Driving the Great Ocean Road | 9 Hacks to Boost your Holiday

If you’ve started planning your trip to Australia or if you’ve travelled anywhere in the land down under, you’ve no doubt heard of and researched the Great Ocean Road. And yes, the photos you’ll find online DO NOT do it justice! It is one of Australia’s most famous tourist routes, and for good reason! Providing some of the best seaside cliff views, quirky surf towns and easy access to the Otway National park – what’s not to love?

Whether you’re into photography, surfing, rainforests, chilling out on a remote beach or trying to get the best selfie amongst the crowd, you won’t be disappointed.

We’ve put together a small list of tips for you to boost your experience.

Loch Ard Gorge beach, standing next to cave showing the size of the Loch Ard gorge


This can’t be stressed enough! Almost every single person flies to Melbourne, heads to Torquay and begins their scenic journey. Don’t be a SHEEP and follow the herd! Head straight to Warrnambool, along one of the many scenic country roads and avoid the Granny Drivers (sorry Nan).

Our trip started in Peterborough, where we were met with gale force winds and torrential rain. Unfortunately, being trapped inside the van after an extremely long journey from Newcastle was not our ideal start to the holiday.

cooking inside a campervan while driving the great ocean road

Hopefully your luck is better than ours!

Fortunately, the morning was slightly more bearable. The wind was still gusting but the rain had subsided. We took the chance to enjoy a warm breakfast and watch what turned into an almost sunless sunrise.

beautiful sunrise from peterborough while driving the great ocean road

This brings us to our next tip…


We get that this sounds terrible, who doesn’t love their beauty sleep? But if you want the best experience, wouldn’t it be nice to have the attractions to yourself?

Our first and favourite attraction was the one and only Grotto. Not quite a cave, not an arch, more like a window. Can you tell we don’t really know what to call it?

If you’re as lucky (or unlucky depending on which way you look at it) as us and venture here on a wet and windy day, foam blown from the churning sea below may bring about a sense of snow. One in which is very unique and adds to the eerie feel of this place! To reach the window, meander down the cliff side steps until you encounter the small viewing platform. Here you can look through the natural window and get a closer glimpse of the rough and rocky ocean, watching as the beautiful sun rises.

the Grotto rock window, our favourite attraction driving the great ocean road

The small rock pool through the window looked so inviting, Dylan wanted to check it out. Although, apparently Candace had other ideas!

climbing the wall at the grotto, fun things to do while driving the great ocean road

Before I knew it, I was being dragged off to the London Bridge.

The London Bridge attraction, driving the great ocean road

This shot is from one of the many different viewing platforms, so it shouldn’t be hard to find the perfect spot for a great picture, even if the crowds are swarming.

Call me naïve, but isn’t a bridge supposed to lead somewhere? Never mind, Candace has just informed me that the London Bridge has fallen down, finally the nursery rhyme makes sense!

All jokes aside, even after the collapse in 2014, the sheer size of this beauty is amazing. The dwarfed swell rolling underneath and crashing onto the beach is yet another sign of its colossal nature, and something you have to admire in person.

Speaking of big, next up is the Loch Ard Gorge. Stretching hundreds of metres out into the vast ocean and offering picture perfect views in all directions, here is a place we recommend exploring. Many walking tracks are available, encouraging you to experience what raw power the ocean has to offer as you march your way along the cliffside of Port Campbell National Park. The most popular trails being:


One of the shortest and easiest walks in the area at 900 metres. Looping around on a relatively flat man-made path, focusing on breathtaking views rather than unique terrain.


For our history loving friends, this 1.4km trail is for you. Offering snippets of the past everywhere you look, a more in-depth adventure awaits if you love to learn.


Following this 1.1km track will lead you to a very different kind of cave. Having the roof collapse many, many years ago set’s Thunder Cave in a category of its own. Water flowing in and out of this roofless wonder creates an amazing effect.


Another coastal stroll stretching 3.2km along the bitumen path, providing even more scenic views from different vantage points. A much longer walk for those with time on their side.

Loch Ard Gorge from above, a huge attraction while driving the great ocean road

Remember when we said get up early? It is now approaching 10am. Who would have thought it would be this crowded on a wet and windy day!?

Though the views from above are magnificent, you’d be a fool not to follow the wooden stairs down and experience the sand between your toes. The inner gorge is substantially different to the views from the cliffside. The calm, low energy beach is very quaint, enabling an experience for all to enjoy. If you’re feeling crazy you can even go for a dip! We say crazy because it’s f***ing cold.

Speaking of cold…

Loch Ard Gorge beach, a unique beach to visit while driving the great ocean road


We’re guessing most of you are planning this as a summer trip? Yeah, so is everyone else! Take the previous picture for example and imagine it on a hot summer’s day. You’d be lucky to see the water, let alone swim in it!

feeling the cold at the london bridge while driving the great ocean road


Yes we know, we are talking about Australia but don’t be fooled. While we love a joke about Australia not being cold, the winds off the ocean are brutal and cut through you like glass. So pack an extra jacket and probably leave the thongs at home.

Onwards and upwards, it’s time for the 12 apostles.

selfie from a viewing platform at the 12 Apostles, best stop while driving the great ocean road

12? We could only count 8. As is the fate of the London Bridge, they too are falling. Harsh swells and winds bashing against them are sadly the reason for this. A bit ironic really, they are being destroyed by the very thing that created them! In spite of the declining number, these wonders are still a sight to behold.

We would have loved to get an Insta-worthy drone shot here, however continuous helicopter tours make this a no fly zone and honestly, you’d be a fool to try it. BLOODY TOURISTS! For this reason, a selfie had to do.

You can probably tell by now, we are not a fan of crowds. We’re going to guess that neither are you? So why not get away from all of that and enjoy some of the most scenic views in peace?

selfie at the 12 apostles, one of the great ocean roads best attractions


This was taken from one of the many dirt roads branching away from the Great Ocean Road. A perfect spot to set yourself up with a beer and soak in the late afternoon. We spent over an hour here entirely undisturbed. What an inviting change from what we had just experienced.

amazing secluded vantage point while driving the great ocean road


Don’t make the Great Ocean Road into a one day trip. While the above list of places are easy to fit into a day, there is so much more to see and do. For example, there is a chocolate factory 15 minutes north of the 12 Apostles. Bet you didn’t know that!

And what is better than chocolate? CHEESE!

view from the Apostle Whey Cheese factory, driving the great ocean road


If chocolate or cheese isn’t your thing, we don’t know why we’re helping you! Only kidding, we don’t judge here.

Head inland to the Great Otway National Park. So many people overlook the Otways, or only venture as far as the Lighthouse. This national park is awesome and probably our favourite one to date. There is everything from mountain bike tracks to massive waterfalls. You’ll be able to spend days in there without getting bored. And the best part, FREE CAMPING!

best waterfall in Otway national park, beautiful location driving the great ocean road


As you get to know us, it will become more apparent that we don’t plan trips. We pick a destination and just go. Isn’t that the best way?

This often leaves us wondering where we will sleep… But you won’t find us paying $25-50 a night for a campsite. Lucky for you, we are here to tell you where the best places are to stay for free! Aire Crossing, Beauchamp falls and Stevenson’s falls campgrounds are all possibilities in this category. And while they are all good choices, Stevenson’s falls stands out above the rest. This campground is HUGE! Supplying toilets, fire pits and a very peaceful feeling, it’s no wonder we fell in love. Not to mention, there’s a local Dog!

camper van set up while camping at stevensons falls campground in the great otway national park

However, what do you do when there isn’t any free campsites? Well, refer to tip 3. TRAVEL IN WINTER! While travelling in the warmer months is very appealing, by travelling in winter you will receive some well-deserved benefits. Obviously, fewer people bothering you and the added bonus of ‘free camping’ wherever you please. And we mean WHEREVER! We spent 3 out of the 4 nights in beachfront carparks. That’s right, even in Lorne where we didn’t dare last Christmas.

How’s the morning view?

Lorne beachside sunrise, free camping while driving the great ocean road


Just because you have seen the main ‘attractions’ doesn’t mean your holiday is over. There are many cool towns to explore as you progress further east, so don’t forget to stop off for a quick pint.

Apollo Bay was the second town we visited after Peterborough. The main street is packed with cafes and restaurants. Not to mention, the Craft Beer Brewhouse! While this is a popular place in summer, winter really shows Apollo Bay for the small, cosy beach town it is.

Who knows, you may get as lucky as us and find some locals sunbaking!

Apollo Bay main road, a great pit stop when driving the great ocean road
Marengo beach seals sun baking on rocks in the ocean, awesome experience driving the great ocean road
Apollo bay seals sun baking on rocks in the ocean

Next stop, Lorne. Surely you’ve heard of this one before! This is the most popular town along the Great Ocean Road after Torquay, and for good reason.

The ocean here was so inviting we just couldn’t pass on a swim, freezing our butts off in the 14.5 degrees Celsius water was well worth it! If you plan on surfing the well-known break, pack a decent wetsuit! Don’t worry if your surfing skills aren’t up to scratch, setting up a picnic and watching the sunset is just as good…

With all that said and done, it was time to head back to reality. Making one last coffee stop in Torquay before the long drive home.

Torquay Beach point surf, first town to visit while driving the great ocean road



Accommodation for the fancy:

  • Having Percy the trusty van, we cant’t really help you here… but we know a good mate who can: Airbnb

Holiday Parks:

  • Wotif has the best list to compare them all

Free Camping – Use WikiCamps to assist:

  • Stevenson’s Falls Campground
  • Beachamp Falls Campground
  • Allenvale Mill Bush Campground
  • Big Hill Track Campground
  • Sharps Campground
  • Dando’s Campground

If you’re after a more in depth description of these campsites, check out Explore The Great Ocean Road’s website.


  • 23 best things to do on the Great Ocean Road – Journeyera – Photography is amazing!
  • A planning guide and 5-day interary – Wheresmollie – this is great if you’re planning to hire a campervan.
  • A great ocean road backpackers guide – Melbourne to Lorne – Lorne to Port Fairy – These posts cover parts of driving the Great Ocean Road that we were unable to fit in yet are well worth a visit.
  • 14 Stunning stops along the Great Ocean Road – The Lost Passport – A further in depth look on the places to stay and where to rent a car.