Australia’s answer to Route 66, but with arguably a better view. The Great Ocean Road is simply named, because it’s simply stunning: a winding coastal touring route of sandstone cliffs and dense rainforest hinterland, all the way from Torquay in the East to Allansford in the West.

Day-trippers from Melbourne usually make a beeline for the famed 12 Apostles near Port Campbell and be back in town by dinner time, but it’s much more fun to take your time and do it properly; to stop for a roadside snack in Anglesea, stay overnight among the green hills of Apollo Bay or visit the iconic lighthouse at Airey’s Inlet. Just make sure to stretch your neck muscles in advance: there’s head-turning views around every loopy bend. 

Great Ocean Road tours

What to see on the Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles - Adventure Tours

Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles are a reminder that erosion can be cool when it tries. In fact there are only seven Apostles still standing, enourmous sandstone stacks, worn by waves and left marooned by the retreating coastline. They’re probably Victoria’s most iconic natural wonder, a fact that draws international visitors to Port Campbell by the truckload, particularly in summer. But while most Great Ocean Road tours rush inland from Melbourne, take a few photos and are back home by dinner timer, we like to round Cape Otway and approach the Apostles from the Sea. Pro tip: arrive at sunset for the best photos.

Bells Beach - Adventure Tours

Bells Beach

It’s an unassuming beach, like so many along the coast between Torquay and Anglesea. But Bells has nevertheless entered the global surfing pantheon as one of the best right hand breaks in the entire world. When winter hits the coast, pro surfers descend on this little strip of sand for the Rip Curl Pro competition (well worth a look if you’re passing by in March), but for the rest of the year anyone can enjoy the beautiful long breaks that roll in from the headland. There’s a surf school for beginners, with gear hire available if you need a wetsuit and board. 

Lorne - Adventure Tours

Lorne

A lot of Melbournians write Lorne off as a tourist trap, and to be fair it is the biggest and most popular town on the Great Ocean Road. But to our eyes it’s still a beautiful pit-stop – a place to grab a homemade pie from the bakery (and a vanilla slice while you’re at it; you’re only human), take a quick dip or head up into the hinterland. Nearby Erskine Falls is a secluded little gem, cascading down a natural rock face and getting lost in the thick Otways forest, or there’s always fishing in the river estuary or a spot of surfing near the point. Put it this way: there’s a reason the place gets crowded.

The Otways - Adventure Tours

The Otways

The Great Otway National Park (‘The Otways’ to Victorian locals) is really a lot bigger than people think. It stretches all the way from Anglesea in the east to Wattle Hill in the West, running parallel with the Great Ocean Rd and covering much of the surrounding hinterland in a mix of dense ferns, eucalypts and even (in one spot) giant Californian sequoias. Triplet Falls near Apollo Bay is one of its more spectacular waterfalls, but there are dozens of attractions hidden in the trees. Our favourite is the Otway Fly: a treetop walk, deep in the forest near the Aire Valley.

London Bridge - Adventure Tours

London Bridge

‘London Bridge is falling down…’ goes the famous children’s nursery rhyme, and, in 1990, that’s exactly what happened. The huge sandstone peninsula became a little more ‘insula’ than usual when the waves below finally ate away at the bridge between it and the mainland. Today there’s still an impressive archway left standing, although science says its days are numbered. You’ll find London Bridge just beyond the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell. Visitors to the Great Ocean Road used to be able to walk right out onto the island, but after the collapse everyone contended themselves with a nearby viewing platform. Smart move.

Articles on The Great Ocean Road