Great expectations! Your cheat sheet to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road region

The Great Ocean Road is a must-visit destination.

Emblazoned with scenery ranking among Australia’s most spectacular, the Great Ocean Road is world class.

Blending breathtaking and rugged coastline with sprawling rainforest and towering trees, this region sparkles at every turn.

It’s where action abounds no matter the season; a pocket of the country where crowds have gravitated for generations.

If you want to get to know the Great Ocean Road in a hurry – including the Geelong and the Bellarine sub-region – you’re in the right place. Here is your handy guide to a region of endless opportunities.

Rugged coastline is a mainstay of the region. Credit: Romy Eames.

Where are the best photo ops?

The Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell have been ‘snapped’ more times than a family of twigs but warrant the hype. Frame the formations’ brilliance from several viewing points, but also take time to simply soak up their electrifying aura. 

Snap an amazing sunset photo of the Twelve Apostles.

Just down the road is equally spectacular Loch Ard Gorge. Here, towering cliffs have been carved in dramatic fashion leaving just a slim opening out to sea.

Views from – and incorporating – Cape Otway Lightstation west of Apollo Bay are postcard worthy, exposing famous Bass Strait in all its rugged glory. Or try Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. At the western end of the region, reach the top of Cape Nelson Lighthouse for more stunning panoramas.

The postcard-worthy lighthouse at Airey's Inlet offers panoramic views of the ocean.

As you’d expect, the region’s famous beaches provide prime photo ops and often come with designated viewing platforms. These are top picks:

  • Bells Beach, Torquay.
  • Teddy's Lookout, Lorne.
  • Point Addis, between Torquay and Anglesea.
  • Memorial Lookout, Anglesea.
  • Cinema Point, near Aireys Inlet.
  • Cape Patton Lookout, between Wye River and Apollo Bay.
  • Marriners Lookout, Apollo Bay.

In addition, the viewing platform at Logan's Beach in Warrnambool combines glittering views with great opportunities to glimpse southern right whales in season (June-October).

For a funky photo, stop at Artillery Rocks between Lorne and Wye River and marvel at Mother Nature’s creativity.

The famouse Bells Beach in Torquay is renowned for surfing.

Anything photo worthy away from the coast?

Absolutely. Spectacular rainforest and other natural beauty abounds; much of it planted within Great Otway National Park. The park is prime for walks and hoards a series of mesmerising waterfalls. These include:

  • Triplet Falls: Spectacular three-tiered falls; 2km walk to reach several elevated viewing spots.
  • Erskine Falls: 30m drop; upper lookout an effortless walk from car park, lower lookout accessed via 200-plus stairs.
  • Hopetoun Falls: Another 30m plunge; very easily reached at top, access at bottom within grasp of most.
  • Beauchamp Falls: Tougher walk to access, but this 20m fall shines among a world of green.

Outside of the Otways, grab your camera and shoot away at the dazzling 90m-wide Hopkins Falls near Warrnambool. The amphitheatre-like setting that supports Sheoak Falls near Lorne is sure to give your camera a tough workout, too.

Be mesmerised by the stunning waterfall that is Erskine Falls.

Back to those beaches - which are the best?

When it comes to prized Great Ocean Road beaches, there are more names to mention than on a student roll call.

  • Bells Beach, near Torquay: World famous and a surfer’s mecca. Home of the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition each Easter.
  • Point Addis, near Anglesea: Another enticing spot for surfers.
  • Anglesea Beach: Well-suited to surfing, swimming, and fishing.
  • Lorne Beach: Popular stretch, particularly in peak holiday season.
  • Wye River Beach: Magnet for swimmers and surfers.
  • East Beach, Port Fairy: Biggest drawcard in town for swimming and surfing.
  • Apollo Bay Beach: Designated path is ideal for a stroll.
  • Johanna Beach: Off-the-beaten-track and framed by epic cliffs. Wild and wonderful but for experienced surfers only.
  • Lady Bay, Warrnambool: Suits surfing and swimming yet the highlight is interpretive signage detailing various shipwrecks. 
The Great Ocean Road is known for its prized beaches. Credit: Romy Eames.

What is there for families to do?

You simply must stop by Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village at Warrnambool – it’s one of the best Great Ocean Road attractions. Recently redeveloped, it features a museum and recreated village filled with engrossing interactive displays vividly detailing the area’s rich maritime and shipwreck past. At night, a dazzling sound and light show enthralls all ages.

While in Warrnambool, swing by Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground. It’s chockers with kids’ entertainment and is the perfect picnic spot.

Inland from Apollo Bay is Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, which features an exhilarating treetop canopy walkway that allows you to admire seemingly endless rainforest as well as get the heart racing on thrilling zipline tours.

Take the family to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.

Any chance of spotting wildlife?

There are loads of opportunities to see native wildlife and bird life, and these hotspots should be on your itinerary…

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, near Warrnambool lives up to its name and is home to koalas, kangaroos, emus, echidnas, and plenty more.

Kangaroos consistently roam the fairways of Anglesea Golf Club and make regular appearances at BIG4 Anglesea Holiday Park.

Kennett River is one of the best places in the country to see koalas in the wild and is also a prime bird-watching destination. It’s worth looking ‘tree-wards’ for cuddly koalas at nearby BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park, too.

Echidnas roam throughout Port Campbell National Park, and if you feel like your eyes are sharper than eagles, try spotting oft-elusive platypus at Lake Elizabeth in Barramunga.

Koalas are just one of the many animals that can be spotted along the Great Ocean Road.

What can I do if it’s raining?

Get your culture on! Century-old Warrnambool Art Gallery has a rich, diverse collection showcasing the region’s prolific beauty, complemented by several boutique galleries in the area.

Neighbouring Port Fairy has a cluster of inviting art spaces to check out, led by Whale Bone Gallery.

The nation’s wave-riding culture is best appreciated by visiting the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay. Myriad displays are full of colour and interest and will have you forgetting about dreary weather in no time.

The region’s link to water is also explored extensively at the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre with whaling and shipwreck history among the absorbing themes. Meanwhile, Fort Queenscliff Museum explodes with fascinating yarns about the area’s military past.

For history of a different slant, the National Wool Museum in Geelong is a seriously good find, rammed with a massive exhibit range. While in the city, stop by Old Geelong Gaol, which captured a wealth of fascinating tales over a period of almost 150 years.

Culture-rich Warrnambool Art Gallery showcases some of the region's best artwork.

What about a budget tip?

With so much magnificent scenery, picnic spots abound. Lorne, Port Campbell, and Geelong are among locations with inviting foreshore areas; the latter has a series of colourful bollards to admire on a stroll.

Warrnambool Botanic Gardens and Geelong Botanic Gardens are both tranquil and picturesque and are perfect for a relaxing arvo. 

Admire the colourful bollards on a stroll along Geelong's foreshore.

While in Warrnambool, pick up a heritage map and wander the streets to admire striking old buildings. Nearby Port Fairy also teems with heritage-listed structures.

Port Fairy's heritage-listed buildings are well worth admiring.

Tell me something I might not know?

For much of the drive from Apollo Bay to just before the Twelve Apostles, there isn’t much ocean to sight. Instead, much of the windy road is a sea of green, passing through soaring trees and rainforest. When the sun shines through narrow gaps onto the road, it’s a magical scene and a spectacular contrast to what lies ahead at the famous rock formations.

There's more to the Great Ocean Road than you'd expect, with rainforest complementing the expected coastal views.

I want to indulge! Food and wine options?

Palate-pleasing goodies are dotted throughout the Great Ocean Road region, and following a designated trail is your best bet. Call into a visitor centre or download maps for the Otway Harvest Trail, the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail, or the Bellarine Taste Trail. They are bursting with local produce outlets: cheese, chocolate, ice cream, fruit, seafood, whisky, wine, and much more are on the menu.

Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula boasts a wide assortment of fantastic wineries: Jack Rabbit Vineyard earns a special mention, particularly for its sensational views.

Further west and inland, Otway Estate at Barongarook has a vast range: a glass of its sparkling on a warm day is just about unbeatable. And don’t miss Basalt Wines near Port Fairy.

Indulge in a glass of your favourite wine at Basalt Winery.

Any breweries in the vicinity?

Indeed, there are! The Great Ocean Road region is dotted with first-rate craft breweries.  

  • Salt Brewing Co., Aireys Inlet: The feel-good story of the beer scene. Visit to learn why.
  • Blackman’s Brewery, Torquay: Serves up outstanding beer in a welcoming, central space.
  • Forrest Brewing Company, Forrest: Once a general store; warm and inviting interior.
  • Sow and Piglets Brewery, Port Campbell: Small but quality range.
  • Otway Estate Winery and Brewery, Barongarook: Home to the established Prickly Moses label, which also lines the taps of the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Apollo Bay.
  • Little Creatures Brewery, Geelong: Housed in an old mill; excellent setting, beers, and food.
Settle into the warm and inviting interior and enjoy a beer at Forrest Brewing Company.

Where can I stay?

With BIG4 of course! We have a host of fantastic parks dotted throughout the Great Ocean Road region. Check them out here.

Isn’t it time you had a great Australian break? Book your BIG4 holiday now.

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