Great Ocean Road: Australia’s Most Famous Scenic Drive

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The Great Ocean Road and its surrounding hinterland offers one of the world’s most spectacular touring holiday destinations. Amazing views and experiences await you around every corner.

The Great Ocean Road is arguably Australia’s most spectacular coastal drive for many reasons. The 243km (152 miles) road snakes along Victoria’s most scenic coast from Torquay in the east to Warrnambool in the west. In fact, this area covers some of the planet’s most spectacular scenery, where the Otway Ranges and the sheer limestone cliffs of Port Campbell collapse into the crashing surf of the Southern Ocean. The Great Ocean Road holds some of Victoria’s most popular attractions – the world-renowned Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Cape Otway National Park and many more.

The Great Ocean Road is a bucket list experience and a journey that you should undertake at least once in your lifetime. If you’re planning a trip to this region, continue reading for all the information you will need to plan your next trip – highlights of the Great Ocean Road, towns to visit along the way, maps and links to further reading on the region.

Great Ocean Road History

The first section of the Great Ocean Road was construction by hand – picks, shovels and crowbars – by returned World War I soldiers as a war memorial for their fellow servicemen lost in World War I. Work began in September 1919 and the road between Anglesea and Apollo Bay was completed in 1932.

The best way to see and experience the Great Ocean Road is to spend two to three days driving from one town to the next, although a day trip from Melbourne is possible for those on a time limit.

Great Ocean Road Highlights

Melbourne City

Drive the 253 kilometres of the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Warrnambool and let the drama of the region unfold at every turn.

Marvel at the geological phenomenon that is the Twelve Apostles – formidable giant rock stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean and are the central feature of the rugged Port Campbell National Park.

Melbourne City
Melbourne City

Walk the internationally renowned Great Ocean Walk stretching 104 kilometres from the idyllic resort town of Apollo Bay to within sight of the magnificent Twelve Apostles.

Visit the Otway Fly at Beech Forest, the longest and highest tree top walk in the world.

Melbourne City
Melbourne City

Explore beautiful ocean beaches offering great waves for swimmers and surfers, lucky catches for recreational anglers and a beautiful backdrop for cycling, horse riding, kayaking, golf and rambling coastal cliff top walks, or venture inland for a fascinating journey through ancient volcanic plains.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Geelong Waterfront with its fabulous waterfront view and eateries, landscaped gardens and walking paths set against the backdrop of Corio Bay.

Melbourne City
Melbourne City

Be captivated by the energetic spirit of Australia’s most famous surfing town – Torquay and the surrounding Surf Coast. Shop ‘til you drop at the endless array of surf wear outlets, catch a wave or play in the sand. Then check out some surfing talent on display at world famous Bells Beach.

Visit the Otway Ranges for an exhilarating downhill mountain bike ride, a scenically stunning four-wheel drive or a spiritually renewing hike through beautiful rainforests.

Melbourne City
Melbourne City

Immerse yourself in the maritime history of the south-west coastline between Moonlight Head and Port Fairy, a treacherous section of coast that has claimed more than 180 ships. Visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and bring the experience alive with the sound and laser show ‘Shipwrecked’.

Visit Cape Bridgewater and enjoy breathtaking views over the white sands and deep-blue waters of Bridgewater Bay, marvel at a petrified forest and stand on the edge of pristine Discovery Bay.

Melbourne City
Melbourne City

Wildlife abounds – See Southern Right Whales at Warrnambool, Blue Whales off Portland, kangaroos and koalas up close at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve and the largest mainland seal colony in Australia at Cape Bridgewater.

Savour the distinctive cool climate vintages at regional wineries or tempt your taste buds with a dazzling array of fresh produce including seafood, gourmet cheeses, delicious biodynamic ice cream, sourdough breads and luscious berries.

Melbourne City

Great Ocean Road Towns

Melbourne City


Melbourne City

Queenscliff and the Bellarine Peninsula

Geelong is a vibrant regional city just down the road from Melbourne which combines the simplicity of beachside holidays you remember as a child with the sophistication and quality expected from a modern destination.

Top things to do:

  • Walk, cycle or skate endless trails
  • Explore botanic gardens and parklands
  • Discover art galleries and heritage museums and some of Australia’s finest wineries set amongst breathtakingly impressive scenery
  • Do not miss the trail of colourful hand painted bollards which tell the story of Geelong’s history

Majestic Victorian-era hotels, fine public buildings and cute fisherman’s cottages reflect classic Queenscliff’s unique character.

Top things to do:  

  • Wander down the main street and discover art galleries, shops and great places to dine
  • Visit family-friendly beaches at Portarlington and ocean surf beaches at Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads year round
  • Stride the fairways of international standard links golf courses
  • Visit the cellar doors of some of the state’s most acclaimed wineries and farmgates
Melbourne City

Torquay and the Surf Coast

Melbourne City

Lorne and Surrounds

Torquay celebrates all aspects of beach culture, from learning to surf and family frolics in the shallows to an endless choice of surf wear and great places to eat.

Top things to do:

  • Visit the SurfWorld Museum which tells the story of surfing history
  • Explore world-famous Bells Beach and its iconic cliff top walk
  • Do not miss the neighbouring seaside town of Anglesea with its abundant kangaroos and Aireys Inlet, home to Split Point Lighthouse, coastal walks and the Great Ocean Road memorial arch
  • Slowly meander inland through rich countryside with award-winning wineries and delightful country villages like Winchelsea, Birregurra and Colac

Set between the sparking waters of Louttit Bay and beautiful forests of the Otway Ranges, Lorne has a special charm.

Top things to do:

  • Engage in hedonistic holiday pursuits
  • Enjoy a lazy break sipping lattes
  • For the adventure seekers, there’s sea kayaking, horse-riding, mountain biking, forest trails and the intimacy of the Erskine Falls nestled within the tall forest of the Otway Ranges just 10 kilometres from the town centre
  • For a taste sensation, explore the Otway Harvest Trail offering cellar doors, fresh markets, olive groves, berry gardens and creative restaurants using local produce that change with every season
Melbourne City

Apollo Bay

Melbourne City

The Otways

The spectacular coastline and natural wonders that surround the delight holiday hamlet of Apollo Bay will recharge you in no time.

Top things to do:

  • Choose between swimming with seals, deep sea fishing, kayaking, learning to surf, poking around rock pools or walking along the beach at sunset
  • For seasoned surfers, there are adventurous waves along the coast including Wye River, Baldy Rock and Johanna

Some of Australia’s best rainforest scenery can be found in the Otway Ranges behind Apollo Bay. The Great Otway National Park represents all that is special about the Otways.

Top things to do:

  • Walk among tall trees and giant tree ferns at Maits Rest
  • See ancient and intricate plant life, lush ferns and mosses at Melba Gully
  • Experience the full beauty of the rainforest on the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk
  • Do not miss Cape Otway Lightstation, the oldest in Victoria and the chance to view koalas at Kennett River
Melbourne City

Port Campbell

Melbourne City

The Hinterland

The icon of the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. These 45 metre-tall mighty limestone stacks captivate everyone who visits.

Top things to do:

  • Be dazzled by the nearby wondrous Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and the Bay of Islands that form some of the most awe-inspiring sceneries along this coastline
  • Explore the lively seaside haven of Port Campbell, home to restaurants, cafes many with beach views, bakeries selling homemade goodies, shops and galleries
  • Visit the dramatic stacks of Sandy Cove through to the craggy cliff top walk that connects the hamlet of Peterborough to the Bay of Martyrs

This area is well-known for its regional food.

Top things to do:

  • Follow meandering roads north to explore the timeless volcanic landscapes of the Kanawinka Geopark and charming inland towns like Camperdown, Cobden, Timboon and Terang
  • Enjoy the contrast of conical peaks and deep crater lakes that punctuate the even carpet of rolling farmland
  • Embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the surrounding lakes
  • Tantalise your senses along the Food, Wine and Vista’s loop including the Timboon Distillery
Melbourne City

Warrnambool and Port Fairy

Melbourne City

Portland and the Discovery Coast

Shipwrecks, a historic boathouse, a maritime village built around the state heritage listed Lady Bay Lighthouses that continue to protect the harbour that was once Victoria’s most active port are just some of the reasons why Warrnambool is the capital of the rugged Shipwreck Coast.

Just down the road, charming historic cottages and buildings, gentle ripples on the Moyne River breezes through stately Norfolk pine and a sheltered harbour filled with fishing boats and pleasure craft combine to compliment the sleepy rhythms of beautiful Port Fairy.

Top things to do:

  • Explore the foreshore along the winding Promenade Walking and Bike Trail that sets off from the newly open Foreshore Pavillion
  • Take in the sweeping views of Lady Bay from the Breakwater area
  • Spot migratory whales as they glide into Logans Beach every year (late May – Sept) to give birth and can often been seen just 100 metres off the shore from the viewing platforms
  • Drive into the extinct volcano and enjoy a nature walk with an indigenous guide at Tower Hill between Warrnambool and Port Fairy

At the bustling deep-sea port of Portland, ‘Victoria’s Birthplace’, hundreds of heritage buildings line wide streets. The harbour is home to Victoria’s largest fishing fleet and Portland’s reputation for recreational fishing is soaring.

To the west lies the expansive and wild Discovery Bay – a 50 kilometre sweep of ocean beach and giant sand dunes.

At the other end lies the quaint fishing village of Nelson, at the mouth of the picturesque Glenelg River, which connects charming country towns of Dartmoor and Casterton in the heart of ‘Kelpie Country’.  

Top things to do:

  • Go whale watching when Blue whales come to feed in the nutrient-rich waters off Portland in the summer months
  • Take a ride on the trundling vintage cable tram around the foreshore
  • For the more adventurous, embark on the 250 kilometres Great South West Walk, nature’s ‘Symphony in 4 movements’ – coastal capes and bays, forest and river
  • Stop at Cape Bridgewater one of the most beautiful pristine beaches in Australia

Great Ocean Road Map

Melbourne City

How to get to Great Ocean Road?

The Great Ocean Road region is easily reached and closer than you think.


Melbourne to Great Ocean Road

By car – Take Princess Freeway, and Geelong Ring Road to reach the Surf Coast (in an hour), Great Ocean Road and beyond.

By public transport – Trains run regularly between Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool and buses run the coastal route several times a day.

Melbourne City

Where is the Great Ocean Road?

The Great Ocean Road runs along the south-eastern coast of Victoria, Australia.


Where does the Great Ocean Road start and finish?

The Great Ocean Road officially starts in Torquay in the east and ends at Warrnambool in the west.


How long is the Great Ocean Road?

The Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometres long from Torquay to Warrnambool.

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