Best things to do on the Great Ocean Road
What inspired you to plan a trip to the Great Ocean Road? Was it the prospect of revitalising coastal walks or seeing stunning vistas? Perhaps you want to explore Australian history and sample the finest food and wine. Or maybe get your thrills riding a zip-line or getting up close to a koala. There’s a whole world of exciting things to see on Victoria’s famous southern coastline.
Top 10 things to do on the Great Ocean Road
From seeing the 8 that remain of the 12 Apostles to sipping a chilled beer at Airey’s Pub, the 10 top things to do on the Great Ocean Road include koala or kangaroo spotting and a treetop walk as well as visiting a dramatically-sited lighthouse and seeing ancient shipwreck ruins.
1. Marvel at the 12 Apostles
Of the must-sees along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, the 12 Apostles are probably the best-known, and are famous worldwide. These striking limestone stacks – around 4 hours’ drive from Melbourne – arise from the Southern Ocean, formed after years of wind and waves. The battered cliffs became caves, then arches and finally columns. Only 8 Apostles actually remain, but eventually it is likely that more of the nearby cliff will also collapse and become pillars in the same way.
2. Go koala spotting at Kennett River
Don’t miss a trip to Kennett River if you want to see native koalas in the wild. Around 40 minutes’ drive from Lorne will take you to the Grey River Reserve just beyond Wye River. Wander along Grey River Road and you are bound to spot koalas in the eucalyptus trees, as long as you look carefully. The cute marsupials can also be seen around town as long as you don’t forget to cast your eyes upwards.READ: our guide to seeing koalas on the Great Ocean Road
3. Discover our recent and ancient history at Cape Otway Lightstation
Australia’s most important lighthouse enjoys a dramatic, cliff-top setting at Cape Otway, where the Bass Strait meets the Southern Ocean. The ‘Beacon of Hope’ was established in 1848, after tragic shipwrecks led to lost lives along this rugged stretch of coastline. Stunning views, as well as delving into the history of Gadubanud country, make this a most fascinating spot to visit > more infoDiscover the indigenous culture of the Great ocean Road
4. Stroll along deserted sands at Wreck Beach
Photographers in particular love the picture perfect setting of this isolated beach that’s made for strolling, not swimming. At low tide, the anchors of the Fiji and Marie Gabrielle are visible, making for some breathtaking photo opportunities. It’s well worth the two kilometre walk, including a 350 step descent. The sandstone platform can also be explored, but do look out for sea swells even during low tide.
5. Fly through a rainforest canopy in the Otways
A selection of treetop adventures are yours to experience in Weeaproinah. Deep within the Otway rainforest, visitors can take in the sights and sounds via the elevated Treetop Walk. If you’re feeling more adventurous you can take an adrenaline filled Zip Line ride. The Treetop Walk stretches for 600 metres and is thus the world’s longest – as well as the highest at 35 metres tall. The one hour walk can be reached via an hour’s drive from Apollo Bay > tickets and more info
6. Enjoy a long pub lunch with local beers and views at Airey’s Inlet
The deceptively spacious Airey’s pub makes a great detour when taking the Great Ocean Road trip, or visiting Airey’s Inlet. Sample beers from the on-site Salt Brewing Company, or savour a delicious lunch or dinner in one of three vast dining spaces.
7. Meet the kangaroos at Anglesea Golf Club
Anglesea Golf Club’s abundant supply of grass, plants, shoots and trees mean that it is home to a sizeable Eastern Grey Kangaroo population. Daytime and twilight tours give visitors the chance to see the animals up close, and learn all about research being undertaken by Melbourne University’s Zoology department more info
8. Take a helicopter ride over the spectacular coast
Enjoy a unique perspective over Port Campbell National Park and the Shipwreck Coast when viewing Victoria’s coastline from the air. This popular helicopter flight comes highly recommended by those who’ve taken to the skies.
9. Splash in a waterfall at Erskine Falls
Follow the Erskine Falls Road from Lorne for nine kilometres to reach 30-metre Erskine Falls. From the car park, the first lookout is just five minutes’ walk, and from here you can see the water tumbling down into a green, tree-fern gully. You can also view the falls from this gully by taking a 240-step descent.READ: 11 beautiful waterfalls along the Great Ocean Road
10. Take your photo under the Great Ocean Road historic sign
The Great Ocean Road memorial sign commemorates the back-breaking work undertaken to built this epic coastal route. Between 1918 and 1932, World War I veterans constructed the road – for practical as well as scenic reasons. Prior to the road’s opening, travel between Victoria’s isolated coastal settlements was very difficult.
Visit the unmissable viewpoints
No doubt one of the best reasons to visit the Great Ocean Road is to soak up some of the best views in Australia. Whether you prefer sweeping vistas of the coastline and its limestone rock formations, or the majestic peaks and surf, while the unique light at the Bays of Islands and Martyrs makes for superb photo opportunities. The splendid views from Cape Patton and Mount Defiance are also unmissable.
Bay of Islands
This somewhat underrated Great Ocean Road viewpoint stands out due to the unique quality of light. Even in overcast conditions, this guarantees some great shots of the Bay of Islands’ towering limestone pillars.
A steep climb from the car park takes just five minutes, and the sweeping views over Apollo Bay and the Southern Ocean beyond make it very much worthwhile. Marriners Lookout is just a few minutes’ from Apollo Bay – just head north along the Great Ocean Road before turning into Marriners Lookout Road.
Bay of Martyrs
The Bay of Martyrs lies close to the Great Ocean Road, just outside Peterborough. Dusk is the best time to visit, when the setting sun lights up Massacre Point and the islands from behind.
Teddy’s Lookout in Lorne
Venture beyond the top end of Lorne’s George Street to picturesque Teddy’s Lookout. A recently constructed boardwalk leads to a viewing platform; from where are panoramic views over the surrounding coastline. Look out from the lower platform for mountain peaks, and watch the waves break as they enter the mouth of the St George River.
Between Lorne and Apollo Bay is Mount Defiance, affording visitors magnificent coastal views towards Artillery Rocks. To reach the scenic lookout, take the turn-off between Wye River and Lorne.
Also between Apollo Bay and Lorne is Cape Patton, where the lookout enables wonderful easterly views towards Skenes Creek and Apollo Bay. Access is via the stretch of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay’s east.READ: 11 beautiful waterfalls along the Great Ocean Road
Walks and trails
Walking is one of the best Great Ocean road things to do, allowing you to get up close and personal with the wildlife, beaches, rainforest and rivers of this beautiful region. Walks and trails vary between just a few metres or kilometres to the Great Ocean Walk itself.
Hike the Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk is a highly rewarding way to see the sights of this iconic coastline. Create your own route as you follow over 100 kilometres of path, walking along pristine beaches, elevated cliff-tops and under towering trees. The route between the 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay takes around 8 days on foot.
Cumberland River and Cumberland Falls
This route near Lorne is perfect for adventurous types who don’t mind a spot of river crossing and rock scrambling. It’s worth the effort, as you can take a refreshing dip in the tranquil pools when taking a break from the strenuous 3-hour return trip. Along the way, enjoy seeing the majestic cliffs that line this river valley.
Loch Ard Gorge
To walk this area is to become absorbed in the dramatic history of the Shipwreck Coast. There are a number of trails to follow varying between 200 metres and 3 kilometres. Look out over Lord Ard Wreck or Mutton Bird Island, or visit Thunder Cave and the Razorback. The gorge is 8 kilometres east of Port Campbell > more info
This location is named for Hugh Gibson, a local settler who carved the steps into the cliff-side. A visit to Gibson Steps really emphasises the sheer size of the limestone pillars and cliff faces this area is known for. The steps can be accessed via the 12 Apostles or Gibson Steps car parks. From the former, the walk starts behind the kiosk and is just over two kilometres return, while from Gibson Steps’ car park the trip is just 50 metres return > more info
Anglesea Heath Walk
The heath walk between Point Addis and Anglesea involves crossing track, beach, rugged steps and short steep hills. Along the way you can expect to see native wallabies, kangaroos and wildflowers set against a backdrop of lush green heathland, rich ochre-hued cliffs and sparkling blue sea > more info
Outdoor activities on the Great Ocean Road
Golfing, fishing, canoeing and even jumping and zip-lining are popular activities when travelling the Great Ocean Road. As well as the ubiquitous surfing, of course…
Learn to surf
The best souvenir to take home from your time on the Great Ocean Road is your skill in catching waves. Try a 2 hour surfing lesson at Anglesea where you’ll get a full briefing, equipment hire and tips and tricks to help you catch your first break. Suitable for adults, teens and children over 8, this is a fun activity that you’ll remember forever. You can take your class at either Anglesea or Torquay.
READ: Check out the Great Ocean Road's best beaches
Go fishing off the Lorne pier
Lorne Pier is a popular spot with people from near and far. The original pier from 1879 was rebuilt to a thoughtful design in 2006, allowing anglers access to many species of fish. The big waves often attract predatory types, and there are different fish to target each season. Salmon is a favourite in winter. while snapper are sought-after during summer – more info
Hire a canoe or pedal boat on the Anglesea River
You can rent a selection of canoes, paddle boats, aqua bikes and fun boats on the calm Anglesea River all year round. Paddle through the quiet waters of the river under bridges and boardwalk. Make sure to look out for local birdlife along the way. Safety and other equipment is provided. You just need to paddle and go!
Jump on the foreshore trampolines in Lorne
In a foreshore setting, the trampolines at Lorne Sea Baths are perennially popular with families. Enjoy jumping up and down under the blue skies as you absorb the sights and sounds of this fun seaside activity.
Play mini golf at Aireys Inlet
Great Ocean Road mini golf at Airey’s Inlet is a course with a very local flavour. There are 30 holes celebrating this scenic region, including the latest addition – a themed 12 Apostle course. The Shipwreck Course, meanwhile, has 18 holes and includes a miniature lighthouse and replicas of the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch.
Climb, zipline and explore the rainforest in Lorne
Live Wire Park in Lorne provides thrill-seekers with an electrifying adrenaline rush. See the sights of the Great Ocean Road from up high while roller coasting, zip lining, climbing and exploring during this adventurous experience.
Great Ocean Road wildlife experiences
If you want to spot native Australian wildlife, then the Great Ocean Road is the perfect place. Walk with emus, camp with koalas, picnic with parrots, see kangaroos or even spot whales – this area has got the lot.
Camp with koalas at Bimbi park
In a sheltered spot among the gum trees is Bimbo Park, where you can literally camp among the koalas. Bimbi is derived from a native Australian term meaning ‘a place of many birds’, and the area is abundant in feathered creatures as well as the cutest marsupials.
Picnic with King Parrots at Wye River
The Wye River area is a favourite with birdwatchers, as you might spot species such as rosellas, kookaburras, Gang Gang and Yellow Tailed Cockatoos as well as king parrots. There are good swimming and surfing beaches in the area, and yous could also see kangaroos, echidnas, koalas, possums and swamp wallabies.
Go for a walk with an emu at Tower Hill
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is situated within a dormant volcanic crater and is home to a range of indigenous animals and birds – including emus. As well as interesting geological formations you may see ducks, kangaroos, swans, koalas and blue wrens. Walking terrain varies from flat and smooth boardwalks to steep, scenic uphill climbs.
Look for whales at Logans Beach
Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool is a must for those who wish to spot whales. Female Southern Rights return most winters to calve, so those who visit between June and September have a great chance of seeing the huge ocean mammals – and their young – from the beach or viewing platform.
Watch the kangaroos at Princetown boardwalk
Princetown’s modern boardwalk is a prime spot from which to see the wildlife of the estuarine flats. There is a car park on Old Coach Road West, or walkers can set off from Post Office Road’s viewing platform. The 600 metre boardwalk links up the town, river, fishing platform and picnic site.
Food and wine on the Great Ocean Road
So much temptation – and so many options to wash it all down with. The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s best natural larders, where you can buy fresh market produce, sample handmade cheeses or ice cream, pick your own raspberries, try craft beers by the beach or sip a fine local wine among the grapevines.
Indulge at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie
Just in case the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie doesn’t sound tempting enough, it is also an ice creamery. Yum. There’s a dine-in cafe, and you can take away mouthwatering sweet treats or book into a Rocky Road or Chocolatier class. Special high teas are also available.
Try all the beers at the Great Ocean Road brewhouse
Trying them all may be too tall an order, as there are over craft 100 beers available at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. But there’s no need to rush. The brewhouse also has a bistro serving pub classics like parmas to burgers, cider on tap, a bottle shop and accommodation on site. No need to nominate a designated driver.READ: Great Ocean Road wineries, breweries and distilleries you can visit
Go raspberry picking at Pennyroyal
Visit during ‘pick your own’ season in summer and you can enjoy the freshest possible fruit, plucked from the bush by your own fair hand. Pennyroyal is a working berry farm located between Barwon Downs and Birregurra, easily accessible from the Great Ocean Road > more info
Visit a cheese factory
Get your cheese fix at Apostle Whey Cheese. Here you can try award winning local brie, camembert and smoked varieties during your cheese-tasting experience. Kids will love seeing the cows being milked at 4pm daily.
Pick up supplies at the Apollo Bay farmers market
Sample and choose from only the freshest local produce at Apollo Bay Farmer’s Market – a must-do if you’re planning a picnic, are camping or self-catering. The impressive selection varies according to season.
Choose your favorite flavour at The Timboon Ice creamery
Timboon’s Ice Creamery provides a truly local experience. Their milk comes from the neighbouring farm, and the range of flavours often feature locally sourced produce too. The light-filled interior is just as refreshing, and the creamery even run their own Sundae School classes.
Relish your riesling at Basalt wines
Basalt vineyard, winery and restaurant is just 9 kilometres from Port Fairy, close to the Great Ocean road in south west Victoria. Here you can sip a deep red Pinot Noir, sample a fresh and lively Riesling or try Tempranillo, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
History and cultural experiences
Whether you’d rather take a step back 40,000 years to ancient times or wander round a contemporary art space, the Great Ocean Road’s galleries, museums, indigenous spaces and monuments can ensure your journey is one of discovery.
Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village
If you want to learn about Australia’s fascinating past, then Flagstaff Hill is the place to do it. Learn all about the battles those early sailors faced as they tried to make new lives for themselves in this far-off land of plenty, through the stories shared by the few who survived the Shipwreck Coast.Read: the best great Ocean Road attractions
Discover the Great Ocean Road Story in Lorne
Thanks to innovative engineering, visitors to the Great Ocean Road Story in Lorne can learn all about the route’s construction. Thoughtful displays pay tribute to those who toiled on this iconic stretch of highway, some of whom lost their lives due to the dangers involved.
Tour the Split Point lighthouse
For truly panoramic views over the Victorian coastline, don’t miss taking a tour of Split Point Lighthouse. You’ll learn all about the history of this working lighthouse and may even see a pod of dolphins or spy a whale from the top. If you think it feels vaguely familiar, you might recognise this landmark from classic Aussie kids TV show Round the Twist.
Pick up a momento at Qdos arts
Qdos arts in Lorne is a carefully curated arts venue, with 10 annual solo exhibitions. Outside, there is the adjoining Qdos Sculpture Park, and inside you’ll also find a cafe for refreshments including sharing platters and cake. Visitors can even book an overnight stay in one of the treehouses.
Browse the Eagles Nest Gallery
Eagles Nest is a fine art gallery in Airey’s Inlet on the Surf Coast. There are permanent displays of works by local and regional artists, as well as bi-monthly exhibitions. The gallery showcases a range of media, including print, sculpture, glass art, jewellery and paint.
Spa and relaxation
A spa break might not immediately spring to mind when you think of touring the Great Ocean Road – but a visit to the natural hot springs at Warrnambool is a definite highlight.
Relax in the hot springs at Warrnambool
The Great Ocean Road’s end in Warrnambool is the location for the Deep Blue Hot Springs. This geothermal bathing spa is situated outdoors, where visitors can enjoy the warm, therapeutic natural waters. For adults only, this is a sanctuary featuring fifteen thermal bathing rock pools as well as a selection of sensory caves. There is also an eatery and salt room on site, the latter offering salt therapy respiratory cleansing sessions.
What will fill your days on the Great Ocean Road?
Deciding how to fill your days on the Great Ocean Road might be a challenge – simply because there is so much to choose from. Delve into history, explore the arts, dive right into an ice-cream sundae, learn to surf or vow to hike the entire Great Ocean Road Walk. It’s your trip down this iconic stretch of Victoria’s stunning coastline, so make it your way.Disclosure: Travel the Great Ocean Road assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please visit our disclosure page for more information.