Great Ocean road is one of my absolute favourite drives in Australia.
Great Ocean Road trip in Australia. This itinerary had been tried and tested many times. Ideally I would suggest to make it at least 6-7 day trip to include a few days in Barossa where you can enjoy many lovely wineries, restaurants and walks.
Depending on whether you are travelling with kids or with partner or friends you can adjust your activities depending on your interest. You can make as many or as little stops – I had put (apx km) so you would not have the usual ‘’Are we there yet’’.
I had also listed some of the activities in each area so you can see if you need to extend your stay in each place longer depending on your interest.
If you love fishing and/or happen to be in the area during particular season (whale watching) or art festival you will need to consider booking accommodation well in advance.
Originally I was going to put a section on Kangaroo island. However it’s so diverse and really requires a separate section. So keep watching…
Day 01 Melbourne to Apollo Bay (apx187 km)
On leaving Melbourne, cross the West Gate Bridge and take the Princes Highway to Geelong. From Geelong travel to Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road, and recognised as the surfing capital of Australia.
Stop at the nearby famous Bells Beach – try your luck on the surf board and/or visit the beautiful Erskine Falls. The scenic coastline from Lorne to Apollo Bay has been described as one of the most beautiful and breathtaking drives in the world.
Apollo Bay is a picturesque seaside town aptly known as “Paradise by the Sea” – so see for yourself.
- Check out the helicopter flights over the 12 Apostles 12apostleshelicopters.com.au
- Have lunch or stay at Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant. The views are stunning and food is equally amazing with a Southern European and Middle Eastern Influence. Fresh seafood is specialty, along with a variety of Chris’s most popular Greek dishes.
- Great little adventure Guided Seal Kayak Tours Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road or if you like bush walking check out the guided or self guided walks in the area at http://www.walk91.com.au
- If you like fishing you might want to stay longer and do a fishing charters. Make sure you ask to cook your catch
- One of my favourite activities in the ar12apostleshelicopters.com.auea is the sunset horse riding. Make sure you book well in advance if you want to do the sunset ride. You will ride along the marvellous beaches or forest with breathtaking cliff tops All rides depart from Bimbi Park.
- From boat to belly, the Fishermen’s Co-op sells the freshest seafood locally caught. Make sure you try crayfish or select your preferred ‘catch of the day’.
Where to stay
There is a good choice of motels and self contained accommodation in the area.
I love Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant & Villas. I would take advantage of a small boutique establishment with stunning views.
Another my favourite lodging is Apollo ay Guest House, a charming cottage with superb ocean views. To me this is the highlight of the area. It’s so picture perfect.
Chocolate Gannets Apollo Bay – who can go pass the fire place in winter? Villa 4 is worth every cent …..soaking in the huge two person spa bath looking out at the rolling waves in front of you. I would continently leave kids at home or in front of IPAD
Day 02 Apollo Bay to Port Fairy (188 km)
Travel along the fabulous Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell. See the amazing rock formations of the Twelve Apostles, which are huge stone pillars sticking out of the surf, carved over time by the crashing Southern Ocean waves. Travelling on past Port Campbell you will see London Bridge – the broken arch. Continuing the ‘Shipwreck Coast’ begins, from Port Campbell and Warrnambool and on to Port Fairy.
Port Fairy is a unique seaside fishing village set on the historic Moyne River Port and surrounded on two sides by water, the calm gentle waters of East beach and the rugged shipwreck coastline to the south.
In 2012, Port Fairy was voted the world’s (yes, the world’s) most liveable community of towns with a population of under 20,000.
I love this charming coastal village. The streets are lined up with nineteenth century cottages, great Norfolk pines and old stone churches. Walking through the streets & surrounds of Port Fairy is like walking back through time. It also has a wonderful array of cafes, shops, restaurants & galleries.
Every march there is a great musical festival – make sure you check out the line up https://www.portfairyfolkfestival.com/
It’s great to combine the festival visit with a road trip – the buzz, the markets – just endless fun.
- Gibson’s Steps, takes you down to the beach giving you the first view of the Twelve Apostles from sea level. Less busy than Twelve Apostles Lookout with lovely views of the coast from the sand
- I love the The Grotto – located near Peterborough – driving Apollo Bay towards Port Campbell http://visit12apostles.com.au/trails-and-lookouts/.
- Try the amazing fresh seafood along at Port Fairy. It simply cannot be too much seafood….
- Have dinner at Victoria’s oldest inn. The daily-changing menu at Merrijig Kitchen features seasonal produce, locally sourced where possible, and inspired by French cuisine.
- The Moyne river is one of the busiest fishing ports in Victoria, Fishermen unload their catch of fish, crayfish and abalone at the dockside. Check with them where to get the freshest catch of the day.
- Explore the ancient geological history of the region at Tower Hill, 14 km west of Warrnambool. Join Indigenous guides on a tour through the reserve to see kangaroos, emus and koalas up close and learn about the local Aboriginal culture.
Where to stay
- Tara Cottage is a lovingly restored 1850’s blue stone whaler’s cottage. It has the comfort of the 21st century living whilst maintaining the charm and atmosphere of the 19th century.
- One of my favourite hotel is Oscars Waterfront Boutique Hotel. To me its simply postcard perfect. Stunning whites and blues of the décor, blue water of the ocean and French inspired courtyard. What more could you wish for? Just more time.
Day 03 Port Fairy to Robe (291 km or via the Grampians 487 km)
There is a choice of routes, the shorter route will take you via Portland and Cape Nelson, along the coast directly to Mount Gambier, and then on to Robe, via Millicent. The longer route will mean a very early start. Travel via Penhurst to Dunkeld, and then from Dunkeld a scenic drive will take you through the Grampians National Park and onto Halls Gap.
Highlights within the Grampians include McKenzie Falls, Reids Lookout and the Balconies. There are walks of varying length and difficulties to reach some of these points. Return to Dunkeld, and then onto Mt Gambier and Robe.
(Again – if time allows Grampians really deserves a full day and overnight). The place is full of history, stunning scenery and Aboriginal Heritage. It’s known for its sandstone mountains, wildflowers and wildlife including echidnas and wallabies. Near the village of Halls Gap, the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre gives insight into local Aboriginal history and rock art. Trails lead to waterfalls like towering MacKenzie Falls and lookouts such as the Balconies. Reeds Lookout and the Balconies – Halls Gap is my personal favourite. Check out Grampians instagram for some stunning images
It’s a paradise for active adventure seekers. Walk trails, mountain hiking, abseiling to name just a few. There is a great adventure company called Absolute Outdoors Australia that offers all adventure form abseiling to canoeing and mount biking.
World of advise – in summer month do check out the bush fire situation as park cam be affected and certain areas might be closed.
Robe – South Australia’s Favourite Seaside Town.
If you like 4 WD driving and adventure then you need to check out the Limestone Coast. Through Canunda National Park you’ll experience pristine beaches, sand dunes, limestone cliffs, sea stacks, reefs and large expanses of coastal vegetation. It is a mecca for fishing, bushwalking, bird watching, snorkelling and surfing and is a must for anyone visiting the Limestone Coast.
· Little Dip National Park – conserves a large number of small lakes. A four wheel drive vehicle is recommended to fully explore the dune system and coastal strip of the park, although major locations of the park are accessible to conventional vehicles. Make sure you check out the maps.
- Get a picnic with some freshest seafood from www.skyseafoods.com.au and head down to Long Beach and watch the sun go down.
- Visit the small, independent family-run Robe Town Brewery for slow-brewed, handmade, all natural craft beer.
- Cape Dombey Obelisk which is a red and white landmark on the beautiful, rugged coastline.
Where to stay
- Great place to stay overnight is the Barn Hotel. The Steakhouse restaurant is well known for a great steaks and source out the best regional produce. No wonder they had been names as BEST STEAK RESTAURANT FINALIST ’09, ’10 WINNER ’11
- Check out some historical building and inns. One of them is Caledonian Inn – a historic English style pub. It really become a local landmark and the place to come for food and a drinks.
- There are also Cottages by the Sea or Splash, completely self contained 3 bedroom house.
Day 04 Robe to the Barossa Valley (350 km)
Continue on to Kingston and travel towards Adelaide, travelling along the Coorong National Park skirting Lake Albert and Lake Alexandria. Travel through Mannum, Mt Pleasant and Angaston. Mannum is one of the oldest towns located on the Murray River and has an historic and lively past.
The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s most famous wine producing areas. It is a warm and intimate place of charming old towns, the vineyards spreading across undulating hills in well-tended, precise rows.
To me if time permits you can easily spend few days in the area exploring national parks and great walks, food and wine, amazing local produce and of course some small local shops and art galleries.
- Wineries Penfolds, Henschke to name just a few.
- Cheese and chololates shops like The Barossa Valley Cheese Company and
- Barossa Farmers Market – every Saturday morning.
- Of course for food lovers Maggie Beer Shop
- Breakfast with Kangaroos – this is truly an amazing experience if you up to waking up early. The guide will pick you up at dawn for the 20-minute drive to the nearby conservation park. An easy 15-minute bushwalk into the park leads to a clearing where families of kangaroos are enjoying their breakfast and your gourmet breakfast will be laid out on a picnic blanket in this truly natural setting.
- If you like cycling – you can get a bike from Barossa Bike Hire and get on the way to explore. I personally don’t cycle – but I heard that his is quite a stunning track Jack Bobridge Track: Stage 1 Tanunda to Lyndoch (14km):
Varying in its degree of difficulty, this leg of the Jack Bobridge Track showcases some of the state’s most beautiful natural terrain. Every turn offers a new surprise as towering gums give way to sweeping vistas and vineyards, against the backdrop of the Barossa Ranges. Kangaroos, echidnas and birdlife abound, along with a collection of well-known wineries and cellar doors to break the journey.
Another little gem I noticed is a Lillefield gallery. Its a heritage church with beautiful local artwork.
Where to stay:
Now I just discovered the Orchard House which is owned by Maggie Beer. Well – this is my next overnight stay and how could I not being a lover of food. Better go and book it as my favourite time in Barossa is Spring or Autumn.
There are also so many smaller lovely bed and breakfasts so personally when I think food and wine – I think cozy cottage by the fire.
Day 05 Barossa Valley to Adelaide (80 km)
There is plenty of time to explore the Barossa Valley. What I love about Barossa is that its very close to Adelaide. So you can easily spend morning and afternoon in the region and continue to travel south through Gawler to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and known in Australia as the City of Churches.
You can find lot’s to do and see in Adelaide – and if you time your trip with some events
My 2 top favourite must see places will be at Adelaide Central Market – I just love all the gourmet food on offer. So I would make sure I am there for lunch time. The Adelaide Central Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday every week.
If you fancy art and culture check out Art Gallery of South Australia. Experts say The Art Gallery of South Australia holds one of Australia’s finest collections of Australian and International art.
About 30 minutes from Adelaide is a small town of Hahndorf. Its a State listed Heritage Town, and has retained its strong German heritage and feel. Growing up in Europe it’s such a reminder of a childhood for me. There are strawberry picking at the farms and the season runs from mid-October to April. Always check their websites to see if the patch is open for picking. Of course the smell and taste of locally produced jams.
You can breathe and feel the German heritage while walking the streets and sampling the local produce from German delicatessen like The German Pantry and Taste in Hahndorf.
You can easily get a few treats and have a picnic or if you prefer some old good hot meal at one of the restaurants and cafes.
Dinner time – again so much choice from top notch to the great little gems locals love.
Orana, which means “welcome” in some Aboriginal languages. Check out their menu – its tasting menu of at least 7 -9 courses focusing on local and native produce celebrating aboriginal heritage.
Peel St, Adelaide – mouth-watering food with a Middle Eastern twist.
Georges on Waymouth – again Mediterranean inspired food – amazing during winter – heart warning dishes.
So just in time for school holidays – do take kids on the adventure.
Enjoy the road trip till next time