Cycling the Great Ocean Road is an alternative way to explore Australia’s most famous stretch of coastline. Reduce your environmental footprint, enjoy the views, and challenge yourself by cycling the Great Ocean Road.
Cycling the Great Ocean Road is moderately difficult and should not be attempted by newbies. You must be comfortable with road riding and be prepared for inclines and descents. We recommend cycling in a group!
This cycling journey is not as popular as the drive or the Great Ocean Walk but it is oh so rewarding. Choose your dream itinerary and start cycling!
How Long Will it Take to Cycle the Great Ocean Road?
Depending on how much of a cycling lover you are, you can adapt the length and difficulty to your needs.
If you would like to go all in, you can attempt the longest trail, which runs between Geelong train station, just outside of Melbourne, and Warrnambool. Attempting this trail will make your Great Ocean Road Bike Ride over 266km long!
Alternatively, the most common cycling stretch is 243km long and follows the route of the Great Ocean Road between Torquay and Warrnambool, passing through Lorne, Apollo Bay, Great Otway National Park, and the 12 Apostles.
If this sounds like a lot of kilometers, don’t worry. You can attempt a section of it or just take an afternoon cycle along this route.
There are cycling paths that merge along the road. Some make it a more intense journey by passing through Great Otway trails. However, if you do choose to go off-road ensure you have an appropriate bike.
Great Ocean Road Bike Ride Itinerary
Here there is a breakdown of the most common segments (and their highlights) which you can cycle individually or as part of a 5 day journey.
Torquay to Lorne
If you are planning to cycle the Great Ocean Road this will most likely be your first stretch. This first section is 45.7km long and can be completed in around 2 ½ hours of regular cycling. This path is fairly easy and offers sweeping views of the rugged coastline.
When in Torquay, don’t miss out on the opportunity of checking out Bells beach. If you are visiting during April you might even have the chance to witness some of the WSL (World Surf League). If you have left Melbourne early enough in the morning, you will be able to reach Lorne in time for lunch and send the afternoon lounging on the beach.
Lorne to Apollo Bay
Whether you have stopped overnight or just for a quick lunch in Lorne, you are now full of energy and ready to attempt the second stretch of your Great Ocean Road bike ride. This section is 48km long and similar to the first section. However, just before Apollo Bay, the trails that lead in the hearth of the Great Otway National Park offers you a great opportunity for a detour in the wilderness.
A few kilometers southwest of Lorne you can stop in Kennett River, a coastal town known for its cute koala inhabitants! The Koala Walk can be visited by car or by hiking, but it can also be a great addition to your Great Ocean road cycle tour.
Here you will have the advantage to ride slowly, which will give you more chances to spot the furry Australian mascot asleep on the crooks of tree branches. Spend the night in Apollo Bay. There are lots of great facilities for an overnight stay and the next section is amongst the most challenging.
Apollo Bay to Port Campbell (or Princetown)
Here is where things get tough! This third stretch of your journey is 95 km long and can reach elevations of 457 meters above sea level. It is also an incredibly winding and scenic section that will make you cycle uphill and downhill often.
Depending on your fitness level, this stretch can take up to 5 hours to complete. However, this challenging part of the trail offers some of the most impressive birds’ eye views over the coastline and weaves through the ancient rainforest.
Don’t forget to stop at the many lookout points to catch your breath and a panoramic view of the landscape. This section can be easily shortened, by staying in Princetown overnight instead of Port Campbell. This will make the ride 21km shorter (1 hour), but you won’t be able to admire the famous 12 Apostles at sunset.
Port Campbell to Warrnambool
The last stretch of your Great Ocean Road cycling tour will take you from Port Campbell to Warrnambool. The elevation never surpasses 40 meters above sea level along this section. If you had made it to Port Campbell the night before, this section will only be 61km long and can take just over 3 hours to complete.
There are lots of great natural attractions to visit along the way including London Bridge, the Arch, the Grotto, and the beautiful Bay of Islands. Once you arrive in Warrnambool, you can catch the bus or train back to Melbourne that same evening or stay overnight in this coastal town. There is always a festival or event going on here, which is a great way to celebrate your accomplishment.
The Great Victorian Bike Ride
The Great Victorian Bike Ride event happens every year and any cyclist can get involved! The entire route starts in Torquay, follows the Great Ocean Road up until Warrnambool, and continues on until Robe, 652km away from Torquay.
The whole journey can take up to 10 days to complete and involves camping and exploring the surrounding areas. It runs across all the major attractions and best viewpoints of the Great Ocean Road. Aside from focusing on visiting the most iconic beaches and lookouts, you will be able to meet like-minded travelers and discover the best pubs in the area!
You can take part in this Great Ocean Road cycling event also by joining only individual sections of 200km or 300km each. If you are looking at merging your passion for cycling and your willingness to explore the Great Ocean Road, the Port Fairy to Torquay stretch will allow you to fulfill both!
Essential Information for Cycling the Great Ocean Road
When To Cycle The Great Ocean Road
Be aware that you will be following the Great Ocean Road itself and the traffic plays an important role in what your experience will be like here. During peak times, such as public holidays, long weekends, and summer breaks, there are also a number of buses and coaches that will run through the road.
While it might be convenient for you to attempt this cycling journey at one of those times, traffic can be an issue. Register to the Vic Emergency website to know all the latest news of the area.
Accommodation and Food While Cycling The Great Ocean Road
On your journey, especially if you are camping, there are only a few stops for food and drink that you will be able to make on the way.
- Food: Torquay, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, and Warrnambool are the most developed towns along the Great Ocean Road. They have supermarkets and larger facilities. Aside from a quick lunch in Lorne, you should bring enough food to sustain you throughout your day. Moreover, not all camping sites are situated next to the town center, so it can be a good idea to have enough supplies with you if you will be camping along the way, outside of town centers.
- Drinks: having enough water during your journey is essential, but there are not many stations where you will be able to refill your supplies. While cycling the Great Ocean Road, you will need to be equipped with a water sanitation system that you can carry with you. The camping sites can not guarantee to have rainwater available for travelers at all times.
- Accommodation: camping sites are available throughout the journey. Check the Parks Victoria websites for specific locations, facilities, and prices.
What You Should Be Aware Of On This Cycle Tour
Cycling the Great Ocean Road can be an incredible experience, but don’t forget that this is also one of the highlights of Australia. This means that many tourists hit the road to experience it first hand. This does mean that sometimes the traffic can be particularly heavy, and delays are common during peak times.
To avoid getting stuck in such a situation, many cyclists aim at getting on the road at sunrise.
By riding at this time, you will be able to avoid traffic jams and the hottest part of the day, so you can concentrate on taking in the scenic views! Sunstroke is a real killer. So besides cycling outside of peak daylight hours, wear a hat, use sunscreen or cover-up, and again drink plenty of water and rest when necessary.
When traveling through some busy sections of the road, be aware of intersections and roundabouts and keep an eye on any incoming traffic. In fact, it is not uncommon for some tourists to forget which side of the road they are meant to be driving on! (It is the left in case you were wondering…)
Finally, make sure you have access to a spare inner tube or tire, no one wants to start a cycling tour and end up on foot because they blew a tire within the first 20km!
When you decide to cycle the Great Ocean Road, you are about to embark on an incredible journey through one of the most famous landscapes of Australia. It’s truly an unforgettable experience. Happy cycling!