Surf spots, waterfalls, lush rainforests, whales, history, sea cliffs, giant fossils, and wine all await along the Great Ocean Road. For the adventure of a lifetime, rent a car, fuel up and traverse the scenic coastal route that connects Melbourne and Adelaide. This will take you through one of the most feature-filled routes as far as Australian road trips go.
Start at Melbourne: Melbourne, which lies closest to the Great Ocean Road, is the best starting point for this trip. From Melbourne, you have to drive past Geelong and Torquay before you get to the Great Ocean Road. This short trip is a great primer for what is to come as you get your first share of vineyards and beaches along the way. Torquay is particularly interesting, especially if you’re a surf buff. You may even be tempted to surf at the Bells Beach or Point Addis. If you like golf, you can try the sport over at Anglesea where you can actually some kangaroos grazing at the distance.
Sightsee at Lorne: Following the Great Ocean Road, the first town worth stopping for is Lorne, the ideal destination for a seaside holiday. Check out the golden sand beach at Loutit Bay and marvel at the Erskine waterfalls near the Otway Ranges.
From Lorne, you can make your way to Port Fairy. This part of the trip offers an interesting sight as the rugged cliffs meet the ocean on one side of the road and the national parks lining the other. Here you should definitely stop for the Great Otway National Park and the 150-year-old Cape Otway Lighthouse. Along the way, you will then find yourself taking the great curve of the road, which will lead you to the Twelve Apostles, where the interesting limestone towers can be seen jutting out of the ocean. You can then move on to Shipwreck Coast, a major point of interest in the area and the reason behind at least 700 shipwrecks in the region. After this, you will finally arrive at Port Fairy.
Take a Long Stop at Port Fairy: Port Fairy is a charming Australian city characterized by whitewashed cottages and Georgian style houses. This is definitely worth a long stop and is a great place to brush up your knowledge of seafaring history. There are many dolphin, whale, and shark watching boat trips offered in the city, and you may want to check out the country’s largest fur seal colony also based there.
From Port Fairy, just continue following the Great Ocean Road and pass by Portland, Cape Bridgewater, and Mount Gambier, which sits perched on the Blue Lake. From there, continue north until you get to Coonawarra.
Rest at Coonawarra: The customary cabernet sauvignon will be waiting for you in Coonawarra. This is a short but traditional stop before you head further north going to Victor Harbor. Along the way, you will probably make a lot of stops. Noteworthy attractions include the Naracoorte Caves, A UNESCO World Heritage site where 26 limestone caves and the fossils of giant marsupials can be found, the Murray River, and the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Take the horse-drawn Tram at Flerieu Peninsula: While in the Flerieu Peninsula, don’t forget to stop for a while and switch from your car rental to a horse-drawn tram for a single memorable ride going to Granite Island. Penguins and migrating whales can be seen there between June and October. You can also hike the Heysen Trail, or part of it, before going back to the road.
Detour to MacLaren Vale: From the Flerieu Peninsula, take the road leading along the rolling hills of Mount Compass to make a detour to McLaren Vale, Australia’s famous wine region. There are over 45 cellar doors here awaiting for your appreciation.
Arrive at Adelaide: Finally, from McLaren Vale, drive into Adelaide where you can finally sit back and relax at the North Terrace boulevard or lounge back beside the sea at Glenelg.
Country (where the road trip is): Australia
Starting Point/City: Melbourne
End Point/City: Adelaide