Great Ocean road planning guide and Itinerary

Earlier this month, we got to check one of the top Australian adventures off our bucket list: The Great Ocean Road.  It is the ultimate roadtrip covering 243 Km of Victoria’s pristine Coastline.  You will see some of the most impressive limestone cliffs, visit chill surf towns and drive one of the most beautiful roads in the world.  If you are lucky, you might even see some of Australia’s great wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas. 

Planning a Great Ocean road experience

You can start driving the Great Ocean road either from Torquay or from Warrnambool.  Those are commonly considered the two end points of this scenic road.  A lot of people also start their trip in Melbourne, since it is very close and is also a must-visit in your Australia trip.  From Melbourne to Torquay it is merely about a 90 minute drive. 

We started our adventure in Warrnambool, since we were previously visiting South Australia, which is west of the Great Ocean Road.  There will be a blog post about that trip coming soon 🙂

A very popular way of visiting the GOR is by campervan.  This gives you the ultimate freedom to move at whichever pace you want and spend as much time as you want at every stop.  There are many caravan parks along the road where you can park for the night.  If this sounds like something you would like to do, I highly recommend hitting up Ratpack Travel on Instagram or by checking out their website!  They are absolute legends and will help you find the best option for you, at a discounted price always!  Could not recommend them more for any trip through Australia.

We chose to just rent a regular car and use AirBnb.  We spent 2 nights in Warrnambool, and from there we visited the western part of the GOR, and ended with one night in Torquay, where we visited the most eastern parts.  It is definitely a bit more hectic doing it this way and it will involve more time spent in the car, but it is just as awesome of an adventure!

Ultimate Great Ocean Road Itinerary

This itinerary will provide the top stops along the GOR from west to east but it can just as easily be done in the opposite direction.

Bay of Islands –> The Grotto –> The London Bridge –> Port Campbell –>  Loch Ard Gorge –> Twelve Apostles –> Gibson Steps –> Great Otway National Park –> Appollo Bay –> Kenneth River –> Teddy’s Lookout –> Lorne –> Memorial Arch –> Bells Beach –> Torquay

Since we stayed in Airbnbs along the GOR, we did our best to be as time efficient as possible so we wouldn’t have to spend more time in the car than necessary.  This is how we divided our 3-day itinerary.

Pro tip: to make your life easier, I have highlighted all the main stops along the road, grab your phone and save them all in google maps and just open it up when the time comes to start your roadie 😉

Day 1:

We woke up bright and early in Warrnambool on the first morning and headed out the door at 8 am towards our first stop.  That first stop is the 12 Apostles.  These are a collection of limestone structures off the shore of Port Campbell National Park.  They all stand in the water and are close to each other, creating a breathtaking landscape.  The mix between the cliffs, the ocean and the pristine sandy beaches leaves you speechless.  Since it is such a popular stop along the road, we recommend getting there as early as possible to experience it without the crowds.  Since we got there at 9 am, for about 30 minutes there were only a handful of other people there with us.  By 10 oclock, the tour buses show up and it gets very busy, very quickly. 

Right next to the 12 Apostles, you have the Gibson steps.  It is basically a big staircase that brings you from the lookout all the way down to the beach so you can see them from a different perspective.  It is definitely not a beach where you can swim or spend too much time on, since the tide goes all the way up and the beach is entirely underwater at high tide. 

 After the Gibson steps, we got back in the car and drove just a few minutes to our next stop: the Loch Ard Gorge.  The gorge is named after a sunken ship where the only 2 survivors washed up in this particular spot.  Once again, it is not really a beach where people swim since the waves and the current are very strong, but it is still beautiful to witness.

At this point, it was lunch time and we headed into port Campbell town for a bite to eat.  We ended up at this awesome café called Grassroots Deli Café.  They served great coffee and amazing food.  We all got the Mediterranean Salad and it was spectacular! 

Port Campbell is actually a very nice town, and a place I would recommend spending a night or 2 if you are doing the GOR like we did and staying in different accommodations along the way.

After lunch we headed to the London Bridge, which is another incredibly impressive limestone structure standing in the ocean.  Definitely recommend heading to the lookout, it will not disappoint!

We then headed to the Grotto, which we recommend seeing at low tide so you can see it in all its glory.

We ended our day with another incredible lookout: the Bay of Islands.

We choose this order for our first day so as to start off with the longest drive and then slowly make our way back towards our Airbnb in Warrnambool at the end of the day.   

Day 2:

Our second day also started nice and early.  We were out of the house once again by 8 am and were headed to Appollo Bay this time.  Appollo Bay is a cool surftown, with a nice beach where you can swim and surf.  There are also plenty of shops and places to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.  They also seemed to have a small fair carnival fair with a few roller coaster rides.  If you are in the area, we also highly recommend stopping by the Appollo Bay Bakery for a coffee and a pastry.  We went back for seconds, and could have gone back for thirds!

To get to Appollo Bay, we drove through Great Otway national park.  We did not stop, but there are many waterfalls and other attractions that deserve to be seen if you have extra time!

Our next stop was Kenneth River, and this was for one purpose only: to see some Koalas!  We were lucky enough to see 2 just near the parking lot, but those are the only two we saw on our entire trip so far.  They are not very easy to spot, but this is a well-known area to see them.

We then made our way to Teddy’s lookout and Lorne beach where we spent the remainder of our afternoon.  The lookout is spectacular and highly recommended, and the beach is a good place to cool off and chill out after a busy few days.

Day 3:

Our third day ended up being a much more laid-back day than originally planned since it was pretty cold and rainy.

We still made our way to the famous Bell’s beach where they have international surf competitions every year!  The big waves take place in the winter, but nonetheless, it is still a cool experience in the summer months.  We also explored a bit of Torquay which is another very cool surf town.  Near Torquay is also where you will find the Memorial Arch, which indicated the beginning of the Great ocean road! It’s a pretty epic picture opportunity.

After Torquay, we made our way towards Melbourne, and that was the end of this great adventure along Australia’s most famous road.

It is an unforgettable experience and I hope everyone gets to see it once in their lifetime!

We hope you found this helpful and thanks for reading!

Lots of Love,

Ben and Bianca

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