Guide To Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic road trips. It’s been voted as one of Australia’s top 10 destination experiences in 2013 and it’s recognized as having one of Australia’s top 10 sunsets by Aussie’s themselves. The winding road guides you through world class surfs, canopied rainforests, beautiful small beach towns, past the iconic 12 Apostles and ending with the small fishing village of Port Fairy.

You have two options on how to view the Great Ocean Road. You can go with a tour operator, which means a full day (12 hour) tour in bus filled with tourists with short stops skimming through the road highlights. Or you can rent a car or camper and take your time driving and appreciating the beauty of the landscape over the course of a couple of days. I did the full day tour and in hindsight regret it. I love road trips and this route offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy panoramic views over the course of couple of days.

Below is a guide to Great Ocean Road, it lists the must see highlights. The entire route is 413 miles and would take roughly 9.5 hours to complete with nonstop driving.  If you wish, you can also do it in one day (just like the tour operators), but that will mean short stops to take in the sites. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this more as a two day tour.

Ocean Road Highlights

  • Torquay – This town marks the beginning of of the Ocean Road experience and it’s a great place to learn about surf culture in Australia. It’s home to the world famous Bells Beach and it’s the birth place of famous surf brands like Rip Curl.
  • Anglesea – 10 minutes from Torquay is Anglesa. This is a popular tourist spot that offers visitors access to beach, bush and kangaroos. Make sure to do the coastal walk and visit the Anglsea Golf course to see kangaroos grazing and lounging along the golf course.
  • Kennett River –  This is a great place to stop and do some Kola watching. This is popular tour stop and it’s not hard to see why. When I went there we saw at least 5 Kolas moving slowly in the trees. Seeing these cute animals in their natural habitat was a treat. There’s also lots of tropical birds that have been conditioned to be fed by tourists.
  • Apollo Bay – Driving through Apollo Bay offers incredible opportunities for taking pictures of panoramic seaside cliff views and it has great strips of ocean to walk across.
  • Otway National Park – Stopping in Otway National Park is something completely different and unexpected. It’s a canopied rainforest close to the ocean road. The trees here are tall reaching high into the sky. This offers great hiking and walking trails.
  • Gibson Steps – Named after Hugh Gibson who carved 86 steps into the side of a cliff so that he can access his favorite fishing spots. This is one of the few places along Port Campbell where you can actually access the beach.
  • 12 Apostles – This is main attraction that everyone wants to see on this drive. The 12 Apostles, which are actually 8 columns of stone jutting from the sea, stand proud and are a magnificent sight to behold. Sadly only of the stones has eroded and collapsed. So now there’s only 7 boulders remaining.  
  • Loch Ard Gorge – This cove is famous for the story of a shipwreck that happened in 1878 where only two people survived. It’s a fascinating story that you can read in full here.  The cliff tops and the cove are incredible places to visit in person.

The above are only highlights on this trip. As you travel down the road, take your time and visit the towns, beaches and explore as you go along.

Below is a timelapsed video from my trip on Ocean Drive. The movie is a little shaky but it gives you an idea of what an amazing experience the Ocean Drive is.