Before leaving on our adventures we knew there were some places that were high on our list to visit and the Great Ocean Road was one of those bucket list places. Let me tell you that it didn’t disappoint us in the slightest! We used an app called ‘wikicamps’ to help plan and find the must see places to stop and visit.
***Note- If you are planning to take off on an adventure within Australia we highly recommend purchasing and downloading the ‘wikicamps’ app. The app has inside local information about nearly every town in Australia. It gives great information on points of interest and places to camp and the best thing is, it’s a fraction of the cost compared to the value that you will receive. We use it nearly everyday!
Great Ocean Road (GOR)
The GOR drive is 247 kilometres long and starts at Torquay and ends at Allansford. Many people ask when is the best time to do to the drive but there are two answers. In winter you avoid the crowds and can visit places without massive lines. Or you can visit in summer when the water changes to a vibrant blue and photo opportunities of the iconic coast is taken up a notch.
We took the drive in winter and let me tell you that it was cold, windy and raining. None of us were prepared for the level of icy cold winds that hit us on the coastal drive. Before we left we hit up Kmart to pick up some cheap beanies, scarves and jumpers to keep warm and we still all roamed around in thongs!
We started our drive from Geelong and did a 3 day drive along the coast heading towards Apollo Bay for our first overnight stop. (don’t forget to read our blog about Geelong)
Torquay- The start of the Great Ocean Road
Torquay is the start of the Great Ocean Road and what a great little coastal town to kick off in. Our first stop we headed straight to the famous Belles Beach to see what all the fuss was about. When we arrived every car park was full with keen surfers. The beach has perfect surfing conditions with countless of waves rolling in, it was a surfers paradise.
Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Cream– feeling peckish? The chocolaterie is a great place to satisfy a sweet tooth. This place is filled with a large range of chocolate sweets and free chocolate tastings. The $2.50 mango white chocolate delicacies were a huge hit in our family! The kids enjoyed standing at the window which showed a behind the scenes look of the chocolate machines in action…….with their mouths salivating every time the chocolate passed.
Castle Rock– Just as we were standing on the lookout platform a rainbow appeared and lit up the dark rainy sky. It was well worth the stop and just a short walk from the car park.
Split Lighthouse– Here we managed a family photo. Not very often does this happen. At the light house you can take a light house tour or wander around down below on your own. We went for a walk through some of the beach tracks to give the legs a stretch after being on the road for an hour or so.
Great Ocean Drive Memorial Sign– The iconic Great Ocean Drive sign… yes we pulled over and grabbed a photo. There is some really interesting history about the Great Ocean Drive and I highly recommend getting out of the car to read about it. This is a good history lesson for both young and old. After reading the history of the road it made us appreciate the drive that little bit more.
Lorne Beach and Pier– For a nice little stop we recommend going to the Lorne foreshore. Make a picnic lunch and enjoy the waters view. The kids had a run around on the grass and up and down the pier.
Sheoak Falls– The walk to the falls is about 15 minutes from the road. The path has just been upgraded and it has a boardwalk and seat at the end. At the end of the walk is a beautiful view of the ocean. Whales are known to be spotted from here. If you continue to walk along the track you will end up at the base of the falls and Sheoak River. Be mindful that the falls are present during winter.
The drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay is stunning. The drive quickly turns into a drive through the trees which reminds us of driving through a rain forest. There are plenty of photo opportunities along the drive. Mount Defiance is a nice spot to stop and grab a pic. Plus the ample landscape views of the grassy hills with the livestock roaming free is simply stunning.
Apollo Bay is where we stayed for the night. We enjoyed a great meal at the local pub Great Ocean Road Brewhouse and wandered through the town after. The owners were friendly and they had a roaring fire to keep everyone warm. After we enjoyed walking along the beach as the sun set…..yes there was a very cold chill in the air! Apollo Bay is well known for the seals, we didn’t actually go to the hot spots to see any.
After passing through Apollo Bay the GOD road will start to head inland and take you through the National Park. This is where we were on the hunt for koala’s. This stretch of road is well known for koala’s hanging out in the tall trees. Unfortunately it wasn’t our lucky day and we didn’t see any.
Apostle Lookout– Ahh yes the well known Apostles. If you have ever wanted to see the Apostles then I suggest you make it part of the itinerary for your next adventure. These apostles are falling fast. From 12 to 8 standing apostles, mother nature is harsh and seems to be taking them down in her tracks.
Shipwreck Anchor– History at it’s best. There are two anchors left from Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji. This walk is not for the faint hearted. The steps are on a steep decline and is about a 2km walk. We started this and quickly turned around, our little ones were not going to make it. Also remember that you can only see these on LOW TIDE.
Gibsons Steps– This point of interest is a little hit and miss. The steps are closed more often than they are open. Depending on the time of year, weather conditions and tides will impact the opening times of the gate. If passing through check it out but don;t be too surprised if the gate is closed.
London Bridge– You can probably imagine why this lookout is called London Bridge. This was a fascinating POI to visit as you can see the different rock layers in the land. It was very calming to sit and watch the whitewash smash against the coast. It really was mesmerizing.
Bay of Islands– There are two locations for the bay of islands. Both are stunning. The first is for a lookout only and is a great spot for a photo opportunity. The other lookout is a boat ramp. Now curiosity got the better of us and even though we didn’t have a boat we wanted to have a look. We just couldn’t grasp the idea of how a ramp was able to get past all the roacks…..we we are glad we went and had a look. The boat ramp is the steepest boat ramp we have ever seen in our life! Wow!
Massacre Bay Swimming Beach– If you are taking the drive in the warmer months then this little bay will be perfect for cooling off. We love a good beach swim and love it more when there are a few rocks in the water as that means more fish for underwater photography.
Warrnambool was our second overnight stay. It is a busy city with all the the big businesses that you would need to top up on any supplies. We didn’t stay here long but here are some places to check out when you are here next.
Rockpools (off viaduct Road)– this place is a kids paradise. The water is low and there are plenty of level rocks to walk along. Looking for crabs, starfish and shells is a favourite activity for our kids when they are around rockpools and there is plenty to be found here!
Silo Art– Warrnambool’s West Water Tower sits proudly in Victoria Park Reserve. It portrays the images of three local migrants and refugees who have integrated into the community, representing their hardships and challenges. This was a great to go and see. It is one big silo and has an area where caravans can turn around if you are going to see it on your way out.
Portland is not technically on the Great Ocean Road but it has been added in here because it is so beautiful. Originally we had no plans to go Portland but boy are we glad we did. We really loved the town. We spent 2 days exploring the blowholes and wind farms. This is a popular spot for whale watching but unfortunately we were one day too late. The day before the locals experienced a whale that came into the harbour!
We hope you enjoy this drive as much as we did and we hope that we have provided some sound advice to help navigate your way through the endless stop offs on the GOR drive.
Dan and Kylie x
Fearlessly and Exploring