While many travelers heading to Victoria opt to experience the Great Ocean Road by booking a day tour, another idea is to do it as a road trip. There are a number of things to do along the way, and by doing a self-guided tour of the route you can take your time and really explore. To help you plan your itinerary, here are some helpful tips for driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

While many travelers heading to Victoria opt to experience the Great Ocean Road by booking a day tour, another idea is to do it as a road trip. There are a number of things to do along the way, and by doing a self-guided tour of the route you can take your time and really explore. To help you plan your itinerary, here are some helpful tips for driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

Download a Great Playlist

Driving Car
Photo: Richard Giles / Flickr

No ultimate road trip would be complete without some sweet tunes, so make sure to download a great playlist before hitting the road. Keep in mind, you’ll be enjoying a mix of scenery, from beach to woodland to areas full of otherworldly rock formations, so a mix of laid-back grooves and high-energy music is recommended. Some top song picks include “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, and “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson.

Spend a Few Days in Melbourne

Melbourne at Night
Photo: Hai Linh Truong / Flickr

Before heading off on your road trip of the Great Ocean Road it’s a good idea to spend a few days in Melbourne, which is close to the starting point of the drive in Torquay. Melbourne has everything: Quirky coffee shops, interesting museums, great shopping, artisanal eateries, a vibrant sports culture, adventure offerings, scenic experiences and more. On the way to the start of the Great Ocean Road you might also want to consider a stopover in Mornington Peninsula, a picturesque wine country where you can go wine tasting on horseback, eat farm-to-table meals and spend your days relaxing in rejuvenating hot springs.

Give Yourself Enough Time to Explore

Coastline, Port Campbell National Park
Photo: portengaround / Flickr

The Great Ocean Road gives you the opportunity to explore a number of towns, villages, parks, natural attractions and preserves, some of which include Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Bells Beach, Great Otway National Park, Port Campbell National Park, the Shipwreck Coast, the Twelve Apostles, Warrnambool, Tower Hill Game Preserve and Port Fairy. Do some research to see what experiences each of these destinations offer and plan an itinerary suited to your tastes from there. Tip: During certain stretches of the trip you won’t see very many places to stop for food, water or gas, so stock up on supplies and fill your tank at the beginning of the drive and whenever possible in between.

Be Adventurous

Claerwen Retreat, Apollo Bay
Photo: alh1 / Flickr

The great thing about doing the Great Ocean Road as a self-guided road trip is having the ability to make detours, one of which should be Otway Fly Tree Top Adventures. Here you’ll have the opportunity to fly from treetop to treetop via six zip-lines and two canopy bridges, reaching a height of 155 feet (47 meters) during your adventure. There are also a number of worthwhile hikes along the way, like the seaside Surf Coast Walk between Jan Juc Beach and Angahook-Lorne State Park, the Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles, and the many trails in Great Otway National Park.

Enjoy the Beach

Bells Beach
Photo: surfglassy / Flickr

As the Great Ocean Road takes you along Australia’s coast you’ll have many chances to hit the beach. In the surf township of Torquay you’ll find Bells Beach, a stretch of sand and waves made famous in the movie Point Break. Between Torquay and Lorne you’ll find the beautiful Wye and Kennett Rivers, two scenic swimming beaches with lifeguards on duty. And from Apollo Bay To Warrnambool you can stop at Port Campbell Bay, a great surfing beach that’s also close to the land offerings of Port Campbell National Park.

Add in Some Wildlife Experiences

Koala
Photo: Johan Larsson / Flickr

Wildlife experiences abound along the Great Ocean Road. One lesser-known animal experience along the way is at the Koala Cove Cafe in Kennett River, where you can buy a $2 bag of seed to feed the many Crimson Rosellas and King Parrotts in their backyard. Go for a walk through the trees to spot lazy koalas sleeping and nibbling on eucalyptus leafs. Another wildlife experience to check out is the Tower Hill Game Reserve — which is located inside an extinct volcano — home to emus, koalas, kangaroo and waterbirds.

Opt for a Walking Safari

Kangaroos
Photo: Chris Samuel / Flickr

For a unique safari experience along the Great Ocean Road spend a few nights at Bothfeet. The rustic lodge specializes in small-group walking safaris where a long route is completed over the course of a few days. Each evening you’ll be picked up for dinner and a night’s rest at the lodge and brought back to your last ending point the following day after breakfast to continue your hike. At the lodge, enjoy delicious meals crafted from local ingredients, wine and conversation with new friends.

Categories: Melbourne

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