Last Updated: September 14, 2019
I’ve always dreamt of going on a road trip. Sadly, it’s impossible to find winding roads, mesmerising views and quiet traffic in bustling Singapore, all at the same time.
One of the most famous places to go on a road trip is, in fact, Australia. So when I was recently Down Under, a road trip along the world-famous Great Ocean Road was in order.
We know there’s plenty to see along the Great Ocean Road, but conquering it within a day is possible. So here are 15 places to visit along the Great Ocean Road on a one-day road trip!
Now, it’s important to know that this day-trip itinerary only includes the more popular attractions. So if you’d like to see everything, taking two or three days to do the drive might be more appropriate.
Whatever you decide, you’ll first need a car, and we rented ours from JUCY in Melbourne.
Next, you’ll also need a map. Any basic map app on your smartphone should do just fine, so we used Google Maps.
Lastly, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before! This road trip begins early in the morning, even before sunrise. You’ll definitely want to be able to wake up for it.
Our first stop was the Memorial Arch, which is located just past the city of Torquay.
To get here, however, was a two-hour drive via the M1 highway from Melbourne. We set off from the city at 6am.
Trust me, though, it’ll be worth waking up early for. The earlier you get here, the more likely you’ll have the entire place to yourself, as we did.
The arch is a symbolic monument as it represents the gateway to the Great Ocean Road.
Not only that, but the Memorial Arch also represents a piece of history. It pays homage to the soldiers who survived World War I and built the Great Ocean Road.
If you’re an avid history geek, there’re actually a handful of plaques on-site which you can read up on.
Memorial Arch: 689/721 Great Ocean Road, Eastern View VIC 3231, Australia
Your eyebags are probably heavy from waking up so early, so head on to The Bottle of Milk for breakfast!
Located in the seaside town of Lorne, the cafe serves up a good variety of hearty dishes for breakfast.
If you love avocados like me, the Smashed Avo (AUD$17) is a must-try.
Creamy mashed avocados atop a fluffy sourdough bread—need I say more?
You might want to add on their Poached Eggs (AUD$3), because eggs make everything better.
Energise yourself with a cuppa before you leave too. The Bottle of Milk brews a mean cup of Cappuccino (AUD$4) which will definitely get your day going.
The Bottle of Milk: 52 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne VIC 3232, Australia | Tel: +61 3 5289 2005 | Opening Hours: 8am – 4pm (Mon – Thu), 8am – 8pm (Fri & Sat), 8am – 5pm (Sun) | Facebook | Instagram | Website
I’m sure you’re ready to hit the road once again after such a satisfying breakfast. However, just before you leave Lorne, take a quick drive up to Teddy’s Lookout.
On this clifftop viewpoint, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the winding Great Ocean Road.
Not only that, but you’ll also have a panoramic view of the Bass Strait. The therapeutic sounds of the waves crashing on the shoreline will definitely soothe your mind.
Teddy’s Lookout: 53 George Street, Lorne VIC 3232, Australia
Just an approximately 30-minute drive away from Lorne is Kennett River, another small seaside town.
There are plenty of places across Australia which allow you to see koalas up close, such as Phillip Island. However, there’s nothing like spotting them in the wild, and Kennett River is where you can find them.
Head towards Kennett River Holiday Park and take a left turn onto Grey River Road. The koalas are supposedly on the gum trees along the road, so drive slowly and keep a close lookout.
Perhaps we were unlucky that day, but we didn’t manage to spot any wild koalas at all. Either that or they were out there but we were just not observant enough to see through their camouflage.
Hopefully, it’s the latter case so those of you with eagle eyes can have better luck spotting them.
Kennett River: Kennett River VIC 3234, Australia
Like Teddy’s Lookout, Cape Patton Lookout Point is yet another great vantage point to take in the ocean breeze.
It’s also the final highpoint before another 30-minute drive to the next stop.
We were incredibly lucky to spot a rainbow while we were there too! It definitely made up for our zero-koala sighting, I’ll tell you that.
Cape Patton Lookout Point: 4825 Great Ocean Road, Wongarra VIC 3234, Australia
We chased that rainbow and ended up finding yet another one! This time, however, it was in the form of ice creams, in Dooley’s Ice Cream.
Tucked away along a long row of shops in Apollo Bay, this ice cream shop has an illustrious history.
They’ve won over 400 awards since 2008, including the championship title of the Australian Grand Dairy Awards 2019.
Their multi-award-winning Chocolate (AUD$5.50/single scoop, AUD$8.50/ double scoop, AUD$11.50/ triple scoop) flavour is a must-try over here. Perfectly rich and velvety, it was everything a chocolate-lover like me could ever ask for.
Their Honey Malt was an accidental discovery, but I’m glad I found it. The unique floral notes came off surprisingly well. I never expected honey to taste that good in ice cream!
For all you adventurous foodies, they even offer a one-of-a-kind Vegemite flavour as well. It was certainly an interesting flavour, though I wasn’t particularly into it.
This prestigious ice cream shop in Apollo Bay is Dooley’s Ice Cream’s only outlet in the whole of Australia. You’ll definitely want to make a stop here on your road trip, as such.
After doing some souvenir shopping, we left Apollo Bay for the Secret Apostles Lookout.
Before setting off, however, make sure you visit the toilet, as the journey takes about 80 minutes of driving.
Unlike what its name might suggest, the Secret Apostles Lookout isn’t actually that much of a secret. We found out about it since it was geotagged on Google Maps.
Nonetheless, for some reason, not many people seem to know about its existence. We actually had the entire place to ourselves while we were there.
So if you’d like your pictures to be free of annoying tourists in the background, this is the perfect spot.
Secret Apostles Lookout: B100, Princetown VIC 3269, Australia
Our next stop, which was only a minute’s drive away from the Secret Apostles Lookout, was Gibson’s Steps.
For those of you who’re wondering, Gibson’s Steps actually refers to the stairway leading down to the beach. They were named after Gibson, the man who carved all 86 steps.
Should the weather permit, you can head down and take a relaxing stroll along the beautiful beach.
You’ll also have the opportunity to meet Gog and Magog, the two enormous offshore limestone stacks.
Gibson’s Steps: Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
This next attraction certainly needs no introduction.
The Twelve Apostles is undoubtedly the most popular destination along the Great Ocean Road.
These (now) eight apostles have become so well-known that there’s even a visitor facility for them.
Not only that, but with such immense popularity also, you can definitely expect large crowds here.
You’ll have to jostle your way through and find the right timing in order to capture those perfect shots for the ‘gram!
Twelve Apostles: Great Ocean Road & Booringa Road, Princetown VIC 3269, Australia
We took a quick three-minute drive and found ourselves another sightseeing location, Tom and Eva Lookout.
The names, Tom and Eva, actually refer to the two massive rock pillars protruding from the ocean.
Interestingly, they were once connected together. However, in 2009, the archway between them collapsed, forming the two landforms that we see today.
Tom and Eva Lookout: Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
Just a limestone’s throw away from Tom and Eva is the magnificent Loch Ard Gorge.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with this physical feature. I, for one, remember seeing it in my geography textbooks numerous times.
The particularly smooth waves here make for a very tranquil and scenic spot. The ultra-clear and blue waters will also make your photos pop.
There are several lookouts in the area and you’re welcome to visit every one of them, should your schedule permit. However, we spent quite some time making sure we had the best photos, so we didn’t do so.
Nevertheless, of all the locations we went to, the Loch Ard Gorge was undoubtedly my favourite. If you’re a geography geek like I am, it’s a must-visit!
Loch Ard Gorge: Great Ocean Road Port, Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
Our next destination was The Arch, which was just a short drive away from Port Campbell.
This natural limestone formation stands at a height of eight metres. Its distinctive curviness is a result of many years of wave action.
A common misconception, which I was guilty of having, is that it is the same landform as the London Arch.
The two are actually entirely different formations. Their close proximity to each other might have caused the misconception, I reckon.
The Arch: Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell VIC 3269, Australia
Right beside the aforementioned The Arch is the London Arch.
Apart from being another great spot for sweeping views of the ocean, this ginormous landform actually has an interesting backstory.
For the longest time, it had another name, London Bridge. However, in 1990, a part of it broke off, disconnecting the ‘bridge’ as a result.
It then became to be what we know it is today, London Arch.
We were there as the sun was beginning to set. This gave the arch a beautiful golden hue which was absolutely breathtaking.
As such, I’d say time your visit for the end of the day. This natural phenomenon is definitely something you won’t want to miss.
London Arch: Great Ocean Road, Peterborough VIC 3270, Australia
The final attraction of our Great Ocean Road trip was The Grotto.
This landform was, in my view, the most fascinating of the lot. Following the footpath from the carpark to the viewing wall felt like descending into another world.
It was simply spellbinding that the water in the cave was so still amidst the crashing waves outside.
Not only that, but it was also so clear that I could see a completely unclouded reflection in it.
The Grotto: Peterborough VIC 3270, Australia
After a day of sightseeing and picture-taking, it was finally time to head back to the city. So we turned back and made our way to the town of Port Campbell, our final stop.
To prepare ourselves for the three-hour drive back to Melbourne, we dropped by a local convenience store. Some snacks and light bites were necessary to keep us occupied throughout the journey.
Alternatively, you can choose to have dinner at the handful of restaurants in Port Campbell too.
Those of you who’re continuing your Great Ocean Road trip the next day can also stay over at Port Campbell. There are several hotels in the town for visitors to stay for the night.
Port Campbell: Port Campbell VIC 3629, Australia
With that, we concluded our one-day road trip along Australia’s most beloved Great Ocean Road. I’d say we managed to cover a good number of the big-name attractions, considering that we had only a day.
That said, this itinerary is merely a guide for the time-pressed. Should you have more time available, I’d definitely recommend extending your road trip so you get the full experience.
Nonetheless, we hope this will help you better plan for a memorable road trip along this truly Great Ocean Road.