Self Drive Great Ocean Road Trip
Doing a self drive Great Ocean Road trip is absolutely one of those things that you have to do when you are in Victoria, in fact, a Great Ocean Road drive is one of the many top things to do in Victoria. You can do a Great Ocean Road day trip, we would definitely recommend you take at least a few nights to see the beautiful Great Ocean Road coast, as well as explore some of the unique and beautiful inland towns in south west Victoria.
Whether you are coming from interstate or touring locally, our recommendation is that you do a self drive Great Ocean Road trip. It is by far the best way to see the beautiful south west Victoria. If you are flying in, we suggest you go for a fly and drive option from Melbourne Tullamarine or Avalon Airport, alternatively there are several tours that you can take to explore the Great Ocean Road beaches and coastline.
In this article we will show some of the best places to stay Great Ocean Road as well as some of Victoria’s not so well known towns.
Take yourself on a self drive Great Ocean Road trip and explore all that South West Victoria has to offer. Victoria’s coastline has some of the most spectacular beaches in Australia, fabulous holiday destinations, luxury accommodation, coastal towns and world class waves for surfing.
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There are so many things to do, it is hard to know exactly what to do in Anglesea first. Learn to surf, kayak, ride a SUP by local experts. The patrolled and protected beach is fabulous for families of all ages. The river mouth offers more gentle wading for younger children. Depending on the tide, the ocean can be great for surfing, body surfing, kayaking, SUP and often just floating around. There is plenty of sand for the ever loved sandcastles to be constructed as well.
Next to the river, there are parklands that can be enjoyed by all. Bike tracks, walking tracks, picnic tables and BBQ facilities. It is a great place to find yourself some shade on the warmer days. Heading out towards the tip, there is a BMX track which is popular with kids (big and little).
At the entrance to the beach there is large car park, with toilets, picnic tables and a playground. The mouth of the river is a popular spot for younger families to wade and play, as it is more protected. Be warned though, it is not a patrolled area.
Anglesea has everything you need from a supermarket, to boutique shops, take away options, chemist, news agency, banks, butcher, bakery. As well as lovely dining choices as well as the family friendly local pub.
Take away menus are rife in Anglesea, making dining in and not cooking a great option! Offshore Cafe and Catering is well priced and serves a range of healthy food choices and something to suit everyone in the family. The bakery is great and the fish and chip shop does a great burger! The ice creamery, no surprise, is also a very popular spot with the kids!
The pub does a great meal at lunch or dinner. In the Summer months, you need to get in early or book, to avoid disappointment.
Another charming western Victorian town just a short drive from the Great Ocean Road. Certainly an advantage to opting for a self drive Great Ocean Road trip, as you can duck off the main road to discover some of these Victorian towns.
Camperdown is well resourced with petrol stations, supermarkets, pub, cafes and take away shops and lots of lovely homes that ooze character. The Camperdown township is surrounded by farming land on rich volcanic plains.
Be sure to take the trip up Mt Leura to the lookout, on a clear day it is very spectacular with views that stretch across to the Southern Grampians.It is an incredible sight from the top seeing the many volcanos emerging from the otherwise flat landscape. You can drive to the top or you can walk from the base of Mt Leura and Mt sugarloaf Reserve. There is a playground, amenities and a car park at the Reserve and at Mt Leura Lookout there is a picnic table and two main lookouts. You can also enjoy the Panorama Trail which connects the two mountains together.
Colac Is the largest town inland from the Great Ocean Road in between Geelong and Warrnambool. It is often a stopping point for people to refuel and restock on a Great Ocean Road trip. The township has industrial style shops, multiple supermarkets and plenty of places to stop in for a meal and/or take away foods.
The central square in Colac is large, spacious, offering a nice spot for a quick picnic on the way through Colac. The central square also has a great playground to keep the kids entertained. If you have a bit more time you can also head out to the Colac Botanic Gardens and Lake Colac for a more relaxed picnic option.
Colac is often a turning point for travellers heading to Forrest, the Otways National Park, Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek. You may choose to drive along the Princess Highway (M1) from Geelong to Colac if you are heading to any of the above mentioned towns, as it will be a lot quicker than taking the Great Ocean Road, however, nowhere near as picturesque.
Cressy is a cute little town with a picnic area, the Cressy Historical Centre and Historic Cressy Discovery Trail. If you come through Cressy, follow the signs to the Hotel and have a look at the original street with old shop fronts and the fabulous carving of the Brolga.
At the foot of Mount Elephant sits the lovely country town of Derrinallum, in Victoria South West. Derrinallum is a nicely presented and well-maintained country town in Western Victoria.
In town, there is a Food Works supermarket, historical information shelter, Post Office, library, takeaway cafes, a pharmacy, pub and petrol station.
There is a playground at the local Reserve, picnic tables and public toilets in the main street. For volcano enthusiasts, and those who enjoy a fantastic view, a walk up Mount Elephant is a must with a well maintained trail owned and operated by the local community. Cycling along the old stone walls of the district is a great way to see the area, followed by some fishing or water sports on one of the nearby lakes. You can also explore the historical Derrinallum Discovery Trail.
Accommodation in Derrinallum is available at the Mount Elephant Hotel Motel, who also serve up pub meals in the evening. There is camping at the Deep Lake Reserve.
Forrest is set in the heart of the Otway Ranges and known as the Gateway to the Otways. It is a gorgeous little town in South West Victoria, surrounded by beautiful trees and bushland. Forrest is a popular town to visit, inland from the iconic coast, in the Great Ocean Road Hinterland.
In recent years, Forrest has become a popular spot for mountain bike riding and trail running. As well as being a great destination for adventure activities, it is also is an excellent place to relax and get out amongst nature!
Forrest boasts outstanding food and dining options, which feature the local produce in the area. The Forrest Brewing Company is a popular spot for craft beer and a great pub meal, with atmosphere; alternatively, there is Bespoke Harvest and the Terminus Hotel.
As Forrest has become a more popular stop, just slightly inland from the Great Ocean Road; as a result, Forrest accommodation options have increased significantly. There are options for all budgets – from free camps, four star bed and breakfasts, hotels, guest houses and cabins.
Tower Hill is well worth a visit; a dormant volcano thought to have last erupted 30,000 years ago, was declared Victoria’s first National Park. Koroit has lovely Botanical Gardens, a Heritage Walk through the towns most historic points; an Art Gallery and is part of the newly developed Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail.
For accommodation in Koroit, check out the best deals or try Rosscos Place, an Airbnb property which sleeps 10 people and is within walking distance to the centre of town.
Lismore is a small town inland from the Great Ocean Road. It is a well-resourced town with all the essentials, including a Post Office, petrol station, hardware store, the Blue Yabby Café with dine in or take away options. There is a Food Works supermarket, pharmacy, as well as a number of gift stores – including The Wooltrack Store, which sells Uggs, woollen products and gifts.
There is a Golf Course on the edge of town, with the Fairway Café on the highway. The café is home to a marvellous silo art piece, on a water tank. Warrnambool artist, Jimmi Buscombe’s work includes native Brolgas as well as sheep which has been the basis of the town’s economy since it was founded in the 1850’s.
Browns Water Holes Caravan Park is conveniently located next to the public swimming pool and Grimwade Park, which has a BBQ, playground and picnic table. It is also the beginning of the Lismore Discovery Trail, which can be done on foot and takes in the township of Lismore. The route is approximately 2.5km and takes roughly 50 minutes. Unless you make the odd detour to a shop of drop into the Birdcage Café for a coffee!
Lorne is a popular stop on a Great Ocean Road drive. Perched above a beautiful golden beach overlooking Loutit Bay, Lorne has long been a holiday destination for those seeking a seaside break from the big smoke of Melbourne. As one of the larger towns along The Great Ocean Road, Lorne remains a popular stop off point for those driving Australia’s most famous road.
Though fairly compact, there are plenty of things to do in Lorne. At the entrance to the town is The Great Ocean Road Story. This small museum documents the backbreaking effort that went into building the iconic road by returning soldiers after the First World War.
Lorne’s gorgeous beach is also a popular surfing spot, whilst Lorne Pier is a great place for fishing. As with much of the coastline along The Great Ocean Road, Lorne Pier is also a great place to look out for whales as they migrate during the winter. Just above Lorne is the famous Teddy’s Lookout, a wonderful vantage point with spectacular views over the sea and the winding Great Ocean Road.
Lorne Pier Seafood also has a pretty special view as well as the best seafood menu in town. The best pizza in Lorne can be found tucked away next to the Erskine River at the excellent Pizza Pizza.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Lorne, there’s no shortage of places to stay. The Lorne Hotel is one of the best in town and also has a great restaurant and bar. The historic Grand Pacific Hotel is full of character and charm and has fantastic ocean views. The Sandridge Motel is another great option, with good sized comfy rooms and the entire town and the beach right on its doorstep.
Another town inland from the Great Ocean Road, Mortlake is a nice little town in the South West of Victoria. It is well presented, maintained and boasts some beautifully restored hotels and buildings.
On the road between Mortlake and Noorat (and Terang), you will be amazed by the Terang – Mortlake Road Wall. This interesting attraction is part of the western Victorian Dry Stone Wall Heritage Trail.
Take a break from the trail to shop for vintage treasures and antiques, dine at one of the restaurants or cafes, or enjoy a famous Clarke’s pie sitting in the Market Square.
Accommodation options range from the two equally charming restored hotels, Macs Hotel and Mt Shadwell Hotel. The Shack at West Cloven Hills, is a nearby Airbnb property which oozes country charm and shouldn’t be overlooked!
For camping or caravan families, the very clean and friendly Mortlake Caravan Park, is an excellent option. Located alongside the picturesque Tea Tree Lake, which has a well made walking or cycling track around – a fantastic place for the kids to ride their bikes. The skate park and playground are also sure to keep the kids entertained.
Head inland from the Great Ocean Road and discover the small town of Noorat. It is nestled into the base of Mt Noorat. Mt Noorat is a dormant volcano considered to have the largest dry crater in Australia.
Across the road from the hotel, you’ll find Maryland Store, a well loved store where you’ll find vintage items and plants and very friendly customer service. For something a little different visit successful local milliner Georgina Conheady in the historic town hall for a bespoke hat.
The most obvious thing to do in Port Campbell, is go and marvel at the Twelve Apostles. These limestone stacks are a sight to be seen and well worth the journey. There are still seven of the original stacks, after one collapsed in 2005. There is exceptional viewing from the viewpoints, please take care, pay attention to and obey signage.
If you’re feeling so inclined and like to fly, check out the flights over the 12 Apostles!
There are great food and drink options in town. These include Forage on the Foreshore and The Sow and Piglets Micro Brewery. From Port Campbell you also have the advantage of easy access to explore the 12 Apostles Food Artisans Gourmet Trail.
With plenty of accommodation in Port Campbell to match all budgets, there is something for everyone! Check out the best prices and details to create your stay most memorable. For Airbnb options, check out this Seaside Escape, Old School House or Bayview Apartment.
This gorgeous South West town, on the Great Ocean Road, is a must for all Victorian travellers. Port Fairy boasts history with its nineteenth century stone cottages, charm, community and creativity and is a great location for a Great Ocean Road family holiday.
Look here for a complete guide of things to do in Port Fairy.
Port Fairy is a great holiday destination for families, couples, individuals seeking solitude. There are fabulous beaches to enjoy and explore, lots of cafes and restaurants, Griffiths Island and the Port Fairy Lighthouse, snorkelling, surfing, fishing, golfing, self-guided or guided tours and so much more!
The most popular Port Fairy beaches are East Beach and Pea Soup and both are very family friendly.
Coffin Sally is a fantastic family friendly restaurant that also serves the best pizza in town. It has a super cool atmosphere and the food is amazing! The menu is extensive, the service if friendly and it is a place that you want to continue to go back to.
East Beach Fish and Chips is fantastic for take away dinner by the beach or for something a little nicer, go to the Wharf Hotel which has a restaurant as well as more casual dine-in or take away Fish and Chip service.
Terang is a small town in South West Victoria. It is just a short drive from the popular and well known town of Great Ocean Road town, Warrnambool.
The main road that goes through Terang, is wide divided road, with a beautiful grassed medium strip. Large shady trees line the middle of the road, making it a nice place to stop for a picnic, sit and read a book or take in the historic buildings surrounding you.
Terang has all of your everyday essentials, including an IGA supermarket. Make sure you stop in at the Bakery, for award winning pies and/or vanilla slice!
Found at the western end of the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool is famous for its rugged beauty and the Southern Right Whales that arrive every winter for their annual calving. Between June and September, these magnificent whales birth their calves in the “nursery” areas close to the shoreline. The best place to spot them is from the specially built viewing platform at Logans Beach.
A highlight of the museum is the fabulous reconstructed outdoor village that gives visitors a taste of what life was like for Australia’s early settlers. While you’re there be sure to stop by the cute Tea Rooms for scrumptious scones with jam and cream. In the evenings the museum holds a Sound And Light Show where visitors can learn about those who braved the Southern Ocean in search of a new life.
Lake Pertobe is an absolute must stop for families and one of Warrnambool’s best kept secrets. There are playgrounds for all ages, a great space to run, picnic, BBQ and enjoy some quality family time. From the slides, swings, maze, climbing frame and flying fox, you could literally spend an entire day there. You can also hire a paddle bike or boat for some time on the lake.
A trip to Warrnambool wouldn’t be right without stopping by Allansford Cheese World. Here visitors can sample award-winning cheeses and browse a variety of local produce and wines.
The Cheese World museum is a trip back in time with a collection of farm machinery, household items, and mementos from the early 1900s. There’s a lovely café onsite that serves breakfast, light lunches and snacks.
With Warrnambool’s museums, gardens, walking trails, nature and stunning beaches, this south west sea-side town is the perfect place to spend a few days with the family in Western Victoria.
One of the best places to eat in this lovely south west Victorian town, is Bohemia Cafe and Bar. The food is absolutely sensational! With a creative menu, bohemian space, family friendly and great customer service, it is no surprise it is always busy. Located in the town centre, there is plenty of parking, walking distance to all essential shops and boutique stores.
For accommodation in Warrnambool, you have many options. The Warrnambool Holiday Park and Motel offers great family accommodation. The jumping castle and playground will keep the kids entertained for hours. The Park and Motel is conveniently located just off Raglan Parade, meaning you are close by to everything.
The Comfort Inn On Raglan and Blue Whale Motor Inn and Apartments are both well both kept accommodation options with family rooms, some rooms with self catering facilities. Both are just a 5-10 minute drive to Logan’s Beach, a popular viewing point during the whale season. A few minutes down the road, is Warrnambool city centre; and Gateway Plaza with all of your everyday needs is conveniently located 5 minutes away. There are so many accommodation options to choose from in Warrnambool, check out the prices and details.
If you have the time on your self drive Great Ocean Road trip, be sure to take the time to visit Winchelsea. Located on the Barwon River, not far from Anglesea or Geelong and is known to be the entrance to both the Otway Hinterlands as well as the Western District. Winchelsea is a lovely little town that has a great historical presence, great cafes, traditional pubs, antiques, a great playground and trails along the Barwon River.
Be sure to visit the Winchelsea Visitors Centre, housed in the original Post Office, a tourist attraction in itself. From there you can get more information on the Winchelsea Heritage Trail. While the attractions are very visible as you pass through the town, you will not want to miss any. Included along the Trail is the Globe Theatre, the Barwon River, the triple-arched bluestone bridge and the Winchelsea Railway Station.
The Barwon Hotel is located by the Barwon River and the 3 span bluestone arch bridge, which was built in 1867. Between the Hotel and the Bridge is a nice grassed area with picnic tables and loads of room for picnic blankets. Walking the trail along the River is a very popular activity for visitors and tourists alike.
For good coffee and café style meal, head to Café La Hoot, which is also conveniently located across the road from a great playground.
Worndoo is a small residential and farming town which is home to a local Primary School, a Football and Netball Club that has public toilets. Just a few kilometres out the road towards Darlington is on-farm shop, selling Glenafton Goat Milk Soap. Check opening hours, before visiting.
Great Ocean Road Accommodation
See the most up-to-date prices and details on Allansford accommodation.
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