The Great Ocean Road has so much to offer. You could spend a lifetime exploring its shores. However, if you are short on time but still want to see the main sights, fear not, it can be done! You can visit many of the most famous sights along the Great Ocean Road in just 1 day.
If you’re considering embarking on your own 1 day tour of the Great Ocean Road Australia, we’ve created the perfect itinerary.
Great Ocean Road Day Trip Stops
Here are the stops along your one day Great Ocean Road Trip:
- Bells Beach
- Memorial Arch
- Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet
- Teddys Lookout
- Kennet River Koala Walk
- Apollo Bay
- Gibson Steps
- 12 Apostles
- Loch Ard Gorge
- Port Campbell
Can you do the Great Ocean Road in One Day?
If you’re up for the challenge of an action packed day, a Great Ocean Road itinerary 1 day tour can be done comfortably. The key lies in leaving as early as possible from Melbourne, and having your route pre-planned before you get on the road so you don’t waste any time.
Make sure you take the time of year into consideration when planning your trip. In the winter months, you’ll have less daylight hours to be on the road and we don’t recommend driving in the dark for fear of kangaroos jumping onto the road.
You won’t be able to do the full stretch of the Great Ocean Road, all the way to Warrnambool and Allansford on a day trip. However, you will make it to the Great Ocean Road’s most iconic attraction on your 1 day Great Ocean Road tour – the 12 Apostles.
Melbourne to Torquay // 1 hour and 7 minutes // 104.5 kilometres
Torquay is a hip town with plenty of beaches and sandy shores prime for swimming or surfing. Besides hitting the beach, there are plenty of things to do, such as paragliding or walking along the 44-kilometre Surf Coast Walk. If you are driving in from Melbourne, Torquay is a great place to stop for breakfast before you hit the road.
Torquay to Bells Beach // 8 minutes// 6.9 kilometres
Bells Beach is a true surfers haven located five kilometres from Torquay. Home to the famous Rip Curl Pro, make sure to check out the many lookout points for beautiful views over the Southern Ocean and to watch surfers in action. If you are a surfer yourself, don’t miss hitting up the right-hand point break.
Bells Beach to Memorial Arch// 32 minutes// 27.8 kilometres
Built to commemorate the 3,000 soldiers who built the Great Ocean Road in 1919, Memorial Arch serves as a reminder of the gruelling work completed to build the 243 kilometre stretch of road. It is also the perfect place to pop out for a photo opt!
Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet
Memorial Arch to Split Point Lighthouse// 9 minutes // 5.9 kilometres
Located in Airey’s Inlet, Split Point Lighthouse is definitely worth stopping at along the Great Ocean Road. On a tour of the lighthouse, you’ll learn about the dangerous coastline which is home to hundreds of shipwrecks and you may be lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins or whales off into the distance. Take your time to enjoy 360-degree views of the dramatic coastline and stunning beaches from the lightroom.
Read Next: The Top Things to do in Aireys Inlet
Split Point Lighthouse to Lorne // 29 minutes // 18.6 kilometres
Lorne epitomizes beach town living. Its crescent moon beach is great for swimming and sunbathing, while it’s picture-perfect main street is a great place to go shopping at independent boutiques and dining at delicious eateries. Lorne Pier on the far side of town is a great place to take a stroll after a couple of hours in the car. Say hello to the locals who will no doubt be fishing along its length.
Lorne to Teddy’s Lookout // 4 minutes // 2.4 kilometres
With gorgeous vistas and a new constructed walkway to the viewing platform, Teddy’s Lookout provides breathtaking views of the ocean breaking into the mouth of the Saint George River. It is a view that should not be missed on a Great Ocean Road day trip. Make sure to check out the lower platform for views of mountain peaks, valleys and gorges.
Kennett River Koala Walk
Teddy’s Lookout to Kennett River Koala Walk // 29 minutes // 22.4 kilometres
For wildlife head to Kennett River. It is the perfect place to see wild koalas and parrots on a Great Ocean Road day trip. Park at the cafe and walk along Grey River Road for the Kennett River Koala Walk. It won’t take long to see these cuddly creatures snoozing in the heights of the eucalyptus trees.
Kennett River Koala Walk to Apollo Bay // 25 minutes // 22.6 kilometres
Apollo Bay is beautiful and has great facilities suited to holidaymakers like restaurants and shops. The beach that lines the town is worth a visit but for an incredible view head up to Mariners Lookout. It is a popular spot for paragliding or hangliding but if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you can just enjoy the panoramic views.
Gibson Steps, 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge
Apollo Bay to Gibson Steps // 1 hour 6 minutes // 84.4 kilometres
The crown jewel of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles and its nearby attractions, Loch and Gorge and Gibsons Steps are worth a stop as well. The 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge are the most visited attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Both provide stunning views of the Southern Ocean and feature majestic limestone rock formations and sandy shores. To feel tiny, stand on the beach at Gibson Steps.
Read Next: Your Guide to Visiting the Twelve Apostles
Loch Ard Gorge to Port Campbell // 9 minutes // 8 kilometres
In Port Campbell, you can meander around the tiny downtown made up of restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. Port Campbell is also home to Port Campbell Bay which is protected from the open ocean making it a great place to swim. It’s the perfect place to end your Great Ocean Road tour and enjoy dinner in a beautiful town. To head back to Melbourne, you can take the direct highway route which takes 2 hours and 47 minutes.
Read Next: The Best Things To Do in Port Campbell
Total 1 Day Great Ocean Road Itinerary Drive Time
If you choose to include all the stops mentioned above, the drive time from Torquay to Port Campbell is 1 hour and 52 minutes (152 kilometres). Stopping at each destination along the way will break up the journey significantly, and depending on how much time is spent at each destination, you may even be able to catch the sunset over the 12 Apostles.
To make the most out of your Great Ocean Road tour, make sure to leave as early as possible in the morning. The complete round trip drive time from Melbourne to Melbourne will be approximately 7 hours and 37 minutes. That is if you take the most direct route back to Melbourne via the Princess highway.
The Best Great Ocean Road Day Tours From Melbourne
1 day Great Ocean Road tours are a great way to experience the many wonders in comfort. Not only do you get a comprehensive tour from knowledgeable guides, you can unwind and enjoy the view from the tour bus without having to concentrate on driving. We’ve compiled the top three 1 day Great Ocean Road tours.
One Day Great Ocean Road Tour with Morning Tea
Price: $135 AUD
This one day Great Ocean Road tour encompasses all the main attractions that can be fit into one day. It’s perfect for travelers who only have a limited time to spend exploring the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne.
What is included:
- Koala watching at Kennet River
- Port Campbell National Park
- Shipwreck Coast including the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Gibson Steps.
This 1 day Great Ocean Road Tour tour also includes free WiFi on board the air-conditioned bus and a tour guide to give you plenty of information at each destination. Entrance fees are included in the cost and complimentary morning tea is provided to get the day started right!
Why we recommend it:
It’s the ultimate tour for those who want to see the main sights of the Great Ocean Road without feeling too rushed. The tour is well paced, engaging and made enjoyable by only having small tour groups. In addition, the tour guides provide excellent commentaries.
The Great Ocean Road Tour From Melbourne Reversed
Price: $145 AUD
This reverse tour Great Ocean Road one day tour is designed to beat the crowds and give you a unique experience. Your tour will start with the 12 Apostles rather than end with it, so you can enjoy the famous rock formations without battling other tourists for a great picture.
What is included:
- Start the morning at the Twelve Apostles, the Loch Ard Gorge, and the Gibson Stairs
- Watch Koalas at Kennet River
- Guided forest walk in the Great Otway National Park
- Visit Apollo Bay
- Stop at Memorial Arch
This Great Ocean Road day trip from Melbourne also includes morning tea, a water refilling station and a picnic lunch to be enjoyed along the Shipwreck Coast. You will also have an informative tour guide to explain each destination, and all entrance fees are included in the cost.
Why we recommend it:
We recommend this tour because it’s perfect for those who want a different experience along the Great Ocean Road. It’s also the best way to truly enjoy sights such as the 12 Apostles and the Loch Ard Gorge without the crowds at a relaxed pace.
Sunset Great Ocean Road Tour
Price: $125 AUD
This 1 day Great Ocean Road Tour starts later in the day than other tours to ensure that you experience the majestic 12 Apostles at sunset and watch how the colors change over the rock formations and vast ocean.
What is included:
- Admire eucalyptus trees at Great Otway National Park
- Learn about the history of the Shipwreck Coast at Loch Ard Gorge
- Stop for pictures at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
- Watch the sun set over the 12 Apostles
Included in the Great Ocean Road day tour are all entrance fees, a live commentary and pick up/return to your Melbourne hotel.
Why we recommend it:
This Great Ocean Road one day tour will leave you with great memories of the beautiful sights along the Great Ocean Road for many years to come. Watching the sunset over the famous 12 Apostles is a unique experience.
Whether you decide to drive yourself, or take one of the recommended Great Ocean Road tours that we’ve listed above, you should prepare yourself for a full day of picture taking, breathtaking views and wonderful experiences.
The Great Ocean Road will leave you wishing you had more time, but if one full day is all you can spare, at least you will have covered some of the must see sights.