Have you always dreamed of seeing the Great Ocean Road but it still sits on your ‘bucket list’ because you’ve never quite made it there?
I have some good news for your inner procrastinator – the Great Ocean Road can be visited on a two day weekend away from every capital city in Australia!
This means that if you live near an airport, one weekend soon you can be marvelling at the 12 Apostles, enjoying a beach front beer or walking a rainforest board walk, all without having to take a single leave day!
Getting to Melbourne
You can fly to Melbourne on Friday night and home again Sunday afternoon or evening from Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Perth & Canberra (plus some other regional destinations).
If you are arriving late Friday you can stay the night near the airport and pick up a rental car in the morning. It doesn’t sound as exciting as staying in the CBD but you won’t have to navigate crazy city morning traffic and it will be good incentive to get on the road early and have breakfast down the coast!
Alternatively, if you arrive early Friday evening, you can pick up your car straight away, get on the road and stay in Geelong or Torquay which both have accommodation near the beach. That way you are ready to start the Great Ocean Road drive first thing Saturday morning!
How to get from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road
From the airport you need to get onto the Tullamarine Fwy (M2) and then take the exit towards Geelong onto the Western Ring Road (M80). This exit wins an award for poor design and confusing signage, so remember to keep to the right hand side of the exit towards Geelong. From here you take the M1 or Princes freeway exit and can follow the signs to the Great Ocean Road (or exit earlier to go through Geelong or Torquay).
You can book Melbourne Airport, Geelong, Torquay and Great Ocean Road accommodation on any online booking site. If you already know where you want to stay you can often get the best deal by contacting the hotel directly but not all hotels will match their online rates.
If you want to compare the prices for hotels from all the different websites you can click the ‘Search Cheap Hotels ‘ tab in our menu or use booking.com which has a mix of accommodation such as hotels, cabins and apartments.
If you would prefer to camp, there are plenty of Caravan Parks in each town along the way as well as National Park camp grounds. You need to book NP camp sites before you go on the Parks Victoria website.
Planning your Great Ocean Road Itinerary
For a full write up on what to see and do on the Great Ocean Road have a read of our comprehensive article ‘A Locals guide to the Great Ocean Road’ .
Where should you stay on the Saturday night?
I suggest visiting the guide above and choosing the places that sound best to you but either Apollo Bay or Lorne are bigger towns with plenty of accommodation and restaurant options.
Option 1. Apollo Bay (Nature Focused Itinerary)
If you are most interested in the beautiful views, bush walking and free things to see and do you probably want to make it to at least Apollo Bay on the Saturday night. There is a lot to see on the drive west of here to Port Campbell (the point your return inland to the airport) and this option should give you time to do walks and stops at both the east and west end of the drive.
Option 2. Lorne (Shopping, Restaurants & Bars)
If you are more excited about the shops, restaurants and food and you can fly out late Sunday night, you may want to dedicate more time to the eastern end of the Great Ocean Road to shop in Torquay (home to most of Australia’s surf brands), maybe detour to some of the places on the Otway Harvest Trail and then stay in Lorne and explore its bars and restaurants. If you choose this option you need to allow a full day of driving on the Sunday to see the main sites (Loch Ard Gorge and the 12 Apostles are both at this end of the Great Ocean Road).
How rushed will you be?
Many people and lots of the tour companies do this whole trip in one very busy day. This means you can use your weekend to fit more in than just the highlights, or relax and and enjoy the drive and explore at a slower pace.
Getting back to Melbourne
The quickest option to Melbourne is inland from Port Campbell and remember the drive from here to Melbourne Airport without stopping is at least two hours and 42 minutes so depart Port Campbell with plenty of time to spare.
Once you have checked in, its time to kick back with a drink, reminisce about your favourite parts and wonder why you didn’t visit sooner!
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Tips for a stress free weekend away
- Book your rental car and accommodation or campsite before you go, the last thing you want to worry about on a short ‘Wild Weekend Away’ is where your going to be staying. You don’t want to wing it and then find out there’s nowhere to stay because of an event
- If your not great with heights do this itinerary in reverse so you can hug the inside embankment otherwise start at the eastern end so its easy to pull over at the lookout to enjoy the views and take photos!
- Pack carry on only and check in online – this means you don’t have to be at the airport quite as early.
- Pack for four seasons, especially if your from the north as you may find even a summers night cold!
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So go on, get out there and see Australia- you might just fall in love!