Great Ocean Road guide

The spirited traveller’s guide to the Great Ocean Road

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most famous touring routes, and one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. This heritage listed, 243-kilometre stretch of road hugs the dramatic southwest coast of Victoria from Torquay to Warrnambool, taking travellers past world-class surfing breaks, spectacular beaches and lush rainforest, and tranquil seaside towns packed with charm.

The seaside town of Torquay (the start of the Great Ocean Road) is just 30 minutes’ drive from Spirit of Tasmania’s new home, while the soaring pillars of the 12 Apostles – the star of the route visited by over 2 million tourists per year – are just a two hours’ drive from Geelong, making the new home of Spirit of Tasmania the perfect base for exploring the area.

The rugged natural beauty and sweeping beaches have always been the main attractions of the spectacular Great Ocean Road, but there’s plenty more to explore along the way. Superb wineries, incredible culinary experiences, pristine beaches and lush forests are all on the cards here – all you need to decide is whether you are staying for a day – or a week.


12 Apostles and beyond

The most recognisable attraction along the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park are an icon of Victoria. Rising over 45 metres above the powerful waters of the Southern Ocean, the limestone pillars were once part of the mainland, and have been shaped, carved and moved by the wind and water over millions of years. You can admire the seven standing Apostles from a network of viewing platforms, but do take some time to explore the other rock formations around the coast – including the London Arch, Loch Ard Gorge and the Grotto.

Explore the coastal towns

The Great Ocean Road is dotted with charming coastal towns, packed with pristine beaches and a relaxed atmosphere, each known for something special. Torquay – the official start of the drive – is the coast’s favourite surf destination. It’s here you’ll be able to surf the waves of iconic Bells Beach and delve deeper into the surf culture. Art, culture and lush nature come together in buzzing Lorne, the getaway to the spectacular Otaway National Park. Further down the Great Ocean Road is dreamy Port Fairy, a tranquil fishing village complete with its very own, picturesque lighthouse built in 1859.

Discover the Great Otway National Park

Covering over 100,000 hectares of diverse landscapes and accessible all along the Great Ocean Road, the Great Otway National Park is a magical wonderland of lush eucalypt forests, misty rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, windswept beaches and giant beech trees. Lorne offers the easiest access to this spectacular national park and over 10, short walks to choose from, but further down the Great Ocean Road Apollo Bay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet are all perfect stops to explore the beauty of the park.

Chase waterfalls

Some of the most picturesque falls in Victoria call the Great Ocean Road home, so chasing waterfalls here is a must. Most of these thundering falls are nestled within easy access from the main towns along the drive, accessible via easy walks amid the rainforest where you might spot koalas, echidnas, wallabies and native birds. Our top three to check out? The lush Eskrine Falls – easily reachable from Lorne, the 30m high Hopetoun Falls in the thick of the Otway National Park and the majestic Hopkins Falls near Warrnambool.



Serving up Greek food with a modern twist in what looks like a traditional Greek tavern, Ipsos is a dining institution along the Great Ocean Road. Originally opened in 1976, this now one-hatted restaurant offers seasonal fresh food inspired by the recipes of Greece, the Mediterranean and Asia. From all-time favourites like fried local calamari to a Lebanese-inspired slow cooked lamb shoulder with pearl couscous, Ipsos takes its diners on a delicious journey around the flavours of the Mediterranean.

Merrijig Inn

You’re invited to discover Victoria’s oldest inn, for a taste of French cuisine crafted only with superb local produce: this is the Merrijig Inn. The inn is comprised of a front and garden bar, lovely accommodation, and a delightful restaurant, housed in the historic dining room. The menu changes on a daily basis, and it’s all based around what’s available before service – think homemade pappardelle with duck, local mussels with cider, and classic pavlova with lemon curd and winter fruits to name a few dishes. Need to rest after a long drive? The Merrijig Inn also offers a selection of beautifully appointed suites and charming attic rooms fitted with antique beds.


For an intimate, fine dining farm-to-table experience highlighting exquisite local produce, you can’t go past Moonah. Headed by Chef Tobin Kent, this beautiful restaurant sits amongst the vines of The Minya winery, and has space for only 12 guests – promising another level of service and attention to details when it comes to food. Moonah offers a multi-course dining experiences that’ll take approximately three hours to be fully enjoyed, with an ever-changing menu showcasing only the best ingredients sourced strictly from local producers, the restaurant’s kitchen garden or in the wild.

The Bottle of Milk

If you are looking for proper breakfast fare, The Bottle of Milk in Lorne is the place for you. Ranked in the top 3 restaurants in town, this cool eatery offers all the breakfast favourites you can think of, plus an array of super tasty breakfast burgers. More mouth-watering burgers are available later on in the day, including delicious vegetarian options.

Great Ocean Road Brewhouse

With over 100 beers on offer, a sunny beer garden with ocean views and cosy interiors, the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse is a true craft beer heaven. Nestled on the shores of laid-back Apollo Bay, this is one of the most loved pubs around the area, visited by locals and tourists alike. Taste over 13 local beers and two local ciders, a selection of the award-winning Otaway Brewing’s Prickly Moses Handcrafted Beers, plus a range of local and international beers, all while enjoying pub favourites and a relaxed atmosphere.

Photo credits:

Must See & Do (from top to bottom): Twelve Apostles at Sunset - Visit Victoria, Port Fairy - Moyne River - Visit Victoria, Hopetoun Falls - The Otways - Visit Victoria.

Must Eat & Drink (from top to bottom): Ipsos - Lorne - Great Ocean Road Tourism, Merrijig Inn - Rob Blackburn / Visit Victoria, Exterior of Bottle of Milk Cafe, Lorne - Visit Victoria.