by weekend trippers escaping Melbourne. It is also a top destination for the masses of tours buses to stop for lunch along the way to the attractions further west. Expect it to get busy here around lunchtime.
Spend a night at Apollo Bay: Accommodation here
- Wild Koalas at Cape Otway
The wild Koalas at Cape Otway National Park make sure this destination gets added to the recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. If you want to spot Koalas you will still have to drive slow and look carefully, but this is your best place to find them. Drive slowly with one person looking up to the treetops hanging over the road.
When a Koala is spotted, it is common for plenty of cars to stop around the same area. If you come across one of these middle of the road style carparks, make sure you get out and have a look.
Koala Crazy? Make sure you check out Magnetic Island
- Cape Otway Lighthouse
Cape Otway Lighthouse is Australia’s oldest lighthouse, built back in 1848. The lighthouse is located 15km down the Lighthouse Road which branches off from the Great Ocean Road. Entry to the lighthouse costs about AUD 16 per person. Opening hours are from 9am to 5pm. The best to visit is in the later afternoon for sunset.
- Johanna Beach
Johanna Beach is a more secluded spot on this Great Ocean Road itinerary. The beach itself is nestled between the sand dunes, hidden about 5km back off the main road. Johanna beach is a popular spot for surfing and has a campground for travelers after a nature retreat. There are no shops around so make sure you come fully prepared if you plan to stay the night here.
- Princetown Beach and Lagoon
Swimming with the strong south Australian current can be a bit daunting. If you are looking for a more relaxed option you have to head down to the lagoon at Princetown.
To get to Princetown, you will take an inconspicuous left turn at the Old Coach Road 17km east of Port Campbell. Continue down a 1km dirt trail until pop out at a calm lagoon which is actually the Gellibrand River. Just down the road, there is also a secluded camping ground. Princetown Beach is a great way to spend the day lazing in the sun, and it one of my top recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road for a beach escape.
- The Twelve Apostles
The most iconic destination has to be on the list of recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. The Twelve Apostles, now actually eleven apostles, sees hundreds of visitors flock to the viewing platforms all day round.
The middle of the day is packed with tour buses and therefore not so enjoyable. The best time to visit the Twelve Apostles is actually at sunrise or sunset. There are fewer people around and the view looks so much more amazing in the warm sun’s glow.
- Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is located just 4km up the road from the Twelve Apostles and is an easy addition to your Great Ocean Road itinerary. Loch Ard Gorge is one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, but it is for looking and not for swimming. The ocean current here is strong and will drag you out beyond the bay before you know it.
Much like the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge is very busy during the middle of the day with loads of day trip buses arriving. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit this destination.
- Port Campbell
If you are looking to spend a night on the Great Ocean Road then Port Campbell is definitely the place to visit. This small town is located just up the road from the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.
Head just down the road to Port Campbell Bay for a swim in the afternoon. At night the Sow and Piglets Brewery serves up some great craft beers made locally in town. Whether you are camping in a tent, traveling by campervan or looking for a cabin the Port Campbell Holiday Park is the best option in town.
Stay in Port Campbell: Accommodation here
- London Bridge
London Bridge is another one of these stunning rock formations along the coast. London Bridge was still connected to the mainland until 1990 when erosion from the sea caused part of the “bridge” to collapse and leave two tourists stranded on the new island.
The London Bridge rock formation is located just 7 kilometers up the road from Port Campbell, an easy trip out in the morning for some fantastic sunrise shots.
- Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is the farthest west rock formation we visit in this list of recommended stops along the Great Ocean Road. There is a handful of limestone stacks scattered through the bay. The Bay of Islands looks similar to the Twelve Apostles but much less crowded.
The Bay of Islands is located another 10 kilometers up the road from London Bridge. It is a stop worth making if you are heading further west towards Adelaide. If your journey ends of Port Campbell it would not be a necessary attraction.
What are your recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road? Drop a comment below, and I will be sure to check it out on my next trip along this amazing coastline!