Victoria is celebrating a huge milestone this month, with our iconic and much loved Great Ocean Road celebrating it’s 100th birthday! That’s right, we have been enjoying road trips down this iconic winding road for a whole century!
To celebrate we thought we’d share with you our ultimate two day Great Ocean Road itinerary, so you can make the most of everything this amazing region has to offer in just one weekend.
If you have a little bit more time to spare, spending three or four days along the Great Ocean Road will definitely give you the opportunity to get a little more off the beaten track and explore more of the hidden hot spots. But if a weekend is all you’ve got, here’s all the best spots to include when you design your own Great Ocean Road tour.
About the Great Ocean Road
Beginning in Torquay and winding all the way along the southern coast of Victoria to Allansford, it’s an exciting milestone for the Great Ocean Road to have reached 100 years old. September 19th will mark a full century to the day that construction began on the road.
The Great Ocean Road was originally planned during World War I as a way to create jobs for returning soldiers, as well as being built as a memorial for the war and all the Australian soldiers who had not made it home.
It took more than 10 years to complete the works, due to the dangerous and difficult nature of building a winding road into the face of cliffs. These days it is widely considered as one of the best and most scenic drives in Australia, and a highlight to any Victorian itinerary.
The iconic drive is long and windy, and can take several hours to get from one end to the other, especially if you’re stopping to explore along the way. If you have the time, it’s best to commit at least a few days to exploring this beautiful stretch road to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
Day 1: Melbourne to Lorne
Make the most of your weekend and head out early in the morning, aiming to be in Torquay for breakfast. For the purpose of this post, we have chosen Southern Cross Train Station to be our base in Melbourne for travel times and distances.
Stop 1: Torquay
Travel time from Melbourne: 1 hour 20 minutes
Distance from Melbourne: 103 kilometres
An easy drive from Melbourne, Torquay is a great place to stop and grab yourself some breakfast. Head to Growlers on the beach to immediately start soaking up those surf vibes and grab yourself a big breakfast to keep you going throughout the day. If you’re visiting on a sunny day, Growlers have plenty of outdoor seating, right across the road from the beach.
Growlers – 23 The Esplanade, Torquay – (03) 5264 8455
After breakfast head to the Australian National Surfing Museum, where you can learn about the rich beach culture and surfing heritage that Australia is famous for, as well as the way that Australia has played a huge part in the development of surfing around the world. Tickets are just $12 for a self-guided tour around the exhibits.
Australian National Surfing Museum – 77 Beach Road, Torquay – (03) 5261 4606
If you want to grab a couple of bargains on some of Australia’s biggest surf brands head down to Surf City, home to many of the flagship stores for these iconic brands. Make sure you head down the side street as well to check out some of the outlets, with discounts of more than 60% off most of the year.
Surf City Plaza – 61 Surf Coast Highway, Torquay
Before jumping back on the road stop to take a photo with the iconic Memorial Arch, often considered the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. Made completely out of wood and with the words ‘Great Ocean Road’ carved into a plaque on the front, it has been made famous in countless photos of the area of the years.
The arch was built in 1939, although it has been replaced a few times over the years when it didn’t quite survive truck accidents and bush fires. There’s a car park right along side the Arch, where you can get a great angle for a photo.
Memorial Arch – 689/721 Great Ocean Road, Eastern View
Stop 2: Anglesea and Aireys Inlet
Travel time from Torquay: 18 minutes
Distance from Torquay: 18 kilometres
A couple of the quieter towns along the Great Ocean Road, but both beautiful in their own rights, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet offer more of the quiet coastal vibes you might be expecting along the Great Ocean Road.
Head to Anglesea Beach for a dip in the water and to experience swimming in some of the coast’s epic surf waves yourself. As a precaution, make sure you always swim between the flags, as strong currents and rips can be very prevalent along the Great Ocean Road, and Anglesea is no exception.
If you’re prefer to stay above the water, head to the Angelsea River which can be found right alongside the main beach, where you can rent a kayak or paddle boat, to explore a little more of the river system without getting wet.
Get up close to some of Australia’s favourite furry friends with a Guided Kangaroo Tour that runs at the Anglesea Golf Club. There are always kangaroos running around and all over the golf course, so it’s a great place to see them in their natural environment! Tours run between 10am and 4pm for about 30 minutes.
Anglesea Golf Course – 1 Golf Links Road, Anglesea – (03) 5263 1582
Stop at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery to stock up on some desert for later in the day. With free entry and free tastings of both chocolate and ice-cream, you’ll be lucky if you don’t leave in a sugar coma.
Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery – 1200 Great Ocean Road, Bellbrae – (03) 5263 1588
Just 10 minutes down the road from Anglesea, the town of Aireys Inlet is even smaller and quieter, but it does have one iconic attraction you might recognise – the Split Point Lighthouse. Made famous for it’s place in 90s kids show Round the Twist the lighthouse was built in 1891 and is perched 70 metres above sea level, always watching to keep the ocean safe.
You’re able to climb to the top of the lighthouse for beautiful views over the ocean and the whole region. Tours run every hour between 11am and 2pm each day, that last for about 30 to 40 minutes and offer you an insight into the history of the area.
Split Point Lighthouse – 13 Federal Street, Aireys Inlet – 1800 174 045
Starting to get a bit peckish yet? Head to Aireys Inlet Pub for some lunch, one of the best places to grab a meal and a beer along the Great Ocean Road.
Aireys Inlet Pub – 45 Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet – (03) 5289 6804
Stop 3: Aireys Inlet to Lorne
Travel time from Aireys Inlet: 23 minutes
Distance from Aireys Inlet: 18.4 kilometres
The next part of the drive will be the windiest so far, with the piece of road between Aireys Inlet and Lorne twisting and turning around the trees that line the Great Ocean Road. If you normally experience any travel sickness, this is the part you will want to be prepared for.
Lorne is one of the biggest towns along the Great Ocean Road, and one of the most popular spots for people looking for a bit of holiday away from the city. It’s optimal location, almost smack bang in the middle of the Great Ocean Road makes it a great place to base yourself if you’re hoping to explore all different parts of the region, and just stay in one central location.
When you arrive in Lorne head to Erskine Falls to see one of the regions more easily accessible waterfalls. Erskine Falls can be found at the bottom of a very steep stair climb, although it’s only a few hundred metres away from the car park. The walk takes you right into the middle of the rainforest, with beautiful ferns and all kinds of greenery surrounding the walking trail.
Erskine Falls – Erskine Falls Access Road, Lorne – 13 19 63
Before turning in for the night make sure you make the short trip up to Teddy’s Lookout right in the heart of Lorne, that offers a beautiful view over the winding road and the cliffs leading back down to the ocean.
Teddy’s Lookout – 53 George Street, Lorne – (03) 5261 0600
Check in to Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park for the night, who have all kinds of accommodation needs covered. There are great river side campsites available for anyone travelling with a caravan or who are camping during their stay, as well as a number of different type of cabins you can choose to stay in.
Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park – 2 Great Ocean Road, Lorne – (03) 5289 1382
For more of a unique stay, book at night at The Pole House. Sitting 40 metres above Fairhaven Beach, The Pole House is a beautifully designed little home that is completely remote and over looks the ocean for as far as you can see.
There is a two night minimum stay for this property, so if you can spare an extra day on your weekend it might be a good one to check out. You can find out more about this interesting property on the Great Ocean Road Holidays website. Image found here.
Book now: All the best places to stay in Lorne
Day 2: Lorne to Port Campbell
There’s no way around it, day 2 of this road trip definitely has a lot more driving involved. There are lots of beautiful places to stop from Lorne to Port Campbell, but there are also lots of parts of the road that are more remote, with longer distances between destinations.
Stop 1: Lorne to Apollo Bay
Travel time from Lorne: 1 hour 2 minutes
Distance from Lorne: 47.3 kilometres
Another early start probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for day 2 of your Great Ocean Road adventure.
Start the day with breakfast in the main street of Lorne at The Bottle of Milk. This cafe is a favourite of both locals and visitors to Lorne and has some delicious menu choices like the smashed avo, coconut porridge or truffled mushrooms.
The Bottle of Milk – 52 Mount Joy Parade – (03) 5289 2005
Head out of Lorne to Kennett River for your first stop of the day, where the Kennett River Koala Walk will have you spotting heaps of wild koalas in the tall gum trees. This is known as one of the best places to see koalas in the wild in Victoria, and they are often the most active in the morning.
We counted 12 of these little guys on our last visit to Kennett River, let us know how many you come across!
Jump back in your car and continue up to Apollo Bay, also known as the gateway to the Otways. Otway National Park is a giant rainforest environment, and Apollo Bay is seemingly where the rainforest meets the ocean.
To check out the best of the Otways and this unique forest, head to the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures where you can take a rainforest walk 30 metres above the ground on a steel structured canopy walk. It’s actually the longest and tallest walkway of its type in the whole world.
If you’re feeling a little bit more ambitious, there’s also a zipline tour at the Otway Fly, which will take you around eight cloud stations and six flights through the treetops. It’s sure to get your blood pumping!
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures – 360 Phillips Track Beech Forest, Weeaproinah
Stop 2: Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
Travel time from Apollo Bay: 1 hour 30 minutes
Distance from Apollo Bay: 98.2 kilometres
Apollo Bay is probably you’re last main town of your Great Ocean Road adventure, so it’s a good idea to grab some lunch here before you continue on your drive.
There are heaps of different dining options in Apollo Bay, offering all kinds of meals for any craving you might have. Some of the favourites in the area include:
The Bayleaf Cafe – 131 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay – (03) 5237 6470
Waves – 143 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay – (03) 5237 6401
Apollo Bay Bakery – 125 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay (03) 52376440
Next up, get ready for some of the most iconic, most photographed and most beautiful places along the Great Ocean Road. First up is the 12 Apostles, these iconic attractions loom out of the ocean and have been carved away from years and years of erosion. There are only 8 standing these days, but they’re no less impressive.
To get a little bit closer to the action, you can take the short walk from the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre down to the Gibson Steps, where you can see the apostles from the ground and really get an understanding about how massive they are. Check with the visitors centre before you set off on the walk as the beach can often be closed during the year if the conditions are too windy or the waves are too powerful.
12 Apostles Visitors Centre – Great Ocean Road & Booringa Road, Princetown
A little further down the road, Loch Ard Gorge is the perfect afternoon stop around Port Campbell. This little bay is separated from the ocean by tall limestone cliffs that surround almost the whole bay. There’s also a whole heap of interesting rock formations to check out around Loch Ard Gorge, from caves to archways, to the London Bridge just down the road.
It’s a beautiful little spot and a great place for one last swim along the Great Ocean Road route before you start making your way home.
Stop 3: Port Campbell to Melbourne
Travel time from Port Campbell: 2 hours 45 minutes
Distance from Port Campbell: 230 kilometres
Last but not least, the drive from Port Campbell to Melbourne is definitely the longest part of this road trip. Stop in Port Campbell to grab a quick dinner before you head back to Melbourne, as the drive from here will take you inland and along only freeway to get you back to Melbourne in record time.
The Port Campbell Hotel is the only pub in this small coastal town, but there are a few other small cafes and a great fish and chip shop if you’er looking for more of an on the go option.
Then from Port Campbell, follow the Cobden-Port Campbell Road and the Melbourne signs until you get to the Princess Highway, which will take you all the way back into the heart of the city.
And there you have it, the very best Great Ocean Road trip in just one weekend!
The Great Ocean Road Turns 100
Celebrating it’s 100th birthday this September, the Great Ocean Road has been giving Aussies and international visitors epic experiences for a full century now! If you’re going to be in the region during September there are lots of different celebrations and activities taking place that you can be apart of.
The main feature of the celebrations is the 30 minute documentary The Story of the Road, which explores the history of Victoria’s southern coastline and dives into the harsh reality of what it was like to be part of the construction of the road.
The documentary will be shown at pop up cinemas in Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne, Wye River and Apollo Bay, with a limited capacity of just 5-12 people at a time. There will be sessions every 10 minutes each day, from 9am until 5pm, and although they are free you are encouraged to register for one of the sessions so you don’t miss out.
There’s also a QR Trail you can follow that combines augmented reality, film and art to bring to life the story of the Great Ocean Road through various stops along the road, including various beacons and newly designed circular installations along the road.
No matter what time of the year you head down to the Great Ocean Road, there is always something new to see and exciting to explore. Whether you have just one day in the area or you have a whole week to spare, you can easily fill your time, with all kinds of waterfall walks and hiking trails that would be too long to fit into a two day itinerary.
Without a doubt, the Great Ocean Road is one of our favourite places to visit in Victoria. For more information and a complete guide to everything you need to know about the Great Ocean Road, download our free mini magazine.
During your Great Ocean Road visit make sure you use the hashtags – #visitgreatoceanroad #iam100 and #iamwherestoriesunfold to join in the fun.
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