The Great Ocean Road is a spectacular highway that takes you along the south-eastern coast of Australia. This Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary for 4 days was part of our 1 month that we spent in Australia and one of the best places we saw on our trip around the world.
The Great Ocean Road route is approximately 250 km that goes from Torquay and goes to Allansford. But, the most common route that brings the most attention is from Melbourne to Port Campbell, which is where we focused our self drive on.
This road trip gave us a fresh perspective to understand how large Australia’s coastline really is when this drive is only a small fraction of the country. The road hugs the coastline with twists and turns that follow the natural edge of the country. The Great Ocean Road was our favourite road trip with the time we had in Australia.
What You'll Find in This Post
- Great Ocean Road Self Drive
- Great Ocean Road Map
- Day 1: Melbourne to Lorne
- Day 2: Lorne to Apollo Bay
- Day 3: Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
- Day 4: Port Campbell to Melbourne
- Plan Your Great Ocean Road Drive
- Great Ocean Road Travel Tips
Great Ocean Road Self Drive
Great Ocean Road Map
Here is an overview of where the Great Ocean Road is in the state of Victoria. All the Great Ocean Road stops and our overnights in Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell in the below itinerary.
We did the Great Ocean Road driving itinerary for 4 days from Melbourne to Port Campbell since we wanted to take our time going for 3 days and then 1 day driving back. Which I highly advise taking your time going because you are on the left hand side of the road going to Port Campbell and you get better views than on the return trip!
We also wanted to break up our Great Ocean Road itinerary up into slower travel so that we would have plenty of time to be able to take breaks, walk around, enjoy the towns along the way and take in the sights. Plus, having two kids in the back seat it makes it a better family experience when the kids can have frequent stops.
Day 1: Melbourne to Lorne
This part of the Great Ocean Road drive gets you into the start of the winding roads, away from the city and out to the coastline. From Melbourne to Lorne the distance is approximately 140 km and can take at a minimum 2 hrs to drive.
Along the way, stop at Bells Beach in Torquay, which is one of the Great Ocean Road beaches you must see because this is where the yearly Rip Curl Pro competition is held for the best surfers in the world. We had a picnic lunch and watched the surfers navigate themselves in these powerful ocean waves. We wander around a few shops in the town too for the typical surf vibe town.
A great spot to get a bird’s eye view of the Great Ocean Road is at Teddy’s Lookout which is just outside of Lorne. Go check this out before your supper and there is also a 45-minute walk you can do here as well. It is definitely one of the Great Ocean Road things to do.
Day 2: Lorne to Apollo Bay
We stopped a lot along the way at any of the road stops and took lots of pictures and enjoyed the view. From Lorne to Apollo Bay it is about 50 km, so you have plenty of time during the day to drive and make stops. As the driver, you will need to stop to be able to really enjoy the view since your time on the road will be focused on driving.
In the morning, just outside Lorne is the Erskine Falls, an easy little hike to get more inland and see the beautiful ferns and a waterfall. We loved the tranquillity of the hike.
One of our Great Ocean Road highlights, especially for the kids was seeing koalas in the wild. Kennett River is about halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay and is a spot where you can see koalas in the wild. Look for Grey River Road and walk around looking way up to see them cuddled up in the branches.
Please be respectful of the animal’s natural habitat and of the locals who live here. This is their home, so be quiet and leave it as you found it. There are only a few spots that make it easy to see koalas in the wild so let’s not ruin it for others and keep them happy.
When you arrive in Apollo Bay, go check out Mariners Lookout. It has such a great view to see Apollo Bay along the coastline. Take a short walk along the path and you are rewarded with this gorgeous view.
Day 3: Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
From Apollo Bay to Port Campbell it is about 100 km drive, I would suggest to get up early and make the most of this day. Port Campbell National Park is one of the most scenic places to visit in the Great Ocean Road! This is where you will find the famous Great Ocean Road 12 Apostles that is in almost every picture when you read about this drive. There are so many things to see on the Great Ocean Road, but this is by far the most visited area of the drive.
The Twelve Apostles are the stacks in the water that have been formed over the year, only 7 are still standing of the Twelve Apostles. Just go to Twelve Apostles visit center to gain access to the viewing area and walkways. Check the times for park entrance and closing times.
London Arch (London Bridge)
The London Arch also commonly called London Bridge is another favourite of what to see on the great ocean road. They have another great viewing area that makes it easy to access.
The Gibson Steps let you climb down the side of the cliff on a series of steps so you can get a feeling for how massive the cliffs and rock stacks are.
Great viewpoint platforms and walkways around to get the perfect picture of The Arch.
We sat and watched the water come in and out and spray at the Grotto for so long. As you watch the water swirl around you can imagine how these stacks have eroded and changed over time.
Port Campbell National Parks Walks
Port Campbell National Park has great access and facilities in its visitor center. On most of these major sights that have either paved walkway, gravel or wood slated walkways to guide you in the right direction. There is also lots of wildlife that you can search for on your way to the main attractions.
Day 4: Port Campbell to Melbourne
Port Campbell was as far as we went on our Great Ocean Road trip, we headed back along the same highway in order to stop back at a few of the same spots and have another look. There are so many Great Ocean Road must see things, that we enjoyed having a second look to break up the drive. There is another option to take an alternate highway back to Melbourne if you are wanting to try another route or short of time. Or go on further down the Great Ocean Road.
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Our Great Ocean Road exploration ended when we arrived at the 12 Apostles! Usually the main attraction by Port Campbell, but there are so many other places to check out too. A stormy day added some drama to our visit. Wind, rain and then moments of sunshine. Sometimes you don’t always get the best weather, but the best part is you still go and get outside. #getoutside #12apostles #greatoceanroad #australia
Plan Your Great Ocean Road Drive
Great Ocean Road Accommodation
Where to stay on the Great Ocean Road?
We used both Airbnb and hotel options for our stays in Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. We used Booking.com to book our hotels along the Great Ocean Road. We booked our hotels in advance because we didn’t want to get stuck without a place to stay. The towns/cities are smaller so we wanted to ensure we had a place to sleep overnight.
For us, we thought the best places to stay on the Great Ocean Road were in Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell.
In Apollo Bay, we stay at Seaview Motel & Apartments, and in Port Campbell, we stayed at Southern Ocean Motor Inn. Both hotels worked just fine for 1 night stays, more of just a place to rest our heads for the evening. But you can check out more hotel options for Apollo Bay here, Lorne here and Port Campbell here.
For Lorne, we stayed at an Airbnb because we wanted to be close to the beach to walk at night and none of the hotels were available. If you are considering trying Airbnb for the first time you can receive an Airbnb credit here towards your first stay.
Great Ocean Road Car Rental
We used CarRentals.com for our Great Ocean Road car hire. We picked up the rental car from the Avalon airport because that is where our outbound flight was after we finished the Great Ocean Road. Have the same pickup and drop off to save some money.
Great Ocean Road Travel Tips
- We decided to take our own Great Ocean Road tour instead of taking an organized tour because we had time on our side, but there are plenty of other options that you can consider for a Melbourne Great Ocean Road tour. Here are a few that we would recommend for a Great Ocean Road one day tour from Get Your Guide.
- Have a GREAT music playlist downloaded and listen to some music along the drive!
- Don’t forget to have travel insurance for when you are visiting from out of the country. We use World Nomads for our travel insurance during our stay in Australia. Really easy to get a quote! You can read our entire review of World Nomads for travel insurance here.
- Great Ocean Road Weather – We didn’t have the warmest or greatest weather when we were there in March but it was comfortable for us to walk around and enjoy. The most obvious weather to be aware of is that you are on the coast so there will be lots of wind regardless of what time of year you go.
- Another option that you can consider is camping Great Ocean Road, if you have even more time there are campervan facilities all along the drive. For us next time we would spend it at Great Otway National Park and go check out the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures!
A trip to Australia would not be complete without a visit to the Great Ocean Road. It’s part of Australia that gets you outside the big cities, on the road, and out to the immense coastline that outlines all of Australia. The Great Ocean drive will not disappoint you and one of the best road trips in the world.