8 days-7 night self drive itinerary
This itinerary highlights 8 epic days on The Great Ocean Road which stretches 243km from Torquay to Allansford. It’s one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world that hugs the South West Coast of Victoria. There is multiple national parks with hiking trails and beautiful scenery. Expect to see beaches, waterfalls, forests, lighthouses, limestone formations, koalas, and if you’re lucky, whales. You can hike, surf, ride helicopters, follow gourmet food trails, wander seaside towns. Getting around this beautiful coastal drive I would recommend to either Hire a car or a Campervan Or Motohome for your road trip. Click Here to see the best waterfalls to visit along the Great Ocean Road.
For your road trip you will want to book your accommodation in advance either on Booking or AirBnb and Caravan parks. A good app to have for looking up free camps is Wikicamp’s. This App gives you all the information you need and what is at the free campsite. If free camping it is first in bases so make sure to arrive at the free camps early enough to get a spot in busy periods. As your travelling from one destination to the other maybe continue to the free camp and unhook your caravan then drive to the beautiful spots. For Motorhomes be careful as some of the carparks are quite narrow and have small car spots. Some carparks have got bigger car spaces for your motorhome. If hiring a vehicle the mini van camper is ideal. As it will be easy to drive on the narrow small roads and you will also have a place to sleep at night. Either at the free campgrounds or caravan parks with minimal set up. We advise travelling along the Great Ocean Road in September to November. As it is an extremely popular destination and accommodation prices spike during the summer months. In each destination I have listed accommodation to suit all budgets and the prices quoted are for September.
Day 1 itinerary- Melbourne to Warrnambool
The drive time is 3 hours but to break up the drive I recommend stopping at Colac for lunch and to explore Lake Colac and the botanic Gardens. Click Here for more information in Colac. You may also want to free camp in Colac before continuing to Warrnambool. There is a free campground right by Lake Colac located 10 minutes from the town.
Optional to add an extra night
Free campground- Lake Colac- Meredith Park. Toilet facilities, pets allowed and camp fires allowed.
Motel- Baronga Motor Inn from $140
Caravan Park- Lake Colac Caravan Park from $25 for unpowered and $35 for a powered site.
I have put Warrnambool as your first destination but this itinerary can be done in either direction. Warrnambool is a beautiful spot to begin your adventure. If you don’t stay at the Deep Blue Hotel I would still recommend visiting the Hot springs. There is 15 bathing experiences within the sanctuary, prices start from $33. Click Here for more information.
Accommodation 1 night
Free Campground- Hawkesdale Apex campsite. Pets allowed, Cold showers, toilets and 40 minutes from Warrnambool.
Caravan Park- Discovery Parks Warrnambool. from $35 for a powered site.
Budget to mid budget- Apartments 521 from $130 or Big4 Warrnambool- Figtree Holiday park from $115
No budget- Deep Blue hotel and Hot Springs From $332
On the way into Warrnambool make a stop at Hopkins falls only 20 minute drive from Warrnambool. This is a beautiful spot and a very easy walk to the first lookout. The waterfall is said to be 11m high and the widest in the country at 90m. There is 2 lookouts up the top giving your different perspectives of the waterfall and then you can walk down the base only about a 400 meter return walk.
In the evening for sunset head down to Thundering point and if time permits there is also a beautiful coastal walk from Thunder Point to Pickering Point lookout. On low tide you can walk out to Pickering Point.
Day 2- Warrnambool to Port Campbell National Park
The drive from Warrnambool to Port Campbell is 50 minutes. Stay in Port Campbell for 2 nights to take in the sights and explore the area. It’s a popular area to visit many sights such as Twelve Apostles, Bay of Islands and The London Bridge.
Spend the Morning at the Deep Blue Hot Springs before heading towards Port Campbell National Park. Along the way stop past Childers Cove, this is an awesome spot and is known to be a hidden treasure. The road to the cove isn’t marked and the road in is a narrow sealed road, Make sure to use your GPS to get to the location. Once you arrive to the cove it is a short walk down the path and down a series of stairs to the beach. On the beach you will see sandstone stacks and colorful sandstone/limestone cliffs. It is also worth a stop at Murnanes Bay on the way out. Next stop at the Bay Of Islands which offers similar scenery to the Twelve Apostles but without the crowds. You can walk to a few viewing platforms to admire the towering limestone stacks from different angles.
Accommodation in Port Campbell 2 nights
Free Campground- Lake Elingamite 40 minutes from Port Campbell. Pets allowed and toilet facilities.
Caravan Park- Nrma Port Campbell Holiday park from $35per night
Budget- Nrma Port Campbell Holiday park cabin from $97
Mid budget- Sea Foam Villas from $165
No budget- Loch Ard Motor Inn from $345
On the way or in the evening after you have settled in your accommodation in Port Campbell I have listed a few other great spots in Port Campbell National Park. Most of these walks are short and quit easy but offer spectacular view points and are worth checking out while in the area.
Bay of Martyrs
Bay of Martyrs is an overlooked spot that’s perfect for escaping the crowds. It might not seem as impressive as the other stops from the viewing platform by the car park, but you can walk down to the beach for a scenic walk.
The Grotto is unlike any of the other rock formations in the area. It’s part-archway, part-cave and part Blow hole with a pool of water where the waves come crashing in. You need to head down to the lower viewing platform to appreciate it, which is a 1.4km return walk from the car park. This may be a spot to head back to when staying in Port Campbell for sunrise or sunset.
The London Bridge
There are two viewing platforms to admire London Bridge which is a short walk from the car park. This rock arch was once connected to the mainland until in collapsed in 1990. It’s a wonderful scenic place with a beach below and crashing waves.
The Arch is the first in a series of rock formations where you can stop for a quick look from viewing platforms. The huge natural limestone arch was formed by erosion and you can see the power of the waves that caused it. Located only 5 minutes from Port Campbell.
Day 3- Port Campbell National Park
In the morning head to the 12 Apostles to beat the crowds head here at sunrise. The Twelve Apostles are by far the most famous sight on the Great Ocean Road. The iconic rock stacks were created by erosion of the limestone cliffs from the Southern Ocean. Gradually caves were formed, then arches, and when they collapsed the rock stacks stood alone, isolated from the shore. Despite the name, there are only seven stacks (there were eight when they named it). The Twelve Apostles are reached by a five-minute walk from the car park you can also walk to castle rock which was closed when we were here.
From the 12 Apostles you can walk to the Gibson Steps, which takes 15 minutes each way, Or you can drive but parking is limited at Gibson Beach. To view the steps there is a viewing platform up the top or walk down the Gibson steps to the beach. The steps lead to a beach where you can get another view of the Twelve Apostles. In 1869 the steps got their full use and their name. Pioneer Hugh Gibson built nearby Glenample Homestead and regularly used the carved steps to access the beach below. If you want an even better view of the Twelve Apostles, you can take a helicopter and fly over them. Click Here for more information.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is another beautiful place to stop by there are striking cliffs and rock formations, easy coastal walks, and interesting history. The Loch Ard ran aground crashing into Mutton Bird Island in 1878. The only two survivors Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael managed to drag themselves to the safety of the beach inside Loch Ard Gorge. From the car park it’s a short walk to one of the 3 lookouts. The first lookout you will walk to is the Geology walk which is 900 meters return visiting the Razorback and Island Arch.
The second walk is to the wreck and loch ard trail and the third trail is to Thunder cave which is a 1.1km return loop. It also connects to the 3.2km trail nearby the edge of the coast. You can also walk down the steps onto the beautiful beach. I definitely recommend allocating a few hours to explore it all. In the afternoon check out the 12 Apostle Gourmet Trail. First head to Timboon railway shed distillery for lunch and then Timboon fine ice cream. Check out the trail Here for more stops along the way.
In the evening head to Port Campbell discovery Trail which is a beautiful cliff top walk giving fantastic views out to Port Campbell. This trail is a 4.5 kilometer trail located near Port Campbell that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. Click Here to find it on All Trails.
Day 4- Port Campbell to Apollo Bay
Accommodation 1 night
Free Camping- Stevenson’s Falls. Pets allowed and Campfires allowed. 40 minutes from Apollo Bay
Ferguson Recreation ground. For self contained vehicles only. Pets allowed.
Caravan Park- Pisces Big 4 Holiday Park powered from $40
Budget- Apollo bay eco YHA from $75 for a double room
Mid budget-Seaview motel and apartments from $150
No Budget- 7 Fall Apartments from $360
If you drive directly from Port Campbell to Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road it takes about 1.5 hours. But there are some worthwhile stops along the way. If driving a caravan head into Apollo Bay first and unhook your caravan. If driving a motorhome be carefully on these road and the cars spaces are small, some of the roads are not suitable for a motorhomes. The drive from Apollo bay to the Otway forest is about 1 hour. As you head through the Otway forest. first stop is the Californian redwood forest. These trees were planted in 1936 and reach heights of up to 115.6 meters tall. Once here take a wander along the creek or through the trees.
The walk is approximately 1km return, allow up to 1 hour for the walk to the bottom of the falls. Alternatively you can view the waterfall from about 30 meters from the carpark from a platform where you can see the falls from above. The walk down to the base is very steep and has approximately 200 steps. Down the bottom there are some boardwalk sections before arriving at the viewing platform.
Little Aire and Triplet Falls
The walk to Triplet Falls is 1.8km return circuit is a short but very pretty walk, Allow 1 hour for Triplet Falls. The loop to Little Aire Falls is a 6km return walk and allow 3 hours to see both waterfalls. The walk to the falls is fairly challenging due to the many steps as well as a lot of steeper sections. The track is well maintained and clear, although the trail can be muddy after heavy rainfall. I would recommend wearing hiking shoes.
In the evening head to Mariners lookout located just 5 minutes from Apollo Bay. It is a short but steep 10 minute walk from the carpark to the lookout. Once you get the top you get amazing views looking over Apollo Bay. If you had more time I would recommend another day here and head to Stevenson’s Falls and Lake Elizabeth.
Day 5-Apollo Bay to Lorne
Driving from Apollo Bay to Lorne is a 1 hour drive. Lorne is one of the most popular towns on a Great Ocean Road Trip. As you arrive head out to Erskine falls. It is a 15 minute drive up Erskine falls Road from Lorne. Erskine falls is 30m tall and are located in the Otway ranges and is the most popular waterfall in Lorne. Once at the carpark it’s just 80m to the lookout looking out to Erskine Falls. You can also walk down the 230 stone steps to the base of the Falls. From here you can take the Erskine River Walk and follow the creek down for about 5 minutes before you arrive at straw falls .
Accommodation 2 nights
Free Camping- Sharps Campground 15 minutes from Lorne. No Pets allowed.
Caravan Park- Lorne Forshore caravan park. Pets allowed. From $46 per night
Budget- Chatby Lane Lorne from $146
Mid budget- Mantra Lorne $229
No Budget- Lorne bush house cottages and eco retreats from $314
Shipwreck walking Trail
In the evening take a walk along the ship wreck trail. This is beautiful trail along the foreshore of Lorne. The walk begins at the Swinging Bridge café finishing at the Lorne Pier. The trail is 2.1km one way walk or ride. Then head up to Teddy’s lookout for Sunset. Getting to Teddy’s lookout is located at the end of George street just a 5 minute drive from Lorne Beach.
Day 6- Chasing waterfalls
There is plenty of waterfall’s to see Click Here for my previous blog on the top waterfalls too see in Lorne. The Top waterfalls are upper and lower Kalimna falls, Phantom falls, Henderson’s Falls and Sheoak Falls. On this Day out I would recommend packing your lunch so you don’t have to head back into Lorne for Lunch.
Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls
Drive to Sheoak Picnic area down Allenvale road about a 15 minute drive from Lorne. Lower Kalimna Falls is known to be the prettiest waterfall in the area of Lorne. The walk to the falls is a 9.5km 3 hour return trip and is Grade 3 hike.
Just 5 minute drive from Lorne is Phantom falls. Park at the Allenvale road Carpark, The hike to the Falls is a 3.6km return bush walk. The waterfall is 15 meters tall and is located on the St George River. From the Allenvale Car Park you cross Allenvale Rd and onto the signed track. The track then follows the St George River and over a bridge before going through some private property, which made this somewhat of an unusual hike. Head back to Lorne for dinner check out this link for some restaurant’s in Lorne
Day 7- Lorne to Torquay
Aireys Inlet and Spit point lighthouse
For your last night stay in Torquay, But stop past Aireys inlet along the way to Torquay. The surf coast walk is a 44-kilometre trail which is located at the start of the Great Ocean Road region from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. The trail has 12 trail heads making it easy access for a short or a all day hike. Check out the trail Here. The trail in Aireys inlet is from Urquhart Bluff to Sunny mead beach. The trail has beautiful views out the to the ocean and begins at the Spit Point Lighthouse.
Accommodation Torquay 1 night
Free Camping- Tanners Road Bend campground. Pets allowed and toilet facilities. 40 minute drive to Torquay
Caravan Park- Ingenia holiday Park unpowered site from $39 and powered site from $49
Budget- Torquay caravan Foreshore caravan park glamping pod from $113
Mid budget- Wyndham resort Torquay from $199
No Budget- Racv Torquay resort from $440
Torquay Australia is a year-round destination offering more than just its beaches. Top things to check out when your in Torquay include flying in the Tiger Moth plane. Which is a World War II vintage open cockpit plane. Learn how to surf, Surfing lessons start from $60p.p for a small group. If you visit Torquay at Easter one of the world’s biggest surfing competitions, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, takes place. The beautiful surf coast walk from Jan Juc to Bells beach. The coastal walk offers impressive lookouts and ocean views. Visit one of the wineries around Torquay Mt Dunned estate offers Lunch and wine tasting Tuesday- Sunday. Or Head over to Blackmans Brewery located in Torquay 500 meters from the beach, grab a Beer paddle and some pub food. Click Here for the Menu. Nightjar Festival which is Torquay night market on every Thursday in January. Or visit the Farmers Market which is on every Saturday morning.
The Great Ocean Road shorter Itineary
If you are short on days and only have 3 days to explore the area I have put together smaller itineraries below
3 days great Ocean road trip
Head straight to Port Campbell and stay in Apollo Bay for the night then 1 night at Anglesea for your other night before waking up the next day nice and early and finish your trip.
5 day Great Ocean road Trip
2 nights Port Campbell, 2 nights Lorne and 1 night Anglesea. Head to Port Campbell and you will have the chance to visit some of these sights at sunset or sunrise when they are much quite. Then when your in Lorne head out on a walk to one of the many waterfalls. Spend a relaxing night in Anglesea and check out the spit Point lighthouse.
Tips and time to Visit
You can do a Great Ocean Road Trip at any time of year. It’s most popular and busiest time to visit is in summer (December to February) when you can enjoy the beaches.
Autumn (March-May) is the best time to visit as the peak season of summer is slowly winding down and the weather begins to cool down. There is still plenty to see and do, and their is less crowds. Their is also plenty of festivals at this time of year such as the Rip Curl Pro, Otway’s Film fest, and the Warrnambool May Race Carnival. Also the whales begin to return to Warrnambool. The only bad things is the ocean temperature begins to cool and their is a higher chance of the rainfall
Winter (June to August) can be chilly, but you’ll have the chance to see whales, lower crowds, and can cozy up by the fire.
Spring (September-November) is a fantastic time to visit, as the weather is just starting to warm up and the days are becoming longer. The flowers begin to bloom and the tourism season is just getting started so it isn’t overly crowded.
Don’t forget that in Australia you drive on the left. There are signs reminding you along the road as tourists driving the wrong way is a common problem.
Avoid driving after dark as the roads are windy and unlit and there’s the danger of hitting wildlife.
Wear shoes that are comfortable for walking. I would Recommend Hiking shoes to the waterfalls in Great Otway National Park as the tracks tend to get very muddy.
If driving a caravan or Motorhome and you want to stay in a Caravan Park make sure you book in advance. As in busy periods some caravan parks require advance bookings.