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Accommodation and what to do on the Great Ocean Road Melbourne

You could spend a lot of time navigating the Great Ocean Road. But if you only have a few days, here are the highlights.

All 250 National Heritage-listed kilometres of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road are spectacular, a dramatic sea-hugging route starting at Torquay and finishing in Allansford. It was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and takes home the title as the world’s longest war memorial. Perhaps the most scenic section of this epic coastline is that getting you to the coastal town of Lorne. on the southwest coast of Victoria. This is where the rainforest meets the sea – where national park tumbles toward sandy coves and then the wild waters of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. It’s also the gateway to the Great Otway National Park, webbed with hiking trails leading to thundering waterfalls and clifftop lookouts. This part of southwest Victoria is known for its abundance of kangaroos and koalas, and also offers ample opportunities for spotting dolphins and migrating whales.

Queen Victoria Markets in the heart of Melbourne
Queen Victoria Markets in the heart of Melbourne. Image credit: Visit Victoria

1. Start Your Great Ocean Road Journey

Getting there: Two-minute drive (450 metres)
Wake up in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD at the Mercure Melbourne Therry Street, where your studio room comes with a modest kitchenette. Not that you’ll need it, as this property is within walking distance of the bustling Queen Victoria Market, covering seven hectares and the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. This is your first pit-stop, to pick up supplies for your road trip. Head to M and G Caiafa for freshly baked croissants and breads, Bill's Farm for endless deli goods, and Meet Sando for loaded Japanese-style sandwiches to fuel your journey through to your Great Ocean Road accommodation in Lorne.
Surfer looking at the swell on Bells Beach, Victoria
Surfer assessing the swell on Bells Beach. Image credit: Visit Victoria

2. Surf On The Great Ocean Road

Getting there: 1 hour 15 minutes (100 kilometres)
If there’s one thing Australia does well, it’s beaches and surfing, and Victoria’s coastline definitely doesn’t disappoint. There are literally hundreds of bay and ocean beaches to choose from along the Great Ocean Road. But don’t forget to look for the red and yellow flags to make sure it’s safe to hop into the water.
The famed Bells Beach is a much-loved icon of Australian surfers, and the Rip Curl Pro is held here every Easter. Lorne is much more family friendly, with beach breaks for beginners and bigger right-handers for the seasoned surfers running into the rocky shores of Lorne Point.
Diner at Ipsos Lorne
Diner enjoying a meal at Ipsos Lorne. Image credit: Visit Victoria

3. Best Eats On The Great Ocean Road

Getting there: 40 minutes (40 kilometres)
By the time you reach Lorne, you will have worked up an appetite. Make a beeline for Ipsos, which serves seafood with a Greek twist. It’s fresh, seasonal and simple – be sure to book ahead. Meanwhile, Lorne’s The Bottle of Milk is the place to grab a hamburger along the Great Ocean Road. Large outside tables mean you can sit in the sun and indulge in a juicy burger and a side of fries. Or, grab your meal to go and chill out on the beach.
The grounds of Mantra Lorne on the Great Ocean Road
The grounds of Mantra Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. Image credit: Visit Victoria

4. Great Ocean Road Accommodation

Getting there: 1 minute (350 metres)
With an 18-hole putting green, access to lawn bowls, tennis courts, croquet lawns and beachfront ocean views, Mantra Lorne is the ultimate in Great Ocean Road accommodation. This is the only beachfront property in Lorne, and is built around the oldest guesthouse in the state – safe to say, it’s part of Victoria’s history. The Larder, meanwhile, takes you on a trip to Italy in a breezy, light-kissed setting. Order house-made pastas, charcuterie platters and ocean-fresh seafood, and settle in for a little dining indulgence.
Now that you're checked in, it's time to head out and explore. 
Cape Otway Lighthouse. Image credit: Visit Victoria
Cape Otway Lighthouse. Image credit: Visit Victoria

5. Glimpse history on the Great Ocean Road

Getting there: 1 hour 15 minutes (70 kilometres)
With mainland Australia’s enormous coastline comes a plethora of lighthouses, the oldest of them all the one crowning Cape Otway.
Built in 1848, 90 metres above Bass Strait, the lightstation was often the first sight of land for migrants sailing to Australia from Europe, Asia and North America. Tour the grounds, climb the tower and chat to guides about how the lighthouse saved hundreds of lives and became known as the ‘Beacon of Hope’.
Great Otway National Park. Image credit: Visit Victoria
Great Otway National Park. Image credit: Visit Victoria

6. Sweat it out on the Great Ocean Road

Getting there: 10 minutes (10 kilometres)
Cape Otway is enveloped by Great Otway National Park. Here, rainforests and streams tumble toward rocky cliffs, enveloping sandy beaches and dramatic windswept seascapes. You'll feel completely insignificant – but in the best possible way. Small wonder this part of the country is on the Australian National Heritage List for its significance to the nation.
Whether cycling, kayaking, surfing or flying through the treetops on a zipline, this immense swathe of national parkland offers adventures at every turn. Alternatively, lace up your hiking boots for the Great Ocean Walk, spanning eight days between Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles – it can also be tackled in more manageable sections. 
12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road
12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. Image credit: Visit Victoria

7. That iconic Great Ocean Road sight

Getting there: 55 minutes (60 kilometres)
It's time to discover the 12 Apostles (of which there are only eight remaining), carved 20 million years ago and jutting 45 metres up from the sea. Clifftop lookouts abound, but the best way to take in this Southern Ocean spectacle is from a helicopter, choppering over the Bay of Islands coastal reserve, The Grotto sinkhole, the London Arch (a natural limestone ‘bridge’ surrounded by sea) or the full Shipwreck Coast, which includes Australia’s oldest lighthouse at Cape Otway.
Hiking the Great Otway
Hiking the Great Otway. Image credit: Visit Victoria

8. One last thing...

Uniting artisan producers, growers and makers through the Otway Ranges, the Otway Harvest Trail is like the region in a tasty mouthful. Go your own way or follow one of the six suggested itineraries, whether to sample fresh berries and wine, local gin and cheese, beer and pizza – with plenty of epic attractions listed along whichever route you choose.

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