Australia – Great Ocean Road Highlights

By | July 14, 2012 at 6:26 am | 39 comments | Advice, Animal Encounters, Australia, Beaches, Great Australian Overland Adventure, Jade, Oceania, Outdoor Travel | Tags: , ,

The Best Of The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most famous drives. The drive can be done in as little as 2 days, but a minimum of three is recommended. Even more time will be needed if you plan at stopping at some of the great little surf beaches along the way.

Stretching for 243 kilometers between Melbourne and Adelaide, the Great Ocean Road is famous for it’s rugged natural beauty, pounding surf beaches, and Aussie animal encounters. The following is some of our highlights from our three days driving the Great Ocean Road, in our spaceship camper van, Fanta Pants.

Cape Otway Koalas

Koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic animals, and are some of the easiest to spot in the wild. Koalas only prefer to eat one type of tree, making them easy to find in the branches of the Eucalyptus tree. Also, a diet of strictly Eucalyptus leaves is not particularly nutritious, meaning that Koalas are often content to sleepily observe you from their perches above.

However, due to habitat destruction and a high Koala fatality when crossing roads to find more food sources, it can be difficult to spot them in large numbers in the wild.

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Cape Otway is one of the best places to see a plethora of grey furry bums. Turning off from the main road, it is a 12 kilometer drive towards the Cape Otway lighthouse. However, just before the lighthouse you will pass through a large patch of Eucalyptus trees.

We opened up our Spaceship’s two sun roofs, craning our necks to look upwards. Soon the camper van was full of our excited exclamations. Dozens of Koalas… everywhere! Some where even so low down in the tree branches, that we could pose with them (while being careful to stay out of claw range).

Great Ocean Road Highlights – Chubby Koala!

Kennett River Lorikeets

*Note, I have been informed by a reader that these birds pictured are actually Crimson Rosellas! However most guide books refer to them as Lorikeets **

Lorikeets are friendly and highly curious parrots which are famous for their brightly coloured plumage. We pulled into the town of Kennett River because we heard there was good Koala spotting grounds nearby. However, we were instead completely distracted by a large flock of Lorikeets.

A tourist bus had pulled up in front of us and were feeding the birds little bits of bread and seed. Soon though, they had to leave in order to stay on schedule. But we had the freedom of our own transport and got to spend quite a bit of time with the birds.

All you had to do was stand with your arms outstretched and it wouldn’t be long until you were being used as a perch by several Lorikeets. Even people’s heads were fair game. This was fine as long as I was left out of the action – I was content snapping photos of Dan and Lauren and their new feathered friends. However, one bird decided that my curls looked quite appealing as a potential nesting spot and quickly made his way straight for my head.

I made one of my signature high pitched squeals that I normally save for whenever an insect (no matter of size) touches me, to the great amusement of my travel partners.


Great Ocean Road Highlights – Lorikeets

Bell’s Beach

Bell’s Beach was made famous by the film Point Break. Of course, word on the street is that it wasn’t actually filmed here at all! However, it is still the location of the annual Rip Curl Pro surf competition, which draws surf lovers from all over the world. If you are a surfing fan, then this is a must stop. If not, well it is still a beautiful place to get out and stretch the legs.

Great Ocean Road Highlights – Bells Beach

Twelve Apostles

It is impossible to spend any time in Australia and not see the Twelve Apostles on calenders, brochures, or postcards. And for good reason – they are a stunning natural feature.

You might not actually know that there are not Twelve Apostles at all! There are actually only seven, as the others have been warn down by the elements. The viewing platforms can get awfully crowded, so recommends spending one of your nights in Port Campbell – the nearest town – where you can easily nip out to view the apostles at sunrise.

Great Ocean Road Highlights – The Twelve Apostles

 Gibson Steps

The Gibson Steps were created in the 19th century, by local Hugh Gibson. He carved the steps into the cliff side entirely by hand, in order to access the beach below. The steps are now concrete and feature a safety railing, but you can still appreciate the massive amount of determination and effort that Gibson must have put into creating the original steps.

Gibson beach is a definite highlight and must see… it was one of the prettiest beaches that we saw on our Great Ocean Road trip, although swimming is not recommended due to strong currents and undertows.

Great Ocean Road Highlights – Gibson Beach

Great Ocean Road Highlights

The above listed five Great Ocean Road highlights, only mention just a few of the wonderful vistas, beaches, and little towns that are worthy a stop along the Great Ocean Road. Although these five are not to be missed, recommends trying to stop at as many Great Ocean Road attractions as possible!

For our Great Ocean Road trip, we received a discounted rental from Spaceships, however all opinions remain our own.

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About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at


  1. Angela (2 years ago)

    Beautiful places, that koala is gorgeous!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Thanks! I saw so many Koalas I think I went into over load

  2. Lawrence Michaels (2 years ago)

    So the twelve apostles are the rocks sticking out of the ocean? Nice photos, I really like the sheer cliffs facing the ocean, really neat.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Yup! The apostles are the large rocks. But many of them are disappearing due to erosion.

  3. Laurence (2 years ago)

    I love the Great Ocean Road. I’ve even done it twice. Both times the 12 Apostles were the absolute highlight.. although the dopey koalas did come a close second!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      hahaha I saw so many chubby koalas that it almost made my heart burst! I would love to do the Great Ocean Road in summer… despite the crowds

  4. Bret @ Green Global Travel (2 years ago)

    Love it, especially the koala and lorikeet photos! I’m dying to get to Australia, I just wish it wasn’t so bloomin’ far away. One of these days…

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      There are actually some pretty affordable flights from LA. Check out Pacific Air. They are not too expensive.

  5. Raymond @ Man On The Lam (2 years ago)

    I love that road too — been down it once many many moons ago. Maybe it’s time to revisit?

  6. Jonathan Look, Jr. (2 years ago)

    The Great Ocean Road is one of my favorite places on the planet. There is a little town called Eden that could see moving to for a while on the journey. Also, Phillip Island . . . well, I just love Australia!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      We didn’t make it to Phillip Island… we had seen little blue penguins on a few other occasions, so we decided to give Phillip Island a miss. The Great Ocean Road was incredible though!

  7. Mike (2 years ago)

    Love the K Bears!

  8. A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) (2 years ago)

    Sooo pretty!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      One of the best road trips in Australia, hands down!

  9. Christy @ Technosyncratic (2 years ago)

    I’ve heard that koala bears aren’t very nice, but I still really want to cuddle one. :P

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      People say they smell but I have never noticed it that much. I held a Koala in Currumbin and he wasn’t smelly at all.

  10. Stephanie - The Travel Chica (2 years ago)

    If I ever see a koala, I will most likely steal it and bring it home with me.

  11. Erica (2 years ago)


  12. Natasha von Geldern (2 years ago)

    Great stuff! You were lucky to have sunny weather in the Otways, apparently it’s the wettest place in Australia…

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Really? I would have thought it would have been Melbourne… it rained constantly both times we went there!

  13. Sophie (2 years ago)

    Haven’t done the Great Ocean Road yet, but I’ve always wanted to. Sounds like it’s pretty child-friedly, too, with the koalas and lorikeets and everything.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Kids would love the Great Ocean Road. The great thing about it is that there are many great places to stop along the way so they wont be cooped up in the car all day

  14. Franca (2 years ago)

    The koala on the second picture is a bit overweight, ehehhehe!
    Have been there 5 yrs ago and haven’t done the entire Road, need to g back, it’s beautiful!


    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      My heart sang when I spotted this fat Koala… he is my fav by far!

  15. Diana Edelman (2 years ago)

    I want a pet koala. That one.

  16. Mega Eileen (2 years ago)

    Those koala pictures are beyond cute! I would also love watching that surf competition!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It would be a cool experience… although I dont think I know enough about surfing to truly appreciate it

  17. Chad (2 years ago)

    Great photos! Looks like an incredible place. Letting Lorikeets perch on you is always fun until someone gets pooped on, ha.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      hahaha that was my main worry when it landed on my head!!! but we were all safe!

  18. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls (2 years ago)

    Point Break is one of both of our favorite movies – guilty pleasure I guess -but I would LOVE to see that beach, and definitely want to drive this road and get koala overload and see 12 apostles! So doing this one day!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It was one of my highlights… you will love it!

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