1. Gibson Steps
Don’t be fooled by the name; the most magnificent sight here isn’t the steps (although there are A LOT of steps). The beach stretches out and once on the sand you will feel miniature next to the giant cliff face that looms next to you. There are two offshore stacks visible from the top and bottom of the steps. The views here are stunning.
While many tourists opt to catch the sunset at the very famous Twelve Apostles I found the sunset at Gibson Steps to be even more magical. The sun slipping behind the stacks and casting an orange glow over the beach is breathtaking.
Location: The Gibson Steps are located in Port Campbell, a 2 hour and 45 minute drive away from the City of Melbourne.
Access: The easiest way to access Gibson Steps is from the Gibson Steps car park. You are able to access the steps from The Twelve Apostles, however, it is a much longer walk.
Top Tip: Remember to be careful and make your way down the steps slowly as they become rather wet and slippery. Make sure to check the tide before heading down and keep checking the waves to make sure the tide isn’t coming in. You don’t want to get stuck down there!
2. Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring natural locations in Victoria. You feel taken aback as you make your way down the stairs and onto the beach. The cliffs surround you and caves are visible from the bottom of the stairs. Looking out into the ocean and watching the waves crash against the rocks is mesmerising.
Location: Loch Ard Gorge is located in Port Campbell and is a 2 hour and 47 minute drive from the City of Melbourne.
Access: Loch Ard Gorge can be accessed from the main car park. Walking tracks take you down to Loch Ard Gorge, or wander down to see views of Shipwreck Coast.
Top Tip: If you’re going during colder months, remember to take some thongs (flip-flops) with you to wear on the beach. I made the mistake of wearing my sneakers and ended up with soaking wet feet covered in sand; those waves don’t wait for you to run away!
3. The Grotto
I have to admit that until March this year, I had never been to The Grotto, nor did I know it existed, and it really proves that there is so much value in exploring your own backyard. The Grotto is yet another natural sight that you can gaze upon in wonderment. The stairs lead you down into what looks like an open cave. Peer through the cliff hole and out onto the ocean. A very peaceful and magnificent location.
Location: The Grotto is also located in Port Campbell (great destination for natural sights!) and is a 2 hour and 51 minute drive from Melbourne City.
Access: The Grotto is best accessed by parking in The Grotto car park. There is a bit of walking involved, but nothing that takes too long. From there you will climb down more stairs (lots of stairs along The Great Ocean Road!)
Top Tip: Go later in the day as there are less tourists around and you can take in the views privately. The platform area at the bottom of the steps is only small.
4. The Twelve Apostles (or what’s left of them)
Ah the Twelve Apostles, perhaps one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. There are now only 8 apostles left after some collapsed due to erosion. Make sure to walk around the entire designated walkways, one side of the apostles is more commonly photographed, however, there are more to see on the other side as well. Standing on top of the cliff and looking out onto the Apostles and the ocean is an amazing experience and one not to miss out on.
This area is always packed full of tourists, and honestly, it probably doesn’t matter what time of the year you go, it’s always going to be busy.
Location: Again, located in Port Campbell, The Twelve Apostles are a 2 hour and 43 minute drive from the City of Melbourne.
Access: Park in The Twelve Apostles car park and take a short stroll down to the viewing area.
Top Tip: There is a visitors centre here, so if you need a snack or a drink, or a toilet stop, now is the perfect time to do it.
5. Split Point Lighthouse
‘Have you ever, ever felt like this?’ Anyone who grew up in Australia in the 90’s will have fond memories of watching Round the Twist as a kid. The weird, whacky and very unusual show was very popular during its time, and visiting this spot has more meaning to me because of it. The lighthouse was used during the filming of the show and is popular among tourists and Round the Twist fans. Not only is it known for its use in the TV show, it is also a fantastic location. Daily tours of the lighthouse are also available.
Location: Not Port Campbell! Split Point Lighthouse is located in Airey’s Inlet, a 1 hour and 38 minute drive from the City of Melbourne.
Access: There are two car parks near the lighthouse. One is much closer and you only have a short walk to the lighthouse and viewing platform, the other is at the bottom of the hill and requires a bit of a hike up to the lighthouse. Although more difficult and time consuming, I always opt for the bottom car park as there are views along the way you won’t get if you walk from the closer car park at the top of the hill.
Top Tip: Visit Willow’s Tea House near the top carpark and the lighthouse. They do excellent hot chocolate and scones, and it the perfect spot to relax and unwind before continuing your journey. (7 Federal St, Aireys Inlet VIC 3231)
Enjoy The Great Ocean Road and all it has to offer!