When planning a self-drive itinerary in Australia, it can be difficult to know where to start. Not only is the country huge, but it also has much to offer international travellers, and if you try and cram it all in to a 2 or 3-week break, you may find that you spend more time getting to places than actually enjoying them when you arrive.
The Great Ocean Road is the perfect destination for an Australian Self-Drive Holiday, and it’s easily accessible from Melbourne. Often described as one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world, the GOR stretches just 243km from Torquay to Allansford, but there is much to see and do along the way, and some fabulous little seaside towns where you can overnight in your camper van, or in one of the many hotels and guesthouses.
So where should you stay along the way? Well, if you have plenty of time to explore, you should visit as many towns as possible, but if your self-drive adventure is limited to just a week, here are some Great Ocean Road Highlights that you definitely shouldn’t miss…
Great Ocean Road: Torquay
After a couple of nights in Melbourne and maybe a brief stop in Geelong, your first stop on the GOR should be Torquay. Much like its British namesake, Torquay is a vibrant seaside resort and a mecca for surfers. While it is worth a visit just for its beautiful Bells Beach, there is plenty going on here to keep you entertained, with the Surf Coast Walk, snorkelling around Point Danger Marine Sanctuary, and plenty of beachfront eateries selling freshly caught Australian seafood.
Great Ocean Road: Aireys Inlet
This small coastal inlet is rich in maritime history, and it’s an essential stopover on any Great Ocean Road itinerary. After visiting the Split Point Lighthouse, you could indulge in a picnic on Fairhaven Beach, before settling for the night or moving on to your next stop – Lorne.
Great Ocean Road: Lorne
Lorne is the perfect base for those who want to head inland and visit Otway Forest Park, and the breathtaking waterfalls and nature walks available in the region. There is so much to do in this friendly seaside town that you could easily spend 3 or 4 nights here, and if you happen to be visiting between May and September, don’t forget to keep your eyes on the horizon for a glimpse of the migrating whales.
Great Ocean Road: Apollo Bay
Not forgetting to stop at Wye River and Wongarra along the way, Apollo Bay is your half-way point along the Great Ocean Road. The gateway to Cape Otway and the Great Otway National Park, this picturesque coastal town offers endless hiking, biking, and water-based activities.
Great Ocean Road: Princetown
A haven for fishermen (and women!), the lazy hilltop town of Princetown is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. From here, you can do the Princetown to Glenample Hike, which is a fabulous 5.5km stretch along the cliff tops. Kangaroo sightings are pretty common here, so don’t forget your camera!
Great Ocean Road: Allansford
Your drive from Princetown to Allansford will take you along the majestic coastline that homes the magnificent 12 Apostles just off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. Impressive limestone towers that rise up out of the Southern Ocean, they are the first thing that most people associated with the Great Ocean Road, and they do not disappoint!
While many suggest that the Great Ocean Road ends in Allansford, others believe it continues to Portland, so why not continue your Australian self-drive adventure, you never know what you might find!