Start the day off early and cover all the highlights from Melbourne. Day trips can take 14 hours so be prepared for a long one and make sure you switch drivers often.
Approx. drive time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Melbourne to Twelve Apostles, return
Start in Melbourne at first daylight and drive to Torquay, which is the entrance to the Great Ocean Road.
Take a quick stop at Torquay for brekky before heading west along the coastline, past Anglesea and Lorne and on to Apollo Bay.
Take in a lunch at Apollo Bay then spend some time at Cape Otway before heading to the Twelve Apostles in the early afternoon.
Spend time at the Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps. If you've still got sunlight, you can continue on to Loch Ard (6 minutes’ drive). If not, you can cut your trip here and return home. The fastest way back is along the Princess Highway A1.
1-day The Great Ocean Tour from Experience Oz
Long day driving not your style? Make it easy on yourself by booking a one-day tour from Melbourne instead.
With a week at your fingertips, it's possible to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road, although if you've made the journey it's easiest to fly back to Melbourne as the quickest drive will still take you 8 hours.
We've outlined a one-way trip to Adelaide below. You also have the option to extend your days in select locations mentioned in shorter itineraries above for a round-trip that won't cost you more time on the road.
Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road map
Approx. drive time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Melbourne to Apollo Bay
Head out early from Melbourne, stopping by Torquay, Bells Beach, Lorne and Apollo Bay where you'll spend the night.
Approx. drive time: 2 hours
Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
Travel from Apollo Bay with a brief stop at Cape Otway, Port Campbell National Park and its highlights, including the Twelve Apostles.
Stay overnight in Port Campbell.
Approx. drive time: 3 hours
Port Campbell to Mount Gambier
Complete the Great Ocean Road through Allansford, check out the Georgian-style homes at Port Fairy and continue on to Mount Gambier via the scenic route aka Port Nelson State Park where cliffs crumble into blue waters.
Stay the night near Mount Gambier.
Approx. drive time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Mount Gambier to Coonawarra
Explore the craters and sinkholes of Mount Gambier in the morning.
Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at Naracoorte Caves National Park in the afternoon.
Finish the day off with a wine at a local cellar door in Coonawarra.
Approx. drive time: 4 hours 14 minutes
Coonawarra to Victor Harbor
Set your sights on the fishing port of Robe with its historical lookout, giant obelisk and conservation park.
Cross the Murray River by ferry into Victor Harbor and tuck in for the evening.
Distance: 50km (not including Kangaroo Island)
Approx. drive time: 1 hour
Victor Harbor to McLaren Vale
Join a guided tour to Granite Island, home to the adorable little penguins, or take your trip one step further with a day trip to Kangaroo Island.
Drive up to McLaren Vale to wine and dine your way through your last evening.
Approx. drive time: 45 minutes
McLaren Vale to Adelaide
Spend the morning in McLaren Vale or head straight to Adelaide for a day in the big city.
Camping grounds are abundant along the Great Ocean Road. This includes in and near Great Otway National Park, Otway Forest Park and Port Campbell National Park. Many are hike-in camping spots that are stove-only. However, if you're driving you can check out the following powered caravan sites:
Highlights and attractions: The Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach, Angelsea Hill, Teddys Lookout (Lorne), Marriner’s Lookout (Apollo Bay), Cape Otway Lightstation, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, London Arch, The Grotto, Bay of Islands, Gibson Steps and Lord Ard. Read more.
Great Ocean Road weather: The weather is pleasant throughout the year with max temperatures of 22°C and min temperatures of 6°C. Winter is the rainiest season. Summer is the driest.
Best time to go: To avoid the crowds road trip over winter between June and August. It's the rainiest season but comes with the chance to go whale watching. Alternatively, travel during spring or autumn for clearer skies and off-peak prices.
Car: Economy to large car. Roads are sealed and well-maintained.
Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!).
And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too!
Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.
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