Three days on the Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

We were very excited to drive the Great Ocean Road in Australia! We drove from Melbourne to Adelaide and spent three nights along the way. You could do it faster, but if you have the time, we wouldn’t recommend it. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. On some stretches you could stop every few minutes to take pictures of the ocean or the road or a koala! And the roads are very well cared for, so the driving is really fun.

Here’s a detailed account of our journey.

Leaving Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

After a week in Melbourne we were sad to leave but excited to hit the road. We picked up our car at the airport and headed south to…

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is a typical first stop along the Great Ocean Road. Us not being surfers, we only made a quick stop for our first views of the beach and ocean.
Bells Beach, Australia

A little later, we pulled over on the side of the road at an unnamed beach to get our feet wet.
Great Ocean Road, Australia

And we kept pulling over for more pictures and more views. The color of the ocean was astounding.
Southern Ocean, Great Ocean Road, Australia

We eventually stopped for lunch in…

Lorne

A gorgeous town right on the beach, many people stay over in Lorne for the night. We wanted to make a bit more progress, though, so just stopped for lunch and a stroll. The beach was extremely busy and there was a surf class going on in the ocean.
Lorne, Australia

We stumbled on a Thai restaurant and were lured in by their extensive selection of hot sauce.
Chopstix Noodle Bar, Lorne, Australia

Full of noodles, we continued along the windy roads, stopping every time we saw a view, no matter how harrowing!
Great Ocean Road, Australia

Our next stop was…

The Kennet River

As its name implies, Kafe Koala, which is on the Kennet River, is a well-known koala-viewing spot. We, along with a bunch of other tourists, saw four koalas in the trees by the cafe. They were so cute, albeit a bit boring since they were pretty much asleep the whole time.
Koala, Kennet River, Australia

Koala, Kennet River, Australia

The birds were much more entertaining. They especially enjoyed landing on people’s heads.
Kennet River, Australia

Kennet River, Australia

With smiles on our faces, we headed towards our home for the night in…

Apollo Bay

We were really happy with our selection of Apollo Bay for our first night’s stay. We stayed at the Beachcomber Motel & Apartments and were pleased with our first experience at an Australian motel. It’s a small town, but has a big supermarket and a bunch of restaurants. We had some beers at the local brewery, Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, and made dinner back at the motel.
Great Ocean Road Brewery, Apollo Bay, Australia

And oh man, the stars! We were lucky to get a perfectly clear night and the stars were absolutely incredible. In the morning, we drove 20 minutes out of town to get some exercise along the…

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk

Just a few steps from the car park and you feel like you’re deep in the forest, and then just a bit further, you’re in a rainforest. Everything is lush and green. Remember bug spray! The trail is relatively easy with only a few gradual up-hill bits. And much of it is on a wooden walkway.
Maits Rest Rainforest Walk, Australia

The walk took us about a half hour to and then we got back in the car and headed to the most famous site along the Great Ocean Road…

The Twelve Apostles

We had read that the Twelve Apostles are overrated. We beg to differ. We found the rock formations unbelievably impressive. We only took in the view from above, going from the main tourist entrance. You can also go down to the beach to get a different perspective via the Gibson Steps  (which of course you have to walk back up!).
Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

After taking in the view for a while, we head off to check out more of the rock formations along the road including…

London Arch (formerly Bridge)

Part of the London Bridge collapsed in 1990, leaving two tourists stranded requiring helicopter rescue, and only one remaining arch. So now it’s officially called London Arch. It’s still quite a sight.
London Bridge, Great Ocean Road, Australia

London Bridge, Great Ocean Road, Australia

We also saw…

The Grotto

Seeing the archway down near the ocean requires going down (and then by necessity up) a lot of stairs. (This should’ve stopped Sarah, but it didn’t.) It’s cool, but we thought the views of all the surrounding ocean and rock were just as impressive.
The Grotto, Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Grotto, Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Grotto, Great Ocean Road, Australia

We then continued on our last stretch of the day to our destination for the night…

Warrnambool

Warrnambool is relatively big, seeing that it’s still pretty much a beach town. There is a lot to do and a lot of places to eat. We stayed at the Elm Tree Motel. We walked on the very windy breakwater rock pier wondering which waves would be big enough to get us wet. We went to Logans Beach where you can watch for whales at a built up platform. For dinner, we ate cheap burritos from a take-out place and mix-your-own ice cream.
Warrnambool, Australia

The Great Ocean Road ends at Warrnambool. But our journey continued! The next morning, we hit the road again turning inland towards…

Mount Gambier

We ate a small but delicious lunch of meat pies at the OK Pie Shop in Mount Gambier.
OK Pie Shop, Mount Gambier, Australia

Then we braved 100 degree weather with hats and sunscreen and plenty of water and walked around the…

Blue Lake

The Blue Lake is known for its bright blue color, which you can see from December-March. The rest of the year it is grey. We were there in February and it was stunning, but too hot! It took us about an hour to walk the whole way around. If you’d rather drive, there are plenty of places to pull over to see the view.
Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, Australia

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, Australia

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, Australia

After our walk, we cooled off in the car and drove north to…

Penola

Penola is known for being a good jumping off point to explore the Coonawarra wine region. We did a bit of exploring ourselves, going to three wineries: Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate (the most well-known), Zema Estate (recommended by our motel owners), and Patrick of Coonawarra (our favorite). Sarah partook in the complementary tastings, while Justin served as a great designated driver.
Coonawarra, Australia

Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Australia

We stayed at the Alexander Cameron Suites motel (the nicest and priciest of the motels we stayed in on this road trip). Penola is known for one of the best restaurants in this area of Australia – Pipers of Penola – but we were tuckered out by this point and wanted something more laid back. Fish and chips and a burger at Heyward’s Royal Oak Hotel did the job.
Heyward's Royal Oak Hotel, Penola, Australia

The next morning, we woke up and readied ourselves for the longest, most boring part of our trip, the drive to…

Adelaide

After passing back through all the vineyards in the Coonawarra region, the drive was not so scenic. We stopped for pies at a roadside shop in a random town along the way (and they were delicious). We said goodbye to our car in Adelaide and set off to enjoy a long weekend in the city.
Adelaide, Australia

Tips and Tidbits

  • The Great Ocean Road is the world’s largest war memorial, dedicated to those killed in World War I and built by returning soldiers.

The Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • Drive on the left!

Drive on Left in Australia

  • Be careful. In many areas, the roads are super twisty-turny around cliffs jutting over the ocean.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • We plotted out our road trip and booked our accommodations in advance. We saw a lot of “no vacancy” signs, so especially if you’re only going to be on the road for a few days, we’d recommend pre-planning.

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Three-day itinerary for the Great Ocean Road in Australia

23 Replies to “Three days on the Great Ocean Road”

  1. sara wigutow says: Reply

    what a great excursion!

  2. Oh what a wonderful post. Its amazing down there…and you did this justice. Im so pleased you took the time to do the trip in the 3 days and not just rush past with a quick photo. I love it down there and very proud of this part of Australia. Penola, my parents had friends Dads army mate and groomsman had a farm there. its a lovely part of South Australia, my ex husband and I stayed on the farm for a week many moons ago. Can I re post this on my page?

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Of course! That would be awesome! Glad we did your country justice 🙂

  3. Incredible views! I jost love how peaceful and relaxing the ocean looks.I deram of getting there someday, but until then I will watch your photos, live through your experience and daydream my Saturday :))

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      When we started planning our trip to Australia, I knew I wanted to make the Great Ocean Road a part of it. We were a bit nervous driving on the other side of the road (for us) but the roads were great and the ocean was such a lovely sight throughout.

  4. I could not be more jealous of your Australia road trip! I have always wanted to go to Australia, but have yet to make it to the other side of the world. Hopefully one day soon though! The Kennet River and Rainforest Walk sound like particularly amazing places to me… would just love both of those!!

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      I made seeing koalas a priority on our road trip and when I read about the spot on the Kennet River I knew we had to go. Seeing them all sleepy up in the trees was such a highlight for me.

  5. Australia has some really amazing landscapes and stunning coast line. I have yet to visit Australia, I love road trips so this side of Australia will definitely be on my bucket list!

  6. Your road trip sounds incredible! Brings back good memories of the Ocean Road for me – definitely agree, the 12 Apostles are so not overate! Warrnambool sounds really cool, wish we had made it there.

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      We loved Warrnambool so much my husband started looking at real estate there!

  7. Wow I would love to drive the Great Ocean Road in Australia! My parents have done it and it’s definitely on my bucket list. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and you did a great job of capturing it!
    detourswithdaisey.com

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thank you so much! Definitely do it if you get the chance!

  8. What a perfect road trip! I’d love to see the 12 Apostles and your photographs are just wonderful! One day we’ll get there!

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thank you! That’s how I felt and then we were there and it was incredible.

  9. What an amazing road trip. Your photos are beautiful, I can see why you stopped so many times!

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thank you very much! It was a great and easy place to take pictures!

  10. Stunning! Seeing the 12 Apostles is a bucket list item for me, and this road trip seems like the perfect way to do it! Some day, Australia… Some day…

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Australia was a bucket list place for me too. The 12 Apostles are absolutely stunning and you have to see them in person!

  11. nomadepicureans says: Reply

    What a beautiful drive! I always thought Australia was too vast to actually do a road trip, but I guess I was wrong. And who says the 12 Apostles are overrated? My gosh, your pictures look stunning 🙂

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      The Great Ocean Road is a pretty easy, manageable road trip. We did it slower than a lot of people actually. You can take as long or as short as you’d like. We looked into driving other places in Australia but then things got really vast!

  12. What beautiful pictures! The Twelve Apostles look absolutely incredible – got some serious travel envy right now! 😉

    1. Sarah and Justin says: Reply

      Thanks so much!

  13. travelsandtreatsblog says: Reply

    Wow, what a beautiful trip this is! I’m ashamed to admit that I do not know much about Australia and have yet to make my way out there, but I hope to soon! Thanks for sharing and letting me see more of this beautiful country.

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