Anytime you get ready to embark on a Great Ocean Road tour you should plan well to maximise the enjoyment of your experience. The reason – The Great Ocean Road is popular with over 2.8 million people visiting last year. Particularly in peak times (summer and holiday weekends) most towns on the Great Ocean Road will have no accommodation available meaning it is important to prebook where you want to stay when planning a Great Ocean Road tour.
This article is designed to give advice on where to stay on the Great Ocean Road to make your decisions that little bit easier. We will give you advice about each of the towns on the Great Ocean Road, the reasons for staying in them, what they have in town and also easy access to. We will also make a suggestion as to whether these are towns better for a longer holiday (staying put in town) or a good place to stay on more of a Great Ocean Road tour – where you plan on travelling along the whole road and see as much as possible.
If you’re keen on further information about what to see on a sightseeing Great Ocean Road tour, check out our blogs on:
So let’s get started – time to plan that perfect Great Ocean Road tour!
The Surf Coast is the first section of the Great Ocean Road. Stretching from Torquay to Lorne, you have unfettered access to amazing beaches and surfing on this stretch of the Great Ocean Road. That makes this stretch of the Great Ocean Road very popular for longer stay travellers. Below is the 4 main places we’d recommend staying on this section of the Great Ocean Road.
Only 20km from Geelong, Torquay is the starting point of the Great Ocean Road. These days Torquay is almost a suburb of Geelong, well built up with a lot of permanent residents. As such it is a great place to hire a house and base yourself for a week’s holiday as you’ll have access to all the main shopping you need and great restaurants yet still have a holiday vibe.
Torquay has both a front beach and surf beach meaning it is a great place to go if you have younger children as there is access to safer water to swim in. It also has a great golf course and is home to the Australian Surf Museum with all the surfing brand outlets you can think of. Bells Beach (home of the Rip Curl Pro World Tour surfing event) is also only 7km away meaning you can go and watch some of the best surfers take on the best surf in Australia!
18km further down the Great Ocean Road is the town of Angelsea. Whilst smaller than Torquay, Angelsea still has great shopping and restaurant options and yes, also has a golf course. What makes this golf course great though is their kangaroo tours that go daily! Angelsea also sits on an estuary offering great stand up paddling boarding and kayaking options. It’s also only a few kilometres away from The Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie for those with a sweet tooth!
Another 10km down the Great Ocean Road is Aireys Inlet. Aireys Inlet has some great restaurants and an awesome pub but not as much shopping options or activities as Torquay or Angelsea. Having said that they do have access to more tourist sites with one of the two lighthouses on the Great Ocean Road. Called Split Point Lighthouse they offer tours daily. Aireys Inlet is the closest town to the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch meaning there are plenty of great photo opportunities here and still great surfing!
18km further along the Great Ocean Road sits Lorne. It is both the end of the surf coast and the start of the Otway Rainforest. Here you have access to all the amenities you could need but also have access to beautiful nature. Surrounded by a eucalyptus forest, Lorne has Erskine Falls sitting about 9km to the back of it which flows into Erskine Creek, coming out at Lorne. Also with a public pool, cinema and livewire park Lorne has stacks to do for the whole family. Did we mention the surf is great too!
The section of the Great Ocean Road from Lorne to Princetown is where the Great Otway National Park sits. The most southerly subtropical rainforest in Australia, The Great Otway National Park is home to beautiful nature and animals including koalas.
The section of the Great Ocean Road from Lorne to Apollo Bay is considered the most beautiful as it hugs the coast at elevation and has the rainforest on the other side. Because of this it is very windy making it spectacular but quite dangerous and slow to drive. Still it is a must drive to do on any Great Ocean Road tour.
The towns along this section sit just outside the national park meaning they are great places to stay when wanting to then go and explore the national park by day yet still have access to good amenities (and surf) at night.
A sleepy town, Wye River is 18km from Lorne and sits on a small bay. With most of the houses making their way up the hillside, Wye River also has a caravan park, general store and pub sitting at sea level. This is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to escape crowds and feel like you’re one with nature.
Only 6km from Wye River, Kennett River is a place to stay for the same reasons as above yet has one major advantage – easy access to koalas and bird spotting. The drawback to this is that all the Great Ocean Road tours know it and stop here during the day. Still it has amazing walks to do and a great beach to surf at but unfortunately you’ll find the tourists a pain if you’re looking for a quiet time away!
A larger town, Apollo Bay is definitely the main place to stay if wanting great amenities, good surf and the best access to the Great Otway National Park. Sitting about halfway along the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is the perfect place to stay as a stopping point on a shorter Great Ocean Road tour. From here you have easy access to Cape Otway Lighthouse, the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures and the majority of waterfalls and nature walks in the Otway Forest.
The Shipwreck Coast is the main section of the Great Ocean Road to see if doing a Great Ocean Road tour. Chief amongst the highlights are the 12 Apostles, one of Australia’s main tourist attractions. With a lot more to see though it is worth staying down here to make sure you can go to the main attractions outside of main tourist time, particularly avoiding mid to late afternoon wen the daily Great Ocean Road tours arrive!
About 100km from Apollo Bay, Port Campbell is the logical place to stay for a second (or third) location on a Great Ocean Road tour. The main town of this section of the Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell also only sits about 8km from the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. Having plenty of accommodation options and plenty of restaurants, it is definitely a tourist town reacher than a standard residential one. It also sits on a good bay making beach (and swimming) access possible, something that isn’t generally recommended on this section of the Great Ocean Road as the surf is so wild. If you like your culinary delights then you should also check out the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail that gives through here!
15km further along from Port Campbell is Peterborough. Whilst further away from the 12 Apostles than Port Campbell it is closer to tourist sites such as London Arch and the Bay of Islands. What sells Peterborough though is that it’s a little past where the majority of Great Ocean Road tour itineraries go. This makes it a lot more peaceful. Sitting on a beautiful beach and river it has basic accommodation options.
The Great Ocean Road continues past Peterborough for another 40km but it is here that the tourist side of it finishes. You can get back to Melbourne by heading back inland from here and taking the Princes Highway. This will take approximately 4 hours.
The towns along the Great Ocean Road all have great reasons for staying on them. Hopefully this article gives you a little further insight about where to stay and how to pan your Goat Ocean Road tour.
If you’re looking to do it in comfort with professionals and have a group keen why not go with us? With a 15 seat luxury Mercedes bus Hop To It Tours is happy to plan your itinerary and show you all the best places. Only have one day looking to do a Great Ocean Road tour in a rush? No problem too! The links to our private Great Ocean road tour packages are below:
Don’t have a group and want to join one? Hop To It Tours also has 3 and 4 day Grampians and Great Ocean Road tours running every Monday!
Shared Group Tours:
Hopefully we’ll see you on a tour with us soon!