Hug the contours of Victoria's rugged south-west coast for one of Australia's greatest and most spectacular coastal drives.
Discover beautiful beaches, great restaurants and a captivating maritime heritage while enjoying a choice of activities including golfing, fishing, diving and surfing.
Explore the coastline around Port Campbell and visit the Twelve Apostles, one of the state’s, if not the nation’s, most spectacular natural attractions.
Stroll around historic towns such as Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland to explore fishing wharves, beautifully preserved colonial buildings and maritime museums that tell tales of tall ships lost off the rugged shipwreck coast.
Total distance from Melbourne 682km (423mi)
Road conditions All sealed roads
Segment distances: Melbourne to Apollo Bay – 195km (121mi), 3hrs 30mins; Apollo Bay to Port Fairy – 196km (121mi), 2hrs 55mins; Port Fairy to Melbourne – 291km (180mi), 4hrs 10mins.
Suggested overnight stops: Apollo Bay and Port Fairy (or Warrnambool)
Major attractions along the route, include…
Gaze in awe at the giant rock stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean. Great to admire at any time of the day but probably most dramatic at sunrise when the rock changes colour under a rising sun.
The spectacular Twelve Apostles are the result of constant erosion by wind and stormy sea that began 10 to 20 million years ago.
Caves were formed from the slowly eroding cliff faces, then the caves became arches, and when they collapsed, rock stacks up to 45m in height were left isolated from the shore.
Only six of the 12 Apostles rock formations can be seen from the main viewing platform. From the other end of the viewing area, two more stacks can be seen along Gibson’s Beach, however these are not part of the ‘official’ count.
The 12 Apostles are located within the Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, around 277km (172mi) from Melbourne on the scenic coastal drive.
The charming seaside town of Apollo Bay sits roughly on the halfway point of The Great Ocean Road.
It's a great place to stop on a Great Ocean Road trip. Visitors are always pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of things to do.
Stroll the fishing wharf past stacks of craypots or along the crescent-shaped sandyswimming beach with its backdrop of rolling green hills. Swim in the clear water, kayak alongside local seals, hook up a charter for some deep-sea fishing, go surfing or ride a horse along the beach at sunset.
Enjoy a delicious meal of fresh seafood at one the local cafés and restaurants; for great views try Chris’s at Beacon Point high in the hills overlooking the sea. Browse for curios and handicrafts in the gift shops, galleries and Saturday foreshore market.
Drive to Mariners Lookout Road for panoramic views over the town and coast or take to the air on a charter flight for spectacular views of the nearby Twelve Apostles. Head into the Otways to find mainland Australia’s oldest lighthouse and explore the nearby forest and waterfalls on foot or by mountain bike.
Take a treetop walk along the Otway Fly and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular rainforest; see Triplet Falls, one of the most spectacular falls in the Otways; and enjoy the beauty of the rainforest and fern gardens at Maits Rest and Melba Gully. Don’t miss the nightly spectacle of the glowworms at Melba Gully.
Apollo Bay lies 197km (122mi) southwest of Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road – about 2 hours 30 minutes nonstop.
Discover some of the best hotels in Apollo Bay – find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say at TripAdvisor.
Stroll the historic wharf beside the beautiful Moyne River and along wide streets lined by 19th century cottages, towering Norfolk Island pines, old stone churches and inns, in this quaint old fishing village.
Follow one of the town’s historic walking trails and discover charming, fully restored white washed cottages built by whalers and seamen alongside Georgian-style merchants’ homes and grand public buildings. Discover many fine examples of 1800s architecture, with more than 50 buildings classified by the National Trust.
Take a cruise out to the seal colony on Lady Julia Percy Island, home to four different breeds and up to 20,000 seals in total living on the small island, or explore Griffiths Island and watch thousands of mutton birds flying in at dusk to feed their young. (The nesting season is from September to May).
Go whale watching in winter or hook up a fishing charter any time. Browse the galleries and antique, art and craft shops or relax over fine food and wine at one of the many great pubs, cafés and restaurants in town.
Port Fairy sits at the end of the Great Ocean Road around 290km (180mi) from Melbourne.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these hotels in Port Fairy at TripAdvisor.
Nestled on the wide sweep of Lady Bay amid green countryside, Warrnambool has had a long and colourful history linked with the sea.
Sail back in time at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, the re-created 19th century port.
Experience ‘Shipwrecked’, the stunning sound and laser show at Flagstaff Hill, and of the many shipwreck relics on display, don’t miss the famous porcelain peacock washed up from the tragic wreck of the Loch Ard in 1878.
Follow the Shipwreck Trail and discover the treacherous history of the coastline between Moonlight Head and Nelson; explore coastal reserves and walking tracks with secluded beaches and rocky points and penguin colonies; and watch native wildlife at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, home to an ancient volcanic crater complete with lake and lava tongue.
Visit the whale nursery at Logans Beach between June and September and watch giant southern right whales with their calves just 100m off the shore.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these hotels in Warrnambool at TripAdvisor.
Latest update: The Great Ocean Road: 26 June, 2021
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