Road Tripping the Great Ocean Road

I always wanted to do a road trip because you always see them in American movies. Well, last August I got my chance, and I picked a classic location.

All true Aussies have done the Great Ocean Road at least once. This was my second time, only I got to be behind the wheel for this drive! Originally I was aiming to go from Melbourne to Adelaide and back, but decided that it’d be quicker and cheaper to just do the classic segments of the Great Ocean Road and then fly.

If you’re an international guest and want to tackle the road without doing an overcrowded tour, you basically have to rent a car. There are numerous sites for this, but watch out if you’re under 25; you’ll get a big insurance surplus. AirBnb also helps split the drive into two (or three), and is by far the most inexpensive yet extensive accommodation available. Some towns that offer more accommodation for this are Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, Port Campbell, Lorne, and Port Fairy, of which I’d recommend the first two.

This nice beach at Apollo Bay could be your morning view

Because you don’t want to waste time traveling on the same road twice, you have two choices. The first is to take the long, scenic beach road there, with the freeway back. Or you can take the freeway there if you’re in a rush, and spend the rest of the time slowly traveling along the beaches and cliff sides home.

Map of the Great Ocean Road: Melbourne to Warrnambool via all the main sites

The Great Ocean Road is a pretty extensive and bendy journey, but the best part is you can just pull over at any point and find a beautiful beach. I stopped at Johanna Beach in the evening and shared it with a single fisherman and his dog. It’s not everyday that you can get your own private beach.

Literally just two men and a dog at this beach

The most famous parts have the most tourists; Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, so it can take a few minutes to get that picture right. But as you can see when you do, it’s perfect! The plus side is there’s generally always someone there to take your picture for you.

What remains of the London Bridge after it collapsed in 1990
Loved testing the dual cameras at Loch Ard Gorge on my new “oneplus5”

All of these destinations are within a 20-minute drive of each other. They’re part of what is known as the “Shipwreck Coast” due to all the boats that crashed between the violent waves and the jagged coastline in the 1800s. Port Campbell is the closest major town if you need a place to recollect your energy or make a pit stop. They offer some nice, tasty meat pies for lunch, and have a nice quiet beach too. You lil’ rippa!

There’s now only eight of the original Twelve Apostles

Weather is best when it’s sunny, accompanied by a little wind. This really gives the ocean waves a wild characteristic that makes for the worthiest photos. If you’re happy to journey an extra hour, then nearby the town of Warrnambool is the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Here you can find all sorts of Aussie animals as you drive around Lake View Road. Might want to add it to your list!

Koala lazing about at the Kennet River caravan park

If you make a short pit stop at Kennet River, near Lorne, then you can almost always see a Koala as well as these friendly King Parrots at the caravan park. You’ll know the location when you see it as there’s just about always a tour bus or two. The next-door store sells pies and sandwiches, as well as birdseed if you want some company. Although, the birds will come to you regardless.

King and queen of the parrots

I recommend stopping somewhere in the Great Otway National Park and attempting a bush walk or two as well. These are quite enchanting in winter, after some rainfall to get you the rainforest atmosphere. Cumberland Falls, Erskine Falls, Maits Rest, and Beauchamp Falls are all excellent for scenery. The green shrubbery is a nice change from the blue ocean and yellow sand. Each walk takes from 20-mintues to 2 hours, return. It can get quite muddy if there’s been rainfall, so if you plan to tackle one of these you should bring boots or suitable footwear. Keep your eye out for koalas too!

Cora Lynn Cascades in the Great Otway National Park, about a 3 hour walk

Some of the wondrous scenery you’ll see in the Otways

I spent two whole days exploring around the Great Ocean Road, but could easily spend another. If you research into what tours do, then most opt for two days as well. The Great Ocean Road is of course busier on weekends and school holidays as it is a nice family trip. Prioritise going in good weather and plan wisely!! Please leave any questions in the comments

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41 Replies to “Road Tripping the Great Ocean Road”

  1. Nice post 🙂 Love the pictures with the parrots 🙂 I love that you included a map, too. I haven’t been to Australia yet but the Great Ocean Road is definitely on my list!

    1. Thank you Kate! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  2. Oh wow! The pics are beautiful.

  3. We live nearby the GOR when we are in Oz and I love to see these posts they make me feel like I am at home. Did you stop in at some of the restaurants or cafes on your way via the inland route?

    1. I actually didn’t need to stop anywhere inland as we had packed some sandwiches and snacks to keep us going. Didn’t particularly have much interest inland as we did the coast!

  4. Hi Jay, lovely photos. I can also recommend staying in Lorne at the start of the Great Ocean Road. Cheers, Mark

  5. Road trips are the best! This seems like such an chilled out/laid back experience – just my style! Driving around, taking in the scenes and sights, soaking up the sun! Your writing style and pictures are amazing!

    1. Thank you so much! Hope I might’ve inspired your next road trip 🙂

  6. The Great Ocean Road is on my bucket list and I have already thought about renting a car and doing the same road trip 🙂 The pictures are absolutely gorgeous, I hope I can get there next year! Cheers.

    1. Thanks Medha. Just be careful when renting a car, it can be quite expensive in Australia!

  7. This reminds me of Highway 101 up the Oregon Coast. Wild waves and rocks with huge pristine beaches. I’d really like to do this in Australia though, it looks really great and would only take a couple of days.

    1. Can’t recommend it enough, Theresa! Some of the best beaches I’ve seen yet.

  8. I should get over to the East Coast! What an epic drive that looks to be!

  9. Another post about Australia that is really making me want to visit ASAP. I’ve been reading that the best way to get around is by renting a car and doing a road trip. These pictures you’ve shared are unbelievable. I would definitely drive the scenic route to stop at the beaches. It’s so beautiful!

    1. I’d definitely suggest renting a car, despite being costly. Australia is a lot bigger and more spread out than people originally think!

  10. Some great tips to help us get the most out of the journey. We’ll be there in about a years time and this is on the list of to do’s! That koala is so cute!!

  11. Lovely pictures! Also have been there this year and it was wonderful! Can’t wait to go back there sometime in the near future!

    1. Thanks Mina! Happy to hear you had a nice time here, and hope you do get to return! 🙂

  12. Roadtrips are one of my favourite ways to travel! I love your map of the route and what an amazing trip.

  13. A road trip offers a unique journey I think. The Ocean rad looks like a must and I wish I had done it if I had more time while in Oz. Those beaches looks amazing.

  14. Just amazing amazing photos! Would love to see twelve apostles one day. what a Nice post:) Keep it up:)

  15. Exciting road trip in Australia. I have traveled lot in interiors of Australia but not on this stretch. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip experience with beautiful pics.

  16. Great post and photos – I love road trips as well 🙂 I’ve never been to Oz but it’s on my bucket list!

  17. Great post, loved the pictures! Informative and interesting, thanks for sharing!

  18. I had heard interesting stories of a friend who went on the great ocean road in Australia. reading your post was like a recap of the stories I had heard earlier. Wish I will be able to go on a trip along the beautiful circuit myself some day.

  19. So cool pics. I didn’t expected such a beauty there! Nice tour around the Ocean. Ocean is alwasy a great place to refill your energy 🙂

  20. Hey Jay! Love your photos and reading about your experience. This is something I definitely need to do one day and take the time to enjoy it. I was glad you put ideas in this post about experiencing this area on your own pace by car and not just as a tourist snapping a quick picture and getting back in the bus.

    1. Thanks Mario, hope you get there one day! Sadly many people do end up rushing the GOR and missing out on all the different beaches and hidden treasures. Your own car really does give you that extra freedom, and here it can payoff in the form of your own private beach!

  21. Such a great thing to do even though it was a bit pricey, you know what they say – you only live ONCE and watching wild koala bears is worth every penny lol. The beaches look pristine, like they were calling me for a swim – I love it! I was surprised by the fact that you named one of the places the London Bridge – I’m from London and I’m telling you – the Australian one is way better than the one we have in London which is grey and sad! Nice post and pretty pictures!

    1. Thanks! I like this London Bridge better too, but it has actually be renamed “The London Arch” recently because it began to fall down a long time ago!

  22. beautiful pictures! I love road trips too but still haven’t made it to the GOR… thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  23. This is on my to-do list when we go back to Australia! We road tripped the east coast last year for our honeymoon and can’t wait to see more of Australia. We love road trips as you can stop off whenever you want and find those secluded beaches!

  24. These birds just sit on you like that? Hilarious!
    How much is it to rent a car in Australia? I wanna do a road trip there badly. Maybe its even possible to camp somewhere, or is it illegal? Thanks for sharing, I am curious to do this trip as well!

    1. Yep! All the birds there are extremely friendly, Anna. Renting a car can be as cheap as $AU150 for three days, but later models and bigger cars can be closer to $AU300. As far as camping goes, there are a bunch of free campgrounds around Lorne and sleeping in your car anywhere is also free, of course! Although, for as little as $AU30 you can just as easily book a room via AirBnB 🙂

  25. Everything looks so beautiful! One of my dreams it’s go to Australia and you just make me wanna go there more lol. Thanks for sharing.

  26. You took so many beautiful pictures! The Twelve Apostles is just gorgeous. Did you use your phone for that one too?

    1. Yes! All of these pictures, as are most on my blog, are taken with my oneplus5 phone.

  27. Beautiful pictures. Would have loved to read about London bridge and it’s collapse story. Never heard of it. Having a beach all to yourself is awesome.

  28. I have never been to Australia but when I will go driving on this road will be on my list of things to do. The scenery is simply breathtaking, with those empty beaches, high cliffs and enormous waves. Stopping at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is definitely a must. The Koala bears are so cute and I have never seen a real one before!

  29. What an inspiring article! I love road trips and would love to take this one right now. The landscape looks breathtaking!

    Cheers,
    Karo
    https://karoadores.com

  30. The first photo reminded me so much of Oregon Coast in the States. I’m definitely a fan of road trips and I love how some of these are only 20 minute-drive apart from one another!!

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