Australia is home to some pretty scenic road trips, the best being East Coast- Cairns to Melb, the Red Centre Way, the Nullarbor and of course the Great Ocean Road!
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most stunning and intoxicating drives you will do in your life. Stretching over 200 kilometres from Torquay to Warrnambool, this scenic route attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Prior to our trip to Melbourne, I read many posts about the Great Ocean Road road trip in preparation, most of them stressing the fact you must not try and do it all in one day. Everyone had hired a car and leisurely explored all the wonderful little towns along this epic coastline. This is great. Who doesn’t love a road trip? But unfortunately for a lot of us, time just doesn’t permit.
Choosing a tour company for a day trip was fairly easy. I looked upon my favourite booking site Experience Oz to find the perfect GOR Tour. Now there is a reason why Go West Tours has been awarded countless awards, their service is amazing and their guides are knowledgeable legends (especially if you have the pleasure of ending up with Michelle!). We got to sit back and take in the epic scenic views, from our air-conditioned minibus, with wifi and refreshments on hand! Here is the best Great Ocean Road Itinerary!
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Experience Oz offers customers a complete booking website. All activities and tours are hand-selected and they only work with quality operators! It’s also super easy, with great prices and no booking or credit cards fees. Upon our first trip to Melbourne, I decided I wanted to do something a little extra, then just exploring the city sights. The Great Ocean Road tour read well and I had been dying to see the 12 Apostles!
We were picked up in the wee hours of the morning from our hotel before venturing towards Torquay over the west gate bridge. The Great Ocean Road begins 90 minutes from Melbourne and spans 243 kilometers from the town of Torquay to Warrnambool. It is broken up into 3 distinct sections Surf Coast, Green Road and Shipwreck Coast.
Surf Coast is your starting point and takes you through surf towns, winding through all the amazing coastal shores and surf breaks. Your landscape changes just after Kennet River where you head onto Green Road also known as Otway National Park, home to lush forest, and waterfalls. This was one of the highlights for me. I absolutely adore doing little hikes through rainforests.
Lastly, you have Shipwreck Coast home to popular limestone rock formations, like the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge, that makes this drive so iconic!
- Twelve Apostles
- Loch Ard Gorge
- Port Campbell National Park
- Delicious cafe lunch, morning tea
- Great Otway National Park
The birthplace of iconic surf brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver and home to one of the biggest surf comps in Aus, Torquay is the official starting point of the Great Ocean Road. We drove around 100km (taking 1.5 hours) from Melbourne CBD to reach our first official stop of the day. Here we were treated to morning tea. It was great to have a warm drink and check out Torquay beach. It was absolutely freezing and super windy but the beach was still very beautiful. It would have been great to stop at Bells Beach aswell.
The drive soon became very scenic though equally nauseous, as we made our way towards Lorne with lots of bends. Before too long we had made our way to our next stop, Memorial Arch.
Next up on The Great Ocean Road tour is Memorial Arch. Memorial Arch is a tribute to the World War One servicemen who built the Great Ocean Road. The arch that stands today is actually the fourth built to replace the ones destroyed in fires and truck crashes. The sign that hangs atop the arch is still the original one though!
The Great Ocean Road started in 1918 and was completed in 1932, with the first Arch erected in 1939. This was a brief stop to get a couple of photos and check out the beach. If you have time head over to Aireys Inlet to see the Split Point Light House, made famous by children’s television show Round the Twist.
Located halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay we arrived at our lunch stop for the day, and very early I might add. Apparently, we had made super good time during our morning pick-ups so we were ahead of schedule the entire day.
Prior to arriving, we were guaranteed we would see some sleepy koalas, with the best way of spotting them is to head towards the Eucalyptus trees and look for groups of people looking up and pointing.
We were also in the midst of some pretty stunning birds. Everyone was feeding them in hopes to get photos with exotic birds on their heads. As always I choose to admire from afar.
Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park stretches from Torquay through to Princetown and up through the Otways hinterland towards Colac. The national park consists of rock platforms, waterfalls, tall forest, lush gullies and cliffed coastlines.
It’s a welcoming change of scenery after the winding coastal cliffs. We stopped for a lovely walk at Maits Rest. Walk 30 minutes along a mix of boardwalk and rainforest floor amongst trees that are up to 300 years old.
The self- guided stroll is a beautiful and tranquil site that offers a lush canopy of tree ferns, moss and giant myrtle beeches in this cool temperate rainforest.
A Great Ocean itinerary wouldn’t be complete without, the iconic 12 Apostles. Ironically though there were only ever 9, but in 2005 one collapsed. The eight apostles were formed by erosion and harsh weather conditions. The first sat as caves in the cliffs which then became arches until they eventually collapsed leaving rock stacks that measure up to 50 meters high.
The weather had been temperamental all day and when we arrived at the drop off point so did a downpour of rain and vigorous winds. We braved the weather with a thin poncho that was ineffective, though did help to keep my camera safe. Walking the 1 km to the viewing point we kept looking at each other thinking of course when we are finally here a storm comes with it. So all I could manage was some silly iPhone photos for evidence we had actually been. On our way back to the car the rain all of a sudden stopped and the clouds slightly parted to give us a magnificent viewing of the majestic rock stacks that line Victoria’s dramatic coast.
Make your way from the 12 Apostles and walk the one kilometre to Gibson Steps. Weather permitting, make your way down to the beach via the 86 steps that were carved into the face of the cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson, who worked on the route originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people. Don’t turn your back on the waves for too long, they can creep up fairly quickly.
Loch Ard Gorge
The gorge is named after a ship, called the Lock Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island in 1878. Of the 54 passengers, only two teenagers survived, Tom and Eva. Tom was apparently washed ashore and rescued Eva after hearing her cries.
Located just three minutes west of the mighty Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge is a treasure trove of natural beauty, coastal wilderness, and maritime history. Take some time to wander the trails, exploring the blowholes, offshore limestone stacks and towering cliffs. This might have been my favourite view.
Experience OZ & Go West Tour
Includes courtesy inner-city pickup service from most accommodation providers. Pickups are between 7am-8am and you return around 9 pm
- A truly scenic journey along Australia’s most spectacular coastal route
- The famous beaches of the Great Ocean Road’s Surf Coast
- Visit the delightful coastal township of Apollo Bay
- A guided eco-tour in the Great Otway National Park’s cool temperate rainforest
- Experience the tranquil beauty of the rainforest gullies
- Towering eucalyptus trees
- Wonder at the famous rock formations of the Port Campbell National Park
- The awe-inspiring 12 Apostles
- An opportunity to view two of the Apostles from beach level at Gibson’s Steps
- Loch Ard Gorge – hear the story of our most famous shipwreck
- Morning tea (coffee/tea/hot chocolate & cake)
- Fresh café lunch (vegetarians catered for)
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