The magnificent 243km Great Ocean Road starts around an hour from inner-city Melbourne, winding its way along breathtaking coastline flanked by cool temperate rainforest and dotted with sleepy beach towns – but don’t let its relaxed appearance fool you – there’s no shortage of adrenaline-fuelled fun to be had here.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.




  • Catch a wave at the world-renowned Bells Beach; the spiritual home of surfing in Australia
  • Hike from the beach to the bush (and back!) along the 250km Great South West Walk
  • Avoid the crowds and fly high over the 12 Apostles

The Great Ocean Road is more than just the 12 Apostles. Along this strip of coastline you’ll find world-class surf breaks, mountain bike trails, and hikes galore. Pair the scenery, adventure, and atmosphere with local seafood plus more breweries than you can fit on a beer paddle, and a weekend here is looking pretty phenomenal!



The Great Ocean Road meanders across a large stretch of coast stewarded by Traditional Custodians belonging to Gunditjmara, Wathaurong, Eastern Maar and Gadubanud language groups


There’s no shortage of epic hikes along the Great Ocean Road – from the coast to the forest, you’ll find a hike for every mood.  


Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Now for a unique hiking experience that packs in wildlife galore and an extinct volcano, you’ve got to head to Tower Hill. Nestled in between Warrnambool and Port Fairy, Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is a lake, inside a dormant volcano, inside a lake, inside a volcanic crater! 

Take a boardwalk stroll through the wetlands or hike around the volcano rim. Just make sure to keep your eyes to the treetops – koalas are a dime a dozen around here. And don’t be surprised if you run into an emu on the path as well. 

Cape Bridgewater & Petrified Forest

On the far-west end of the Great Ocean Road (and off the beaten track), you’ll find Cape Bridgewater, where towering coastal cliffs perfectly crescent around the rim of an ancient volcanic crater – you don’t see that every day. 

While you’re in the area, make sure you search out the petrified forest – where all the trees seem to have turned to stone – and keep an eye out for the local colony of fur seals lounging by the local blowhole!

Childers Cove

Childers Cove could possibly be the Great Ocean Road’s greatest hidden gem. On any given day, while thousands of tourists are flocking the 12 Apostles, it’s likely you’ll get the golden beach and encompassing limestone cliffs of Childers Cove all to yourself.


Great South West Walk

An exciting development along the Great Ocean Road is the Great South West Walk – a 250km multi-day hike that traverses across ecologically significant wetlands, along wide stretches of beach and into the bush. 

Short on time? Explorers can experience this walk by tackling individual stages along the trail from day trips to overnight hikes. 

Waterfall Chasing

Got waterfalls on your mind? You’re in luck! The Great Ocean Road is the gateway to dozens of pristine places to watch water dramatically tumble down cliffs. 

Apollo Bay is a great starting point to check off a number of waterfalls a short distance from each other. Hopetoun Falls, Beauchamp Falls, and Stevensons Falls are all easily accessible from Apollo Bay! 

For those already a little further down the Great Ocean Road, Hopkins Falls is a short drive from Warnambool – if you’re lucky enough you may even catch a glimpse of baby eels as they make their winter migration.

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes


Surfers from all over will know the many breaks of the Great Ocean Road well. But it’s not just a playground for the experienced shredder, there are many gentle, beginner-friendly waves to ride too. 


Beginner-Friendly Waves

Torquay, Anglesea, and Lorne feature some gentler breaks and the good folks at Go Ride A Wave offer surf lessons at all three locations. 


World Class Breaks

More experienced surfers can hire a surfboard from the Anglesea Surf Centre (or one of the many other local surf shops) and cruise down the coast looking for a pristine break all to yourself

Of course you’ve got the classics – Bells Beach, Jan Juc, Lorne Point, Apollo Bay, but head a little further west, and you’ll find the lesser-known breaks in Warrnambool and Port Fairy. Be sure to check out Warrnambool Beach for Dredges, The Cutting, and Japs, and East Beach in Port Fairy for Gabbos.



Lake Elizabeth

If paddling on the pristine Lake Elizabeth, surrounded by rainforest is your cup of tea, then a canoe tour with Otway Eco Tours is a must! 

Watch the birdlife start their day as the sun comes up or spend an evening paddling to see glow worms! You could even catch a glimpse of a platypus as tours venture past a wild platypus colony. And if you keep your eyes up long enough you’ll be sure to spot a koala lazing in the canopy above.

Anglesea & Hopkins Rivers

Keen paddlers and SUPers should head to the Anglesea River or Hopkins River in Warnambool to get your water-baby fix away from the crowds.

Bike Riding

MTB Tour

Once you’ve had your fill of water-side adventures sling on a helmet and head out on a Mountain Bike Tour with Southern Exposure – a surefire way to get the adrenaline pumping! They offer an array of tours catering to a diverse range of abilities, from scenic cross country tours along clifftop trails to the lush single track found in the Forrest Mountain Bike Park.

Anglesea Heath MTB Trails

Already an experienced rider? Pick up a copy of the Surf Coast Ride Guide from one of the Visitor Information Centres and head to Anglesea Heath MTB Trails to explore the trail network.


Wildlife Discovery Tour

Keen to check out some iconic wildlife? A Dusk Discovery Tour at Wildlife Wonders in Apollo Bay will get you up close and personal with some of the Otways’ lesser-known wildlife, including bandicoots, potaroos, bettongs and pademelons (no, we swear we didn’t make those names up!). 


Photo by Doug Gimesy

Whale Watching

An absolute highlight during winter is whale watching from the viewing decks at Logan Beach in Warnambool. This once in a lifetime experience is completely free and your chances of spotting a Southern right whale as they journey to their nursery are pretty high! 

Photographers: pack your zoom lenses!

Helicopter Flight

You’re on the Great Ocean Road, it’s natural you want to see the region’s most iconic attraction. But you just can’t shake off the thought of the crowds and that there could be a better view without them. Enter, 12 Apostles Helicopters, your guaranteed way to get a phenomenal (and unobstructed) view of the 12 Apostles. 

Show me a more awe-inspiring way to witness these dramatic limestone cliffs and I’ll eat my hat.

Where to Eat and Drink

After a long day making the most of the region you’ll have worked up an appetite and the Surf Coast doesn’t disappoint! The coastline is dotted with dozens of excellent choices to eat, drink, and stay including:


Rough Diamond

Rough Diamond in Warnambool will fill that caffeine shaped hole in your life with specialty coffee delivered with a smile. A perfect spot to grab brekkie, from a freshly made croissant to something more substantial, their menu offers something for everyone.

Frolic Lane

If you’re looking for divine hand-stretched pizza, a cocktail to pair it with, and a place to move your feet, go no further than Frolic Lane. Situated in the heart of Warrnambool, Frolic Lane is committed to bringing everyone who enters its doors a smashing time. Just mind the dress code!


Great Ocean Road Brewhouse

Sample one (or a few) of the 100+ craft beers on offer at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. Grab a comfy seat by the fire or enjoy a sunset over the ocean from the beer garden. Grab a meal from the bistro and fear not, you’re more than welcome to help yourself to a couple of drinks as budget-friendly accommodation is offered onsite, a short walk from the bar.

Forrest Brewing Company

On the subject of beer, you can’t go past Forrest Brewing Company when visiting this lush part of the state. See first-hand how the beer is made then help yourself to a selection of locally brewed gems. Meals are available from breakfast to dinner, making it a perfect spot to fuel up before a big day of mountain biking or wind down at the end of an adventure-packed day.


Where to Stay

Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs

Ok ok, this is a bit more luxe than us Explorers usually go, but when hot springs are involved, we can’t resist! Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs is more than just a place to rest your weary head, it’s a place to relex and rejuvenate. 

There are so many different kinds of hot springs here, you could end up spending your whole weekend in the resort grounds. Seriously, there’s a hot spring for reflection, for open-air bathing, an aromatherapy pool, a hydrotherapy pool, sensory caves, a rainforest cave, and ‘the passage’. Mysterious. 

Pebble Point Bush Retreat

At the end of a long day some of us just want to kick back on a comfy bed while still enjoying the close connection to nature that camping offers. Pebble Point Bush Retreat fills this niche with their stunning glamping accommodation tucked away in the natural coastal woodland.

You’ll hear the sound of waves crashing and feel the cool ocean breeze while lounging on the luxurious king-size beds at this eco-friendly retreat. 

Forrest Guest House

If you want to be close to the hikes, waterfalls and mountain bike trails of the Otways then the Forrest Guest House is an excellent option for self-contained accommodation in a tranquil setting.


Johanna Seaside Cottages

For an authentic Surf Coast experience with the beach at your doorstep, the Johanna Seaside Cottages offer a comfortable stay with plenty of amenities and pet-friendly accommodation!

Take your furry friend for long walks along the beach then chill out by the heated swimming pool at this beachside location.

Essential Gear

The Great Ocean Road is a pretty diverse place, as such, our essential gear list varies depending on how you’re planning on spending your time. 

For all Explorers; 

  • Hiking shoes
  • Hat
  • First aid kit
  • Water (and something to keep it in)
  • Camera
  • Sense of adventure!

For surfers;

  • Sunscreen
  • Wetsuit (in the colder months)
  • Towel 
  • Surfboard/bodyboard

For mountain bikers;

For campers; 

  • Tent
  • Sleeping system 
  • Cooking gear 
  • Mozzie spray!

How To Get There

The Great Ocean Road is easily accessible from Melbourne. Head towards Torquay on the M1 and you’ll be out of the hustle-and-bustle and enjoying the sea breeze in no time!

Torquay is around 1 hour 15 min from Melbourne and traversing the entire length of the Great Ocean Road is an 8 hour round trip, best split up over a few days to maximise your visit.

Leave No Trace

The Great Ocean Road is world-renowned for its beauty. At We Are Explorers, we reckon it’s a good idea to keep it that way, so make sure to take all of your rubbish with you, minimise your plastic use as much as possible, stick to the paths and try not to disturb the area or animals. Mother Nature will thank you for it!

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


Photography by @ben.savage and Visit Vic