11 Unmissable Great Ocean Road Towns

Travelling down the Great Ocean Road and wondering what are the best Great Ocean Road towns to visit? Then you’re in the right place.

Below you’ll find our guide to all the top towns along the Great Ocean Road to plan your ultimate trip whether you are staying overnight or just visiting on a day trip

Aerial view of one of the best Great Ocean Road Towns. Apollo Bay

Driving the Great Ocean Road should be on everyone’s bucket list.

A surfing paradise and foodie heaven, the Great Ocean Road drive is one of the top things to do in Victoria, and all of Australia.

Read this complete Great Ocean Road Guide to some of the most unmissable Great Ocean Road towns.

What Is The Great Ocean Road Length?

A Great Ocean Road trip will see you covering 375 km of scenic winding roads. The Great Ocean Road route will take you through some of the country’s most beautiful UNESCO-listed landscapes.

On the Great Ocean Road, distance isn’t that much of a consideration as the drive itself (one way) can easily be done in a day.

However, there are a lot of Great Ocean Road attractions that will make you want to spend longer exploring this part of Australia. Plan at leat 3 to 4 days to make the most of a visit here.

Great Ocean Road Trip Plan

When planning a Great Ocean Road self drive itinerary make sure to include some of the following best coastal towns, Victoria.

The towns along the Great Ocean Road make for some of the best stops, with amazing food, friendly locals, and plenty of ways to entertain yourself.

Best Towns Along The Great Ocean Road

1) Torquay

People sitting at picnic tables and waling at Torquay a Great Ocean Road town.  With blue sky and trees on a sunny day.

One of the first stops on the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is best known for its picture perfect beaches, but there are lots of other things to do in Torquay.

This Great Ocean Road start point boasts great restaurants, night festivals, and even the opportunity to go skydiving!

Grab a beer at Blackman’s Brewery, trawl for bargains at the Torquay markets, and dance the night away at the Nightjar Festival (from 4p.m every Thursday in January).

If you’re more of a vine lover than a hops fan, find a Great Ocean Road winery and sip the afternoon away. Visit Bellbrae Estate Winery or Wolsley Wines near Torquay to sample some of the best wines in the region.

Feeling energetic? Why not hike the Surf Coast Walk? Experience panoramic ocean views, vast eucalyptus forests, and plenty of local wildlife.

This world-class 44-kilometre multi-use trail is located at the start of the Great Ocean Road region from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. The trail’s easy access and 12 trailheads make it perfect for short, long, or multi-day experiences.

surfcoastwalk.com

Best Beaches in Torquay, Great Ocean Road

Torquay Front Beach is one of the most popular with visitors. It has many rockpools to explore and is the perfect spot for families.

Torquay Surf Beach, also known as Torquay Back Beach, is less crowded than other beaches in Torquay and is also dog friendly.

The Torquay beaches are some of the best places in the world to try surfing. Some top spots to visit include Bells Beach*, Jan Juc, Winki Pop, Bird Rock, and Sparrows.

Don’t forget to visit the Surf World Museum while you’re in Torquay, it explores the history of surfing and its importance in Australia. You’ll also find the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame that’s dedicated to some of the biggest names in the sport.

*Bells Beach Australia is famous the world over. It’s home to the longest running surfing competition, the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro. The competition is held every Easter and attracts crowds from all over the world, it’s worth coming to Bells Beach at this time of year just for the atmosphere alone.

2) Anglesea

Aerial view of a beach at Anglesea in Victoria

Not to be confused with a small island off the coast of Wales in the UK, Anglesea Victoria is the next stop on the list of Great Ocean Road towns to visit.

Anglesea Beach is more laid back than neighbouring Torquay. It’s got a family friendly vibe with pristine beaches, amazing scenery and loads of nature to explore.

Explore the rock pools at Point Roadknight, have a picnic at Coogorah Park, and soak in the views at Loveridge Lookout.

Anglesea Golf Club is (oddly) a great place to spot kangaroos. The course is home to around 300 Eastern Grey Kangaroos, they were here long before the golfers and live harmoniously alongside the putters.

Tours to see these enigmatic marsupials are run by Anglesea Golf Course. Thirty minute rides in electric vehicles run daily in peak season (Adults $12.50, Children $5.00, Family $30.00).

Other things to do in Anglesea include a visit to Anglesea Heath, an area of heathlands and woodlands that are home to a quarter of Victoria’s plant species. Explore by horseback, 4 wheel drive, or by mountain bike along kilometres of marked trails.

You can also visit the Great Otway National Park from Anglesea. It covers the vast area from Torquay, along the world-famous Great Ocean Road, and up through the Otways hinterland.

There are plenty of options for food too. For lunch try Bumblebeez Cafe, Laneway 73, or Diggers Vegie Kitchen for vegan options.

Some great restaurants in town to try are the Coast Restaurant, Morgan’s Bar and Grill, and Last One Inn.

3) Aireys Inlet

Aerial view of Split Point Lighthouse and Aireys Inlet a town on the Great Ocean Road.

Many surfers holiday in Aireys Inlet to visit the popular Fairhaven beach. The small coastal town is great for shopping, exploring the nearby nature, or just hanging out.

Aireys Inlet Beach is a hidden paradise. Visit secluded coves that are perfect for rock pooling, swimming, surfing, and beach combing.

Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary is great for snorkelling, it protects 17 hectares of ocean waters and reaches about 300 metres offshore.

You can spot octopus, cat sharks, Port Jackson sharks, skates, and stingrays. Sometimes, if you’re lucky you can even spot whales passing by.

If you’re into walking there are some fantastic trails around Aireys Inlet including; the Surf Coast Walk, the Cliff Top Walk, and the Aireys Inlet Lighthouse walk.

Other things to do in Aireys Inlet include Aireys Inlet Mini Golf (from $13.00 for 12 holes) and Split Point Lighthouse.

Famous for its role in the television series ‘Round the Twist’, Split Point Lighthouse tours run daily and take you through the maritime history of the “Shipwreck Coast”.

There are plenty of options for a good feed in Aireys Inlet. Try a local favourite, A La Grecque restaurant uses fresh seasonal ingredients like whiting, calamari, and foraged greens.

4) Lorne

View of kayaks in the water, Lorne beach with the town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road in the background.

Lorne Victoria is famous for having 10 waterfalls within 10 kilometres of the town. Known for its hiking, nature and outdoor spaces, Lorne is one of the best Great Ocean Road places to visit.

Search “Lorne Great Ocean Road” and you might be surprised by just how much there is to do in this small Great Ocean Road town.

Visit Lorne Beach, Louttit Bay attracts mostly families looking for an easy day of picnics, sunbathing, and swimming in the sea.

Head to Lorne Sea Baths for the pool, spa, water rides, and mini golf.

Stroll down the Lorne Pier, see the sand carvings from Teddy’s Lookout or take the St George River Walk; a 2.7 kilometre walk through towering Eucalyptus trees, it usually takes up to an hour.

Visit the Great Ocean Road Heritage Centre to find out the interesting and largely untold story of the Great Ocean Road, located at the Lorne Visitor Information Centre.

The town is also known for the arts; Lorne Festival of the Performing Arts is celebrated in March every 2 years, and they also hold the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. You can visit Qdos Fine Arts year round to check out the new exhibits and the outdoor sculpture park.

For an adventure for the whole family visit Live Wire Park Lorne, Australia’s first off-the-grid, elevated adventure park. Even if you are just a big kid at heart, climb, jump, swing, and, fly through the trees for just $18.00 ($14.00 for children).

Great options to stay the night in Lorne, are Cumberland Lorne Resort, Lorne World, and the Sandridge Motel.

There are heaps of great things to do in Lorne, so make sure that Great Ocean Road Lorne is on your list of towns to visit.

5) Wye River Victoria

The beautiful riverbank of a small flowing river with some camping tents and fire pits in the background at Wye River, on the Great Ocean Road VIC Australia

Something not to be missed is a stop at the Mount Defiance Lookout point on the way to Wye River from Lorne.

It’s one of the best views on the Great Ocean Road, parking can be tight so take care when you are stopping.

Wye River and Kennett River (6 kilometres apart) are two tiny coastal towns best known for their wildlife.

The coastline that links the towns of Wye River and Separation Creek is known as the TwinHamlets, it’s a beautiful 1 kilometre stretch of sandy beach that’s worth a stop to take in the scenery.

For the opportunity to see a platypus head inland by about an hour’s drive to Lake Elizabeth. These elusive and odd creatures are most active at dusk and dawn.

Book a tour for the best chance of seeing them, Otway Eco Tours combines a trip to see the platypus with a visit to the glow worms.

Hotels & Camping Wye River

Wye River camping, located right on Wye River Beach, is a popular stop for nature lovers looking to relax and get away from it all.

The facilities are clean and well maintained and the prices are very affordable.

If you’re looking for a Wye River hotel you can’t go wrong with Wye Beach Hotel.

A casual 3 star hotel and restaurant serving up traditional pub fare with a twist, with head chef William Francis offering the best seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

6) Kennett River

A koala climbing a tree at Kennett River a tiny town along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

Kennett River is situated along the Great Ocean Road about 35 minutes from Lorne towards Apollo Bay and is definitely worth a quick stop for its furry inhabitants.

See wild koalas on the Great Ocean Road. Located near the Grey River Road at Kennett River, is the Kennett River Nature Walk (also known as the Kennett River Koala Walk).

It’s one of the few places in Australia to see koalas in the wild as they are now in decline.

Check out the Koala Sleeping Tree for an almost guaranteed chance to see these cuddly-looking little critters.

There’s not much else in this small seaside town on the Great Ocean Road, besides a small cafe/general store appropriately named “Kafe Koala” and Kennett River Camping Park.

7) Apollo Bay

A favorite surfing spot on the Australian Pacific coast in Apollo Bay.

For the best panoramic views in Apollo Bay head straight to Marriners Lookout.

Here you can take in panoramic views of Apollo Bay Beach and the Apollo Bay Great Ocean Road view.

As the halfway point, it’s one of the most well-known Great Ocean Road places to visit and there are plenty of things to do in Apollo Bay.

Head to the harbour for sunset cruises, deep-sea fishing, family fishing adventures, and seal colony cruises.

Rent a kayak or surfboard, play a few rounds at the golf club, or watch a film at Apollo Bay’s Retro Cinema. And for rainy days there’s the Apollo Bay Museum.

For some of the best restaurants on the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a must.

A great spot to grab a sunset dinner with views across the bay is Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant (reopens September 2022). It’s as popular with the locals as it is with tourists and can get booked up fast.

Or get a fresh seafood platter at Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-Op, it’s been around for 70 years, and represents the last working fishing harbour on the Great Ocean Road.

While you’re here don’t miss the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse. With a 100-large selection for craft beers, there’s something for everyone at this old school establishment.

A great Apollo Bay hotel to try if you decide to stay for the night is the Apollo Apartments.

If you are travelling by campervan Apollo Bay Camping is a cheaper option, but is still close enough to town to enjoy all the amenities.

Between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell is the Great Otway National Park and Melba Gully. A natural highlight of Victoria, where you can hike in lush rainforests and visit caves full of glow worms.

You can also visit the Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps, and Loch Ard Gorge along this section, home to some of the Great Ocean Road best spots.

8) Port Campbell

People swimming at Port Campbell beach with a view of the foreshore and Surf Lifesaving Club..

The Apollo Bay to Port Campbell section of the Great Ocean Road offers endless amazing scenery.

While Port Campbell National Park offers up plenty of activities like canoeing on Gellibrand River, diving he Shipwreck Coast and visiting the 12 Apostles.

There are heaps of things to do in Port Campbell. It has enticing restaurants and cafes with sea views, delicious bakeries selling goodies, and plenty of independent shops and art galleries to get lost in.

The beach is family friendly and safe for swimming (with seasonal patrols). You can spend sunsets watching the waves crash against the limestone cliffs from Port Campbell beach and the jetty.

The Port Campbell camping options are limited to the Port Campbell Recreation Reserve. A centrally located site with hot showers and shaded pitches, it’s just a 10 minute walk to town.

There’s plenty here for foodies too. Follow the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail to sample the best regional cheeses, wines, chocolates, and ice cream.

Try the Grassroots Deli Cafe or Forage on the Foreshore for a quick lunch stop.

For dinner the Waves Cafe Bar and Restaurant is a popular choice with locals, it’s an all-day eatery offering seafood meals and Devonshire tea.

The Craypot Bistro is also very popular and claims to have the best seafood around.

Port Campbell is known as the best place to stay on the Great Ocean Road because of its central location.

Highly rated for pub food, the Port Campbell Hotel is 3 star accommodation that’s located right in the centre of town.

For something a bit more upmarket try the Southern Ocean Villas, set just 900 metres from Port National Park.

9) Allansford

Pier on Hopkins River at sunrise. Allansford, Victoria, Australia

Allansford is not as popular as other towns on the Great Ocean Road but it’s made this list as it’s the official end of this spectacular road.

If you’ve made it here all the way from Torquay, then congratulations! You’ve driven the full length of the Great Ocean Road.

Allansford Vic is a quiet, rural town in western Victoria. It is located on the Princes Highway 8 kilometres east of Warrnambool. It’s not on the beach like many stops on this list but is instead set further inland on the Hopkins River.

It’s most famous for Cheese World and its Museum, which is impossible to resist when driving past. Unfortunately, most of the tastings have been paused due to the pandemic, but they are slowly opening up again.

Unmissable Towns Near The Great Ocean Road

10) Warrnambool

People scanning the ocean for whales in Warrnambool at Logans Beach whale watching platform.

Driving from Allansford to Warrnambool Victoria takes just 10 minutes.

Some of the best things to do in Warrnambool include seeing penguins at Middle Island in the Thunder Point Coastal Reserve or heading to the sea at Shelley Beach, Stingray Bay, or Granny’s Grave Beach.

Make sure to visit the living museum while you’re here. At Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village you can see shipwrecks from beneath the depths of the ocean, interact with costumed villagers and learn about local artefacts.

Southern Right Whales Warrnambool

One of the top reasons to visit here is whale watching. Female Southern Right whales return year after year to the waters of Warrnambool Beach to calve.

The best time to see them is between June and September, come during the morning or mid-day, as these graceful mammals often breach in the early sun.

The best place to see them is Logans Beach, Warrnambool. Visit from May to October for the chance to spot Southern Right whales from a wooden deck by the beach.

The platform is free to visit and is open all day every day. A ramp allows easy access to the platform for people of all abilities.

For whale watching Warrnambool tours use a reputable company like Boat Charters Warrnambool. Warrnambool Tours also do multi-days including the Botanical Gardens, Thunder Point, and whale viewing.

11) Port Fairy

Boats along the river and harbour at Port Fairy in Victoria, Australia.

Port Fairy Victoria is a quaint town with its famous lighthouse and heritage buildings.

It’s home to one of the busiest fishing ports in Victoria and is a great place to grab fresh seafood straight from the sea.

It came second for the best Small Town in Australia in 2021 and for good reason. One of the best things to do in Port Fairy is to simply walk around and admire the old buildings.

It was settled by Europeans in the 1800s as a whaling town and still retains much of its original Victorian charm. For some of the best examples visit the Merrijig Inn, Moyne Mill, the Lecture Hall and the Court House.

Port Fairy Beach or “East Beach” is a great spot to visit with the family, with views reaching out over Port Fairy Bay. There’s also a quieter beach on the southern end of town where you can explore rock pools at low tide.

The largest folk music festival in Australia, Port Fairy Folk Festival, takes place on the long weekend in March every year.

Started in 1977 in the back of a ute, the festival has music, food and drink, activities, and lots of family-friendly things to do.

Don’t worry if you’re not here in March, Port Fairy’s other festivals include the Moyneyanna Festival in January, the Jazz Festival in February, and the Irish Festival in April.

Port Fairy is also a great place to see Southern Right whales in the calving season. Take a boat trip to Lady Julia Percy Island to see whales, dolphins, and one of the largest colonies of Australian Fur Seals.

Towns Of The Great Ocean Road Map

Great Ocean Road Towns | Final Word

With the best surfing beaches in the world, an amazing food scene, and thriving culture, the Great Ocean Road draws in millions of tourists each year.

And although many of the Great Ocean Road towns were founded to harvest natural resources, they are now celebrated for their diverse wildlife and abundant nature. Along with some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia!

We hope you’ve found this list of the best towns to visit on the Great Ocean Road Australia useful.

We’ve reviewed just some of the many fantastic things to see and do in these beautiful Great Ocean Road Vic towns.

Be sure to add a few to your Great Ocean Road itinerary.

Check out the rest of our site for more Great Ocean Road travel tips and advice on travelling in Victoria.

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By Audrey Chalmers

Audrey grew up in Victoria and travelled the world but she always called Victoria home. She loves nothing more than exploring her home state and sharing it here.