One of the world’s most famous road trips, the Great Ocean Road is one an Australian bucket list favourite.
Winding along the country’s southern Victorian coastline, this awesome length of road is dotted with stunning national parks, incredible ocean views and some gorgeous seaside towns.
After trying to see the whole thing in just 3 days, I quickly realised that was way too rushed and you could easily take a full week to drive the length of this giant stretch of the Australian coast.
In fact, you probably should do!
That’s because there really is so much to see and do here.
So, to give you a taste and to inspire your journey, here are the 10 must-see Great Ocean Road attractions you really must tick off your list!
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#1 Bells Beach
This world-famous surf beach is definitely one of the best Great Ocean Road attractions, even if you aren’t the best at riding the waves!
Come at Easter and enjoy the Rip Curl Pro Event, or at any other time of the year watch the locals braving their luck in the cold water.
The nearest town to Bells Beach is Torquay and this is also a gorgeous little spot to enjoy a picnic or to wander the Surf World Museum.
If you’re feeling a little more active, then the Surf Coast Walk – a gorgeous stroll along the coastline – also starts from here.
#2 Loch Ard Gorge
This beach along the Great Ocean Road has been made famous by the ship that ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island.
The incredible survival story of the 2 teenage passengers is wonderfully told in the landscape around and standing down on the beach can really put the whole thing into perspective – it must have been terrifying.
It’s great to get out of your vehicle from time to time on the Great Ocean Road and feeling the sand between your toes at Loch Ard Gorge, or even braving a paddle here, is a good excuse to do just that.
#3 Cape Otway National Park
Meeting the Great Ocean Road on the side away from the ocean is Cape Otway National Park.
A beautiful wilderness of tall forest, ferny gullies and flowing waterfalls, this is, without a doubt, one of the top Great Ocean Road attractions and one of the 22 Australian national parks you must see too.
There’s also some great, budget-friendly camping spots located within the park, as well as some super hiking opportunities, including the 243 km Great Ocean Walk if you’re up for a challenge!
If you want to road trip the Great Ocean Road for a few days, then definitely check out Discovery Campervans, who compare lots of different companies to get you the best deal!
#4 The Light Station
The Great Ocean Road’s only lighthouse, also known as the Cape Otway Light Station, lays claim to being Australia’s most important lighthouse.
It guards one of the country’s most treacherous coastlines and was built after hundreds of lives were lost from numerous shipwrecks.
As such, it is Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse and invites visitors to enjoy the breathtaking views from its observation deck.
There is also an excellent interpretive Centre and Indigenous Cultural Centre, which also makes a visit here highly worthwhile.
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#5 The Koalas
Less of a place and more of a sight, the numerous koalas that have made the Great Ocean Road their home are nevertheless one of the best attractions in this famous part of the world.
In fact, the road that leads to the Cape Otway Lightstation is where I’ve seen the biggest collection of koalas in my life.
I’ve actually listed the Great Ocean Road as one of the best places to spot Australian animals in the wild, for this very reason, so I certainly recommend heading here if you’re yet to see one of these grey, fluffy creatures.
And they’re easy to spot too, just pull up your vehicle next to the rest of the tourists and follow the gaze of their pointing fingers and snapping lens.
Yes, sometimes popular tourist spots can have their advantages!
5 ESSENTIAL PACKING ITEMS FOR AUSTRALIA
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national park! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strollling, I love mine
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
The cute little town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road is a lovely place to stop for a few hours or even spend the night.
With plenty of nearby waterfalls to walk to, I really enjoyed an active and outdoorsy exploration of the area on foot.
If you’re feeling more sedate however, why not just enjoy the wonderful cafes and sea views of this quaint place.
With an excellent tourist office on hand to answer all your Great Ocean Road questions and there is also an awesome music festival – Falls Festival – which takes place here each summer and is well worth checking out.
#7 London Bridge
This was probably my overall favourite when it comes to the Great Ocean Road attractions, perhaps because the sun actually came out when I was here!
Yes, the clouds finally parted when I reached London Bridge and I was treated to a glimpse of the stunning colours this landscape can display.
The most famous arch on the Great Ocean Road, London Bridge is a really impressive structure to witness and with the waves crashing continually against it, the wilds of the ocean and the weather here make it a fascinating spectacle.
#8 Memorial Arch
Right at the start of the Great Ocean Road, as you head from Melbourne, is an archway that pays tribute to the construction of this famous drive.
The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch is dedicated to the returning World War I servicemen of Australia that built the road in 1932.
This is the third memorial arch built, but it’s a fascinating piece of history nonetheless.
The town of Anglesea was the spot of our first night’s stay on the Great Ocean Road and, for that reason, we loved it!
Happily camped in our cosy campervan, this place has a wonderful caravan park, as well as a great bowls club and wonderful pub.
Perfect for easing you into the small and local feel of the towns in this area, Anglesea is one of the charming Great Ocean Road attractions there is.
#10 The 12 Apostles
The mother of them all, the 12 Apostles are the most famous of the Great Ocean Road attractions and an iconic Australian image worldwide.
Hundreds of people flock daily to see these natural structures, which are actually geological formations known as stacks.
Despite only numbering about 8 now, these giants of the ocean are still worth checking out.
There’s a great walkway and lookout that will give you beautiful views of the Apostles, as well as a fantastic visitor centre with tons of info.
If you want to splurge however, then it’s really all about taking a scenic flight over the 12 Apostles at sunset for a super spectacular view.
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So that’s my list of the 10 must-see Great Ocean Road attractions.
Have you driven this famous road trip?
What were your favourite spots?