I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a day trip along the beautiful and legendary Great Ocean Road this month, as it had only recently been reopened after being closed over the Christmas and New Year period due to devastating bush fires. It did not disappoint, and I am still kicking myself for not having done this trip earlier during my time at university in Melbourne, given it is only a three hour drive away. Oh well – at least I made it, eventually!
Going on a day trip along the Great Ocean Road is a must-do if you are spending time in Melbourne or Victoria, especially as Mother Nature has been grinding away at the rock formations and many have disintegrated over the past few decades. It is incredibly easy breezy to do the trip if you have access to a car; otherwise, there are plenty of tour companies that offer group day trips to the area, albeit you will lose some flexibility in your agenda.
What to bring to the Great Ocean Road
Australian summers are *supposed* to be hot, but I must have just erased any memory of the freezing wind chill on the east coast of Australia. The Great Ocean Road is very much exposed to strong winds: during our trip, in the dead of the Australian summer (December to February), it was 18-20 degrees Celsius but felt much colder because of what felt like icicles being hurled at my face. Bring: a windbreaker or warm sweater and a scarf. Layer, layer, layer.
- Because the Australian sun is so brutal, slap on some SPF so you don’t end up like this (Warning: NSFW).
- Comfortable walking shoes. There are short trails (under 1 KM) to each of the sights, so take care of your tootsies.
- Dramamine or some other motion sickness medication for the seriously winding road along the coast.
- Your camera or smartphone. Because of this.
Where to stay if you’re visiting the Great Ocean Road
If you want to visit the Great Ocean Road, the best place to stay is in Melbourne. If you are renting a car, most hotels in the CBD will over private parking. Some other options outside of the Melbourne CBD include Southbank, Carlton and St. Kilda. Click here to book your stay in Melbourne!
Alternatively, there are a range of different hotels along the Great Ocean Road itself that you can stay at if you don’t want to be in the city. Click here to book your stay near the Great Ocean Road!
What to do and see along the Great Ocean Road
If you’re driving from Melbourne, I would recommend that you drive inland to Port Campbell as this route is much faster and less winding, and work your way back via the Great Ocean Road. The cliffs along the coast are slightly reminiscent of the drive and panoramic views along the Amalfi coast. Check out this map to see where the various landmarks are located along the coast. Here are the ones we visited that were out-of-this-world.
From Port Campbell, drive another five to ten minutes to the Grotto. All of these landmarks have parking, free-of-charge, and do not charge any entry fees! Take note, Rome!
1. The Grotto
The Grotto is a naturally carved out cave with beautiful rock pools that lie at the foot of the arch. There is a rock wall that acts as a barrier-slash-viewing pavilion and offers up an incredible view.
2. London Bridge/Arch
Once you’re done marveling at the Grotto, hop back in the car and drive east for five minutes and you’ll find yourself at the London Bridge, or what is now known as the London Arch following its collapse in 1990.
3. The Arch
A very underrated structure when you pit it against the others along the coast, but the viewing deck at the Arch not only offers up a glimpse through this rock formation but also a panoramic view of the massive cliffs on the other side.
4. Loch Ard Gorge
Unfortunately we ran out of time so didn’t make it to Loch Ard Gorge, but it is another popular landmark to visit along the Great Ocean Road. It is named after a shipwreck in the late 1800s where more than 50 people perished. It’s possible to walk all the way down to the beach via stairs.
Photo credit: SimplySystems / Pixabay
5. Twelve Apostles (but there are actually eight)
Last but definitely not least, the most popular landmark along the Great Ocean Road: the Twelve Apostles. There are currently eight of these sea stacks (much like the Fariglioni formation in Capri) left standing.
The last one was swallowed by the sea more than a decade ago in 2005, but you never know when the next one will fall so now’s the time to visit. If you manage to time the trip right, you may be able to catch the sunset (after 8 PM during the summer!) as you cruise back to the city.
Bonus: On your way back along the Great Ocean Road, stop off at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Apollo Bay and try some of the local craft beers and beer battered chips.
Have you visited the Great Ocean Road? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!
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