Once we’d tackled the famous East Coast of Australia, I knew the next road trip that I had to tick off that bucket list was The Great Ocean Road. Located 3 hours South-West of Melbourne sits the most scenic ocean drive in Australia. Cruise the road that connects the land down under to the ocean with nothing on the horizon but that deep blue sea. The Great Ocean Road Highlights are famous amongst the Aussies and the rest of the world. Sleepy seaside towns and limestone rock formations are the main Great Ocean Road highlights, not to mention that it’s the country biggest memorial paying tribute to the soldiers who fought in World War 1.
What makes this drive extra special is that some of the Great Ocean Road highlights won’t be there forever. The ocean is eroding away at the limestone that runs down the coast forming some of the uniquely shaped sea cliffs. So, if you’re heading to the land down under then make sure you add the Great Ocean Road onto your bucket list before it’s too late! In this post I’m sharing my Great Ocean Road highlights so except some alternatives and extras when it comes to exploring the Great Ocean Road!
The Great Ocean Road FAQ’s
Before I get stuck into the Great Ocean Road highlights I thought I’d answer a few important details about the drive itself. I don’t want to go into too much detail because next weeks post is going to be a Great Ocean Road Itinerary: 2 days. That post will have heaps of information from when to visit, where to stay, best times of year to visit etc! So for now, I thought I’d just give you some easy tips!
How Long is the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road is 243 km or just over 150 miles.
How Many Days do I need to Travel the Great Ocean Road?
We tackled the drive in two days and had loads of spare time during the days as well. The Great Ocean Road highlights are quite close together and can be easily be seen in 2 days. If you’ve got more time to play around with then take a slower approach enjoying each attraction for a little longer.
Is there accommodation on The Great Ocean Road?
Yes. There are lots of seaside towns offering hotel/motel type accommodation but these can be a little pricey because of the location. A cheaper option would be to hire a camper van or a motorhome as campsites are definitely cheaper.
What is the weather like on The Great Ocean Road?
Varied, because of its location to the south of the country it can be battered with wind and rain. But equally, it can be blessed with glorious sunshine making those highlights even more spectacular. Take it as it comes, like Melbourne the South coast of Australia can be where you get all 4 seasons in one day!
The Great Ocean Road Highlights
Starting with the prettiest limestone formation on the Great Ocean Road. Everyone goes on about the 12 apostles but for me, The Grotto was my favourite attraction on the Great Ocean Road. Follow the wooden staircase that leads down to the unique sight that is the Grotto. As the waves came crashing to the coastline causing a sinkhole the Grotto has emerged. You could call it a kind of hideaway, kind of bridge from above, kind of cave but it’s definitely beautiful. As the ocean stills underneaths its arch and the sun glistens on a sunny day you’ll feel instantly at peace as you gaze up at the Grotto.
There are carparks located at the Grotto and an accessible path to one viewing platform. The remainder of the way is via stairs. The total walk from the carpark to the grotto is 750 m return.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out how this part of the Great Ocean Road got its name. I’m guessing you know how the formation came to be? Yes, this part of the coastline fell down. The limestone connecting London Bridge to the rest of Australian crumbled into the ocean. It wasn’t that quick of course, it eroded over the years and eventually became estranged from the rest of the coastline in 1990.
Fun Fact: Did you know that when the final parts of the mainland fell it left two tourists stranded on London Bridge?! Yep, they got reduced by helicopter – What a story to tell their grandchildren.
Parking is available at the London Bridge with a simple walkway down to the viewpoint, no steps just a little incline.
Only a couple of minutes drive on from London Bridge is The Arch. The Arch was my favourite highlight on the Great Ocean Road for watching the waves come crashing in and out. We visited the Great Ocean Road on a very sunny but windy day. The current and waves were fierce crashing through the arch cascading from one end to the other. The Arch also gives a special viewing area of its more famous sisters, the 12 Apostles, on a clear day you can see them standing tall in the distance.
The Great Ocean Road Highlights – THE BEST seaside town – Port Campbell
Port Campbell is magical. The stillness of this town amazed me. Despite the campers and tourists that roamed the streets the air was calm, peaceful and the scenery tranquil. The water in the bay danced underneath the jetty, still and so inviting (should’ve put my swimmers on)! If you’re looking for food then we ate lunch at Forage on The Foreshore, definitely recommend! Ideal for both meat eaters, veggies and vegans something for everyone on the menu, all their ingredients are also locally sourced too!
Top Tip: Before or after you’ve been into Port Campbell head out of the town and follow the signs for the Grotto or London Bridge. Basically, follow the main road inland and take a right at the caravan park and up the hill. Just as you road the top of the hill you’ll see a ‘Scenic Lookout’ stop – pull in and get your camera out, the views over Port Campbell aren’t to be missed!
The Loch Ard Gorge
Another gorgeous Great Ocean Road highlight amongst the limestone formation family. The story behind the Loch Ard Gorge is quite a different one sadly not one with a happy ending. After a three month journey from England to Australia, the Loch Ard clipper boat celebrated and partied having safely made the journey overseas. When it ran aground in 1878 not far from Mutton Bird Island. The clipper boat lost all but two survivors a young man named Tom and Eva who Tom had to revive on shore before heading to the mainland to find some help. He soon became a hero in England and Melbourne.
As you reach the Loch Ard Gorge dip your toes in the sublime water and make sure you head to see the cave at the opposite side!
The 12 Apostles
The 12 Apostles, the most famous limestone rocks on the Great Ocean Road, if you’ve googled The Great Ocean Road highlights then I’m certain it probably made number one and with great reason. The Apostles stand metres away from this magical Victorian coastline. As you drive down from Port Campbell watch at these rugged rocks come into view, showing us just how magnificent mother nature can be. What most travellers don’t realise is that there never were 12 Apostles, I admit I didn’t know this until visiting them!
The original Apostles are actually a group of 8, now seven after one collapsed back in 2005. As mother nature continues to slice through these exceptional formations, the more they erode. As time goes on the apostles will continue to fall into the ocean. I have a feeling the remaining friends are going to be around for a little while longer yet but it’s an even better excuse to make sure you plan a visit!
Kennett River is a tiny village that you’ve almost left as soon as you drive past the welcome sign. It may be small but Kennett River will hold a special in our hearts forever. I hadn’t heard about this place until I read this post by Faramagan. Kennett River is home to some real Aussie natives. Surrounded by eucalyptus trees you can probably guess which furry creatures I’m talking about? Yes, you’re almost guaranteed to spot a Koala at Kennett River! We saw five and one huge kangaroo. It was my mums the first night and she couldn’t believe her luck, neither could we! It took me and Dave months to see a koala in the wild!
I recommend stopping the night at Kennett River Holiday Park where you will most likely get very close to come wild koalas! As we woke up in the morning there was a little guy hanging in the tree, at eye level, showing off his gymnastic skills! The river is also beautiful for sunset and sunrise and definitely worth sticking around for! If you’re only passing through make sure you pull into the general store, park the car outside and then head left towards the dirt track road, follow it all the way to bend and this is where you’ll most likely spot a koala & maybe even a kangaroo!
Last but not least … Lorne
My second favourite beach town on the Great Ocean Road tourist drive. Lorne is a picture perfect surf town equipped with perfect coffee shops, boutique clothing stores and plenty of great surfers to admire! Stop off for a morning coffee and stroll through the streets enjoying the fresh sea air. Make sure you check out Erskine Falls. A short 10-minute drive from the beachfront lies this stunning waterfall, well worth a visit! Teddy’s lookout also looks amazing, unfortunately, due to some maintenance work the lookout was closed during our visit!
This definitely not an extensive list of Great Ocean Road highlights. This beautiful majestic drive that has you literally dancing on the ocean is bursting with more attractions and seaside towns. As you drive inland the scenery is just as inspiring. This is simply a list of my favourite spots that we explored during our drive along this scenic open road. I would recommend stopping off at each place during your drive and if you have time, see what other gems you can find!
The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
A trip to The Great Ocean Road wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the memorial arch. Find the arch on either your way in or out of Lorne. You won’t miss it and there’s a car park to pull into on the left.
More from Victoria…
Staying in Victoria for some time? Victoria is beautiful. With so much on offer from the hip vibes in Melbourne to escapes into nature like The Grampians, the options are limitless. The Grampians is, again my opinion only, the best national park for hiking in Australia (what we covered of it). I’m talking dazzling aqua lakes, hikes that involve climbing/scrambling your way to the top and wildlife around most corners! Make sure you have a look at my Grampians Travel Guide for tips for your next trip!
I hope you enjoyed this list of Great Ocean Road highlights! I would love to know if you’ve ever driven The Great Ocean Road or have plans too? Let me know in the comments below OR if you would like any more tips, tricks or guidance for your next trip to The Great Ocean or Australia then make sure you email me at [email protected] – don’t be shy!
Happy and Healthy Travels,