Victoria is the second-smallest state in Australia but packed with abundant natural beauty, all of which is easily accessible on quick day trips from Melbourne. Of all the fantastic destinations, the one that really draws travelers from across the world is a Great Ocean Road tour. Most take this road trip to visit the iconic Twelve Apostles but fall in love with the grandeur of nature. The road winds through picturesque locations outdo one another in terms of visual extravaganza. Here's all you need to know about taking a Great Ocean Road Tour From Melbourne - itinerary, best tours, highlights and quick hacks.
Great Ocean Road Tour Melbourne - An Epic Road Trip
Monumental. That’s the word that can truly capture the essence of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. The world’s largest war memorial is built along the road whose story began in 1919 when World War I heroes returned home and started building a memorial for their martyrs. In 1932, the road was thrown open to the public and has since then become one of the world’s best road trip destinations.
The route of 243 KM stretches from Torquay to Allansford in Victoria state. Hugging the ocean on one side, the other side of the road changes its landscape from lush rainforest-clad mountains to volcanic plains. The two-way highway is scenic as it gets and covers iconic landmarks like the Twelve Apostles, Apollo Bay, and the Otways.
A drive down the road will take you through magnificent landscapes of the white surf hitting the golden beaches, where the limestone stacks and arches weather the powerful ocean. Further along, you will find verdant bush where koalas nest and then onto the lush rainforests with spectacular waterfalls and native wildlife. The Great Ocean Road is where you experience breathtaking nature and the great outdoors of Australia!
Best Ways to Experience A Great Ocean Road Tour
Organized Tours from Melbourne To Great Ocean Road
The iconic spots and landmarks on the Great Ocean Road can be covered within a day as it is stretches for only about 243 Km (151 miles). You don’t have to miss out on this epic road trip just because you are short on time. An organized tour that takes care of your transportation will help you take the trip within a day.
You will ride on an AC tour bus, accompanied by a friendly tour guide who will ensure you hit all the spots on your Great Ocean Road tour. You also get to enjoy free WiFi onboard, tea and snacks and relax in comfort between spots. Forget all about the stress of driving, checking the GPS and creating an itinerary of your own!
Self Driven Tour from Melbourne To Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most epic road journeys you can go on across the world! For those who love to drive and are comfortable in driving outside the city and through a variety of terrain it is a paradise waiting to be explored. There are a few towns along the way like Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell where you can stay or camp overnight.
You can spend more time at each location and engage in activities like trekking, swimming and adventure sports. A camper van or any sporty rental car is good for the drive through the stunning coastal road.
Great Ocean Road Tour Itinerary
Things to do on your road trip
If you're planning to visit the Great Ocean Road, here's all that you should squeeze into your itinerary. While it is possibe to do most of these in a day with an early start and quick pitstops at every location, you should factor in a 2 day trip for a sedate trip.
However, if you're short on time and want to cover a good portion of the Great Ocean Road, signing up for an organized trip from Melbourne will come handy. These tours are crafted to help you cover most of it in a short span of time, something you may not be able to do as a tourist in the city.
The Twelve Apostles are giant limestone stacks jutting out of the ocean that form one of the most recognizable landscapes in Australia. Don’t start counting them though, because there are only seven you can count! They are now a part of a National Park and protected, and are the perfect destination to view the sunset.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is a breathtaking natural formation just a short distance from the 12 apostles. The sea enters the area through a narrow opening between two rock pillars. The gorge has been named after a ship Loch Ard ran aground nearby and the rock pillars are named Tom and Eva after the only two survivors.
The coastline of the Great Ocean Road is constantly changing and one such natural formation is the London Arch. The standalone arch was earlier connected to the coast with another such arch giving it the name London Bridge, but in 1990 the connecting arch fell down due to erosion.
The Grotto is multiple geological formations rolled into one and is one of the most spectacular points to view the coast. It is essentially a sinkhole in a limestone stack and opens out to a view of the sea and cliffs beyond. A staircase leads you to view it at the eye-level and is best experience at low tide at sunrise or sunset.
Not for the faint hearted, Gibson steps are a set of 86 steep steps that head down from the cliffs to the beach near the twelve apostles. From below the steps you can marvel at the 70m limestone stacks from up close and feel the power of nature. Going up is going to be a task though!
The Great Ocean Road was built as a memorial for soldiers of World War I and this timber arch commemorates them. There is also a plaque on the left side of the road which serves as a memory for the soldiers. It is a popular stop for photographs with the name of the road and the plaque.
Lorne is a picturesque town set between Loutit Bay and the Otway National Park, it is where the bush meets the ocean. It is a rest stop on the Great Ocean Road and gateway to spectacular waterfalls and viewpoints. Lookout on the ocean from May to September as you might spot Whales!
In the shadow of the Otway ranges meeting Cape Otway is the Apollo Bay, midway of the Great Ocean Road. Truly a paradise, the area is a popular destination for water sports and recreation activities. Frolic in the ocean and then head up to the lush rainforests abundant with wildlife.
Koalas at Kennett River
The Kennet River located between Lorne and Apollo Bay is one of the best places in Australia to view wild koalas. The area has a forest of gum and eucalyptus trees which are the main food source of koalas. Walk up near the Grey River Road and you will find koalas lounging on the trees.
Bells Beach is a paradise for surfers; it is the location of the legendary annual Rip Curl Surfing competition. The cliffs over the beach offer gorgeous views of the swells coming in from the Southern Ocean. Whether you surf or not, it is a great place to stop and admire the ocean.
There is no dearth of viewpoints on the Great Ocean Road and Teddy’s Lookout is another magnificent spot added to the list. A walkway just outside Lorne offers views of the ocean lapping up the mouth of the Saint George River and the Bass Strait. The green forest with the winding highway meets the ocean here!
Cape Otway Lighthouse
The Cape Otway lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia and was rightly known as the ‘Beacon of Hope’. Built in 1848, it sits at the edge of the ocean almost 90m over the Bass Strait. Today, it is a spot for whale watching and a centre for learning about the aboriginal history.
Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park is located within the Otway ranges and covers the area from Torquay to Princetown. It has diverse vegetation ranging from lush rainforest to rugged coastline, it has everything from stunning waterfalls to tranquil lakes. You can walk, trek, horse-ride or bike through the park.
Great Ocean Road Map
All the points of interest mentioned above are marked on the Great Ocean Road Map below. If you're planning a self-guided tour, this could come handy. Like I mentioned before, covering all of these in a day may be a long shot, hence plan for a 2 day Great Ocean Road trip.
Your Transport Options For Great Ocean Road Tour From Melbourne
If you're planning your big Great Ocean Road trip from Melbourne, here are all the transport options that could get you there.
The Great Ocean Road is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne with dual lane highway conditions for most of the journey and excellent signposting. There are 2 main routes to reach the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne - an inland road that follows the Princes Highway from Geelong to Warrnambool, or drive over the West Gate Bridge and along the Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast Highway. If you're planning on the West Gate Bridge route, take the Princes Highway over the bridge and travel along the Bellarine Peninsula or the Surf Coast Highway to the famous surfing town of Torquay.
The V/line service offers frequent train travel departing Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station and running to both Geelong and Warrnambool.
If you want to travel by bus, know that there are plenty from Geelong to Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland,all travelling via the Great Ocean Road
Another fun way to get to the Great Ocean Road is by using the ferry service from Queenscliff and the Bellarine Peninsula to Sorrento and the Mornington Peninsula.
On Organzied Tours
Taking an organized bus tour from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road is the best way to experience the best of the pictursque route from the comfort of your bus. Here are a few budget Great Ocean Road tours you should consider.
Best Time to Take a Great Ocean Road Tour From Melbourne
December to February is the best time to take a Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne. It is summer and it is simply beautiful on the road! The colors are vivid, the sun is out and the water is ideal for water sports and activities, but it is also the busiest time of the year. However, the Great Ocean Road is a hit at any time of the year and here is why –
- Autumn (March to May): Cooler weather and fewer tourists
- Winter (June to August): Whale watching season, cheaper accommodation and few tourists
- Spring (September to November): Flowering season, perfect for visiting the Otways, mild weather and fewer crowds
Skydiving at Great Ocean Road
Imagine free falling from the sky onto these gorgeous views? Heavenly, right? Skydiving is a popular sport at the Great Ocean Road and you're likely to spot many gutsy ones plummeting from the sky at 200 kmph from 15,000 feet above. Read our detailed blog to know all about Skydiving in Melbourne and book your Great Ocean Road skydive.
Quick Hacks for Your Great Ocean Road Tour From Melbourne
- The beaches on the Great Ocean Road are fantastic for swimming, especially in the summer. If your tour is on schedule you might find yourself some time for a swim. Carry a fast-drying towel, a bathing suit and a change of clothes to go swimming.
- You will be bracing natural elements on this road trip and it’s best to dress accordingly. December to February is summer, March to May is autumn, June to August is winter and September to November is spring. It can get quite chilly in winter and autumn, bring your warm clothes and it is always quite windy so keep a windcheater, scarf or cap handy.
- Don’t feed the koalas or the parrots as they are in the wild and any feeding them our food will disrupt their natural behaviour.
- Although most Great Ocean Road tours offer snacks they might be limited and since you are in for a long day it’s best to stock up on extra snacks and beverages for the road. You might not be making any unscheduled stops to buy snacks.
- Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking to do. You can also carry a pair of flip flops or sandals if you wish to dip your feet in the ocean at Loch Ard Gorge or any other beach enroute.
- The road curves quite a lot and if you suffer from motion sickness carry anti-nausea medication or chew on citrusy candy to keep it in check.
- The coastline will be on the left side of the bus for Great Ocean Road tours starting from Melbourne, so if the bus seats are not pre-booked you can try to catch a window-seat on the left side.
More Day Trips From Melbourne
Melbourne to Phillip Island
Enjoy the iconic Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, hand feed kangaroos and wallabies at Moonlit Sanctuary, visit the famous Brighton Beach boxes and more on a day trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island.
Read more about taking a Melbourne to Phillip Island Tour.
• Phillip Island: Penguin Parade Afternoon Wildlife Tour
• Phillip Island Penguin Parade Tour
Melbourne to Yarra Valley
Yarra Valley is mostly known for its wineries, but that’s just one of its many treasures. Visit some of the valley’s most impressive wineries, go on a skydiving experience and simply kick your heels and relax
Read more about taking a day trip from Melbourne to Yarra Valley.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to drive the Great Ocean Road?
It takes 3 day to drive through the Great Ocean Road and to see all the attractions on the way.
Can you do Great Ocean Road a day?
Yes, you can. Great Ocean Road Tours that offer the best itinerary and great sights within a day from Melbourne.
What is the best way to travel the Great Ocean Road?
Take the Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne to catch the best scenery and attractions.
What is the Great Ocean Road tour?
The Great Ocean Road winds through picturesque locations that outdo one another in terms of visual extravaganza. The Great Ocean Road Tour covers pristine beaches, geological marvels, and rich forests on your way.
Is the Great Ocean Road dangerous?
The Great Ocean Road definitely has some dangerous turns. But if you are driving under the speed limit and following protocols, it could be one of the best drives of your life given the amazing view throughout the drive.
Where should I stay when visiting the Great Ocean Road?
If you are spending a night while on the road, the best coastal towns to rent a motel are Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Around the Otway National Park.
Why is the Great Ocean Road special?
The Great Ocean Road winds through picturesque locations that outdo one another in terms of visual extravaganza. The road covers a driveway of 243 km off the coast with pristine views of beaches, geological marvels, and rich forests.
Where does the Great Ocean Road start and finish?
Great Ocean Road starts at Torquay and finishes in Allansford. It stretches for 243 kms.
What towns are on the Great Ocean Road?
Some of the beautiful coastal towns you will come across during your drive are Apollo Bay, Cape Otway, Port Campbell, Torquay, and Lorne.
Are there any Great Ocean Road Tours I can purchase?
Yes. You can buy Great Ocean Road Tours online which would cover your itinerary and tickets for attractions.