A roadtrip along the Great Ocean Road and seeing the iconic Twelve Apostles (which are now actually only seven apostles, but quality over quantity especially when it comes to apostles) is as Australian as it gets. Obviously we could not miss this and so after celebrating my first ever hot Christmas and also my first ever Christmas away from home we set off for three days on the iconic Great Ocean Road. This is obviously the busiest time of the year and very very crowded, so it is essential to book ahead and plan in some extra time at the main sights.

What to Know before your trip

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic coastal roads in the world. It spans 243 kilometers along the Southern Coast of Australia from Torquay to Allansford. While 243 kilometers does not sound like much and theoretically you could do the entire trip in a day, but I recommend you take at least three days to be able to fully enjoy your trip. Building the road was intended as a work programme for soldiers returning to Australia from World War I between 1919 and 1932 and honours those lost in the war. The road is a single lane in each direction and offers amazing views over the Indian Ocean and the beautiful Australian coastline. Additionally to the famous Twelve Apostles there are multiple other stone formations along the road, but also little towns and some of the most iconic surf beaches in Australia.
You can start your drive from Melbourne or if you are on the Mornington Peninsula as we were you may want to take the Sorrento to Queenscliff Ferry, which helps you avoid traffic in the city. The water in Sorrento is just beyond beautiful, however the ferry comes at the hefty price of 80 Dollars (which we only found out once we boarded) so unless you start your trip on Boxing Day like we did and every street is packed you might want to skip out on this.
We drove the Great Ocean Road from and to Melbourne, but if you drive in-land you will be much quicker so this might be an alternative if you are short on time. I think it is also a great idea to do the Grampians National Park on your way back to Melbourne.

Where to Stop

There are so many beautiful stops along the way so it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out which ones to do and which ones to skip out on. These are our stops. We did some of them on the way to Wallabong and some on the way back, but I will just list these in geographical order if you go from Melbourne to Wallabong. We drove from Queenscliff to Wallabong so a little further than the Great Ocean Road in total.

Bells Beach

This iconic beach is located right behind Torquay and even before the large sign marking the beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Every year one of the biggest surf competitions in the world is held here: The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. It was first held in 1962 making it the longest running competition world-wide. It generally takes place on Easter, but may be moved to other breaks if the conditions at the beach are not at the best. To be fair this is not the best beach for a leisurely beach day, obviously it is a famous surf beach because of the massive waves here. If you can make it for the competition I think this would be absolutely amazing (but probably also packed).

Great Ocean Road Memorial Sign

Obviously you need to stop at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch just before Lorne to snap your perfect picture. This spot is not surprisingly very busy and very touristy, but the beach just to the side of it is also super nice, so while you wait for the moment for the perfect shot you may as well check that out.


Lorne is a little seaside town, which is a super popular holiday destination. It has a beautiful beach, loads of nice cafés, restaurants and coffee shops and is perfect for a beach day. There are loads of cute cafés right at the beach like the Health and Hire café, where you can get smoothie bowls and coffee and hire boogie and surf boards at the same time. For a more substantial meal head to The Bottle of Milk and get their burgers. There are also waterfalls in the hinterland of Lorne, which are supposed to be stunning, but we sadly did not have time to visit them.

Scenic Drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay

This is one of the most scenic stretches of the road and honestly left me stunned with its beauty. The steep cliffs, the gorgeous colour of the water and the mountains to your right were just amazing. Take your time for this strip and really enjoy it. Try and stop at the lookouts, you may need to pull over quite quickly for them, which can be a little daunting for foreign drivers. I can´t even remember at how many we stopped or what they were called, but each one was lovely. You also may want to stop at the beaches behind Lorne, which tend to be less busy, but also not patrolled by lifeguards and farer away from snacks. Apollo Bay had a great beach, but you could not rent Boogie Boards, which Tristan was obsessed with so we had to leave.

Kennet River

If you want to see Koalas in the wild you have to have Eagle Eyes, be super lucky or head to Kennet River. There are loads of Koalas in the forest stretch here and while they are still hard to spot, it can help that other drivers stop when they see them. We actually saw three Koalas here and it is so interesting how well they blend in and are able to hide. The best chances to see them is at dusk or dawn, when they are most active.

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk

This little circuit walk is absolute bliss: it is only 800 Meters, but you walk deeply into the forest and get to see so many different plants. It is very quiet and relaxed (especially compared to other sights along the way), easy to access and quickly done. 

Cape Otway Lighthouse

This lighthouse is the oldest one that is still accessible in Australia. The coast along the Great Ocean Road and especially in front of Cape Otway is famous was extremely dangerous and saw many, many shipwrecks. This lighthouse was also usually the first sign of land for many sailors coming to Australia. I really, really liked not only the great panoramic views, but the interesting history of people living so secluded so many years ago. There is also an aboriginal bush walk offered on the grounds and a pretty good café, where you can enjoy coffee with an amazing sea view. 

Twelve Apostles

I doubt this will need much explanation and is pretty much a given stop along your road-trip. The apostles are sand stone stacks just off the coast and may be the most famous stacks of sand worldwide. Obviously this spots gets super busy especially between Christmas and New Years and it is almost impossible to move and/or get a nice photo. If you go around the same time as we did, you should go really early or really late at night.

London Bridge and the Grotto

There are many more stone formations along the coast, which you can visit. Again it was super busy, when we visited so while we visited London Bridge and also stopped at Broken Head we did skip out on the Grotto, because we got so tired of the crowds and lines. So it´s up to you where you decide to stop.

Where to Stay

We stayed at two different campgrounds, one close to Apollo Bay and another one in Wallabong. I am got going to recommend the one in Wallabong, because it was a huge Caravan park. Again if you visit between Christmas and New Year book well in advance! And if you plan on staying on free campgrounds make sure you get there early so you actually get a spot.
Our other campground close to Apollo Bay was absolutely amazing. It may actually have been one of my favourites. The location was perfect for visiting the Koalas, seeing the Lighthouse and to to the Rainforest Walk plus it is almost perfectly in the middle of the Great Ocean Road. The campground is so green and so quiet (especially for the period over the holidays), there are horses and chickens... I just loved it.

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