Hidden treasures await behind every twist and turn of the Great Ocean Road. This secret-revealing journey reveals some of the lesser known adventures, beautiful landscapes and unforgettable experiences on one of Australia’s greatest roads. Don’t tell anyone!
It’s not just the spectacular limestone formations that draw crowds from all over the world, the local food artisans and producers of the 12 Apostles are also putting the region on the map. The 88km gourmet path surrounding Port Campbell will take you on an indulgent road trip to chocolatiers, cheese makers, ice creameries, cellar doors, micro-breweries and friendly farm gates – all just moments from the 12 Apostles.
Enjoy an award-winning whisky tipple in Timboon and sample all 24 flavours of the finest ice cream. Pick your own farm fresh berries, taste Dairylicious Farm Fudge, taste the awarded Apostle Whey Cheese then watch the milking happen for yourself. Feed the Alpacas at Gorge Chocolates then treat yourself to a hand-crafted, artisan block. Finish the trail with a satisfying tasting paddle at Sow and Piglets Microbrewery and toast all the talented food artisans that made it such a great weekend.
Starting and finishing in Portland the grade 4, 250km walk loops through the Cobboboonee Forest to the beautiful banks of the Glenelg River. Walkers meander through the quiet fishing town of Nelson before traversing the spectacular dunes to the long, deserted shores of Discovery Bay. You’ll pass blowholes, the Petrified Forrest and seal colonies before the trail leads you to the breathtaking Bridgewater Bay and the historic Cape Nelson lighthouse before returning you to Portland.
Beginners and intrepid travelers alike love this epic loop self-guided trail. Challenge yourself with the full 13-day trek or tackle multi-day, full day or half day walks. Campgrounds are dotted along the trail or for hikers that like their walks pack free, a local friendly shuttle service can transfer you to and from your Portland or Nelson accommodation or car.
Hopkins Falls is the largest waterfall on the Hopkins River, located 15km from Warrnambool. Winter is the best time to view the 90m wide , 12m tall curtain-like falls. The two viewing platforms even have their own camera stands to help you snap an Insta-worthy family shot. Take the easy path to the pools below making sure to get the kids to keep an eye out for the baby eels jumping out of the rocky ledges… they are making their winter migration too.
At the entrance to Discovery Bay there is already a something to discover – the grand cavern of the Terragal Caves. You can’t miss it from the road and you are glad you didn’t when you hike up the small hill to get inside. The cavern forms the perfect natural frame of the dunes, native flora and sea behind them.
Located at the mouth of the Glenelg River and Discovery Bay the charming fishing and holiday village of Nelson is the last town before the South Australian border. A rugged coastal wilderness where seemingly endless sand dunes meet the mighty swells of the Southern Ocean. The Glenelg River flows through the tiny town center — home to a hotel, general store, post office, roadhouse and tourist information center.
Spend the weekend in serenity, paddling the mirrorlike water of the Glenelg River. It is one of the best canoe trips in Australia. The river winds through untouched bushland and below the rim of the towering ancient gorge, reaching up to 50m in places. Centuries of flowing water has dissolved the limestone rock forming caves and revealing fossils of long-extinct marsupials such as the Giant Kangaroo and the Marsupial Lion, as well as remains of the Tasmanian Devil, now extinct on the mainland. There’s plenty of living wildlife to see too. Platypus, ducks, moorhens, emus, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, koalas, wombats and kingfishers all call the area home as do more than 700 species of native plants that bloom in the bush, including dozens of different wildflowers.
Bring your own gear or hire a canoe or kayak from the large fleet at Nelson Canoe and Kayak Hire. As the longest running canoe company on the Glenelg River, they are the adventure tour specialists and can help you plan your paddling adventure as well as offering transport services and tour itineraries for all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re looking for a half day, full day or multi-day tour, canoe or kayak is the ultimate way to explore the Lower Glenelg National Park.
All ages and abilities will love of taking the rainforest walk through Mait’s Rest. The winding boardwalk leads you through centuries-old trees and stunning fern gardens. Not only does the boardwalk protect the fragile ecosystem of the area but offers unique views across the forest. If you’re lucky, you may make a few friends on route as koalas, swamp wallabies, possums and kangaroos are common in the area. Maits Rest is a 20-minute drive from Apollo Bay, and at only 800m (around 30 minutes return) it is ideal for little ones and grown-ups alike.
Discover the hidden gem of Sunnymead Beach — a quieter alternative to Aireys Inlet’s other local beaches. Its unique sandy rock formations make you feel like you’re on another planet and offer up an all family adventure exploring the secret coves and even swimming through the tunnel. Sunrise is a photographers dream as the sunrise makes the sandstone formations glow.
Make sure not to miss the one of the Great Ocean Road’s newest attractions — Wildlife Wonders. For an informative 75 minutes you will explore this spectacular bushland wildlife walk with your own conservation guide and meet the animals that call the Otways home — koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and emus just to name a few.
Keep your supplied binoculars at the ready as you walk along the 1.4km all abilities walk. It was designed by the art director of ‘The Hobbit’ films and landscape designer of the award winner ‘Hobbiton’ in New Zealand. What make you feel as warm and fuzzy as a koala is that all profits from your visit go towards projects being under taken by the Conservation Ecology Centre.
As part of your walk you will be able to stop into the Research Base where you’ll be able to learn about the local projects they have on the go. On our visit, a koala strolled right up to the centre, it must have wanted to check them out too! You’ll see the research in action as you make your way back to the visitor centre to browse the gift shop or enjoy a well-earned snack or drink at the cafe.
Walk as a guest on Gunditjmara country and experience a culture that is over 60,000 years old. Join Budj Bim Tours for an authentic, guided tour of Tyrendarra, the southern component of the Budj Bim landscape, situated almost entirely within the unique, ancient lava flow. These flows helped the Gunditjmara people create the oldest and most extensive freshwater stone aquaculture system in the world.
Your guide will take your for a 2.5h tour (available Wed, Thurs, Fri) and offers a never to be forgotten opportunity to experience the history and storytelling of this awe-inspiring landscape through the eyes and voice of a traditional owner. As you roam the remnants of the circular stone dwellings you will learn about Tyrendarra’s history as a traditional meeting place and camping area. You will also discover that the land is a part of major Dreaming trails and has been an important ceremonial site since the deep time – a period of at least 32,000 years.
It’s a Great Call to uncover the secrets of the Great Ocean Road.
Explore everything about a region by selecting a location.
Sign up to get the latest deals, tours & events along the Great Ocean Road
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.