Your Great Ocean Road Planner, including Frequently Asked Questions - and feel free to ask your own using the form below
Ahh …the age-old question, with the appropriate response being, “it depends…”
It depends on what you want to see, and how you want to see it.
If you just want to see rugged cliffs and glorious beaches as you wind along the road, see the 12-apostles and be able to say that you have done it, the answer is yes – you can do it in a day, either driving yourself, or on a one-day bus tour from Melbourne. There are places to stop along the way to add to the experience – like Koalas and lovely walks at Cape Otway, and the obligatory stops at the 12 Apostles, Gibson Steps, etc at the Western end of the GOR. Even here, you have the choice of the conventional East to West direction, with the coast on your left – giving you the best view of the coastal drive – or the reverse route, starting with the 12 Apostles et al in their less busy times. If you’re driving yourself, you can even finish with a sunset and dinner at Anglesea before the 90-minute return drive to Melbourne.
It is a big day regardless …over 8-hours of driving if you do the entire length to its end at Allensford, and still over 7-hours if you do the bus route of ending the road at Port Campbell. The bus trips are 14-hours altogether.
Car hire is available for pickup from Melbourne Airport or Melbourne City
It is officially 238km, being from Torquay to Allensford – although nearby Warrnambool also claims to be a part of it through its association with the Shipwreck Coast, and Port Fairy beyond is sometimes included in the conversation – which would make it 275km
The Great Ocean Road officially starts in Torquay, and finishes in Allensford, a tiny town in SouthWest Victoria with a roadside restaurant/museum called Cheese World. Unofficially, both Warrnambool (an additional 10km), and even Port Fairy (an extra 37km) like to come along for the ride at the Western end.
Obviously you can start at either end, but be warned that due to travelling on the left hand side of the road, travelling from West to East means you are always looking across the road at the scenery, and it is more difficult to pull over to the ocean-side viewpoints. If you are trying to squeeze the journey into a day, seeing the sunrise over the coast, then making your way back towards Melbourne, outweighs the inconvenience of looking over the ocean side of the road.
The best time of the year to do the Great Ocean Road is February-March or October-November – shoulder seasons offering warm weather with relatively dry days. These months also offer off-peak prices and less crowds. October-November, Australia’s Spring, is a particularly idyllic time for the many waterfalls en-route, as the winter rainfall ensures’ they’re running at their fullest.
Summer (December to February) receives minimal rainfall and plenty of sunshine making it a great time to swim and enjoy a variety of water activities. This is the busiest and therefore the most crowded, and expensive, season.
Winter (June to August) means lower prices, beautiful sunsets and far less crowds. While this is the season of highest rainfall, it is also when you get more of the Great Ocean Road to yourself, and the opportunity to see migrating whales from the many different viewpoints along the coast. Winter is also the time you are more likely to see Aurora Australis – the Southern Lights
Plans for an ocean road emerged in the 1880s but only gained real impetus towards the end of World War I.
Survey work began in August 1918, and thousands of returned soldiers descended on the area to start work.
The first stage, linking Lorne and Eastern View, was completed in early 1922.
On 26 November 1932 the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine, officially opened the route.
Road travellers during the early years paid a toll at gates at Eastern View, where the memorial arch was erected. Drivers paid two shillings and sixpence and passengers one shilling and sixpence. The toll was abolished when the Trust moved to hand over the road as a gift to the State Government on 2 October 1936.
It was Geelong Mayor, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, who brought the plans to fruition. He formed the Great Ocean Road Trust and set about raising the money to finance the project. He saw it not only as a way of employing returned soldiers but of creating a lasting monument to those who had died in the war.
Bushfires in summer – floods in winter – and sometimes the complete reverse. Victorian weather is notorious for it’s unpredictability and its extremes, and the Great Ocean Road is probably one of the worse areas for it. The old saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. High temperatures (regularly over forty degrees Celsius) mix with strong winds and flammable dry bush to ensure the State’s Volunteer Fire Brigades are kept forever busy.
You can check on the emergency status of the area online at http://emergency.vic.gov.au/respond/ or download the amazing FREE VicEmergency App for your smart phone.
In addition to this, emergency information is disseminated through local radio stations, roadside signs or through Vic Emergency’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Where can I stay on the Great Ocean Road?
How do I get to the Great Ocean Road?
Travelling by car from Melbourne
The Great Ocean Road is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the heart of Melbourne with dual lane highway conditions for most of the journey and excellent signposting.
Travel via the Princes Highway over the West Gate Bridge to the bayside city of Geelong. From here you can take the Surf Coast Highway to the famous surf town of Torquay. For over 400 kilometres, from Torquay to Nelson on the South Australian border, the Great Ocean Road provides some of the most impressive coastal scenery in Australia.
Alternatively, take the inland route by following the Princes Highway from Geelong to Warrnambool past rich farmland and picturesque country towns.
Train services operated by V/Line are available from Melbourne to Geelong or Warrnambool, stopping along the way in many of the major hinterland towns including Winchelsea and Colac.
To reach coastal towns including Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay, see connecting bus information under ‘By Bus’.
Train times vary and are not available 24/7. Coaches will replace trains on the evening Geelong service, depending on availability.
For train stops and timetables, please visit:
Phone: 1800 800 007
Where can I get a Great Ocean Road Map
Self Drive Car
Can I drive the Great Ocean Road with an International Drivers License?
To be able to drive in Victoria you must have a current and valid driver licence for the type of vehicle you are driving. As well, if your licence is not in English you will need a translation document for your licence. An International Driving Permit is a valid translation document and should be obtained from your home country before arriving in Australia. If you do not have a translation document you could be issued with a traffic infringement for unlicensed driving. This may also impact your vehicle insurance so make sure you carry your driver licence and the translation document.
Remember, if your interstate or international licence has conditions those conditions will still apply in Victoria.
Where can I hire a car for the Great Ocean Road?
How do I drive in Australia?
All measurements in Australia are metric. Distances are in metres and kilometres, and speed in kilometres per hour.
Australians drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side.
Can I use an international driving permit?
Yes, you can but this needs to:
- Be carried with your overseas licence
- Come from the country it was issued
- Comply with the United Nations convention for international driving permits
- Be in English.
What side of the road do I drive on in Australia?
You will see these signs all the way along the Great Ocean Road as a reminder
Self Drive Campers
Where can I camp on the Great Ocean Road?
Sleeping under the stars along the Great Ocean Road is one of those amazing lifetime experiences.
By far the most up to date and informative smart phone app is the wikicamps app.
- Offline maps
- Powerful Filters
- Trip Planner