With its spectacular sights, the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in Australia and should be high on any list of must-see attractions when you visit the country.
But if you don’t have time to take the drive or don’t want to spend money on gas, you can always opt to walk the route instead—which is quite fun and very accessible for people of all ages and fitness levels! Here are seven great reasons why we think you should choose the Great Ocean Walk when visiting Australia.
1. Learning about Australia’s past
Australia’s history is diverse, with people arriving from all over the world. Inevitably, those who came first are those whose stories we know best – hence, there is much information on Aboriginal and convict settlement. The Great Ocean Road tour serves many sites that tell these stories; Bells Beach, Shipwreck Coast, and Tower Hill are great places to learn about our past.
The Southern Ocean and the Great Ocean Road
A short drive north of Warrnambool is the most magnificent rock stacks in the southern hemisphere. Nearby Torquay offers a gourmet traveler restaurant award-winning restaurant with a waterside setting and a natural Australian bushland backdrop, as well as boutique shops for day trips to remember.
The Great Ocean Road Region is also known as Victoria’s dramatic coastline including beautiful stretches of beach at Seaside towns such as Lorne and Apollo Bay or Port Campbell National Park.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve offers visitors an intimate look into a variety of Victorian wildlife habitats, while the Otway National Park attracts nature lovers year-round. Just inland from Apollo Bay is the Loch and Gorge walking track – one of Victoria’s most popular hiking trails.
Visitors can explore the Sydney Rock Oyster Company, Rolling Green Hills, limestone cliffs, Lush Otway National Park, Port Fairy Museum, Bells Beach, counted among Australia’s famous surfing beaches, and Flora’s Kitchen garden as well as enjoy cafes like Buttery Cafe Deli & Tearooms which overlooks acres of rolling hills and breathtaking views.
Those visiting the region during school holidays can attend everything from kite festivals to fishing competitions, stock car racing events, and wood chopping contests. Year-round visitors will find plenty of opportunities to get active with boating, swimming, snorkeling, and surfing – whatever your taste.
As the Southern Ocean winds its way around mainland Australia the climate here provides more moderate temperatures than other parts of this large country so make sure you bring clothes appropriate for both summer and winter conditions.
If you would prefer not to walk the entire stretch then why not check out shorter walks like the Wye River Nature walk? Whether it’s learning about Australia’s past, exploring the coast, or enjoying a day trip, there is something for everyone along the Great Ocean Road.
2. Walking keeps you fit
Walking is one of the easiest ways to work out and have fun at the same time. Walking is a great way to get in shape, maintain good health, learn more about your surroundings, and make friends with new people.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to an area that offers walking trails, it will be much easier for you. The coastline offers many paths and trails that are perfect for a walk during any season.
Otway National Park
Otway National Park is right next door to Apollo Bay and makes for an excellent day trip for those looking for something slightly longer than just a simple walk around town.
You can explore the Otway rainforest on foot or by bike from Cape Otway Lighthouse down through stunning coastal scenery towards Lorne on the Great Ocean Road.
Take note: there are no formal entry fees when entering this park from Apollo Bay (though there are fees if you enter from Lorne).
Be sure not to miss the Twelve Apostles! These 12 enormous rock formations are one of the most iconic features along the coastline.
With names like Squeaky Beach, Bluff Point Viewpoint, Gibson Steps, and Loch Ard Gorge (the location where the ship called Loch Ard sank), each stop is full of surprises. You’ll want to take your time exploring each site so you don’t miss anything!
Mt. Elephant Lookout provides beautiful views of Port Campbell National Park and affords hikers a rare chance to see wild koalas in their natural habitat up close-which isn’t possible anywhere else in Australia.
Make sure to pack snacks so you can stay long enough for sunset before heading back home. There’s nothing quite like seeing such gorgeous sights while enjoying a meal with loved ones.
To help you plan your itinerary, here are some popular trail suggestions:
1) Roaring Lion Circuit Trail – 3 hours roundtrip
2) Shipwreck Coast Walk – 8 hours roundtrip
3) Hiking the Twelve Apostles – 4 hours roundtrip The Twelve Apostles hike starts at Princetown near Port Campbell and ends at Aire River Mouth in Warrnambool.
You may choose to do the entire thing, or pick out certain sections based on what you’re looking for. One of the best parts about hiking this stretch is how varied it is-you’ll visit beaches, lookouts, caves, sea stacks, cliffs, rivers… It does have everything!
3. Meeting locals along the way
There are a few unique people that you can meet along your journey up and down the coast. First, there is Bill who runs ‘Bill’s Booksellers’ in Princetown.
This old-fashioned book store is worth visiting while you’re traveling around. While you’re here, buy a book – or better yet make it one of Bill’s famous homemade pies! You’ll be treated to some great stories from the region.
Malcarne Creek Motel
Secondly, if you’re lucky enough to visit Australia Day (January 26th), stop by Malcarne Creek Motel where they celebrate with fireworks and music all day long. You can even watch as they build their bridge over the creek with hay bales for cars to drive across!
The Great Ocean Road offers many hidden gems so be sure not to miss out on any of them! From wandering through rainforests and coastal walking trails to rock pooling, fishing, and horse riding adventures, this region has it all.
So get out there and explore! With so much to see and do, this area will quickly become one of your favorite places in Victoria. And after seeing the sights, there are also plenty of good restaurants and cafés along the way to enjoy.
Spotswood Station Inn Café
One spot we recommend is Spotswood Station Inn Café which serves hearty food made from local produce as well as wines from nearby vineyards. If you like seafood then try Gippsland Fish Company which specializes in locally caught fish including abalone, flathead, and flounder!
Dan Hunter’s Otways hideaway
Dan Hunter’s Otways Hideaway is an awarded regional restaurant that allows you to spend time relaxing by their lakefront cabins before heading back out onto the world’s longest war memorial at Anzac Cove. It was awarded the Regional Restaurant of the Year 2020 at the famous Gourmet traveller restaurant awards.
4. Exploring cities on foot
The walk from Apollo Bay up to Jan Juc is also a worthwhile day walk. It will take about 4 hours with plenty of stop-offs along the way. If you don’t want to do the whole length, don’t worry – there are plenty of turn-offs and short walks. The beaches at Anglesea offer wonderful opportunities for swimming or surfing as well as other activities like whale watching.
To see a different side of the area, make your way up Mount Oberon and sea views that stretch out to all horizons – even if it’s cloudy! Finally, when in Lorne make sure you have a seafood lunch at Bass Strait Brewery before heading on down the coast back to Melbourne.
You’ll have time to relax after a busy morning exploring the local parks but be warned: there are plenty more attractions still waiting to be discovered – and it can be hard knowing where to start.
Don’t forget your camera! That’s probably one of the most important things to remember while walking this coastline. There are some truly stunning photo opportunities around every corner, so why not use them?
Jan Juc and Cape Otway
Jan Juc and Cape Otway are both good spots for a short walk or swim, but if you’re looking for something a little longer then why not try walking from Apollo Bay up through town and into Lorne?
There are plenty of places along that route that offer nice spots to stop for lunch and explore, as well as beautiful beaches like (my personal favourite) Anglesea.
Campbell to Warrnambool
If you’re feeling energetic and have a few days up your sleeve, why not walk from Port Campbell to Warrnambool? It’s about 140 kilometres and takes between 4-5 days. But if that seems like too much for you, don’t worry – there are plenty of places along the way where you can stop for lunch or even just a quick bite to eat.
I would also recommend bringing your camera as there are some amazing photo opportunities up and down that coastline!
Whether you’re a keen walker or someone who is just looking for something a little different, there are lots of reasons why you should consider making your way along Australia’s Great Ocean Road on foot.
And don’t forget: if you get tired at any point along your journey, there are plenty of places up and down that coastline that offer tours, rental bikes, and even public transport. What could be easier?
5. Capturing photos along the way
The Great Ocean Road winds along beautiful beaches and rugged cliffsides for 243 kilometers (150 miles). Along your journey, you will have countless photo opportunities. These are my favorite spots that I would recommend visiting!
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
This Sanctuary is known for providing natural habitat to Koalas. Be sure to get there early because parking fills up quickly. They offer free shuttle buses from Warrnambool or Lorne if necessary but they only leave at certain times so be sure to check online before planning your trip!
Gibson Steps Beach
One of my favorite hidden gems on the Great Ocean Road is the small cove at Gibson Steps. It’s hard to find, but worth it once you arrive!
Located near the town of Port Campbell, it is an impressive geologic feature that shoots water 30 meters into the air when waves crash against the cliff face below.
The Loch Ard Gorge Memorial Arch
A 10-minute walk leads to this arch which is located near one of Australia’s most tragic shipwrecks.
The Twelve Apostles
Follow the coast from Princetown back toward Torquay and stop at a few of the iconic 12 Apostles rock formations.
Cape Otway Lightstation
A picturesque lighthouse on a pier surrounded by gorgeous coastal scenery. If time permits, I also recommend checking out some more light stations like Maits Rest Lightstation or Point Addis Lightstation for equally stunning views.
Alternatively, take a stroll through Tower Hill Nature Reserve where you can spot native wildlife like kangaroos and possums! Also, close by is Budj Bim Mountain with its incredible Aboriginal carvings and several walking trails. For those looking for some adrenaline, Mount Gambier offers bungy jumping off of the 109-meter-high Bluff Cliffs Bridge.
There are plenty of other things to do here as well such as cycling around various parks, taking a tour of the old prison cells, and exploring the area’s many galleries. Not far away is Millicent, home to Sea Horse World Aquarium, where you can watch marine life like seals, penguins, and sharks swim just inches away from you.
Another option is spending time in Apollo Bay while taking boat tours or kayaking out into Lady Julia Percy Island Marine National Park. Nearby is the historic Sovereign Hill, a recreation of a 19th-century gold mining town where you can experience what it was like to live in that era.
Stay for lunch at the Sovereign Hotel and enjoy a 3-course meal or explore the excellent antique shops. Or visit Split Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in Victoria, and climb up to the top!
6. Connecting with nature and wildlife
Australia is often called a natural ‘garden of Eden’ because of its remarkably wide variety of plants and iconic animals, which are easily observed in places like the Great Otway National Park. If you’re looking for a unique experience that will offer plenty of opportunities for connecting with nature and amazing wildlife, taking a walk on the spectacular Great Ocean Road is not to be missed.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Hiking through the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve or along the coast, we guarantee you’ll spot some native Australian wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, emus, and wombats! Be sure to take your camera so you can capture these beautiful creatures as they roam free throughout the country. Another great reason to hit the beach: if you need any more convincing, our beaches are known worldwide for their cleanliness and pristine beauty.
Relaxing on our golden sands while watching the waves crash onto the shore is a fantastic way to unwind after a long day of exploring. The perfect place for family holidays: The Great Ocean Road is well-known among travelers as one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia – it’s easy to see why!
Whether you want to relax by the sea, watch eucalyptus trees and limestone stacks or explore inland lush rainforests, whether you have children or not, this diverse region has something for everyone. From penguins at Phillip Island to rainforest waterfalls near Lorne, there’s something here for every age group and interest level.
Add in the scenic coastal walks taking a perfect sunset picture and world-class surf breaks and it becomes clear that the Great Ocean Road is a must-see destination for families traveling around Australia. As many local attractions as possible: The best thing about spending time on the Great Ocean Road? You get to explore Victoria’s incredible coastline and visit some of Victoria’s most iconic attractions, all within driving distance from each other.
The best way to make the most of your time on The Great Ocean Road is by booking accommodation that allows you to get outdoors and explore as much as possible. If you’re looking for walking holidays, there are plenty of options in places like Apollo Bay, Lorne, and Cape Otway.
You can also book a beachside property with a pool so you don’t miss out on the fun in the sun! If you prefer camping, then stay in one of the campsites just off the road itself and enjoy a bushwalk or two before settling down for the night. Whatever suits your taste, there’s no better place than The Great Ocean Road to spend your next vacation.
7. Exploring towns as you travel
The walk is marked with kilometre stones and free maps of the route can be found at any Visitor Information Centre. Be aware that there are some difficult sections, such as loose rocks and slippery steps.
We recommend you wear good shoes, such as boots or trainers; water-resistant clothing, sun protection, a hat, and sunscreen. Bring a day pack with essentials, including a first aid kit, torch/headlamp, water bottle, and snacks. A walking stick will help on rocky sections. You’ll need plenty of time – it takes around five days to complete the entire walk (about 100 kilometres).
The start of The Great Ocean Walk is located in Torquay. There are plenty of opportunities for rest and refreshment along the walk so, depending on your walking pace, it’s easy to make longer stops at towns such as Lorne or Apollo Bay. Visit Twelve Apostles National Park and other natural highlights along the way. When night falls, find accommodation nearby – campsites offer many different experiences: from bush camping to beachside luxury tents!
Alternatively, visit coastal towns where you can sleep at an affordable B&B or holiday house. Choose a few activities each day – this will allow more flexibility if weather conditions change. There are lots to do – look out for interesting historical sites and memorials along the trail. Get up close to local wildlife at Cape Otway koalas and birdlife sanctuary. Kayak through gentle surf at Port Campbell National Park or swim with dolphins off the coast near Warrnambool. And finally, spend one evening enjoying dinner under the stars in Princetown before climbing Mt Donna Buang early the next morning.
Port Phillip Bay
Enjoying spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the Bass Strait while waking up under a vast expanse of the sky makes for memories not soon forgotten! It’s worth remembering that parts of the walk may require negotiating steep slopes and rough terrain. Follow safety guidelines, bring appropriate gear and enjoy your Great Ocean Walk adventure!
If you’re planning on doing a section of The Great Ocean Walk, make sure you bring everything you’ll need for a day of walking. If you decide to stop and explore towns along your route, you can leave all unnecessary items in storage (with lockers available at some rest stops) or take everything with you. Don’t forget that vehicles are prohibited from entering some walking tracks so it might be useful to carry an extra pair of shoes in case yours get wet!
Walking The Great Ocean Road is both a physical challenge and a spiritual journey. Seeing such magnificent creations as The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Gibson’s Steps, up close on foot will open your eyes and leave you in awe. Whether you’re into hiking or not, this walk offers a beautiful view and gives you a new perspective on how fragile the world we live in really is.
These natural wonders can’t withstand our day-to-day abuses without protection. Nature has created something special here and it’s our responsibility to preserve it for future generations of Australians and tourists alike.
I hope this blog post has given you some more information about why walking the Great Ocean Road is an incredible idea. List your suggestions below this article in the comments and spread the word.