Visit the Great Ocean Road on a road trip from Melbourne

Great Ocean Road Australie

Drive from Melbourne to see the 12 Apostles of the Great Ocean Road

Many people naturally think thatAustralia ‘s most authentic travel experiences are to be found deep inland, somewhere in that ill-defined region known as « the Outback », a place of scorching deserts, giant salt marshes, big rocks, cloudless skies and a merciless struggle against heat and thirst. But a road trip along the Great Ocean Road (B100), just an hour from downtown Melbourne, doesn’t fit any of our preconceptions of the Australian desert.

Victoria’s often storm-ravaged south coast can be inextricably linked with the Twelve Apostles, a series of dramatic rock formations surrounded by wild waves. But the experience of taking an almost 250 km road trip is surprisingly gentle.

Carte Great Ocean Road

Map and exact route of the Great Ocean Road – Click on image to enlarge – Print screen Google Map

The road from Torquay to Allansford (Allansford is 10km from Warrnambool), built in the 1920s by Australian servicemen returning from WW1, offers breathtaking scenery, from sheer ocean cliffs to pristine surf beaches, but it also passes through a civilized part of rural Australia, a region rich in fresh produce farms, seafood and cool-climate wines.

For some people, of course, the Great Ocean Road is a destination in its own right, a rare opportunity to drive along it. Others come to visit the magnificent Great Otway National Park or explore Australia’s colorful 19th-century maritime history, where more than 600 ships sank here.

Great Ocean Road Australie

Flickr – ccdoh1

Once considered a « simple » driving experience, the Great Ocean Road is now a hub for adventure sports of all kinds, from kayaking to scuba diving. Hiking is also a major « pursuit », with a number of specialist companies offering low-impact hiking vacations.

The region boasts some of the best surfing spots in the world, so it’s a great place to hone your skills on the board, or attend a competition like the Rip Curl Pro held at Bells Beach, near Torquay in late March/early April.

Great Ocean Road Australie

Flickr – Hadi Zaher

Whether you want to see whales and pods of dolphins or a few marsupials, this part of the coast is a nature lover’s paradise. Venture into the ancient rainforest and you’ll encounter koalas, kangaroos and an astonishing array of birds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a platypus, which lives in the rivers and lakes.

As well as miles of unspoilt coastline and lush rainforest, you’ll discover picturesque townships, fantastic regional cuisine and some pretty cool places to relax.

What to see and do on the Great Ocean Road?

Lorne

A relaxing seaside resort near Great Otway National Park overlooking Loutit Bay, with terrace cafés and a plethora of vacation homes.

Apollo Bay

Nestling in the foothills of the Otways, this lively seaside village, with a magnificent crescent-shaped beach, is a major point on the Great Ocean Road in terms of restaurants and hotels.

Hopetoun Fall Otway National Park - Great Ocean Road - Australie

Wikimedia – Diliff

Great Otway National Park

The Otway Ranges offer waterfalls, forest walks and the Cape Otway Lighthouse, Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse, built in 1848.

Port Campbell National Park

It’s home to the Twelve Apostles (there are actually only 8), the spectacular limestone stacks for which this coast is famous. The park stretches between Princetown and Peterborough. Stop in the village of Port Campbell for its lively street of restaurants and cafés. Continue a little further and you’ll find 3 major sites: The Arch, London Arch and The Grotto.

the 12 Apostles are really only 8 here on the Great Ocean Road

Warrnambool

This town is famous for its surfing and whale-watching: between May and September, Logan Beach is transformed into a nursery for southern right whales. The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum recreates a 19th-century coastal port.

Tower Hill Game Preserve

An extinct volcano provides a unique haven for all kinds of wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos and emus.

Port Fairy

Perched at the western end of the Great Ocean Road, this small fishing village features 19th-century cottages and stone churches along its pine-shaded streets.

 

Rent a car to visit the Great Ocean Road

Louer une voiture Great Ocean Road

Flickr – Ben Beiske

Although there are travel agencies that will take you to see the famous road, the best way to travel it is to rent a car or a 4×4. This road trip is perfect for independent travelers. As a backpacker, you can rent a van. For groups of 3 or more (families and groups), renting a car from a company is best. Pick up your rental directly from Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, for example. Expect to pay around €40-45 per day for a family car (rental only).

Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road?

You can choose to sleep in your car or van, but remember to camp in approved areas. Otherwise, you’ll easily find a hotel (whether luxury or a simple hostel) along the route. Search on our Generation Voyage hotel comparator, filtering results by map or price.

12 Apôtres Great Ocean Road

Flickr – Hadi Zaher

When is the best time to do the Great Ocean Road?

Although Victoria’s long south coast comes alive during the summer months (November to February), the Great Ocean Road is pleasant at any time of year. Of course, for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll prefer the colder winter months, when accommodation prices are more reasonable. Despite its beaches, the region is temperate, and even with summer temperatures, it never gets too hot. Winters are mild by European standards.

Don’t forget before you leave

Although the Great Ocean Road is primarily a driving experience, there are plenty of outdoor activities available. Hikers doing the Great Ocean Walk should remember to pack a good pair of hiking boots, a backpack and some rain gear.

Despite the temperate climate, the sun is still Australia’s, and you’ll need to pack a good sun cream and something to put on your head.

Rushing is a common mistake. While the 250 km route could be covered in three days, allow time for excursions and stops. Due to its proximity to Melbourne, many of the towns along the road, especially Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne, are very busy during school vacations, especially the summer ones (December to January). The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach also attracts crowds at Easter. Avoid these dates, unless you’re a surfing fanatic.
Carte Great Ocean Road

Have you done the Great Ocean Road? Are you planning to do it? Tell us what you think!