Ocean Vision: Melbourne to Port Fairy Travel Guide

If you’ve never travelled along the Great Ocean Road, you haven’t experienced Australia’s most scenic coastal drive. Spend four days exploring the snaking route connecting charming towns, spectacular scenery and wild beaches.


A southern right whale and her calf in the Logans Beach nursery, Warrnambool, Victoria

There’s a reason this is possibly the best-known road trip in Australia. The scenery along the Great Ocean Road is spectacular, both on the coastline and further inland where lush farmland and rainforest dominate. Along the way, there are tiny towns each with its own distinct personality. Whether you’re keen to catch a wave, watch a whale or lift a glass of craft beer while watching the sun go down, this is the place to do it. Summer holidays can be very crowded around the popular beaches, so consider travelling out of the peak season. Winter may seem like an odd time to hit the coast, but you’ll discover deserted, windswept beaches and warm welcomes from the people you encounter along the way.


The impressive coastal landscape of the 12 Apostles, near Port Campbell, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Nature has really made its mark at the 12 Apostles. Over thousands of years, the weather and waves have moulded the coastline to create towering cliffs and limestone stacks erupting from the ocean. At one point, there was very likely a dozen of them – hence the name – although they do have the propensity to collapse. When the sun is low in the sky they change colour, so plan your visit for either sunrise or sunset. Added bonus: if you look down at sunrise, you can sometimes spot little penguins crossing the beach to the ocean.


  1. Is it sad to look for the best of Melbourne out of town? Maybe, but that shouldn’t stop you making a booking at MoVida Lorne. Enjoy the same incredible tapas you know and love from Hosier Lane, including the famous anchoa, a Cantabrian anchovy sitting on a scoop of smoked tomato sorbet on a crouton.

  2. The Great Ocean Road is a wildlife haven. Look into the trees along the way and you’re likely to see koalas. Make it a sure thing by visiting Wildlife Wonders. Founded by the Conservation Ecology Centre, it opened in 2020, fencing off 12 hectares of natural bushland to create a safe space for bandicoots, potoroos, koalas and other native species. Join a conservationist on a walk and they’ll point out animals and tell you about the bush.

  3. It’s been lighting the night skies since 1848 to warn sailors of the treacherous conditions – there’s a reason they call this the Shipwreck Coast. Now visitors can climb the stairs to the top of Cape Otway Lighthouse, visit the keepers’ quarters and telegraph station, and check out a World War II radar bunker. It’s also a great spot from where to spy migrating whales between May and October.

  4. Turn away from the coastline and get high at Otway Fly. There’s a zipline tour that whizzes above the rainforest, but much more low-key is a stroll along the walkway that stretches for two kilometres. It’s suspended 30 metres above the forest floor for excellent views of the flora and fauna.

  5. Each year, between June and September, female southern right whales come to the waters just off Logans Beach near Warrnambool to calve. Sometimes they can be as close as a hundred metres off the shore. To give the many people who come to watch the mums and bubs a better look, a wooden platform was constructed in the sand dunes.


The Apollo Apartments

A quick walk from the town of Apollo Bay, you’ll find The Apollo Apartments. These modern, light-filled apartments are across the road from the beach.

Sea Foam Villas

At the end of the day, sit outside your apartment and watch over the bay at Port Campbell. That’s what is on offer at luxury Sea Foam Villas, and you’re within a few minutes’ walk of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Merrijig Inn

Stay at the oldest inn in Victoria. Choose from a luxurious suite or, if you don’t need much space, book a cosy attic room at Port Fairy’s Merrijig Inn. Yes, the same one that is home to the much-loved restaurant.


A family on the treetops boardwalk at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, near Beech Forest, Great Ocean Road

Pick up your pre-booked vehicle from Apex Car Rentals when you arrive at Melbourne Airport. The Great Ocean Road spans more than 200 kilometres, and you could get to Port Fairy in less than four hours. But there’s more to do. Stop in towns like Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell. Take long walks along the beach. Make detours to waterfalls in tranquil rainforests in the Great Otway National Park. Give yourself at least four days.


Mt Eccles National Park Victoria

Interested in Aboriginal culture? Keep going to Budj Bim National Park, set in an extinct volcano with a crater lake at its heart. What’s more interesting is the World Heritage-listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape that shows the Gunditjmara people farmed and smoked eels thousands of years ago. Book a tour at the visitor centre to visit the kooyong (eel) traps and channels, smoking trees and stone houses.