Itineraries for Your Trip to Great Ocean Road

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1 Day on the Great Ocean Road for First Timers

Curated by Zoë SmithZoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

Often hailed as Australia’s greatest road trip, a drive along the Great Ocean Road serves up photo-worthy panoramas from every angle. One day is enough time to take in the highlights, but plan your itinerary carefully to maximize your time and avoid the inevitable crowds. Here’s how to spend one day on the Great Ocean Road.


If you’re on a time budget, a tour that includes round-trip transport is the best bet; letting someone else drive and navigate allows you to focus on the ever-changing scenery. Most day tours leave from Melbourne and range from private tours—which offer greater flexibility and the chance to tweak you itinerary—and reverse itinerary tours, which are designed to reduce your exposure to crowds.

Most tours begin at the surf town of Torquay Beach and then follow the coastal road to Anglesea, Split Point Lighthouse and Lorne, where the best views are from Teddy’s Lookout. Nearby, a short walk along the Kennet River offers a chance to spot wild koalas in their natural environment. 


Arrive in Apollo Bay in time for lunch at one of the oceanfront restaurants, then walk it off with a leisurely stroll through part of the Otway National Park—the popular 1-hour hiking route that leads to Triplet Falls. Continue along the Shipwreck Coast to reach one of the most photographed landmarks on the Great Ocean Road, the rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles. 

For the ultimate sightseeing experience, opt for a helicopter tour. Most take off from the Twelve Apostles and soar a little further down the coast; many day tours offer a 15-minute helicopter flight as an optional upgrade. 


Arrive at Loch Ard Gorge in time to watch the sunset. Home to sandy beaches and sea cliffs, it’s the ideal place to end your road trip. Take a stroll along the cliff top trail for views of the Island Archway, Razorback, and the Salt and Pepper Shaker rock formations, then climb down to the beachside for sunset. 

Most day-trippers head straight back to the city, but if you fancy a nightcap, the nearby town of Port Campbell is a lively spot to grab a drink or spend the night.

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