Take a drive along one of Australia’s most spectacular coastlines on the Great Ocean Road.
What to expect
- Drive along breathtaking coastline
- Stay in charming seaside towns
- Marvel at stunning rock formations
- Time: 4 days
- Distance: 1,000 kilometres (621 miles)
- Transport: car
- Nearest major city: Melbourne and Adelaide
- Price: $$
Australia boasts more than a few epic road trips, but none are so iconic as the Great Ocean Road. This five-day road trip encompasses rugged rock faces, quaint seaside towns and clifftops surrounded by salty air.
Embark on a breathtaking journey you’ll never forget.
Day 1: Melbourne to Lorne / Apollo Bay
Hire a car from JUCY and leave bustling Melbourne behind. Today’s drive will take just over three hours, but there are plenty of worthwhile stops along the way. Make your first point of call the beachy town of Torquay, often considered the surfing capital of Australia. Check out a few of the town’s best surf beaches, like Jan Juc and Bells Beach, to see some locals riding a wave.
Hop back in the car and continue under an hour to reach Lorne. One of the Great Ocean Road’s most charming seaside stops, Lorne is the perfect place to eat lunch. Head to The Swing Bridge Cafe and Boathouse for a casual cafe feel, or make your way to the Grand Pacific Hotel to grab a classic Aussie pub feed with views overlooking the beach. Keep an eye out for migrating whales during the winter months (June to August). If you have extra time, soak up the seaside lifestyle and spend the night in Lorne, or continue to Apollo Bay.
Day 2: Apollo Bay to Port Fairy
Your second day on the Great Ocean Road brings you to some of the drive’s most remarkable sights. Drive just under two hours toward the 12 Apostles - soaring limestone stacks off the shore of Victoria’s stark coast. But before you stop at the Apostles, be sure to check out the area’s other natural wonders, including the Gibson Steps, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge and Bay of Islands.
Continue driving 1.5 hours to reach Port Fairy, taking in the incredible cliffs along the way. While you’re here, stop at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, an inactive volcano site with tiered crater walls and several walking tracks. You can also spot native Australian animals like emus, koalas and kangaroos. Learn about the Aboriginal heritage of the area at Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre and join an Aboriginal guide on a tour. While in Port Fairy, do as the locals do and surf, SUP or simply wander the shoreline. For dinner, grab a pizza at Coffin Sally, then tuck in for the night at Port Fairy YHA.
If you’re eager to squeeze your Great Ocean experience into three days, you can continue on to South Australia’s fishing town of Robe.
Day 3: Port Fairy to Robe
Grab breakfast at Bank St + Co before hitting the road once more. Today, take a detour inland to South Australia’s Mount Gambier. Here, you’ll find more than a few photogenic locations. First, visit the Umpherston Sinkhole, a sunken garden created inside a collapsed cave. Next, sign up for a snorkel or diving experience at Piccaninnie Ponds. The pond is a popular freshwater diving site due to its unbelievably clear water. You’ll dive down to see bright green marine plants and a range of fish.
Another 1.5-hour drive will bring to you Robe, an enchanting fishing town on South Australia’s Limestone Coast. There’s plenty to do in this sleepy city; hit the sand of Long Beach, watch the brewing process at Robe Town Brewery and grab a cone at The Ice Cream Shop. Tonight, eat dinner at the Caledonian Inn. After dinner, wander along Robe Jetty; it’s especially Instagrammable at sunset.
Spend the night at the Robe Harbour View Motel.
Day 4: Robe to Adelaide
Start your day with a dip in the salty ocean off Long Beach. Grab breakfast and coffee at The Adventurous Spoon, a cute cafe serving up breakfast dishes like muesli with vanilla stewed pear and, of course, avocado smash. Then, drive just under four hours to the South Australian capital of Adelaide.
In Adelaide, you’ll find buzzing markets, cheap eats and a jam-packed festival calendar. The city is also a great starting point for another Australian adventure, this time to the Eyre Peninsula, Perth or Darwin.
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