When you think of Australia, you imagine cliffs overlooking the ocean, strange animals (which can be found only there) and boundless landscapes.
The Great Ocean Road is this and, in my opinion, it is a must-see itinerary in Australia.
This road, which has just turned one hundred years old , goes between the Victorian town of Torquay and Nelson.
Many drive Great Ocean Road to travel between Adelaide and Melbourne as it's perfect if you want to take a road trip.
Along the way, there are so many places worth stopping at and, in fact, this road is considered among the most beautiful around the world.
In this post I try to answer the most frequent questions and I will tell you about our itinerary by car.
HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED?
I would say that it takes at least three days, especially if, like us, you will leave from Melbourne and you want to reach Adelaide (or you will do the opposite).
The stretch from Torquay to Nelson is about 400 km, but to reach Adelaide from Nelson you will have to travel another 471 km, for a total of 937 km including those from Torquay to Melbourne.
Keep in mind that, as already reported in the post on our road trip in Australia , speed limits are never more than 100-110 km /h and driving is strongly discouraged at night.
The risk of accidents is quite high because in this area there are many animals and the roads are not cordoned off or illuminated.
But the most important thing you have to consider is that on the Great Ocean there are many places where it would be worth stopping, in addition to the most popular ones, so you could also dedicate a week (or ten days) to this itinerary, if you particularly like it.
THE CLIMATE IN AUGUST
Winter is certainly a difficult season to visit this area. The climate changes frequently and the temperatures are rather low.
After all I think we were lucky enough because, during the day, the rains were short and the sun always appeared.
I advise you to bring heavy and water resistant clothing.
We had a great time with these Decathlon down jackets : they are super compact and warm. They also have a hood and a high collar, so you don't need to wear scarf and hat.
Another essential item is the k-way (also taken from Decathlon ), expecially if, like us, you want to travel without the umbrella.
Last thing: in winter the sun sets early, just after 18. To take full advantage of the days, it is therefore advisable to get up very early in the morning.
WHERE TO STOP ALONG GREAT OCEAN ROAD.
As I mentioned before, our itinerary started from Melbourne and our first stop was the quiet town of Geelong (despite being the second most populous state in Victoria), an hour away. Here you will find a beautiful seafront where you can walk and see some particular statues, the Geelong Bollards .
The next stop is Torquay (20 minutes from Geelong), where you will see the first endless beaches typical of this area. Indeed, Torquay is one of Australia's best surf spot.
Both Quicksilver and Rip Curl are based here.
South of Torquay, you can't miss Bells Beach , the beach where the movie Point Break was set.
The beach is very suggestive and the road to reach it is really special thanks to its steep climbs and descents.
In Torquay we ate one of the best fish and chips of the holiday at Fisho's .
If you have never seen a kangaroo, in Anglesea (15 minutes from Bells Beach) you will have your first encounter with this animal. Just go to the Anglesea Golf Club to see the kangaroos from the fence. You will also find other endless beaches like those in Torquay.
This is one of the villages (30 minutes from Anglesea ) that I liked the most thanks to its colorful houses on the hill. Go to the Teddy's lookout to admire the Great Ocean Road from above.
Located 30 minutes from Lorne , Kennett River is a good place to see lots of animals and Here we saw three very large kangaroos and two koalas.
This was our first stop to sleep (30 minutes from Kennett River). Here you will find other beautiful beaches and very characteristic houses like those of Lorne.
Another reason to stop in Apollo Bay is the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse where we ate very well (steak and burgers) and drank some good beers. It is also possible to watch matches of any sport and play pool. Just keep in mind that in winter it is quite calm and therefore dinner is served from 6pm to 8pm.
At Apollo Bay we stayed at the Stay Inn, where we felt at home. The apartment was equipped with everything and breakfast was included (uncommon in Australia). The house had a beautiful garden where in the morning there were so many colorful parrots.
GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK
Once you leave Apollo Bay , the landscape changes completely and you get to the heart of the Great Otway National Park. You leave the coast for a while and the road winds through beautiful forests and valleys.
Unfortunately we could not stop at the Maits Rest trail because in August 2019 it was under maintenance.
If you wish, you can pay a visit to the lighthouse located in Cape Otway.
In this stretch of road, keep your eyes open: on the eucalyptus trees you can see some koalas!
PORT CAMPBELL NATIONAL PARK
Here is one of the must-see places on the Great Ocean Road, just an hour drive from Apollo Bay .
This famous park is free (crazy!) and boasts some truly spectacular rock formations, including the famous 12 apostles.
In addition to the 12 apostles, I recommend you to spend some time at the other lookouts because it is really worth it: Loch Ard Gorge, Tom and Eva, the Razorback , London Bridge, the Grotto, Bay of Martys and Bay of Islands (and there are many others ).
Bay of Islands (last photo), in particular, was a real surprise and, thanks to the help of the binoculars, we also saw the penguins on one of the stacks.
In Warrnambool we slept the second night. This city is famous because in winter it is one of the main places to spot whales. To try to see them, you can head to the Logans Beach Whale Watching Platform.
For dinner, I highly recommend going to the Hotel Warrnambool.
This hotel has both a restaurant and a bar. We tried the bar and ate very well (try the House Cured Salmon Salad , with smoked salmon and poached egg). Furthermore the bar is beautiful because of its liberty style and has a pleasant atmosphere thanks to the fireplace.
TOWER HILL WILDLIFE RESERVE
Just 15 minutes far from Warrnambool, there is this beautiful nature reserve. Once It was a volcano, but today it is a green oasis for animals.
Walk calmly and silently through its paths because the animals are rather shy and tend to run away. We have done the one hour route that goes up the slopes of the volcano and we saw an emu, some wallabies and a koala.
It is one of the places that most surprised me and I wanted to spend more time. The absurd thing (in a positive sense) is that entry is free!
Our last stop on the Great Ocean Road was the quiet village of Port Fairy , which is 17 km from the Tower Hill reserve .
Port Fairy is really pretty, with its colorful houses and pine trees.
Besides the village, you can visit Griffits Island and walk to its lighthouse. Along the way, you will have the chance to spot animals. For example, we met several wallabies .
After Port Fairy we still wanted to make a stop at Cape Bridgewater , where you can take several walks along the coast and spot the seals.
Unfortunately we still had 600 km to reach Adelaide by the evening and we therefore preferred to to stop for lunch in the vineyards of Coonawarra .. it was really worth it .. but I will talk about this in the post dedicated to Coonawarra and Adelaide!