No doubt how the name Great Ocean Road was inspired – this spectacular 240km road trip between Victoria and South Australia is truly great. It’s one of the most famous road trips in Australia. While it can be done in two days, I highly recommend taking three days to see all the best spots along the Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road

When deciding how to explore the Great Ocean Road, consider the weather. Even if I avoided the colder months, I found it quite cold both times due to the south wind so make sure you pack warm clothes just in case. The second time, we even had rain, and I was grateful for the luxury of a house. But don’t worry—even in a rainstorm, Australia’s Great Ocean Road is amazing.

How to explore the Great Ocean Road?

There are various ways to explore the Great Ocean Road, depending on your budget, time, and mood.

I even read about people who hiked it, which would take a while but is quite tempting for my next visit! If you’re looking for something special to enjoy the Great Ocean Road, I had a great time running a half marathon there, although I didn’t achieve my personal best time because I stopped to take photos of koalas during the race! The road was blocked for participants, making it a unique opportunity to enjoy the views from a different angle.

But if you don’t want to make any effort to visit the Great Ocean Road, it’s definitely possible too. You don’t even need a car! There are tours departing from Melbourne (offering day trips or longer options)*. Some tours can even fit into your itinerary around Australia by dropping you back in Adelaide* or taking you from Adelaide to Melbourne*.

However, having your own vehicle can provide you with the freedom to spend more time at your favourite spots. It’s quite common to rent a van and stop at campsites along the way, which I really enjoyed. When I travelled with a larger group, we opted to rent a car and find a house to rent* not far from the 12 Apostles, as it made more sense budget-wise.

Great Ocean Road - 12 Apostles
Great Ocean Road – 12 Apostles

Our 3-day itinerary from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road

This is the itinerary we followed when we hired a van. I’ve also included tips to help you plan your itinerary. Note that we visited during summer when the days are quite long.

Day 1: From Melbourne to Appollo Bay

It always takes time to get the van and start the road trip. We arrived at the Great Ocean Road in Geelong in the middle of the afternoon. The drive was already beautiful, and the big highlight of the day was stopping to watch at least 10 dolphins passing near the coast. If you have time, check out the Hopetoun Falls, not too far away. We stayed in Apollo Bay for the night.

Day 2: The most scenic part of the Great Ocean Road, with a worthy detour to Cape Otway Lightstation

We began our second day by crossing the National Park to visit the Cape Otway Lightstation. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed for visitors due to ongoing maintenance work. Since the entrance fee was around $13 for just a 400-meter walk, we decided to leave earlier than planned and head towards the most scenic part of the road.

However, our disappointment quickly faded away as we encountered more than 20 wild koalas in the forest on the way from the lighthouse. It was an unbelievable sight! One of them was only 1 or 2 meters away from us, fully awake and nonchalantly eating, seemingly unfazed by the presence of the eight people standing next to him. It was a truly remarkable moment!

Great Ocean Road- Wild koala in a tree
Koala on the Great Ocean Road

Responsible travel tip: It’s awesome to watch wildlife. Try to limit human interactions with wild animals and do not feed them. I know it’s tempting, but you’d risk modifying their behaviours, and it could become dangerous for them and even their entire ecosystem!

We decided not to stop at the 12 Apostles, the most famous spot of the road trip, as it was peak time. Instead, we visited all the places further down the road: Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and Grotto. All these stops are worth it!

When I returned to the 12 Apostles around 7 pm, the place was empty as all the day tours had left. There is an easy walk to reach different lookouts to spot what is left of the rocks that used to be 12. Along this coast, we can see how the waves and the wind shape the rocks. The landscape created by erosion is fascinating.

We went on a helicopter tour from the 12 Apostles to London Bridge (around 15 minutes), which was quite pricey but highly recommended. They offered flights until 1 hour before sunset, which is quite late in summer! We ended the day by watching the nightfall, although I wouldn’t call it a sunset with the weather we had! They say you can spot penguins returning to the beach at the end of the day, but we didn’t stay in the rain long enough to be successful. Even during summer, this region can be cold, and we weren’t prepared for that.

Great Ocean Road – view from a helicopter

Port Campbell is a great place to stop for the night because it is close to all the must-see lookouts.

Day 3: Short stops before going back to Melbourne

On the third day, we only had a few hours before heading back to Melbourne. We returned to the 12 Apostles because the weather was better and then relaxed on the beautiful nearby beach, Gibson Steps.

Planning a trip to the Great Ocean Road? If you don’t want to camp, I recommend staying near the 12 Apostles, so you can enjoy the place when it’s less busy without driving too much. Driving at night in Australia is never a good option because of wildlife. You can view accommodation options here*.

Map of this three day itinerary from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road


Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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