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If you’re going to explore The Great Ocean Road Drive in Victoria, let me make a suggestion; Don’t rush it.
There is so much to see and do, that you need to spend at least five days to visit the main attractions and landmarks, such as the iconic Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell National Park.
But most people know that already, and have allocated such time to do a road trip. What’s not always clear though, is which towns on the Great Ocean Road you should visit.
Whether you’re looking for places to stay on The Great Ocean Road or you need somewhere with more civilization for a lunch spot, be sure to check out these five towns on the GOR.
- How Many Days Do You Need on the Great Ocean Road?
- The Best Towns on The Great Ocean Road
- Final Thoughts
- The Great Ocean Road & Kangaroo Island Tour
- Pin to share on Pinterest
How Many Days Do You Need on the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road can be completed in one day but it deserves more. You deserve more.
It’s one of Australia’s best road trips for a reason.
Everyone has different time constraints, but you should give yourself at least three days to drive the Great Ocean Road, but five would be more ideal.
We took two weeks for our Great Ocean Road trip, but we are blessed with time.
The tour buses that routinely drive the Great Ocean Road in one day and get to the 12 Apostles limestone stacks at lunchtime (the best time is sunrise or sunset) and will also bypass many of the highlights.
For that reason, we always recommend you hire a car if you don’t have your own and do it yourself.
This 243 km road needs to be experienced from behind the wheel and having your own vehicle allows you the flexibility to stop at viewpoints when and where you like.
The Best Towns on The Great Ocean Road
Besides the stunning beaches, waterfalls, walks, and forests, there are some great towns dotted along the Great Ocean Road worthy of your time.
Here are five towns we recommend you not only visit, but stay at and enjoy what they have to offer.
1. Torquay, Victoria
The Great Ocean Road officially starts in the town of Torquay, and we recommend you stay here for one night before you start the drive, so you can have a full day on the road.
We recommend starting the Great Ocean Road drive from this direction and driving towards Adelaide, so you’ll be on the lane closest to the ocean which makes for easier stops at the view points.
The township of Torquay is famous for its surfing culture, which you can learn more about at the surfing museum Surf World. Even surf brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver were founded in Torquay.
Nearby is one of Australia’s best surfing beaches, Bells Beach, home to the annual Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition (made infamous by the movie Point Break).
Bells has an impressive cliff-face and the ocean views are spectacular. You can see surfers catching waves here all year round, even in the winter when the waves reach up to 20 feet!
Torquay also offers popular activities such as nature walks, fishing, sailboarding, surfing and mountain bike riding. You can enjoy a two hour surf lesson at Torquay Beach – the surfing capital of Victoria.
Just down the road is Jan Juc a neighboring suburb known for its hills and native tea tree. There’s a trail running along the coast between Torquay and Jan Juc for walkers and bike riders that offer excellent views.
Leaving Torquay and continuing west, check out the townships of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet which are beautiful, and if you’re into golfing, pack your clubs and head over to Anglesea Golf Club.
You’ll definitely notice the change in the scenery.
2. Lorne, Victoria
Lorne was our favorite town along the Great Ocean Road drive and we spent three relaxing days here. It’s picturesque and situated right on the Southern ocean with a charm that’s hard to resist.
Lorne has some great cafes to keep your coffee and cake addiction well satisfied. There are several unique shops, boutiques, and galleries to keep the shoppers happy.
The beach is lovely for a walk either early morning or late afternoon and stop at the Lorne Beach Pavilion for a coffee, or beer, with uninterrupted views of the water.
For lunch, eat at The Bottle of Milk, famous for their burgers, or grab some takeaway and sit on the grass at the excellent playground by the beach and let the kids run around.
Just behind Lorne, take a short drive to Teddy’s Lookout for spectacular views of the Great Ocean Road. There’s also a 45-minute walk you can do here.
Another great viewpoint spit is Split Point Lighthouse, which is on the way to Lorne in a small town called Fairhaven. This is a great place to do some whale watching from the shore.
The best time to see whales is from June to September, and they frequently swim in the waters along the GOR so always keep your eyes open for them if you visit during this time.
Lorne also plays host to The Falls Music & Arts Festival at the end of December which is very popular.
For a comfortable place to stay, we recommend where we stayed at the Mantra Apartments right on the beach and an easy walk into town.
3. Kennett River, GOR
With a population of only 50, Kennett River is a quiet and laid-back town between Lorne and Apollo Bay.
Flanked by the Great Otway National Park this town is probably best known for the place to see koalas in the wild along the Grey River Road in the middle of town, just look for the crowds of people and follow their gazes up for quick koala spotting.
There’s also the glowworms at night in Melba Gully, a tropical rainforest neaby, and you can buy bird feed from the store here and feed wild king parrots and Rosellas.
It can be very popular here with many tourist buses lined up. But it’s a lot safer, and easier, to view the koalas here compared to driving Otway Lighthouse Road.
If seeing koalas and glow worms isn’t enough, there are excellent fishing and surfing beaches for beginners. There’s a caravan park at Kennet River should you wish to stay longer with Australia’s favourite furry friends.
Don’t miss the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, a fun and thrilling activity that allows you to climb obstacle courses in the tree canipes, walk the treetop walk, and zip along ziplines. The surrounding forest as many walking trails to enjoy.
4. Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road
Half-way along the Great Ocean Road is our second favourite town, Apollo Bay, often described as the place where the hill meets the sea.
Panoramic views over the harbour and the coastline from the Mariners Lookout will give you the best perspective of this. The lookout is located at the northern end of town off Mariners Lookout Road.
Apollo Bay was once a sleepy fishing village but is now a modest seaside town of 2,000 people with plenty of cafes, restaurants and a community market each Saturday. In April it hosts one of the best three-day music festivals in Victoria, the Apollo Bay Music Festival.
Just down the road at Cape Otway are some of the best walks in the country and the town makes for a great base to explore the Otway region of lighthouses, rainforests, waterfalls, and farmland.
Maits Rest is an easy 800m self-guided circuit walk through ancient, cool temperate rainforest and the walk to Triplet Falls, a one-hour return loop, is a highlight.
The Cape Otway Lighthouse is Australia’s oldest lighthouse still in operation today, you can take a tour and climb to the top 90 meters high with breathtaking views of Bass Straight.
Just up the road from Apollo Bay is one of those “best-kept secrets” of the Great Ocean Road, the Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary, a rocky beach with a seal colony.
Apollo Bay Surf & Kayak run 2-hour tours to view the seals.
- For an affordable and homely place to stay, we recommend the Apollo Bay Eco YHA Hostel.
- Find more hotels and apartments for Apollo Bay through Booking.com
5. Port Campbell, Victoria
Another one of the most popular towns on the Great Ocean Road to stay in is Port Campbell. Though some people opt to stay in Port Fairy, which is smaller and quieter, or Warrnambool, for proximity to Logan’s Beach.
For travelers who prefer a more livelier atmosphere, Port Campbell is the better choice. What makes it appealing for travellers is its close proximity to Port Campbell National Park, home to the Twelve Apostles and many other famous Great Ocean Road landmarks.
It’s still a nice enough town with a few cafes, shops and a bay area in a natural setting, but we mainly used it as a base to explore the surrounding area.
We spent the whole day in the National Park, starting with sunrise over the 12 Apostles and finishing with a sunset picnic.
During the day we walked down Gibson’s Steps and then visited Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, The Grotto, The Arch, and the Bay of Islands with a handy lunch break back in Port Campbell.
The Great Ocean Road continues on and finishes at Port Fairy. We didn’t really explore the last section too much but did stop at Port Fairy for lunch.
It was pouring with rain so could not explore more. Through the drizzle, it looked like a lovely historical fishing village.
There are many towns on the GOR in Australia, but we hope this guide gave you some inspiration for some towns to visit on your Great Ocean Road itinerary.
These towns are the perfect pitstop for a night and the ideal destinations to help you break up your road trip.
If you’re looking for more road trip ideas for Australia, then check out these other guides:
- The Great Beach Drive in Queensland
- 14 best Australia road trips
- Our podcast that shares details on our 18 month Australia road trip.
The Great Ocean Road & Kangaroo Island Tour
The Great Ocean Road and Kangaroo Island Tour may be the best way for you to explore this area. Cosmos Tours are part of the Globus family of brands who we love! Be sure to use our exclusive discount below.
Food, native wildlife (obviously kangaroos) and heritage; this 8-day tour through Victoria and South Australia comes filled with awe-inspiring scenery, heritage sites, top-notch cuisine and endless fun experiences along the way.
Beginning in Melbourne and ending in Adelaide, you’ll travel west along the Great Ocean Road towards Adelaide, with overnight stops in Warrnambool, Mt Gambier, Tailem Bend and Kangaroo Island.
GLOBUS DISCOUNT JUST FOR YOU!
We’ve secured an exclusive yTravel discount: Save $100 per person on select 2023 and 2024 Globus and Avalon Waterway Vacations. Use the code: YTRAVEL when booking online at the Globus, Cosmos, and Avalon Waterways websites, by calling Globus and Avalon Waterways directly, or booking with a preferred Travel Advisor. Terms & Conditions.
Tours to the Great Ocean Road
While we recommend road tripping the Great Ocean Road in your own vehicle, we understand this is not always possible. We recommend these tour options through our tour booking partner, Get Your Guide.
More Travel Tips for Victoria, Australia
Planning to visit other places in Victoria, Australia? Here are some other useful travel tips…
- The best things to do on the Great Ocean Road Australia
- 8 Exciting Places to visit near Melbourne
- A guide to Wilsons Promontory National Park?
- Don’t miss these Beaches in Melbourne
- What to do in Marysville, Victoria
- 11 things to do in Melbourne with kids
- Victoria travel tips
- Relaxing things to do in Bright, Victoria (one of our fave places in Australia)
- Don’t miss the Bridge Road Brewery in Beechworth, Victoria
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Tell us. What are some of your favourite towns along the Great Ocean Road? Let us know in the comments.