Great Ocean Road Day Trip from Melbourne

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12 apostles day tour

Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

I’m not talking about not doing the Great Ocean Road, by all means, put this at the top of your list for your visit to Melbourne! But if you’re considering a full day tour from Melbourne that will see you spend 4 hours on a bus, arrive, and 3 hours back on a bus late in the evening, well…. it’s just not something I’d recommend. Instead, hire a rental car for the day and set your sights on reaching the 12 Apostles some time around noon, enjoy lunch at a coastal town, spend some time at the beach, and leisurely make your way back to Melbourne either the following or same day.

With time being scarce, I was forced to set aside just one day to visit the Great Ocean Road – but if you have to do it this way, it is still enough.


My friend Matt picked me up from my hotel at precisely 6am in the morning and we got only 10 metres down the road before we made our first stop – COFFEE.

Luckily for me, Melbourne has arguably the best coffee in the world and with double shots a ‘standard’, I was certainly wide awake by the time I finished my little brew. We then began our trek to the highway and settled in for a long 4 hour drive to the 12 apostles.

  great ocean road

Our first proper stop on the journey was in Torquay (pronounced Tor-kee) to check out the beach, grab some breakfast, and hit the road again. The drive soon became very scenic though equally nauseous – with more twists and bends than you would think necessary. Before long I had to request we pull over to get some fresh air as I was feeling incredibly unwell from all the swift turns! We made another stop at Lorne to check out the surf and take some quick snaps before getting back on the road again. There are plenty of little towns to stop at along the way, but I’d say Apollo Bay was my favourite pick of the bunch.


By around noon we reached the 12 Apostles, which was undoubtedly just as mesmerizing as I had imagined. It’s one of those things you simply have to see/do before you die, and perhaps my favourite thing I have ever done in Australia to date.


There were quite a few tourists around (which is to be expected on such a perfect day), but not so many that you couldn’t take it all in and enjoy the view without obstruction.

On the return journey home we took the faster route along the highway back to Melbourne. While it was an incredibly long day, it was equally incredibly worth while and an absolute must do for visitors to Melbourne.

12 apostles day trip

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    April 6, 2016 at 5:55 pm


    will it be too rushing for me if traveling for road trip for GOR, from melb to 12 apostle, passing torquay, lorne, apollo bay(for some pictures and food)… i plan it for a day, then back melb at night using highway.

    Jayne CLYMER
    April 3, 2016 at 2:00 am

    @jack doughty we will be in Melbourne for our ten year, firs timers! What is the name of your company.

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    Jack Doughty
    May 8, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Hi, it is gods own country down here, I run a coffee shop and live on the door step of the 12 Apostles, I offer senic tours of the most beatiful part of the coast, a lot of tourists are unaware of the natural untouched wetlands, , estuaries and beaches in Princetown, we are a little bit off the road but well worth the stop.we have coffee shops (the best on the GOR), restraunts and accomadation.the views of the Gellibrand river and the Ocean are spectacular, and the best time is over winter, it does get a bit chilly but the colors and lighting are amazing, and while your down this way have a ride in the helicopters its a truly amazing experience..well hope you all enjoy you travels and stay safe…

    March 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I agree. Day tour wouldn’t be the best way to enjoy this.
    Taking it at a leisurely pace in your own van is much better. After all there’s so much to see and so many pictures to be taken…

    louisa klimentos
    March 14, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I really liked the Great ocean road too.But it is sad to see that other people who do travel blogs ,state it is overrated and prefer say the Amalfi coast Italy and the Sea to Sky highway Canada.Maybe it is because the road cuts through rural areas,They didn’t really say why it wasn’t that good .They just said that the overseas coastal drives were better.This maybe the case ,but it doesn’t mean that the Great Ocean road isn’t spectacular.Those negative travel blogs on the Great Ocean road are those who live abroad but travelled is best not to compare this drve to other drives of the world as your expectations become unrealistic and then one becomes disappointed.i think it is a lovely drive anyway

    Hannah Petrie
    July 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    So great to here your favourite town was Apollo Bay. I have had a holiday house down there for the past 3 years, but our family has been holidaying in Apollo bay since I was born. It;s by far my favourite place in the world. We go down there as often as possible and usually spend the whole summer there. Its where I learnt to surf and I have grown up visiting the markets. exploring the otways and in the ocean. It’s such a beautiful town.

    June 18, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I went on a family holiday to Apollo Bay when I was about 12. We stayed a week and I remember there was just so much to do! The beach, helicopters at the 12 Apostles, the Otways, chocolate places (with amazing chocolates) and the best cheese I have ever eaten. So good.
    I think I may just have to go and re-experience again and find some other little treasures to marvel at!

    Smith @silvercabsMelbourne
    May 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Really awesome places for traveling. I love to go there. Try to share more best & wonderful places for traveling.

    January 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Beautiful post and photos! I’m glad you think it’s one of your favourite things you have ever done in Australia 🙂 Even though I’m from Victoria myself I only saw the 12 apostles for the first time a couple years ago and it sure was spectacular!

    The Irie Explorer
    January 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    There are many free camping sites in the towns/cites along the Great Ocean Road as well, so it also makes for a cheap trip if you have a tent (or have rented a camper van)!

    My boyfriend and I camped out on Johanna Beach for a night after going out for dinner in Apollo Bay.

    You can do a two or three day trip for VERY cheap in comparison to most other things in Australia.

    You can also go further North and drive through The Grampians National Park and camp out there (again, free) for another night or two. The mountains there are beautiful.

    I love The Great Ocean Road! I think it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Australia.