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The Great Ocean Road in 8 hours

Recently, a group of friends and I took on the ambitious task of seeing the iconic Great Ocean Road in a day on a road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne. We did it in my trusty Hyundai i30 and it was great (I'll never say no to a scenic road trip). However, I do recommend driving the mammoth stretch of road at a slower pace if possible as there is so much more to see than just the famous 12 Apostles. But, if you’ve only got a limited time to see it, here is my guide on where to stop along the Great Ocean Road if you’ve only got one day.


Disclaimer: before commencing this portion of the road trip we actually drove down to Mount Gambier (about five hours drive from Adelaide) as it would be impossible to make the journey from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road in one day. Therefore, the driving times indicated commence from Mount Gambier. I also recommend travelling in summer (November - March) where drivers can expect better weather and extended daylight hours. Always pay attention to the road rules and if you feel tired, take a break.


Stop 1: Port Fairy


Driving time: 2 hours


Head south from Mount Gambier, known for meteor craters and sparkling blue lakes, before heading east across the South Australian/Victorian border. Here you’ll enter lush bushland where kangaroos are abundant so it's best not to drive at night. You may get a glimpse of the ocean amongst the thick bush but don’t expect too much coastal action until about half way between the two destinations. Before you know it, you’ll hit the gorgeous seaside town of Port Fairy where you can stop for a coffee along the vibrant main street, see the famous Port Fairy Lighthouse and stroll along the marina.


Stop 2: Port Campbell / 12 Apostles


Driving time: 1 hour 10 minutes / 15 minutes


After Port Fairy, continue heading east towards Port Campbell and the 12 Apostles. This might be a good time to play Eye Spy as the drive will take you inland towards farming country so expect to see a lot of cows. You’ll pass through the hub of the South Coast Warrnambool on your way through before arriving at your next destination 40 minutes later. You can make a pit stop here or continue for another 15 minutes through to the main attraction of the trip, the 12 Apostles. Be warned though, the 12 Apostles tourist centre gets very busy and there is a lot of traffic. Take it slow and admire the view out the window, it’s certainly iconic for a reason. 




Stop 3: Apollo Bay


Driving time: 1 hour 15 minutes


Once you’ve snapped a photo with Australia’s third most popular natural attraction (after Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef), continue on your journey towards Apollo Bay and into the Great Otway National Park. The car ride may be silent during this portion of the journey as everyone’s heads may be glued to the window, watching the towering ancient eucalyptus trees whizz by. This portion of the drive is probably my favourite part as some of the flora here is only found in this part of Southern Australia, making it a unique environment compared to other parts of the country. The road can be a bit windy so make sure to take breaks. It’s a great spot to get away from the summer heat with the lush canopy providing shelter and cooler temperatures. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself in the next quaint seaside town - Apollo Bay.


Stop 4: Lorne


Driving time: 1 hour


After Lorne you’ll be speeding towards your final destination Geelong but not before passing through some more iconic towns like Airey’s Inlet and Anglesea - both worth a stop by the way. Head towards the bright lights of the regional city for some well deserved R&R. You can continue your journey to Melbourne and beyond from here.





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