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The Most Epic Great Ocean Road Stops
Australia’s Great Ocean Road is one of the most amazing road trips in the world. With breathtaking ocean views, cascading waterfalls, and adorable native animals, you can easily spend days exploring everything that this picture-perfect road has to offer.
There are so many noteworthy Great Ocean Road stops. You can surf fantastic swells in Lorne, say hello to wild koalas at Kennett River, wander through a rainforest at Great Otway National Park, and hike part of the gorgeous Great Ocean Walk.
While many people like to try to make this drive as a day trip from Melbourne, you’ll need a few days in order to see all of these amazing Great Ocean Road stops.
After all, there are 151 miles of road to cover – and this doesn’t include the time it takes to explore all of the sights along the way. Personally, I recommend taking three to five days to experience this stunning drive.
Simply put, if you’re looking for the best Great Ocean Road stops, this article has you covered!
17 Stunning Great Ocean Road Stops
Torquay marks the official start of the Great Ocean Road. While many people just zoom past this beachy town, you’ll want to spend some time in this Australian town before you head out on this amazing drive.
Torquay is most well-known as a prime surf destination. As a matter of fact, the famous Bells Beach hosts the awesome Rip Curl Pro surfing competition every spring!
You can easily spend hours surfing thrilling waves or watching talented surfers do what they do best. And if you head into town, you can pay a visit to the Australian National Surfing Museum.
Just 25 minutes outside of Torquay lies the Aireys Inlet.
This area is most well-known for being the filming location of the TV show “Round the Twist”. You can see quite a few spots featured in the show, including Split Point Lighthouse and Fairhaven Beach.
Aireys Inlet also happens to be a great place to grab a bite to eat. A La Grecque, Truffles Café Deli, and The Captain of Aireys are all wonderful options.
As you continue your drive along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll eventually hit the town of Lorne. This Australian town fully embraces a laidback, artsy atmosphere.
During your time in Lorne, you can gape in awe at Henderson Falls, spend a few hours at the Lorne Sea Baths, and take in the views from Teddy’s Lookout.
And if you happen to be in town in June, you can admire all of the creativity at the Lorne Arts Festival.
Despite its name, Kennett River isn’t actually a river. It’s a little town that’s arguably one of the coolest Great Ocean Road stops. Why, you ask?
Because Kennett River is one of the best places to see koalas in the wild!
As you drive through Kennett River along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll notice that the street is flanked by loads of eucalyptus trees!
And if you look up, you might see some cute koalas sleeping or munching on some leaves! For the best chance of seeing these furry animals, you’ll want to head to the Kennett River Koala Walk.
It is important to note that koalas sometimes cross the road in Kennett River! So be sure to drive slow and keep your eyes wide open.
You’ll need to head a little bit off the main Great Ocean Road to reach Beech Forest, but it’ll be worth it.
After driving about 40 minutes inland, you’ll find yourself at a grove of massive California redwoods!
These trees were originally planted in the 1930s and have since grown into towering 200-foot-tall trees.
During your offshoot trip to Beech Forest, you’ll also want to stop by Hopetoun Falls.
Thanks to the beautiful redwood trees and the 1,030 feet of cascading water, Hopetoun Falls is one of the most picture-perfect Great Ocean Road stops.
If you’d like to add a couple of other waterfalls to your itinerary, Beauchamp Falls and Triplet Falls are both nearby as well.
You’ll need to retrace your steps after driving to Beech Forest and Hopetoun Falls to get back on the main road. But once you’re there, your next stop is Apollo Bay!
Apollo Bay is one of the most famous Great Ocean Road stops. Like Lorne, it’s a great destination for surfers.
As a matter of fact, one of the best surfing beaches in the country is Apollo Bay’s Johanna Beach. You can easily spend hours surfing incredible swells or watching talented surfers do so.
But there are so many other things that you can do in Apollo Bay besides surfing.
You can take in the views from the Marriners Lookout, shop for local goodies at the Apollo Bay Farmers Market, and keep an eye out for platypus at Lake Elizabeth.
Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk is a great opportunity to get out and stretch your legs during your Great Ocean Road drive.
Technically, the Great Ocean Walk is a whopping 60 miles, and it runs from Apollo Bay to Gibson Steps near the Twelve Apostles.
It actually takes eight days to walk the entirety of the Great Ocean Walk, and many hikers hire a guide to show them all of the hidden gems.
But, you definitely don’t have to hike this entire trail! As a matter of fact, most people don’t. Instead, you can just hike a couple miles and enjoy the views from this well-trodden path.
Great Otway National Park
While many Great Ocean Road stops focus on the ocean, Great Otway National Park offers something a little different with its thriving rainforests.
Great Otway National Park covers a whopping 400 miles of land! It’s so large that it actually includes a couple of the previous Great Ocean Road stops mentioned in this article: Beech Forest and Hopetoun Falls.
While these two landmarks drawn in many visitors, there are other noteworthy natural wonders in Great Otway National Park as well.
During your time at this Great Ocean Road stop, you can watch the waters of Sabine Falls, admire the greenery from above through the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, look for glowworms in Lake Elizabeth, and even camp overnight!
Cape Otway Lightstation
Fifteen minutes south of Great Otway National Park lies Cape Otway Lightstation.
This particular attraction is home to Australia’s oldest lighthouse, which was built in 1848. You can actually climb to the top of this lighthouse and admire the amazing ocean views.
And while the lighthouse is the highlight of Cape Otway Lightstation, there are actually other things to see at this Great Ocean Road stop.
You can also visit the Telegraph Station, learn the history behind the World War II Radar Bunker, and try to spot whales from the designated whale viewing platform.
Wreck Beach is definitely one of the most underrated Great Ocean Road Stops. As a matter of fact, you’ll rarely find it on a list like this. But this unique beach deserves a little bit of recognition.
Wreck Beach gets its name from the ships, including the Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji, that have been wrecked near its shores.
As a matter of fact, if you turn right after the parking lot stairs and walk for about fifteen minutes, you’ll be able to see a huge, rusted anchor on the beach!
To reach Wreck Beach, you’ll need to climb down over 350 steps. These old wooden steps don’t come with a handrail, so this challenge isn’t suitable for everyone.
In addition, once you reach Wreck Beach, you’ll want to keep an eye on the tides. There’s a reason that the ships wrecked on this beach, after all.
The Twelve Apostles are a set of towering rock formations along the Great Ocean Road. With their warm orange-brown limestone and the bright turquoise waters, it’s a picture-perfect sight to see.
Originally, the Twelve Apostles did live up to their name, as there were once twelve rock formations. But over time, some of these rock formations naturally fell apart, and now just eight of the Twelve Apostles are still standing.
The best place to see the Twelve Apostles is from the designated Twelve Apostles viewpoint.
Loch Ard Gorge
After you hit the Twelve Apostles, the next few stops come right after the other. The first one is the Loch Ard Gorge, which is just five minutes away from the Twelve Apostles.
Loch Ard Gorge is essentially a beach that is hugged by sheer rock faces on both sides.
And while you could easily park, take a peek at the beach, and leave, I highly recommend sticking around for a little while longer.
There are three walking paths near Loch Ard Gorge that can give you different perspectives of this lovely natural wonder.
As a matter of fact, you’ll likely see other cool rock formations, including The Razorback, as well as Tom and Eva.
You might have noticed that the past several stops are all natural wonders.
As a matter of fact, the last major city on the Great Ocean Road was Apollo Bay, which was 60 miles back!
In other words, it’s about time to restock on rest and food. If you’d like to take a break to grab a bite of food or even spend the night, Port Campbell is the place to go.
First up, there’s the food. If you’re just looking for a fantastic cup of coffee, the Grassroots Deli Café is your spot.
If you’re hoping for delicious pub food and a cold beer, Sow and Piglets Brewery is an amazing eatery.
And if you’re looking for a unique dining experience, I would highly recommend Forage on the Foreshore.
If you’re hoping to stay a little longer and spend the night, you have lots of adorable options to choose from. The Port O Call, the Sow and Piglets Guesthouse, and the Southern Ocean Villas are all amazing options.
Check rates and availability for hotels and other accommodations in Port Campbell!
There are lots of noteworthy rock formations along the Great Ocean Road, but the London Bridge is undoubtedly one of the coolest.
This particular limestone formation in the ocean is shaped like a wide arch. It was actually connected to the mainland of Australia, until 1990 when a piece of the rock collapsed.
Bay of Islands
Surprise, surprise! The Bay of Islands is another eye-catching rock formation.
But unlike many of the other Great Ocean Road stops with beautiful rock formations, the Bay of Islands has managed to fly under the radar and avoid the crowds.
Over a 20-mile stretch, there are dozens of gorgeous limestone structures. You can see these rock formations from a bunch of different viewpoints, including the Bay of Martyrs, Three Mile Beach, and Childers Cove.
And while the rock formations are the main highlight of the Bay of Islands, there are other things to see and do as well.
You can tidepool at Wild Dog Cove, spot the Falls of Hallsdale shipwreck, and hike the Bay of Martyrs Trail.
The 151-mile Great Ocean Road officially comes to an end in the town of Allansford. Most people don’t make it all the way to Allansford, and that’s a shame because this little town is certainly worth a visit.
After driving for days on end, Allansford is the perfect place to take things slow and start to recuperate.
You can wake up late while staying in one of the local accommodations, grab breakfast at a local café, and spend the rest of your time leisurely enjoying the local attractions.
You can visit Hopkins Falls, pay a visit to Allansford Cheese World and Museum, or head to the nearby area of Warrnambool for some beach time and whale watching.
Final Thoughts About This List of the Best Great Ocean Road Stops
And there you have it! These are the best Great Ocean Road stops for an unforgettable road trip.
Of course, there are plenty of other places to see and things to do along the way.
But, if you only have limited time, these are definitely the highlights that you won’t want to miss.
Have you road-tripped along the Great Ocean Road? What was your favorite stop? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.