How do we start this text? Maybe with this: Australia’s Great Ocean Road is one of the most beautiful coastal roads we’ve ever seen. For two days we drove along the route with our camper and couldn’t get out of the amazement anymore.
You can expect long sandy beaches, huge cliffs, wild animals and gigantic viewpoints as far as the eye can see. The Great Ocean Road is rightly popular and a must-see on every trip to Australia.
So that you don’t have to plan long, we give you in this article our exact route including map, highlights, sights, campsites and other tips.
More articles for your Australia trip:
Map with all stops of our Great Ocean Road Tour
Let’s start with a small overview map of the Great Ocean Road, in which we have entered all stops and highlights of our route. It serves for a better overview and for an easier understanding of the whole route.
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Great Ocean Road – Highlights, Sights& Route
The official start of the coastal road is in the village of Torquay, which is only 100 kilometers away from beautiful Melbourne. The end of the route is about. 243 kilometers later in Allansfford, whereas the last 40 kilometers from the Bay of Islands are not very exciting anymore.
In this section we will now show you step by step every single stop of our Great Ocean Road route with all sights and highlights.
1. Aireys Inlet
The small town of Aireys Inlet makes the start. We skipped Torquay, because it is mainly a surfer town and we have seen enough of it in Australia.
Aireys Inlet, on the other hand, has the Split Point Lighthouse and some really nice viewpoints around the lighthouse. Here you get a first taste of what you can expect in the next few kilometers.
You can park your car or camper at the road Inlet Cres. From there, a short hike leads you to the lighthouse and the two lookouts Eagle Rock Lookout and Loutit Bay Lookout – really, really beautiful.
- Accommodation recommendation: Lightkeepers Inn Motel*
- Campground: Aireys Inlet Holiday Park
- Distance from Torquay: ca. 27 km
2. Lorne Beach
The next stop along the Great Ocean Road in Australia was Lorne Beach: a beautiful, golden, fine sandy beach. If it’s warm enough and the waves are not too strong, you can definitely go swimming here.
In addition, just behind the beach is the cute Swing Bridge Cafe with colorful chairs, a small bridge and a view of the sea. For 9 dollars (approx. 5,60 Euro), we drank two hot chocolates here and just relaxed for a few minutes. You can park completely free of charge at the cafe.
- Accommodation recommendation: Great Ocean Road Cottages*
- Camping ground: Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park
- Cafe recommendation: Swing Bridge Cafe Boathouse
- Distance from Aireys Inlet: ca. 18 km
3. Teddy’s Lookout
Only a few minutes away from Lorne Beach you will find Teddy’s Lookout, a great viewpoint. The Lookout is located on a small mountain and from here you have a super panorama of the sea as well as the Great Ocean Road, which winds along the hills.
If you want, you can take a short hike from the viewpoint through the surrounding forest. The hike takes about. one hour, is not very demanding and is called Teddy’s Lookout Circuit.
- Accommodation recommendation: see Lorne Beach
- Campground: see Lorne Beach
- Distance from Lorne Beach: ca. 3 km
4. Kennett River – Koalas at the Great Ocean Road
Onwards towards Kennett River. The route from Teddy’s Lookout here is not for nothing one of the most beautiful sections along the Great Ocean Road. Again and again we stopped and let the unbelievable nature work on us. To be allowed to drive such a breathtaking route with a camper was for us the fulfillment of all travel dreams!
But now back to the Kennett River. We talked about wild animals in the introduction, didn’t we?? Here they come! Kennet River is a tiny village with only a few houses, but a lot of parrots and koalas.
The best chance to spot koalas is along the Grey River Road. Look up into the eycalyptus trees and listen for a pig-like grunt – yes, male koalas really sound like pigs. 🙂
The colorful parrots, on the other hand, you do not have to look for long – rather they are looking for you, because they are extremely trusting and also suspect food. This can be bought in the Koala Cafe at the entrance of the Kennet River. We don’t think much of it though, because the animals lose their natural feeding instinct if they are fed by humans every day.
- Accommodation recommendation: BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park* (vacation accommodation, cottage)
- Campsite: BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park
- Distance from Teddy’s Lookout: ca. 22,8 km
5. Apollo Bay
Also the section towards Apollo Bay is a single postcard motive! It was a pity that we had very changeable weather during our Great Ocean Road tour and the view was sometimes a bit cloudy.
Apollo Bay is one of the bigger towns along the coast road and you will find some cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels and campgrounds here. We have booked a pitch for one night at the Apollo Bay Holiday Park ourselves. The fun cost us 40 dollars (ca. 25 euros). This is not cheap, but for the Great Ocean Road not very expensive either. Besides that the camping site was really good.
If you are already in Apollo Bay, a side trip to the bay itself is also worthwhile. It is mega long, good for swimming and lies directly in front of the Great Ocean Road, which passes the little town.
- Hotel recommendation: Beachcomber Motel& Apartments*
- Campground recommendation: Apollo Bay Holiday Park
- Distance from Kennett River: ca. 23 km
6. The 12 Apostles
The next morning we continued directly in the morning at 6 o’clock. The biggest highlight of the Great Ocean Road was waiting for us: the 12 Apostles – eight huge limestone rocks, which rise up to 60 meters high out of the sea in front of the Australian coast.
Honestly – this sight has topped everything we have seen so far along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. It is not only the rocks, but also the high cliffs that made us speechless. We immediately got really bad goose bumps when we saw the unique panorama for the first time.
But why we left already at 6 o’clock? Because we didn’t want to squeeze through crowds of people and fight for a photo. This is exactly what happens at 9 or 10 o’clock at the latest: countless buses roll in, thousands of people get out and everyone understandably wants to take a few photos.
When we arrived at 7:30 in the morning, however, we had the observation decks almost to ourselves and could really enjoy this fantastic view. The early bird still catches the worm. 🙂 By the way, you can park for free at a large parking lot in front of the entrance.
Fun Fact: There were never twelve of the 12 Apostles, but always nine of them. However, one of the limestone rocks collapsed in 2005. Since then there are only eight of them. The name 12 Apostles was chosen because it sounds cool and should attract more tourists.
- Hotel recommendation: Port O’ Call Motel*
- Campground recommendation: NRMA Port Campbell Holiday Park
- Distance from Apollo Bay: ca. 85 km
7. Gibson Steps
After the 12 Apostles we went back a few kilometers in the direction we came from – namely to the also popular Gibson Steps: a staircase that leads you down the cliffs to a beach.
The Gibson Steps are the only way to get directly to the sea at the 12 Apostles. From below you also get a completely different perspective on the beautiful nature, the high cliffs and also on one of the apostles – once again mighty impressive!
As usual, there is a free parking lot at the Gibson Steps, but it’s relatively small and fills up quickly. So try to get there relatively early after the 12 Apostles.
- Hotel recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Campsite recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Distance from the 12 Apostles: ca. 1 km
8. Insider tip: Walk Victorias Icon Lookout
After climbing back up the Gibson Steps, you can walk directly from here to Walk Victoria’s Icon Lookout. The lookout is located approx. 650 meters south of the stairs and a narrow hiking trail leads you through the bushes to this place.
Compared to the 12 Apostles or the Gibson Steps the Lookout is still a real insider tip. We were alone almost the whole time and could really soak up this magnificent view.
In addition, the weather opened up and the sun came out. This finally put the crown on the whole thing. Yep, we are really in love with the Great Ocean Road!
- Hotel recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Campground recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Distance from the Gibsons Steps: ca. 650 meters
9. Loch Ard Gorge
Ninth stop on our Great Ocean Road route: Loch Ard Gorge – a narrow rocky bay that is part of Port Campbell National Park. Here you can drive here again by car or camper and stop in the free parking bays.
From the parking lot several short paths lead you along the rocks. You can also climb down one of the rocks via a staircase. There a paradisiacal little bay is waiting for you. You should not swim here, because the current around Loch Arg Gorge is unpredictable and there have been accidents before.
- Hotel recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Campsite recommendation: see 12 Apostles
- Distance from Walk Victoria’s Icon Lookout: ca. 6 km
10. London Bridge
Another great sight on the Great Ocean Road is the London Bridge: a natural bridge surrounded by water in the middle of the ocean. But it was not always like this: Until the 15. January 1990 the London Bridge was still connected to the mainland, before the rocky connection collapsed unexpectedly.
Even though this particular rock formation was known before the collapse, it only became really popular afterwards. And let’s be honest: The big arch in the water looks just beautiful and impressive.
- Hotel recommendation: Great Ocean Road Tourist Park* (cottage)
- Campground recommendation: Great Ocean Road Tourist Park
- Distance from Loch Ard Gorge: ca. 15 km
11. The Grotto
The last stop on our grand Great Ocean Road tour is “The Grotto”. As the name suggests, it’s a small but nice grotto by the sea. Of all the highlights we have shown you after the 12 Apostles, it is certainly the most unspectacular.
But this is complaining on a high level, because the grotto is absolutely charming and definitely worth a visit – just not as mega cool as many other stops along the route. 🙂
Note: After the Grotto there would be the Bay of Islands, but due to time constraints we did not make it. That’s why we can’t tell you if it’s worth it.
- Hotel recommendation: see London Bridge
- Campsite recommendation: see London Bridge
- Distance from London Bridge: ca. 2 km
Helpful hints for the Great Ocean Road
Now that you know our complete route and also a lot of highlights along the Great Ocean Road, we want to give you some useful tips for planning at the end of the article.
How long to plan for the Great Ocean Road?
We took two full days. In the end it worked out fine, but one more day would have been nice as well. This way we would have had a bit more time for the individual stops and could have also visited the Bay of Islands.
Plan two or even three nights for the whole route and all highlights.
The Great Ocean Road as self-driver – camper or rental car?
No question – the Great Ocean Road is most fun as a self-driver. You are completely independent and can stop when and where you want.
- We always search and book rental cars via billiger-mietwagen.en.*
- For the camper rental we used the reliable portal Camperdays*.
We have also written a detailed article on the subject of camper rental in Australia with numerous important tips: Camper rentals in Australia – the best providers& Info!
The only question now is: What makes more sense – a car or a camper?? The question is not so easy to answer. We say a camper, but only because we enjoyed camping in Australia so much.
In contrast to some other places, the Great Ocean Road is also perfect to travel with a normal car without sleeping facilities – at least if you have planned a trip from Melbourne. The choice of hotels is big and often you don’t pay much more than if you book a camper and a campsite.
Great Ocean Road Tour
If you don’t have a driver’s license or don’t want to drive yourself for other reasons, there is also the possibility of an organized group tour. Most tours start in Melbourne and last a whole day. Especially these two Great Ocean Road tours are recommended:
The disadvantage: With guided tours you are always strictly bound to the schedule and unfortunately you have no individual possibilities to organize your tour.
Accommodation and campsites
Even if the Great Ocean Road is mainly dominated by breathtaking nature, you will find a lot of good accommodations and campsites along the way – especially in bigger towns like Apollo Bay, Lorne or Port Campbell.
Be prepared that the prices for hotels and campsites are really high – especially during the high season in summer and especially between the end of December and the end of January. Then also the Australians have vacations and travel diligently to the Great Ocean Road.
Campsites should be booked in advance. We didn’t do that and were really lucky to get a parking space at the Apollo Bay Holiday Park for $40 (approx. 25 Euro) per night. By the way, we were very satisfied there: There were good sanitary facilities, a laundry, a big camping kitchen, a pool and powered campsites. By the way, there are no free campgrounds along the route.
The situation is similar for hotels and accommodations: Here, too, you should urgently book in advance during the high season, as there are not only many campers on the Great Ocean Road, but also travelers who drive the route in a normal car.
Note: For the respective accommodation recommendations at the individual stops we have used several booking portals like Booking.com, TripAdvisor and also Agoda compared with each other and picked out accommodations for you, which were rated well on all three platforms.
Best time to travel
The best time to travel the Great Ocean Road are the summer months from December to March. Temperatures are warmest, but do not get too hot. Expect 20 to 30 degrees. It also rains less than the rest of the year. The disadvantage: During the summer is the busiest time.
It is a bit quieter in spring (April/May) and autumn (October/November): During the transition months the temperatures are cooler and it rains more often, but with a bit of luck you will still catch good weather.
The winter months of June and September are cold and unpleasant: it rains an average of 14 days per month and the temperatures often drop below 10 degrees. If you are unlucky, it can even rain continuously for several days. This takes much of the magic out of the Great Ocean Road in the end.
In general: The weather along the coast road is very changeable. It often fluctuates between sunshine and rain several times a day. Even at the beginning of summer in December we could experience it first hand.
Along the Great Ocean Road there are numerous tourist information offices where you can get more brochures and information about the coastal road. The biggest and best visitor centers are in Appolo Bay, Torquay, Lorne and Port Campbell.
Do you have any further questions about the Great Ocean Road in Australia or about our route?? Then write us a comment!
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