The Great Ocean Road drive is one incredible road trip! Find useful tips from my itinerary and some attraction highlights of what not to miss along the road. Finally, I share my top 5 tips health tips for staying fit & healthy while visiting The Great Ocean Road.
One of the incredible things to experience in South Australia is the famous Great Ocean Road drive. This is a stretch of road that spans a distance of 664km, and is best driven over 2-3 days to take in the highlights and enjoy the magnificent scenery. It can be driven from Melbourne to Adelaide or in reverse. I think the best scenery would be from Melbourne as the ocean is on your left side and pulling over is easier as well as the view seemed to be a bit nicer but I have also heard the same about driving the reverse. Either way, I’m sure you will not be disappointed with whichever way you choose to drive it.
Driving the great ocean road was a part of my 14 day itinerary in Australia. I had been to Perth before but this trip was going to include Melbourne and Adelaide. This trip was a Christmas holiday trip as in Malaysia we get about 3 weeks off for the holiday season. I was thrilled to see new parts of Australia and spend Christmas with good friends. First up on the itinerary was 5 days in Melbourne, followed by 2 nights on the Great Ocean Road and then 1 week in Adelaide over Christmas finishing up on New Year’s Eve where I would fly to Bali to spend a few days with a short flight back to KL in time for work on Monday!
GREAT OCEAN DRIVE ITINERARY
Day 1: Melbourne – Lorne (Apx 3 hours of driving)
I set out in the early evening of Day 1 and thought this was the best time to get a start on the road so that the 2nd day could be taken up with the main sites without being too rushed. Bearing in mind I had to be in Adelaide by 3pm on Day 3 (read on to find out why!). On this 1st day, because it was early evening, the 1st stop should be Bell’s Beach at sunset. This gorgeous beach is famous worldwide for surfing and the waves are a testament to why this is a great surfing location. After an hour here, my journey continued to Lorne where I would stay the night.
Day 2: Lorne – Port Fairy (Full day of driving and stopping to see sights)
This was a full day of driving and stopping to see the sights. I’ll give you the story of the rental caravan here so that you can understand how great this deal was financially and why it was a great option for seeing all the sights on Day 2 of the journey!
I booked a rental car to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide for a period of 48 hours but because the charges for dropping a car at a different location are so high, the total amount came to a little over $500 not including insurance and don’t forget about the high prices of petrol….I quickly realized that this was going to be expensive and started to look at other options for getting a vehicle at a cheaper price. There are services where you can get lucky and book a vehicle that needed to be transferred by a company from one city to another city for free. When I heard about this, I thought I would try my luck and signed up for a couple of websites that offered these options. The two that I signed up for were: TransferCar & iVroom. Most of the relocations were for vehicles that needed moving within the week and when I started looking it was still a couple of months before my trip.
I was patient and with just 4 days left before needing to start the drive, I received a notification about a match within my dates. I was thrilled and beyond excited to find out that my transfer car was going to be a brand new RV with sleeping capabilities, kitchen, and sitting area! I had to have it in Adelaide within 48 hours and only needed to pay $5/day, a $1000 bond (refundable upon successful arrival) and petrol which amounted to about $160AUD for the entire trip! Despite having strict conditions, this was a viable way of driving the Great Ocean Road and I would highly recommend this service if you are a bit flexible and willing to be patient. You can score a really great deal and have a blast while doing it!
Day 3: Port Fairy – Adelaide (7 hours of straight driving)
The final day, Day 3, was just a straight shot up from Port Fairy inland towards Adelaide. There isn’t much to see on this route and I really only stopped to see the famous Blue Lake in Mt. Gambier which you can read about below.
9 GREAT OCEAN ROAD ATTRACTIONS
1. Bell’s Beach
As I said earlier, Bell’s beach is beautiful and it was really great at sunset. The signs to get there are really clear and you will not be disappointed. Famous for its surfing and not really much else to see. If you come at dusk, which is when I did, you might catch a few surfers or just magnificent waves with the peacefulness of very few tourists around. Enjoy!
Stop here, if not for the night, then at least for a few hours. Great bakeries and shops line the street and there are several great things to see. It is a seaside town with a nice enough beach and there are several campsites around which was helpful for me arriving fairly late into the evening. I managed to find one that was closed but the number was left on the door and fortunately there was still room to park the caravan and get a good nights sleep.
3. Teddy’s Lookout
If you drive along George st. toward the back of Lorne, you will come across a famous lookout spot called Teddy’s Lookout. It is well signed and not difficult to spot. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. I woke up early, grabbed a coffee, and headed toward the lookout followed by a short hike up to Erskine Falls.
4. Erskine Falls
You will find Erskine Falls on, coincidently, Erskine Falls Road just outside of Lorne. It is best combined with a trip to Teddy’s Lookout. The falls are about 30m high and a very short walk toward the first viewpoint. The second viewpoint has a steep downward trail that is more strenuous on the way back up but nothing that you won’t be able to handle!
5. 12 Apostles
The famous 12 Apostles are located off the Port Campbell National Park and consist of a collection of limestone stacks that protrude from the ocean. Due to being clustered close to each other, they have made themselves into a very popular tourist attraction along the Great Ocean Road. The blasting winds and water erosion are slowly softening the limestone forming caves within the cliffs. These caves slowly became the pillars that you see today and some of them stand up to 45m in height! It is said that they are slowly disappearing due to mother nature. Can you count all 12 in the pictures below? I could only see 10.
6. Loch Ard Gorge
After driving for about 3 minutes you will come to another rock formation very close to the 12 Apostles. I decided to stop because I had the time and I was still due to arrive in Port Fairy a bit earlier than expected. The joy of traveling alone is the opportunity you have to meet various people. I met a lovely couple at the Gorge and we ended up stopping at the next 3 or 4 lookouts together just out of coincidence.
After looking at the Gorge from the top, venture down to the small beach cove and take a look at the pools of water that glisten in the sun and reflect the beauty of all the shades of blue that hit the light. You won’t be disappointed!
7. London Bridge
London Bridge is a small stop in the Port Campbell National Park and is another limestone formation resembling an arch, or in this case, the London bridge! This is a much quieter area than the Gorge or the 12 Apostles so it’s a nice stop to grab a snack, take some photos and rest for a bit. Enjoy the crashing waves and the power of mother nature at work.
8. Appreciate the Green as well as the Blue!
The Great Ocean Road certainly attracts tourists who marvel at the beauty of the coastline. However, don’t forget about the other scenes you will come across and pull over to appreciate the other landscapes that might be on the otherside of the vehicle! This was taken as I was leaving the town of Port Fairy and I love the contrast to what I had spent an entire day looking at.
9. Blue Lake – Mt. Gambier
Mt. Gambier doesn’t have a lot to see but it has a really blue lake! This lake, which attracts thousands of visitors year after year is set on a beautiful volcanic landscape. It actually one of the extinct volcano craters of Mount Gambier. Mysteriously there is a change in water color and many have theories for why this occurs but the most popular theory is that the change in water temperature is the cause of the change in colors! What do you think?
TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY
One tip I can give you for long road trips, airplane rides or just any extended period of time traveling in an expensive area is to think about your snacks, breakfast and light meals ahead of time. I included this at the top of the list because for me, on a budget, this was really important as a way to save some money. Don’t get me wrong – I do not skip out on eating great food and I think that if you travel and skip the regional food then you are definitely missing out. However, for things like breakfast, light lunches, and snacks, getting groceries ahead of time is a really good idea. Go to a grocery store and spend $50 on the above things plus some drinks and you will be all set!
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
My #1 tip for any long journey is to drink lots of water. By sticking only to water, you are limiting calorie intake from soda’s, juices or other sugary drinks. This can be hard on the road because it is always easier to grab something unhealthy at a gas station but by drinking water you are giving your body the natural replenishment of water that it needs when you are expending energy by sightseeing all day.
I always stock up on big bottles of water when I am at a gas station filling up the vehicle – it is an easy thing to do and every time I stop for gas it reminds me to buy some more water. This way I never run out and I am constantly drinking. I keep it next to me at the wheel and try to drink as much as possible. Of course, that means you will have to stop more frequently to use the washroom!
GET OUT AND WALK THE BEACHES
Driving for hours on end can be tiring and, quite frankly, is dangerous. There are numerous beaches to stop and pull over at and they will help break up the monotony of driving for so many hours. The Great Ocean Road drive is windy and some stretches can seem like they go on forever. My favorite stops along the great ocean road drive for having a walk on the beach are:
Lorne, Port Campbell, Bell’s Beach, Apollo Bay, & the Portland area beaches. If you would like to learn more about these and others walkable beaches, check out this post on the Great Ocean Road beaches.
HIKE TO ERSKINE FALLS
There are several areas that you can walk and hike to a point of interest. If your trip is limited by time, as mine was, be sure to check out Erskin Falls which requires a bit of walking from the parking lot. It is not exactly a hike as you would typically think but it gets you moving and out of the vehicle for an hour. If hiking is your thing then there are lots of other opportunities for longer hikes but they do take a bit of research in advance.
One of the most active things you can do on the Great Ocean Road drive is to do the Great Ocean Road hike. It is oone of the most famous areas to walk along the dramatic coastline that stretches from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles. You can find beautiful beaches, national parks historical points of interest and some wildlife! This walk is generally done over a 7 day period so be sure to know what you’re getting yourself into and plan accordingly.
Probably my favorite way to stay active on a road trip is to do quick workouts on the road. My favorite workout for a road trip is:
DO A QUICK WORKOUT ON THE ROAD
- 10 burpees
- 10 pushups
- 10 squats
AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) in 10 minutes.
It’s easy, you don’t need any equipment and it only takes 10 minutes. Believe me, you will be working hard and getting a good sweat on! You can do this just about anywhere. You need level ground, perhaps on grass, and you can always do it on the side of your vehicle in a quiet area so you don’t draw attention to yourself!
STOP AND REST AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Resting seems to be the opposite of what I have been talking about above in terms of putting activity into your drive, but resting is just as important as staying active. If you are feeling tired, pull over and take a nap. There are countless areas to pull over while you are taking photographs and enjoying the scenery. I loved being able to fall asleep on the couch in the caravan and waking up after an hour gave me the energy I needed to keep driving.
OTHER GREAT OCEAN ROAD ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
- 10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on The Great Ocean Road by Planetware
- The 10 Great Ocean Road Attractions You Can’t Miss by Big World Small Pockets
- and if you’re a real fitness enthusiast, check out a cool story about The Great Ocean Road Race, written by How To Spend It.
If you like this article, perhaps you would also like my article, Taipei Attractions on a Bicycle.
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Have you ever driven the Great Ocean Road? What did you stop and see? Would you do anything different from above? Comment below and let me know your experiences!
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