18 stops along the Great Ocean Road you won’t want to miss. The ultimate guide to beaches, viewpoints and wildlife on this spectacular coastal drive.
About the Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of most famous roads in Australia. Located in southern Victoria, the Great Ocean Road (B100) stretches for 243km from Torquay to Allansford. Hugging the rugged coastline and passing through the large swathes of the Great Otway National Park, this is one of the most breathtaking drives you’ll ever take.
With its stunning scenery and of course all the cute and colourful creatures en-route, there’s so many places to stop along the Great Ocean Road. From east to west, here’s 18 of our favourite locations and viewpoints along the Great Ocean Road.
All of the below are either directly along Great Ocean Road or walking distance from it.
Don’t miss our guide to the Waterfalls and wildlife of the Great Otway National Park.
1. Bells Beach
One of the most famous surf beaches in Australia, if not the world. This small sandy bay is tucked in between two headlands and is famed for its swells. Annually, every Easter the beach comes alive with the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition attracting the worlds best surfers. It also featured as the final scene in one of my favourite movies, Point Break (though it turns out it was actually filmed elsewhere?!)
If you want to spend a bit more time here, there’s a 3.2km walking and cycling track from Bells Beach to Bird Rock, taking you right along the costal cliff line. The Bells Track is Section 4 of the Surf Coast Walk and offers some great views of along the coast and decent vantage points to watch and photograph local surfers. Click HERE for Map.
2. Kangaroos of Anglesea Golf Club
With a bit of luck you can come across Kangaroos anywhere along the Great Ocean Road. But if you want a guaranteed sighting of wild Kangaroos, stop off at Anglesea Golf Course. Seeing these iconic marsupials hopping around on the fairways and greens is a pretty bizarre sight. What a place to play a round of golf!
Remember this is a private Golf Club. You can’t just drive there, park up, wander in and snap away. It’s walking distance from the beach and you can easily spot and photograph them from the courses fenced perimeter. But if you want to get up close and personal, you can always join one of the golf clubs daily Kangaroo Tours. Click for HERE for Map.
3. Split Point Lighthouse & Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary
Known as the ‘White Queen’, this picturesque 34m high lighthouse was built in 1981 and is still operating. You can climb up to the top balcony for great views along the Lorne – Queenscliff Coastal Reserve and if you’re really lucky, you might even spot a pod of dolphins or whales passing by.
Whilst at the lighthouse, wander down to some of the multiple nearby lookouts along the cliffs edge. They give a variety of views over the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary and its rock formations. Fancy a dip? The sanctuary is popular with both scuba divers and snorkellers. You can find Weedy Sea Dragons, Cat Sharks and Port Jackson Sharks here. Don’t worry, none of them pose any danger to humans. Click HERE for Map.
4. Memorial Arch at Eastern View
It’s not just an iconic photo stop! Did you know that the Great Ocean Road was built to commemorate the Australian’s that lost their lives in the first world war and to provide work for the returning servicemen? Its construction not only enabled far easier access along the coast, but also created a new tourist attraction. Its Memorial Arch was then erected to honour the near 3000 returned service men that painstakingly carved out and built the road from 1919 to 1932, with no heavy machinery to assist them. Click HERE for Map.
5. Lorne and Louttit Bay
Lorne is one of our favourite beach stops along the Great Ocean Road. Its sandy main beach is a great place to soak up some rays. There’s lovely views over the alluring beautiful blue waters of Louttit Bay from the beaches far end.
With numerous cafes and picnic benches, this seaside resort is the perfect spot for a beachside feed where you’ll likely make some new friends. You’ll see numerous signs, saying don’t feed the birds, so please don’t! Bird species have very specific dietary needs. Feeding them not only changes their dietary and behavioural habits, but it can make them very ill. Click HERE for Map.
Lorne is a great base for some beautiful walks up to some amazing waterfalls. For a useful map of all its walks, click HERE. One of the most popular is the Erskine River Track taking you up to the stunning Erskine Falls. Checkout our guide to ‘Wildlife & Waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park‘ for more.
6. Teddy’s Lookout
At the end of George Street, behind Lorne is one of the best higher view points along the Great Ocean Road. The viewing platform offers views over the mouth of St George River and the winding B100 as it snakes between the forested hills of the Otway Ranges and the rugged coastline.
If you want a couple of other views why not do the Teddys Lookout Circuit. This short walk takes you to the Lower Landing and Otway Ranges lookouts, giving you different views along the coast and the Otways.
You’ll often find some pretty habituated Kookaburra’s up here. As well as this, its a good spot to see the colourful cockatoo’s like the Sulphur-Crested Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo and our favourite the Gang-Gang Cockatoo. Whales can also be seen from up here, so look carefully! Click HERE for Map.
7. Sheoak Falls & Sallow Cave
Whilst not as breathtaking as some of the much bigger waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park, this is really only one of two waterfalls strictly right on the Great Ocean Road. It’s an easy 10 minute walk along the scenic boardwalk and track to the falls.
Keep in mind that this waterfall is very weather dependent. At the end of a dry summer its really just an unimpressive trickle. But after the rain, this 15m falls is at its finest. Click HERE for Map.
From Sheoak Falls there is a staircase that leads you up to Swallow Cave and the upper sections of Sheoak Falls. After the rain this short walk up is definitely worth it. There are great views down to Sheoak Falls below and you can cross over Sheoak Creek for lovely views over to Swallow Cave and a cascading section of the upper part of Sheoak Falls. Lookout for the Welcome Swallows that nest in the cave from from spring through the summer.
For pictures and details on some of the stunning waterfalls close-by checkout our Wildlife and waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park.
8. Mt. Defiance Lookout
The first of few quick roadside lay-by photo stops, you shouldn’t miss what is generally considered the most photogenic section of the drive along the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay. The slightly elevated Mount Defiance Lookout has lovely views to the north east back towards Cumberland River Beach and Lorne. The dramatic Mount Defiance portion of the Great Ocean Road was said to be the most challenging section during its construction. A plaque here details this. Click HERE for Map.
9. Koalas of Kennett River
The Koala hotspot along the Green Ocean road. In fact, this is one of the best places to see Koalas in Australia! If you can, go later in the day. Koalas tend to sleep for up to 18 hours a day and on most visits you’ll find a sleeping Koala in one of the the nearby Eucalyptus trees. But if you come later in the afternoon, they tend to be more active, either eating or even on the move. This one was actually moving through the neighbouring Kennett River Holiday Park.
As well as the Koalas, you’ll almost certainly see Australian King Parrots, Crimson Rosella and Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. You may see people feeding the birds here, but please don’t. ‘Most birds eat a balanced diet; 90% eat insects and nectar, seed or fruit. People feeding birds the wrong food changes the balance of their diet and can negatively impact their health’ –WIRES
There are often koalas in the trees right by the carpark. But it’s definitely worth wandering or at least driving further along Grey River Road to not only escape the tour groups, but to find more wildlife. You’ll likely come across many more Koalas and be able to enjoy them on your own. Look and listen out for the noisey Laughing Kookaburra’s too. Click HERE for Map.
10. Cape Patton Viewpoint
Cape Patton lookout is another nice easy stop. If you’re on a tight one day timeframe, you can literally just pull into the roadside lay-by and snap away. As one of the higher vantage points along the Great Ocean Road, it offers great views to the west all the way down the coast to Apollo Bay. This point actually marked the western end of the first phase of the Great Ocean Road built by the World War One veterans. Click HERE for Map.
11. Mariners Lookout
This quiet, often overlooked viewpoint is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for panoramic views along the Great Ocean Road. You can walk the approximate 3.5km from Apollo Bay, but it’s far easier to turn off the B100 on to Mariners Lookout Road and drive the steep 1.5km to the small car park. From there, it’s a 5 minute walk to this awesome vantage point that is also used as a launching point for both para gliders and hang gliders. The sweeping views stretch back to Cape Patton to the north east and over Apollo Bay to the south west. Click HERE for Map.
12. Maits Rest
The 800m Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is one of the most popular stops along the Great Ocean Road. This easy 30 minute walk is located right in the Great Otway National Park on the inland section of the famous coastal road. The boardwalks take you through thick ancient rainforest, some of the plants are hundreds of years old. Surrounded by massive myrtle beeches, tree ferns and moss. It’s like walking through a lush green tunnel.
Getting here earlier or later in the day is a recommendation if you want a more serene experience out in this temperate rainforest. Its location right on the Great Ocean Road means its an incredibly popular stop, especially with the tour groups from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Despite this, there’s still plenty of wildlife around from large Swamp Wallaby’s to the small carnivorous Otway Black Snails. Keep an eye out for some the beautiful native bird species that live here too like the Pink, Rose and Eastern-Yellow Robins. As the light fades, look and listen out for fleeting glimpses of the nocturnal Yellow-bellied gliders. And once darkness has set in try to spot the bioluminescent glow-worms.
Maits Rest has under-gone a massive renovation to raise and widen its trails and was shut for some time but as of July 2020 it is open again. Click HERE for Map.
13. Castle Cove Lookout
Located between Maits Rest and Melba Gully is Castle Cove. An easy location to pullover if you just want to snap a few more pics of the stunning coastline or to look for the Peregrine Falcons who nest in the cliffs here. Or for the more energetic its nice section of the Great Ocean Walk to undertake with a 7km walk to the west for Johanna Beach or 6km to the east for Aire River. Click HERE for Map.
14. Melba Gully
Melba Gully is said to be one of the ‘wettest places in the state’ and in our opinion also one of the most attractive. These wet conditions have created a stunning section of temperate rainforest with a huge variety of vegetation. Much like Maits Rest you surrounded by massive Tree-ferns, Blackwoods, Myrtle Beech and Moss. Click HERE for Map.
The 30 minute Madsen’s Track Nature Walk is really nice circuit that leads you through the dense green natural forest. You’ll likely see common birds like the Eastern Yellow Robin, Superb Fairy wrens and Grey Shrike-thrush on your walk. But, listen out and look up high and you may even find some Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo. As with Maits Rest you can visit at night and go in search of the famous glow-worms as they light up the forest.
15. Gibson Steps & Beach
Gibson Steps and Beach are located on a beautiful stretch along the Great Ocean Road in the Port Campbell National Park. Viewpoints close to the car park offer beautiful views over Gibson beach, the famous steps, the golden limestone cliff face and offshore rock formations.
But the real reason for a stop here, is to use the famous Gibson Steps. A series of stairways leads you down 86 steps to Gibson beach. The cliff steps were thought to be first carved out by the Kirrae Whurrong people. Much later in the late 19th century, pioneer Hugh Gibson of the Glenample Homestead, used the traditional route to the beach that had been previously cut out by the Aborigines. He both maintained and modified the steps and hence the name Gibson Steps arose. Tide permitting you can get up close and personal with Gog and Magog, the two giant limestone rock formations off the beach. You really need to note the high tide times as the sea can reach right up to the steps and cliff face.
If you have time, it’s a great opportunity to explore some of the coastal walks along this stunning part of Victoria’s coast. The final 16km section (Section 8) of the 100km Great Ocean Walk between Devils Kitchen and 12 Apostles is beautiful. If you want to escape the tourists at the steps and other main viewpoints here, hike back along the coastal trail toward Princetown and the Gellibrand River picnic area, to experience a much quieter part of the Port Campbell National Park. Click HERE or Map.
16. 12 Apostles Viewpoint
Shaped by the powerful Southern Ocean, the 12 Apostles are huge limestone structures over 45m tall dotted along the coast of the Port Campbell National Park. This is the undoubted sunset hotspot along the Great Ocean Road. If the weather’s in your favour, watch nature put on a show as the sky lights up behind the picturesque remaining rock formations.
Hang around after sunset to try to spot the world’s smallest penguin species, the Little Penguins come ashore in the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park (both here and London Bridge). Generally, they arrive from about 10 minutes after sunset. You can hire free binoculars at the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre and you will need them!
Although these are not considered part of the 12 Apostles, looking back along the coast from this viewpoint, gives you a different perspective of the two rock stacks Gog and Magog, off Gibson’s beach. Click HERE for Map.
17. Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is named after the ship ‘Loch Ard’, which ran aground near here in 1878. Its only two survivors Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael were able to haul themselves to the safety of the small and sheltered beach hidden inside Loch Ard Gorge.
A very short walk leads you down the steps to this secluded beach. Head down here early in the morning if you want it to yourself, because this charming little beach gets busy quickly. Click HERE for Map.
18. London Arch (London Bridge)
London Arch also known as London Bridge, is another fine example of some natural architecture on this stretch of coast. Originally, this ‘two-arched’ rock formation was named for its resemblance to England’s famous ‘London Bridge’. However in 1990, part of this natural bridge unexpectedly collapsed leaving two tourist stranded at its far end. They were eventually rescued unharmed and since then this now one-arched limestone rock formations name evolved to ‘London Arch’. The names are interchangeable and it is often still referred to by both names. Don’t confuse it with ‘The Arch’, a similar nearby arched rock formation.
A quieter alternative to the 12 Apostles, London Arch is another lovely spot to watch the sunset followed by the Little Penguins coming ashore. In winter, you can also occasionally spot the Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales on their northerly migration. Click HERE for Map.
Getting to/from and around
The best way to see the sites along The Great Ocean Road is by car. It gives you the freedom to go slow and stop whatever you want. Driving from East to West, rather than West to East is a nicer drive in our opinion, for a few reasons. Generally the views from your vehicle are better, as you’re on the left side of the road which is the ocean side. It also makes pulling into the lay-by’s much easier for all those quick photo stops.
Drive carefully, especially at dawn and dusk as Roo’s and Wallabies are particularly active. These bouncy creatures can jump in front of your car in a split second. ‘Reduce your speed by 10 km an hour and reduce your risk of hitting wildlife by 20%!’ Wildlife Victoria.
If you are without a car a can’t/don’t want to hire one, there are tour companies running day trips and longer excursions along The Great Ocean Road. It’s always worth checking what stops they make, to ensure you’re going to see what you want.
If you’re planning on more than a day trip along The Great Ocean Road, there’s numerous little towns along the way where you can spend a night. It really depends what you want to see and where you want to base yourself.
Though not strictly on the Great Ocean Road, our favourite place to stay is Bimbi Park – Camping Under Koalas. The name says it all, this holiday park has resident Koala’s in the surrounding Eucalyptus trees! It’s a peaceful and perfect location with a variety of accommodation styles to suit everyones budgets and needs.
On a budget and happy with basic camping locations like us, then checkout Allenvale (Mill) Campground. Nestled on the banks of St George River just behind Lorne, this lovely quiet campground is a great location for hikes, waterfalls, beach and wildlife. The nearby St George River is another place we’ve been lucky enough to see the amazing Platypus. At dusk and dawn look carefully in the suitable sections of this river and you may see one of these bizarre creatures.
If you’re looking for something closer to the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, the self-contained 12 Apostles Cottages is great option.
Best time to visit
The summer months of December – February offer the warmest temperatures and are considered the best time to visit The Great Ocean Road by many. The peak season is summer, particularly school holidays from mid-December to end of January and is also the busiest time to visit.
Early Spring and early Autumn in our opinion is a better time to visit, as there are less crowds yet still nice weather. Winter usually brings cold, rainy and windy days and can be unpleasant time to visit. Having said that, Melbournes weather is temperamental and can change without warning!
Try to avoid weekends, particularly in peak season, as these areas will be much, much busier. If you have flexibility in your schedule, check the weather forecast in advance and try to plan around the rain and wind!
How much time do you need
This really depends on how much time you have. But if you’re tossing up between 1 or 2 days then we’d definitely recommend the latter. There is so much to see and do, give yourself as much time as you can. Trust us, you’ll want to stay longer!. If you’ve got the time and you’re heading back to Melbourne, loop back inland and see some of the Great Otway National Parks beautiful waterfalls.
Check out our guide to the ‘Wildlife and Waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park’ HERE.
Essential information and packing tips
- Drive carefully, especially at dawn and dusk as Roo’s and Wallabies are particularly active. Use some common sense. These bouncy creatures can jump in front of your car in a split second. ‘Reduce your speed by 10 km an hour and reduce your risk of hitting wildlife by 20%!’ Wildlife Victoria
- Take some warm clothes and wet weather gear. The weather can change very quickly here and it can get very wet and windy
- Take sturdy shoes. If it has been raining, the trails will be muddy and slippery
- Take a refillable water bottle and do your bit to minimise plastic waste, as well as saving the pennies
- Pack Reef-friendly sunscreen. The Australian sun is brutal.
- Charge you camera batteries/phone
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