Not many locations will take your breath away like Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Region. The awe-inspiring landscape, the good vibes, the people. It’s one of Australia’s great wonders & trust me, we aren’t short of them – so this is a big call.
You’ll find this beautiful stretch between Torquay and Nelson, with many gorgeous towns, lookouts, swimming and surf spots, old pubs and organic veggie stalls along the way, you’ll be seriously enchanted by the region.
We encourage you to take your time over four to five days, but we had two days to do Portland to Torquay. The best part about this drive, one of the most spectacular in the world, is that it’s your pace and you can make it what you like.
We kicked off our adventure in Portland, stopping for a long lazy picnic breakfast before heading off on our road trip. We always try to pick up fresh treats along the way (I’m an absolute sucker for a buttery croissant) and this gorgeous little town is full of beautiful vistas, so finding a quiet spot was easy.
From there we made our way through farms and fields until we started hugging the coastline just past Warrnambool. I was so taken aback by the landscape – as soon as we made our first stop, I knew I would love this very special place.
The first stop we made, we stumbled upon by chance and we were excited to see that the Bay of Islands boat ramp was not just a boat ramp at all; it was a beautiful vista point, somewhat secluded from the actual Bay of Islands lookout just around the corner (I’m always on the hunt for different perspectives and the road less travelled). We had this paradise to ourselves and walked barefoot down to the water to enjoy the view
We hopped back in the car bound for Loch Ard Gorge, a spot I have seen time & time again from friends and other photographers and one that I could not wait to experience for myself! The drive is short, but drink it all in because this part of the Great Ocean Road’s coastline is magical, with huge rock formations lingering just off the coast and plummeting into clear blue bays.
When you arrive, there is a walk you can take around the rim of the Gorge – do that first because WOW. The loop will take you to a set of stairs that you can scurry down which will lead you here… the incredible Loch Ard Gorge.
After Loch Ard Gorge we stopped for fish and chips on the bay in Port Campbell. We were so excited to reach the 12 Apostles though that we didn’t stay for long, although we wish we could have – this town was so cute!
You know that excitement you feel when you are about to see one of the wonders of the world? Yeah, we ALL had that and our anticipation got the better of us, so off we went!
On approach, you reach a ridge on the road and have an amazing view of the coastline. This vista fills you with perspective, as you truly get an appreciation for how tall the rock formations and cliffs actually are. The landscape is flat with native bush and wildflowers surrounding the road and as we passed, we could see kangaroos in the distance.
And then it happened. Rising out of the Southern Ocean, the 12 Apostles stood tall. As an Australian who has travelled a lot both domestically and internationally, I can say for sure that this is a view I will always remember.
TIP: Make sure you take the walk all the way around to the point and see the expanse from all possible angles. The southern side of the Apostles is just as divine, so don’t miss this! From this point you will have a 180 degree view of the coastline – to the right the 12 Apostles and to your left, Cape Otway.
If you keep winding your way around, you’ll come to the small town of Apollo Bay, where we rested our heads for the night. This little town packed a punch in terms of beautiful scenery and amazing food. We enjoyed a beer and delicious dinner at The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse (which serves up over 100 different craft beers).
Sitting on the open deck and watching the sunset over the bay was a beautiful end to an already perfect day, as the sun disappeared behind the mountain range, we made a cheers to an epic trip so far.
After a swim and coffee on the beach the next morning, we headed to beautiful Lorne in search of hidden waterfalls. We were not disappointed in what we found. Erskine Falls is a 15km round trip and relatively easy walk, particularly when you know you can cool off in a natural pool as beautiful as this. It’s not too far from Lorne either, so you can do this in the morning and enjoy a lunch on the beach in Lorne afterwards!
From Lorne, the Great Ocean Road coastline hugs the ocean, so the views are spectacular. There are lots of little areas where you can pull over and enjoy the vistasa, which is what we did on many occasions. As we sat on top of our car looking to the horizon, we were so happy to be there, together and experiencing an Australian summer like no other.
The final stop on our trip was Bells Beach, followed by a sun downer in the neighbouring surf town of Torquay.
Home to the Ripcurl Pro, Bells Beach is famous for its epic waves and, if you’re a surfer, getting a wave here is probably high on your bucket list. This was a pretty special part of the trip for us, all paddling out together and scoring a party wave!
As you look back to land from the sea, huge red cliffs emerge from the sand and tower into the sky. If you don’t surf, you can admire the ocean from an almost aerial perspective from the top and there is a great walk you can take along the bay.
This journey had all the good vibes of a quintessential Australian road trip and I would highly recommend visiting this part of the world!
You will be happy you did. There is something for everyone and the trip is sure to put a smile on your dial.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.