The Great Ocean Road – Tips & Tricks

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The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is on most itineraries when visiting Melbourne and it certainly should be on yours, but plan thoughtfully as it gets very busy.  I have always been to the great Ocean Road in winter for some strange reason, so imagine my shock when I took a dear childhood friend and her daughter during the Easter holiday period. The crowds at the 12 Apostles were so bad that it took away from the enjoyment of the trip. This got me thinking how can you make the most of the GOR and avoid the crowds.  So what can you do when you plan your next visit?

I asked Simon Greenland from The Private Tour Guide and former work colleague for his advice, as he runs regular private trips on the Great Ocean Road. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip…

  • Travel in winter or low season if possible, though the 12 Apostles section will still have crowds.
  • Slow down and stay for at least 2 nights along the GOR to maximise all that it has to offer but it also means you can explore with early morning starts before the tour buses arrive from 10am onwards at the 12 Apostles. 
  • ​Simon’s Greenland’s advice though is to complete the Great Ocean Road in the ‘reverse’ direction.  

The idea is to depart Melbourne at about 7 am or earlier and drive inland directly to the 12 Apostles via Colac. Once on the GOR make your way along the coast taking in Loch Ard Gorge, Razorback and Gibson’s steps before making your way to Maits Rest (the Otways National Park) and Apollo Bay and onwards. 

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Split Point Lighthouse – Airey’s Inlet

There is so much to see and do along the GOR, too many people speed through it all just to make it to the 12 Apostles and ignore the rest.

Points of interest along the GOR:
 – Port Campbell – pretty little town and good choice of hotels, fuel and supplies
– Cape Otway National Park: Drive along to the lighthouse and spot Koalas along the way (watch ou for cars stopping suddenly). Note that there is a fee for the lighthouse – $19.50AUD pp or $49.50AUD for a family. 
Otway Fly Treetops Adventure – zip lining or Tree Top walk –  book the zip lining in advance.
– Kennet River – buy some birdseed ( $2.50AUD ) at the Koala Cafe and head to Grey River Rd, where there are Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots who will fly down from the Manna Gums and feed from your hands- it’s amazing!…. if you then wander around the Manna Gums on the road or even venture into the caravan park might get up close to a Koala. 

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Koala – Cape Otway Road

PictureBreakfast @ Sandy Feet Cafe

Food in Apollo Bay:
Sandy Feet Cafe -good coffee and great breakfast options. 
Iluka Motel & Restaurant – cheap and cheerful – their vegetarian pizzas were delicious (shout out to the staff who rescued my Nikon Camera, which I forgot at the dinner table forever grateful). 

The Private Tour Guide recommends the Bayleaf (closes at 2pm), La Bimba (closes at 3pm) and the Scallop Pies a the Apollo Bay Bakery. 


Have you been on the Great Ocean Road, if so what are your tips? 
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