If you are planning to spend 2 days on the Great Ocean Road, this itinerary will mention all the places you should squeeze in. The Great Ocean Road is without any doubts one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia. It is undoubtedly famous for the Twelve Apostles and the scenic ocean drive. However, it is not only famous for its cliffs but also for winding roads, hinterland, and waterfalls in the rainforest of Otway National Park.
And if you are planning to drive on the Great Ocean Road in 2 days, then this itinerary will mention every place you can see along the way, where to camp and much more. You will also find out why the Great Ocean Road is not that great anymore. So keep reading.
WHERE DOES THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD REALLY START?
The first question is where does the Great Ocean Road really start? The whole length of it is actually 664 km. But there is a particular stretch of 243 km which is the most famous and goes from Torquay to Warrnambool.
Most people come to explore the coastal road but there is more to it. Of course, in 2 days you can’t explore all of the Great Ocean Road and need to be strict with your itinerary.
HOW TO GET TO GREAT OCEAN ROAD?
The most convenient and the best way to see most of the sights in 2 days is definitely by driving a car. It will allow you to stop wherever you like and spend as much time as you want. If you want to make the most out of your 2 days cruising around the Great Ocean Road you need to start early in the morning.
If you can’t drive, there are many daily trips to the Great Ocean Road as well. Check this full-day Great Ocean Road sunset tour.
Are you thinking about buying a car in Australia? Then, read our full guide on buying a car (for backpackers) in Australia.
DRIVING FROM MELBOURNE
Most of the people come from Melbourne. It is the most common way how to start the scenic drive. We came from South Australia and started the opposite way.
DRIVING FROM SOUTH AUSTRALIA
We, on the other hand, came from the other side of South Australia after our awesome road trip from Perth to Esperance. This way it felt like we avoided the crowds at least on the roads.
CONS OF GREAT OCEAN ROAD
- The sites, walking trails and parking lots are crowded.
- Helicopters flying over your head are very loud and fly frequently.
- It was also shocking to see roads in such bad conditions. The roads were full of potholes and uneven surfaces.
- If you are camping, there are barely any spots (nearby the 12 Apostles) where you can stop for a lunch break. There is only 1 little place near the Princetown Wetlands Boardwalk with 1 table where you can have lunch.
PROS OF GREAT OCEAN ROAD
- The scenic drive is breathtaking
- Great photo opportunities for everyone into photography
- Awesome surfing
- Beautiful beaches everywhere you go
- Beautiful green forest and waterfalls
- Spotting wildlife such as koalas, echidnas, whales and more
- Cute seaside villages
BEST BEACHES OF THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The Great Ocean Road is not only about scenic views and rocks, but also about many beautiful beaches you can explore. And people say, if you love the beach, you will love the Great Ocean Road, so just to name few:
- Bells Beach
- Loch of Ard Beach
- Lorne Beach
- Logan’s beach
- Torquay beach
- Wreak beach close to Otway National Park
- Worm Bay at Peterborough
- Guvoos beach at Anglesea
- Beaches at Aireys inlet
WHEN TO VISIT THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
The best time to visit the Great Ocean Road is pretty much all year round. Summer months are very popular to visit (December to February), this is where you will have minimal rainfall, but as you can imagine, there will be more people and hotels will be more costly. In spring (September to November) you will enjoy waterfalls, green rainforest, and fewer people, also hotels and holiday parks are more affordable. In the winter months prices goes down and you can spot whales, but it will be cooler. Definitely try to avoid any holidays, especially, school holidays.
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD 2 DAY ITINERARY
There is a lot to see and you might feel a bit overwhelmed. You are probably stressing out right now, that you won’t be able to see much during your 2 days driving around on the Great Ocean Road, but don’t worry, this itinerary has your back. We will mention all the places we have seen and we did manage to do it all in 2 days (make it 2 nights). Ready?
FIRST DAY EXPLORING THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Let’s kick off your 2 days Great Ocean Road itinerary with the first amazing stop. If you are coming from Melbourne via the Princes Freeway and Geelong Ring Road, your first stop is Torquay. It is a lovely small town where you can stop for a coffee or lunch. And welcome to the Great Ocean Road.
If you are into surfing, you need to check out famous Bells Beach. It is one of the most famous beaches for surfing in Australia.
In Torquay, there is also the Australian National Surfing Museum, where you can learn all about surfing history (dating back to 1960), check photos and videos and get to know more about surfing legends.
CAPE BRIDGEWATER SEAL WALK
This is a wonderful 2 hour round walking trail along the coast and you guess it right. You can spot a colony of cute seals. For a 2 day itinerary, this walk might be a bit too long, but if you like, you can go for it.
If you are feeling having a little waterfall break, you can stop for a coffee break at Lorne first, and then drive to nearby Erskine Falls. It’s so easy to reach but can get crowded, so don’t be disappointed. You can easily walk down the stairs, and you can view the waterfalls right away. You can also walk towards the waterfall for an awesome photo.
We definitely enjoyed other waterfalls in Otway National Park more, so keep reading to find out our favorite ones.
READ MORE: 15 MOST ICONIC LANDMARKS OF AUSTRALIA
PORT CAMPBELL NATIONAL PARK
Now you want to drive all the way to Port Campbell National Park. This National Park ranges from Princetown to Peterborough and this is where all iconic landmarks are located; including the Twelve Apostles. Port Campbell’s most famous natural wonder the Twelve Apostles might steal all the attention, but there are several stops where you need to stop; those include the Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, The Arch, and the Grotto. All of them are very accessible and walkable from the parking lot.
You can definitely decide which one of these, you are going to see. We managed to see all of them in one day. But everyone is different and you can explore some of them on the second day.
LOCH OF ARD
Loch of Ard is a place where you witness nature’s drama, and walking around this area gave me real goosebumps. At first, make your stop at Razorbacks to admire how the power of nature shaped these huge rocks.
Loch of Ard is named after a ship that sunk at the cliffs in 1878. Unfortunately, only 2 out of 54 people survived and they were pulled out on Loch of Ard Beach. You can walk down the Loch of Ard Beach and also check out the caves at the back. On the way back, make sure to stop at the Shipwreck viewing point.
PHOTO TIP: We recommend to come here in the afternoon as the sun is setting down and the golden light on the rocks looks very magical.
London Bridge is must-see during your trip to the Great Ocean Road and must be added to your 2 days itinerary. You can easily walk to the viewing platform and enjoy beautiful coastal views on the sea and the rocks. London Bridge used to be longer than what you can see now. In 2012 a part of the bridge collapsed. Luckily no one got hurt, but there were people who actually were on (nowadays) the right side of the London Bridge and had to be evacuated.
SUNSET AT TWELVE APOSTLES
Welcome to the Twelve Apostles, one of the most iconic spots in Australia. And how can you complete your first day of exploring better than with a sunset at the Twelve Apostles? There is a huge parking lot which is getting pretty much overrun for sunset, so make sure to arrive early. From there, you can easily walk to the viewing platforms, where you can walk to several viewing spots.
The best time to admire the Twelve Apostles is definitely during sunset. During the golden hour, you can see how the sky dramatically changes. However, be ready for crowds and tripod wars. The site is very (veeeeery) busy, and every platform you go to, you need to be prepared for battle. It was a big shocker for us, and I think it also hard to enjoy. After traveling to deserted places in Western Australia like Shark Bay or Cape Range National Park we definitely had a culture shock.
Can you imagine that the Twelve Apostles were once called Piglets? Surprisingly tourists didn’t give a damn about this place and then some marketing genius changed the name to the more catchy (and lucrative) 12 Apostles. Now only 7 are left and you might get to hear their new nickname: 7 Dwarfs, which is super cute.
On the other side of the Twelve Apostles, you can see other iconic rocks, called Gog and Magog.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD FOR FREE
If you are on a budget (like we were) and don’t want to pay much, there is a way. We camped at a town called Timbawoo. It is a large area next to a sporting ground, and the place runs on coin donations. This place has clean running water, toilers and HOT SHOWERS. It is nothing fancy of course, but for almost free, so who cares.
SLEEP IN APOLLO BAY
If you do not have a camping car, there is plenty of accommodation around. Apollo bay is very close to the Port Cambell national park and a great option to find a hotel. If you would like to camp around the Great Ocean Road, there are several holiday parks around. Check for instance Bimbi Park Camping under koalas. You can either stay in one of the holiday parks chalets such as Apollo Bay Holiday Park. If your budget is bigger (good for you), you can check resorts such as Beachcomber Apartments or Blue Sea Retreat.
SECOND DAY ON THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Apollo Bay is a great place and close to all the places you are going to see on your second day on the Great Ocean Road. So have some big breakfast, because you are going to need it.
Let’s start your day completely different, after beautiful sunset colors at the Twelve Apostles, we will mix some green into it. We urge you to explore Otway and its waterfalls. Head to Otway National Park and pick waterfalls you want to see or maybe go see all of them. Every track to the waterfall is a true nature bliss without many people around. There are a couple of waterfalls that you can easily explore and they are close to each other, such as Triplet Falls, Hopetoun Falls and our favorite Beauchamp Falls.
Our first waterfalls to explore were Triplet Waterfalls. It takes only around 20 mins to the viewing point, where you can see them. On the way, you can see remains of Knott’s No. 1 Mil, which used to be one of the most productive sawmills that operated in the Otway Ranges. We can’t even imagine working in such tough conditions. In summer battling with heat and flies and in winter you suffer through cold and wet days (sounds like Australia).
There is another loop trail that will allow you to go closer to the waterfalls. Because we visited in spring and due to rain and, not a safe path, the loop trail was closed.
If you want to see only one waterfall, pick this one. Beauchamp waterfalls are definitely one of the most beautiful waterfalls we have ever seen (yes, we have been to Cebu in the Philippines). But this one is different, trust us. It takes around 1.5 km (return) to the waterfall, so allow around 40 mins to get there. The walk is just breathtaking and every nature lover will have eyeballs everywhere. And even though it was raining, the tree roofs were protecting us.
CAMPING TIP: If you would like to come next time, there is also a free campsite at the Beauchamp falls with a toilet available.
If you have more time and feel like exploring more waterfalls, then close to Beauchamp Falls there are the Hopetouns Falls, which are worth exploring.
We also liked the Stevensons Falls. There are located a bit further away from Beauchamp Falls, so if you had enough, don’t worry. You can visit them next time.
There is a free campsite with toilets. It’s a large area and you are allowed to make a campfire as well. However, the road to get to Stevenson Falls campsite is more like a one-way street filled with holes, so drive carefully and slowly.
If you would like to get back to the Great Ocean Road, there are two ways to get to Apollo Bay. We took a “shortcut” of 19 km via a very crappy road full of holes, uneven surface, and corrugation.
CAPE OTWAY LIGHTHOUSE
You next stop should be Cape Otway Lighthouse. You need to come here for the fascinating views on the ocean and if you are lucky, you might spot some whales as well. This lighthouse was built in 1848 and it is “Australia’s most significant lighthouse.” You can learn more about the history and listen to some bush tucker talks. There is even a cafe called Lightkeepers to refresh with great views.
Heading to Perth, Western Australia? Then you should visit Rottnest Island which is just a short boat ride away to enjoy beautiful beaches and take selfies with the famous quokkas.
TWELVE APOSTLES WITHOUT PEOPLE
Let’s go and see the Twelve Apostles again, but in a different way, this time without many people. If you want to have views on the Twelve without many people then park here and walk up the path. This is a section of the beautiful Great Ocean walking/hiking trail. We were so happy to discover this place and finally be alone. We also saw a cute echidna walking down, so make sure to stay quiet and look for wildlife.
Another incredible stop on your itinerary to explore Great Ocean Road in just two days are the Gibson Steps. Here you can walk down 86 steps to the awesome beach and have absolutely different views on the Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately, during our visit, the Gibson Steps were closed due to hazardous weather conditions and unpredictable storms. That can happen, so don’t be disappointed. It is still a pretty awesome view.
One of your last stops is going to be Grotto. From the parking lot, the staircase will lead you to a famous arch called Grotto. Here, you can take a nice photo with a view of the arch.
However, we have seen some photos of Instagrammers sitting on the rocks or swimming under grotto which is forbidden. You are not allowed to go beyond the stone wall (for safety reasons). It’s irresponsible and teaching others the wrong way of travel. Respect the place, take photos and move on!
SUNSET AT THE BAY OF ISLANDS
The last stop on your trip exploring the best of Great Ocean Road in just two days is the Bay of Islands. Sunset at the Bay of Islands is a great cherry on top. This is another great sunset spot where you can enjoy different views. In good weather, you can take a deserted trail above the Bay of Islands Coastal Park.
DRIVE BACK TO MELBOURNE OR HEAD TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
You can again either sleep in Apollo Bay or Lorne. But you can also take a shorter way to get back to Melbourne in the evening which goes inland (3 hours from Warrnambool to Melbourne). For even more info on more things to do on the Great Ocean Road check the official site here.
We are more than sure that you will enjoy the scenic drive on the Great Ocean Road. As you can see, 2 days itinerary for the Great Ocean Road is definitely not enough. But, now you know why you need to go back and explore more.
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