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The Great Ocean Road

The magnificent touring route that is the Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular destinations in Australia.

Hug the rugged coast along the Great Ocean Road

In fact, over one million visitors experience its magic every year. Below is some useful information to help you plan your trip.

Our one and two day Great Ocean Road tours capture the verybest the entire region has to offer in comfort and style. Our small group tours avoid the crowds, get you closer to nature and offer fantastic value for money.

We’ve done all the hard work to source the very best for you to ensure you have a memorable journey.

Please note: Distances can be deceptive! Whilst some stretches may seem short, the travel time can be quite lengthy as the road twists and winds along the coast and through the forests.

 

When to travel

Whilst the most popular time is in the southern hemisphere summer (particularly December and January) when seaside resort towns can swell to five times their usual population, the Great Ocean Road is attractive all year round.

The busiest times are around school holidays (which vary across each Australian state) and public holidays when we love to get away for a long weekend.

Check out the holiday calendars to help you plan your trip.

The Seasons

There is no ‘better’ season to tour the Great Ocean Road region – nature’s magic is on display all year round.

In the cooler months (May to August) the drama of the Shipwreck Coast in the Port Campbell National Park is at its greatest as the powerful Southern Ocean crashes into the sheer limestone cliffs and rock sculptures of the 12 Apostles and London Bridge. The waterfalls of the rainforests gush from the extra precipitation.

Whales migrate along the coast during this period to spawn near Warrnambool and the earlier dusk increases the chances of spotting our little penguin friends as they come ashore to nest in their boroughs.

The warmer period of Spring and Summer (September to February) sees life spring eternal with the nesting of thousands of Mutton Birds at Loch Ard Gorge whilst the cool temperate rainforest of the Otways provides a perfect playground for wildlife as the warmer months arrive.

Melbourne is known for its ‘four seasons in one day’ climate (they’ve even written a song about it) and Victoria’s southwest coast is no exception.

With such a kaleidoscope of landscapes on offer here, each has its own weather pattern! You never know when a shower in the Otways Rainforest will give way to the clear blue of cloudless skies as you travel through to Port Campbell.

Below is a general guide to the local weather conditions across the seasons:

Ave Temp Rain mm/inches
Month Celsius Fahrenheit mm inches
Dec –Feb 22-24 72-75 Up to 64mm 2.5
Mar – May 17-22 63-72 Up to 92mm 3.6
Jun – Aug 14-15 57-59 Up to 121mm 4.8
Sep – Nov 16-20 61-68 Up to 105 4.1

A Brief History of the Great Ocean Road

Memorial to those that built the Great Ocean Road and diggers statue.

In a masterful stroke of foresight, the concept of the Great Ocean Road was conceived, in part, as a tourist venture in 1917. Based on California’s famed “Big Sur”, thousands would visit, it was suggested.

More than one million people a year now experience its grandeur………

The towns and villages of the region established themselves as independent centres as the fishing and timber industries thrived. But by the 1870’s Lorne and Apollo Bay were already welcoming the tourist trade – initially arriving via boat, Cobb & Co carriages establishing a route to Lorne in 1879.

A road from Geelong already connected Anglesea and Aireys Inlet – the latter portion inland. But that’s as far as any official routes existed.

The journey from idea to build a coastal route linking these townships to reality took its first steps with the formation of the Great Ocean Road Trust in 1918. Much of the funding to build the project (150,000 pounds) was raised through the trust from public donations

As a plan to provide WW1 returned servicemen with employment, almost 3,000 were subsequently engaged over 13 years to construct the road – by hand. No machinery. Drilled by hand and forged with pick axe with a little help from some dynamite. The rubble was removed by horse and dray.

Completed in stages, the first in 1922 from Eastern View (where Memorial Arch stands) to Lorne with the Lorne to Wye River section the last.

The official opening was on November 26, 1932 – but the entire road was not sealed until 1987 west of Apollo Bay