664 km/413 miles, about 9.5 hours
The Great Ocean Road is of the most legendary road trips in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the top 5 coastal drives in the world!
Usually, travelers start from Melbourne via the surfer’s paradise of Torquay, Apollo Bay, the 12 Apostles all the way to Port Fairy, but I took the opposite direction, having driven down from Adelaide.
I would actually recommend this direction, because the areas North of the Twelve Apostles are a lot less crowded, and yet the most stunning on the entire trip!
How to plan?
Can you drive the “Great Ocean Road in 1 day?
Yes, but absolutely shouldn’t!
There is so much to see, so many beautiful places to stop and even stay overnight, that you would be kicking yourself afterwards for not having given this spectacular area more time.
I would even suggest a minimum of 3 days with overnight stops in Apollo Bay and one other area along the road – according to your preferences. Warnambool
The Itinerary: Port Fairy to Torquay
I started on a gorgeous fall day in late June. Blue skies, sun and the magnificent ocean.
It was a less crowded time of the year and aside from the Twelve Apostles no other stop was very crowded.
The trip started with one of the absolute highlights:
before rejoining the coast at Princetown to wind along the shore for the entire length of the Port Campbell National Park. This stretch from Moonlight Head to Port Fairy, sometimes referred to as the “Shipwreck Coast”, is the most spectacular – there are two hundred known shipwrecks here, victims of the imprecise navigation tools of the mid-nineteenth century, the rough Southern Ocean and dramatic rock formations such as the Twelve Apostles.
From Warrnambool, the small regional centre where the Great Ocean Road ends, the Princes Highway continues along the coast, through quaint seaside Port Fairy and industrial Portland, before turning inland for the final stretch to the South Australian border.
Bay of Isles
Bay of Martyrs
At the outskirts of Peterborough, just off the Great Ocean Road, is this ideal place to see the stunning Bay of Martyrs. They are particularly beautiful at sunset when the islands and Massacre Point are backlit by the sun.
Back on the road. The Grotto, located just outside of Peterborough is amazing. Some will say the highlight of the Great Ocean Road. Make sure you don’t miss it and then you will know whether they are right or not!
Just a little bit further and you will see the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands. Then onto Warrnambool for a rest from one spectacular site to another.
Loch Ard Gorge
The Loch Ard Gorge is the next beauty you will see.
It is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard which ran aground nearby.
There were only two teenage survivors, Tom and Eva.
In 2009 the nearby Island Archway collapsed leaving 2 pillars and are now known as Tom & Eva.
A lovely story.
London Bridge (London Arch)
London Bridge now known as London Arch since part of the bridge collapsed, has a great tale to it.
The year was 1990, and the collapse occurred on 15 January around 3.00pm.
On the day it collapsed there were two people trapped on the part which didn’t fall into the sea, but was now isolated from the mainland.
The story goes they were lovers and because they had to be rescued by helicopter, their secret was out!
The real story is they were cousins.
Read the first hand account below.
London Bridge is Falling Down!
Dave Darrington assured his cousin Kelly rocks falling into the ocean at iconic landmark London Bridge was perfectly normal.
“We were the only ones there and Kelly and I stood in the middle, as everyone did,” he said.
‘‘She asked if it was safe and I said ‘don’t be stupid, it’s been here for thousands of years.
The next thing he remembers is “it just went bang”. Mr Darrington described the sound of the collapse as like a tree cracking in half.
“We took off into the middle of what is now the island,” he said.
Fear set in for Mr Darrington, who said his first thought was the possibility that the splash caused by the rock falling into the ocean would be strong enough to wash them off the remaining stack.
They then had to wait 3 hours for the helicopter!
It is on this leg of the Great Ocean Road that you will see the Twelve Apostles located in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.
They are formed by erosion of the limestone cliffs. These stacks are harder at the top and due to the base being softer the erosion follows the path of least resistance.
This initial undermining is what creates the overhangs, arches and eventually new stacks.
The wild Great Southern Ocean and its friend the wind are the reason for the erosion.
Magnificent views to Moonlight Head. Take a short walk to the lookout platform, which seems to hang off the top of the cliff 70 metres above the waves. Turn off onto Moonlight Head Road after Wattle Hill.
Cape Otway Lighthouse
The lighthouse stands 91 metres above the ocean and offers spectacular views of the rugged Otway coast. Located 20 minutes west of Apollo Bay. Entry fee applies. – Koalas on the way
Otway National Park
Otway Fly Tree Top Walk –
Reach for the sky along the treetop canopy walkway – the longest and tallest of its type in the world – or up the adrenaline with a zip-line tour.
Marriners lookout is a fairly steep 5-minute walk from the car park, but it’s well worth the effort for its panoramic views of Apollo Bay and far out to sea. Drive a few minutes north from Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road, and turn into Marriners Lookout Road.
Cape Patton Lookout
Spectacular views east towards Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek. Access from the Great Ocean Road, east of Apollo Bay
Moving on down the road Cape Patton Lookout is just a short 10 kilometres away.
You cross over Grey River and when you reach Shrapnel Gully, home to koalas.
They are hard to spot during the day but late afternoon they are on the move! Koalas sleep for 20 hours a day!
Just a little further down the road you will arrive at Apollo Bay, and your next stop Kennett River for some more wildlife viewing. Koalas galore!
You will also see King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.
Panoramic ocean views toward Artillery Rocks. Turn off between Lorne and Wye River.
Lorne – Teddy’s Point
Teddy’s Lookout is one of the best along the Great Ocean Road. It provides stunning vistas from its platform high above the coast where the St George River empties into a small cove. Access off the Great Ocean Road at the end of George Street, then take a short walk through the bush from the car park.
Spectacular views back towards Eastern View, Fairhaven and Aireys Inlet from one of the Great Ocean Road’s highest vantage points. There is a signposted turn off about 8 kilometres west of Aireys Inlet.
Drive or walk up to Split Point lighthouse. Ocean views over Eagle and Table rocks. There is another lookout at the end of Boundary Road, off the Great Ocean Road.
Breathtaking coastal views from elevated memorial lookout. Access from the Great Ocean Road via Harvey Street.
Impressive ocean, beach and sandstone cliff views toward Bells Beach and Anglesea. Access from Point Addis Road, off the Great Ocean Road, between Torquay and Anglesea.
Ocean and beach views from lookout platforms at Bells Beach Surfing Reserve. Access from Torquay via Bells Boulevard, or the Great Ocean Road.