Great Ocean Road 4 Day Self-Drive

Great Ocean Road 4 Day Self-Drive


The Great Ocean Road is an iconic and beautiful route along the south coast of Australia. Famed for its diverse and awe-inspiring scenery and attractions such as the Twelve Apostles there is plenty to do en-route, and this 243km of two-lane coastal road between Torquay and Warrnambool forms the first leg of this awesome round trip to Halls Gap in Grampian National Park - a total driving distance of 793km. Although this itinerary is suited to those with access to a car, there are plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs (or even flex your surfing muscles!) during the trip with dedicated walking trails along the southern coast Great Ocean Walk and within the Grampians National Park.

This round trip is great for tourists that want to see a bit more of the "real" Australia covering cityscapes, coastal scenery, quiet historic towns, spectacular national parks and rainforest terrain. The route is so simple, maps are not necessary as all routes and attractions are well signposted. Well developed for tourism, the route is littered with food, fuel and accommodation options. Beware though, some B&Bs and motels will up their prices during weekends and many have a 2 night stay minimum. During busy summer periods, accommodation options run out quickly so do some research when planning your trip and book early to not get caught out.

The Great Ocean Road to Halls Gap road trip starts off in Melbourne and we recommend setting off early in the morning to fit in all the good stuff so out-of-towners and tourists may wish to find nearby accommodation for the night before picking up your hire car keys. We recommend...


Total Distance: 793km
Total Travel Time: 11 hr, 4 min

  1. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. Torquay, Victoria, Australia
  3. Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia
  4. Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia
  5. Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia
  6. Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  7. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Day 1: Melbourne - Apollo Bay

Distance: 194km

Travelling Time: Under 3 Hours (without stops)

Get up early and collect your hire car from Alpha at our Melbourne Airport office and point your headlights westward to join the M1 and follow it just beyond Geelong to Torquay (the gateway to the Great Ocean Road) which will take about an hour and twenty minutes. Avid surfing fans can catch a few waves Bells Beach - an icon of Australia's surf scene where they hold the RipCurl Pro event every Easter - or newbies can sign up for a lesson. . . where better to learn!? Animal lovers will be able to spot lots of wild kangaroos frequent the nearby grassland early in the morning.

Then it's back on the road (the B100 to be precise) to lose the crowds and on to Apollo Bay via Lorne and Kennet River, famous for its koalas. Feeling fit? The 45km section between Lorne and Apollo Bay is used for the annual Great Ocean Road Marathon! (You may want to void road trips along this route during mid-May when the marathon takes place).

Apollo Bay is a charming fishing port with magnificent beaches and a little further on, the stunning Otway National Park. There is some great scenery to explore while here in the way of lush rainforests, valleys and waterfalls within Cape Otway. After nightfall, glow worms can be seen lighting up the trails and gullies like stars. Be sure to visit the Cape Otway Lighthouse (the oldest in mainland Australia dating back to 1848) which offers great views over the ocean where you can spot passing ships and whales.

Water sports are big here so schedule in some extra down-time if you enjoy boating, fishing, diving and board sports. For music lovers, a three-day festival in April is one of the best in Victoria. Book a night at the excellent Nelson's Perch B&B and head out for a bite to eat as the sun sets.

Day 2: Apollo Bay - Port Fairy

Distance: 188km

Travelling Time: Under 3 Hours (without stops)

After a good night's sleep, the journey continues towards Port Campbell where the 12 Apostles gradually come into view. Scheduling a stop here is a must, and early birds can enjoy a magnificent sunrise. Several kilometres further you can explore Port Campbell National Park and the stunning Loch Ard Gorge where you will be dwarfed by sheer limestone cliffs eroded by time. Take some time to marvel at the power of nature over a packed lunch or grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants.

Continue on to the city of Warrnambool, where each year between May and September, Southern Right Whales appear and can be viewed from Logans Beach. It is then a short drive to Port Fairy for an overnight stopover. The seafood caught here, including abalone and crayfish is fantastic. Wandering around the 19th-century buildings, soaking up the rich history and atmosphere makes for a relaxing evening before bedding down ready for the trip north to Halls Gap and a busy day in the Grampians National Park.

Day 3: Port Fairy - Halls Gap

Distance: 157km

Travelling Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes (without stops)

The drive to Halls Gap will take just over two hours, which will take you right through the spine of the Grampians National Park. Consisting of sandstone mountain ranges, deep valleys and rushing waterfalls the National Heritage location is popular among tourists for hiking, relaxing walks, its spa resorts and wellbeing centres and its burgeoning wildlife. Plus it is one of the richest Aboriginal rock art sites in South-East Australia.

Halls Gap is conveniently situated in the centre of the park which makes it an ideal base for exploring the region and discovering Australia's unique native animals in their natural habitat. The small town hosts a variety of accommodation options including motel style accommodation, caravan parks and affordable backpacker rooms as well as more traditional and comfortable lodge style accommodation.

With the rest of the day ahead of you there is plenty of time to explore Mackenzie falls, the Reids & Boroka Lookouts and the abundant nature trails. On top of this there are optional activities such as rock climbing & abseiling, canoeing and wineries - plus adventure golf, Halls Gap Zoo and mountain biking for the kids.

If you are planning on a few scenic drives, we recommend checking up on the latest road conditions within the park, which are often subject to heavy rain and floods.

Day 4: Halls Gap - Melbourne

Distance: 256km

Travelling Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes (without stops)

Today you will cover the remaining 250+ km to get back to Melbourne and drop off the hire car. The trip involves going through [Ballarat], made famous during the gold rush in the mid-1800s which saw it grow from a small sheep station to a major settlement and now claims the title of the 5th most populated inland city in Australia. As well as loads of great places to eat, treasure hunters will want to visit the Gold Museum and marvel at the valuable collection of pure gold nuggets, coins and artefacts.

Back on the road, the M8/M80 will take you most of the way back to Melbourne in under an hour and a half leaving you plenty of time to return the hire car or see a bit more of Victoria's capital. Feeling hungry? The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is a perfect way to round off your trip - this time with someone else driving! Relax within the stylish velvet and brass confines of the tram as it guides you through the best of Melbourne while you eat 1st class food. This truly memorable experience MUST be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

On behalf of everyone here at Alpha Car Hire we would like to wish you a fantastic trip and look forward to seeing the photos! Please come back and leave your story below for others thinking of taking this adventure.

Additional Resources:

The Great Ocean Road Marathon

Accommodation & attractions at Apollo Bay

Luxury lodge-style accommodation in Halls Gap

Affordable dorms and rooms for backpackers visiting Halls Gap
Halls Gap Zoo - Great for the kids!

Plan your road trip itinerary to the finest detail on your smart phone or iPad with this app:

The best places to spot whales, seals and dolphins in Victoria:

Dedicated and purpose-built campsites along the Great Ocean Road: