The Great Ocean Road is THE MOST fascinating place to visit! It’s a must-see if you are visiting Australia. In January 2018, we spent 2 days driving this scenic road where you see golden sand beaches on one side and beautiful forests and hills on the other side.
The Great Ocean Road begins in Torquay and travels to Warrnambool. You can even extend it to Adelaide. If you have time, it can take as long as a week to explore the Great Ocean Road if you really want to see every attraction along the route. However, the most famous attractions are between Torquay and Port Campbell. This is the route we drove in 2 days, and all of my recommendations come from this section of the route.
Two days is a fair amount of time to explore this area. There are lots of day tours from Melbourne, which will show you all the touristy attractions in a day. However, you can’t really take your time and enjoy these places when you are with a big group of people, especially when you are rushed to get to the next place.
I highly recommend hiring a car so you have more freedom to stop whenever you want (and you will stop a lot!). There are designated parking areas approximately every 100 meters along the road to pull over, enjoy the view, and take photos. You can see the ocean much better in a SUV. Remember, you need to drive on the left-hand side in Australia.
Don’t worry if you can’t drive or hire a car in Australia, there are lots of tours that drive the road and take you to the famous landmarks.
We hired our car from Melbourne Airport, and we started our journey around 10 am.
Stop 1: Torquay
You need a coffee break, right? We drove for almost 1.5 hours before we got to Torquay for our coffee break. I highly recommend you visit a beautiful Persian cafe called Sticks and Stones for great coffee to boost your energy until the next stop.
From here, you will be on the Great Ocean Road. Get your camera ready!
Stop 2: Memorial Arch
The Memorial Arch is a landmark that marks the beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Make sure you take a break to check out this beautiful check point. This is the last call to make sure your camera is ready! From this point until the next stop, you can expect to stop at least 10 times to check out the scenic views and the beautiful ocean waves. The good thing about driving on the left-hand side is that your car is next to the ocean, so you will get a great view from the road.
Stop 3: Lorne
Lorne is a beautiful coastal town with an amazing view of the ocean. There are lots of shops and restaurants for food and souvenirs. We had burger for lunch at The Bottle of Milk. The burger was good, and it was perfect timing to prepare us for the rest of the journey.
Stop 4: Kennett River Park
A trip to Australia is not complete without watching koalas. You don’t have to always go to sanctuaries to watch koalas (which can be kind of sad). In Kennett Park, you have a chance to see wild koalas in trees. Just drive along the road in the park and you will see many koalas looking like big balls of wool on top of eucalyptus trees. Did you know koalas eat eucalyptus?
You can also watch and feed some birds such as king parrots while they sit on your hands or shoulder.
Stop 5: Twelve Apostles
This moment was the highlight of our trip to Australia. It was ONE of the greatest scenes I have seen in my life. Take your time and enjoy this view.
We arrived at Twelve Apostles around 6:30, and it looked beautiful. However, we heard that Twelve Apostles is 10 times more pretty at sunset, so we headed to Port Campbell to check-in to our hotel before coming back to watch the sunset around 9 pm.
I admit it, Twelve Apostles is outstanding during sunset. The colours and the atmosphere are magical. Out of this world! Check out my photos to see for yourself.
Stop 6: Port Campbell
We decided to stay in Port Campbell so we could be close to Twelve Apostles. We found a fantastic airbnb located on the main street of Port Campbell. It was a modern, beautifully designed room with a little kitchen and car park on-site.
There are some restaurants and a big supermarket in Port Campbell. However, be aware that they all close around 9 pm. We took a pizza with us to Twelve Apostles so we didn’t miss the restaurant deadline while watching the sunset.
Stop 7: London bridge
This is one of the most amazing landmarks on the Great Ocean Road. It is a natural archway and tunnel in an impressive offshore rock formation. It’s interesting to point out that one of the arches collapsed into the ocean in 1990, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part before being rescued by police helicopter. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the rock became separated from the mainland.
Take a moment here to listen to the sound of powerful waves hitting the arch.
Stop 8: Loch Arch Gorge
This is a beautiful cave formed in the rocks, and it’s amazing how the waves from the ocean hit the entrance.
Stop 9: Thunder Cave
This is a beautiful cave formed in the rocks and it’s amazing how the waves from the ocean hit the entrance.
Stop 10:Island Archway
Another great site that is very close to Loch Arch Gorge.
Stop 11: Schulz Organic Dairy
After visiting lots of beautiful rock formations and landmarks, we decided to visit some of the farms in the region. One of the farms called Schulz is famous for organic dairy products. They also offer free cheese tasting sessions in the shop.
Stop 12: Timboon Ice Cream
Someone say ice cream? Timboon Ice Creamery is a must-go if you are around the Great Ocean Road. It’s an organic ice creamery and factory that offers various flavours of freshly made ice cream. Seriously, some of the best ice cream ever!
Stop 13: Gibsons Steps
This is one of the sites that you should take your time to enjoy. There are almost 100 steps that take you down to the beach where you can enjoy the view of the rocks.
Stop 14: Triplett Falls
After visiting almost all the attractions near the Twelve Apostles, we drove for about 1 hour and 20 minutes before arriving at a walking trail to Triplett Falls. It’s a circular walk, and the total journey will take approximately 1 hour. It’s an easy and beautifully designed walking trail in the middle of a lush forest, and you can really feel nature. Along the way, you will also see Triplett Falls. Take a moment to sit there and enjoy the sound of the waterfall.
Stop 15: Apolo Bay
This city was our last stop before heading to the airport. It’s a small coastal town with multiple shops and restaurants and a nice beach for relaxing. Make sure you watch for the Cacatuas birds, which sit on almost every tree in town.