No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip down Southwest Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. Famed for its iconic coastal rock formations, superb surf spots, chilled out locals and exotic wildlife, the Great Ocean Road is a must see destination for all travelers visiting Melbourne. And with our Great Ocean Road Backpackers Guide we’ll make sure you don’t miss a moment along the way.
Many tour companies run day trips out of Melbourne, but they’re often rushed and miss the finer details that make this road trip so incredible. Instead of paying someone to take you on a crowded tourist bus we suggest rounding up a couple of extra backpackers to split a rental car in Melbourne. This way you’ll have the freedom of exploring all the spots along the way without the horde of tourists that make the trip down daily. And judging from the number of Wicked Campervans and Juicy Rentals we saw packed with backpackers along the way, this is a popular sentiment.
Beginning is easy. Start in Melbourne, head west on the Princes Fwy for an hour and make your first pit stop in…
Famous for everything to do with surfing. Home of the major surfing label Rip Curl, the quintessential surf spot of Bells Beach and legendary surfboard shaper Maurice Cole, among many other things.
Torquay is the perfect spot to start your Great Ocean Road road trip! Browse the outlet stores for a bargain from some of the biggest surf brands in the world, or pick up a second hand surfboard to try your luck at the waves.
It’s also where my folks live. And because I’m now an international nomad there’s always a free bed in my room. So hit them up! (Sorry mum). Otherwise the foreshore caravan park is a great central spot to stay if you want to have a crack at the waves. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, Torquay also offers some of the best surf schools in Australia.
This beach is technically in Torquay’s neighbor, Jan Juc, and it’s by far one of the most well known surfing spots not only in Australia, but also the world. Every year thousands of people make the trip down to Torquay over Easter to witness the surfing greats battle it out at the Rip Curl Pro. For the experienced surfers there are some amazing waves working all through this area. If Bells is busy try some of its neighbors in Winki-Pop, Centreside or Southside.
* Disclaimer * – To many tourists disappointment (and believe me I’ve been asked a number of times) this is not the final resting place of Bodhi from Point Break after the 50 year storm hit. The shooting of the classic Bells Beach scene was taken in none other than Oregon, USA.
Just 15 minutes down the road from Torquay is the quieter coastal town of Anglesea. It might not have the big surf shops and glamour of Torquay, but don’t underestimate this little town. Take a walk around the main street and sample some of the awesome food on offer. Although I’m now a vegetarian Jum’s Chicken Shop has been a favorite of mine since I was about ten years old. Hit up the chips and gravy for a real treat!
Another great activity is to take a drive up Noble St to the Anglesea Golf Course. On a nice quiet day you can spot kangaroos just lounging in the sun and kicking back on the gold course. Hop the fence and take a little walk around the course to see how close you can get to grab a few snaps.
Another 10 minutes down the road you’ll come across Aireys Inlet. It’s even smaller than Anglesea, but has a pretty cool tourist attraction in the Spilt Point Lighthouse. Park at the base of the lighthouse and take a walk up to the point of the inlet. You can get some wicked views of the coast and even take a tour of the lighthouse. Prices start at $12 and go for about 45mins. From the top of the lighthouse you’ll get some sweet panoramic shots of the coast.
For all the Aussie readers, and possibly others around the world. This is also the lighthouse made famous by the popular early 90s children’s show Round the Twist. Be sure to take a picture in front of the lighthouse while singing the tune ‘have you ever… ever felt like this? When strange things happen, are you going round the twist?’
Another 25mins or so along the curving Great Ocean Road and you’ll be in Lorne. Lorne is worth a stop to walk its main strip lined with outdoor cafes and shops selling kitschy beach souvenirs. There’s plenty of great roadside cut offs to take pictures, and observe the local scenery. Head towards Erskine Falls for a perfect opportunity to park the car, take a walk and stretch the legs. The trail isn’t particularly strenuous and you can cool off in the falls if it’s hot out. There’s also a range of other hikes and trails for those wanting to get deeper in the wild.
After the waterfalls take a stroll down the Lorne pier. At the end you’ll catch a cracking view, as well as a bunch of fisherman trying to catch some dinner. Check the huge sting-rays hanging around looking for a free feed. If you’re there during the evening, grab a spot on one of the benches and enjoy a stunning sunset.
With enough adorable beach towns and scenic coastal views to last for ages, it’s pretty hard to condense all of the Great Ocean Road into just one article. That’s why we’ve written another!