16 Stunning Stops Along the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s top road trip destinations. You won’t want to miss out on these 14 recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. This is the most detailed guide you will find on the scenic road on Australia’s south coast.
The Great Ocean Road is a 248-kilometer road that winds its way along Australia’s south coast from Torquay to Warrnambool. It passes iconic attractions like the Twelve Apostles and London Bridge. This stunning route road offers sweeping ocean views, quick trips off to enchanting national parks, and some beautiful coastal towns along the way.
The best way to see the Great Ocean Road is to drive. While I have my own car in Melbourne, I always use RentalCars.com when booking a car for a road trip. They list all the big brands like Avis, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt but with impressive discounts. We’ve used RentalCars.com in Australia, New Zealand, and Finland just in the past year and have saved thousands of dollars.
Here are 16 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 a 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 surfboard at Go Ride a Wave for just AUD 20 for two hours. You can easily walk with your board to Surf Beach or head a little further by car to Jan Juc Beach to ride a few waves.
2. Split Point Lighthouse
For Aussies who grew up in the ’90s, 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.
3. Fairhaven Beach
Located midway between Angelsea and Lorne, Fairhaven Beach is one of the more discreet beaches along the Great Ocean Road. The single signboard doesn’t really suggest that this is one of the top surfing beaches along the coast, but the local surfers can tell you otherwise. There are no lifeguards on duty here, so Fairhaven Beach is recommended for keen surfers only.
There are no shops around here, your closest option is Angelsea which is a 15 minute drive away, slightly closer than Lorne.
Lorne is one of the larger towns and on this trip and in my opinion one of the best stops on the Great Ocean Road.
Lorne has a popular surfing beach with beautiful rolling waves. The surfing conditions are perfect for a beginner with a longboard. One of the most stunning things about Lorne is looking up from the surf to the mountains of the Otway National Park in the background. It feels like it’s dropped right out of Hawaii.
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.
5. Erskine Falls
The Erskine Falls is the first forest destination in the recommended stops on the Great Ocean Road. These waterfalls are located 10 kilometers north of Lorne. There is an easy five-minute walk from the carpark to the Erskine Falls lookouts.
More enthusiastic hikers can try the full 23km circuit hike from Lorne right up to the falls. The hike will require a full day, so you will probably want to plan on spending the night in Lorne.
The Erskine Falls reminds me of the waterfalls up in the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. Check it out if you’re heading north later.
6. Sheoak Falls
The Sheoak Falls are located about 10 minutes west of Lorne. There is a signboard with a small carpark just off the Great Ocean Road. The walk from the carpark to Sheoak Falls takes about 15 minutes one way. The walk is quite easy, but the stairs make it unsuitable for prams or wheelchairs.
During the summer months, the waterfall is reduced to just a trickle with an almost stagnant pond. It is best to visit after a couple of rainy days, which isn’t too hard for Victoria to achieve.
if you love exploring waterfalls, then I highly recommend checking out this article on 10 amazing waterfalls in Lorne, it will keep you busy for days!
7. 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 tour buses to stop for lunch along the way to the attractions further west. Expect it to get busy here around lunchtime.
Our favorite part of Apollo Bay is actually back off the beach by a few kilometers and up in the hinterland (follow Old Tuxion Road up the hill). You can get a stunning view of the ocean from up the mountains and there are lots of wild Koalas around if you look and drive carefully.
8. 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
9. 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.
10. Johanna Beach
Johanna Beach is a more secluded spot along the Great Ocean Road. 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. One of my favorite things about Johanna Beach campground is that dogs are allowed too! There are no shops around so make sure you come fully prepared if you plan to stay the night.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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
15. 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.
16. 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?