Visiting the Great Ocean Road? Discover the best things to see on the Great Ocean Road including the lesser known Victorian sights and the most popular bucket list worthy spots. You can combine these spots into the perfect itinerary or if you’d prefer, select a few to visit on day trips from Melbourne. So if you’re looking for the best things to do and see on the Great Ocean Road, read on.
Suggested read: Great Ocean Road itinerary
1. 12 Apostles
Starting off with the most well known (and likely the main reason you’re looking at travelling the Great Ocean Road!) – the 12 Apostles. There are multiple ways you can experience the 12 Apostles (keep reading to find one of the best spots below!) which even include by scenic helicopter ride. You can find out more about these impressive natural formations and this iconic Australian location here.
2. Bells Beach
Bells Beach is a world-famous surf location, hosting a famous surfing competition each year. Even when the competition isn’t on, the beach is beautiful and worth stopping by – especially close to sunset. This is one of the closest Great Ocean Road landmarks you’ll find to Melbourne.
3. Point Addis
A particularly good spot for sunset, Point Addis is only a 90 minutes drive from Melbourne and just around the corner from the above mentioned Bells Beach. Here you’ll get sweeping views across the Southern Ocean as it hugs the edge of Australia.
4. Great Ocean Road Sign
Did you even drive the Great Ocean Road if you didn’t get a photo at the official sign? The real name of this spot is the Memorial Arch at Eastern View, which was constructed to honour the workers who built the Great Ocean Road. This whole road is actually the world’s largest war memorial, stretching 243 kilometres and dedicated to the soldiers who died in World War 1. This spot is a very popular photo spot, with many tours and cars pulling over for a pic before continuing on.
5. Split Point Lighthouse
Have you ever, ever felt like this? Yes, if you’re Australian and of a certain age, you should recognise (at least from the tune) that this is the lighthouse from the popular Round the Twist television show. Whether you were a part of the Aussie children who loved or were a bit scared of it (to be honest, I was a little bit scared of it), it’s definitely worth a visit as you explore the Great Ocean Road. We visited early in the morning for sunrise and admired from the outside; however, if you are interested there is also a tour you can partake in.
6. Great Otway National Park
It’s not all beaches and ocean views, the Great Ocean Road also plays host to the nearby Great Otway National Park. This National Park was a highlight for me during our time exploring the Great Ocean Road and I fell in love with the dense and vivid green forests that we drove through – especially the days when they were surrounded with mist. For context this is where Great Otway National Park sits along the road.
7. Hopetoun Falls
An icon of the inland part of the Great Ocean Road, if you’re going to visit only one waterfall here you should make that Hopetoun Falls. A moderately easy path will take you to the base of the falls where you can admire the bold waterfall and lush surrounding rainforest.
8. Californian Redwood Forest
Slightly lesser known than the other spots along the Great Ocean Road and surrounding area, the Californian Redwood Forest is worth a visit. While very far from home in Australia and planted way back in 1939, the world’s tallest tree type thrives in Victoria’s environment. Located just around the corner from Hopetoun Falls (like a 3 minute drive away!), you can find them yourself here.
9. Erskine Falls
While Hopetoun Falls does take the cake (in my opinion) for gorgeous waterfalls near the Great Ocean Road, Erskine Falls comes in at a close second. This one is a little more accessible in terms of driving distance – found less than 15 minutes away from Lorne and just over 2 hours from Melbourne. Again, a reasonably easy path will take you to the base of the falls to admire.
10. Gibson Steps
Now this is my favourite location to view the 12 Apostles and one of my favourite spots on the Great Ocean Road. Gibson Steps is found just beside the main 12 Apostles viewing platform here you can walk the cliffside stairs down to the beach below and take in the wonder of a few of the formation from below. I’ve been here twice now and highly recommend visiting at sunset for this golden glow.
11. Bay of Islands
While the apostles are the most well known things to do on the Great Ocean Road, if you travel a little further along, you’ll discover a few more formations that are very beautiful indeed. We headed along to the Bay of Islands before turning inland to the Grampians and were pleasantly surprised as we went.
Suggested read: Why you need to road trip Australia with an Apollo Camper
12. The Grotto
This was a bit of a hidden gem on the Great Ocean Road. Head down along the cliffs via man made walking track before coming across this natural formation. The wild and blustery Southern Ocean might be treacherous (more on this below!) but it has created some incredible natural sights. You can find the Grotto here on the Great Ocean Road.
13. London Bridge
Not just found in the capital of England, another famous sight on the Great Ocean Road is, of course, the London Bridge. As so many of the sights on this road have been, this formation was carved over time by the wild Southern Ocean. You can find London Bridge just 5 minutes away from the Grotto.
14. Loch Ard Gorge
As mentioned earlier, the Southern Ocean and this dramatic coastline can be treacherous and dangerous. This was especially true for ships – and is why the area has also earned the name of ‘Shipwreck Coast.’ While they have found over 200 shipwrecks out here, they estimate that there are actually hundreds more. Loch Ard Gorge is a popular spot on the Great Ocean Road, both for its beauty and for its connection to the most famous shipwreck in the area. Loch Ard (giving the gorge its name) sunk off the shores of this gorge leaving only two survivors. You can read more about the story here.
15. Astrophotography – almost everywhere!
The beauty of being out in the open air and away from the cities – perfect opportunities for astrophotography! We visited in May meaning milky way season was already making its appearance and I spent sometime taking a few pictures of the stars from the Great Ocean Road.
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