Driving the Great Ocean Road: Our Road Trip Itinerary

Taking to the road is one of the most affordable and eye-opening ways to explore Australia. Recently we embarked on a road trip from the Central Coast of New South Wales to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria with two friends who had never really explored anywhere south of Sydney. From wild native animals to beautiful turquoise water and white sandy beaches, here’s our extensive road trip itinerary.

Seacliff Bridge WollongongGetting around

We drove David’s car for the duration of the trip and only relied on public transport when we were exploring Melbourne’s CBD. For us, this was the most cost-effective way to get around as we were able to drive an unlimited number of kilometres without having to worry about paying anything extra for a hire car.

Accommodation

We stayed in Airbnbs in each city/town as this proved to be the most cost-effective way to book two separate rooms as a group of four.

Planning the trip

For us it was important to have our accommodation booked ahead of time as we were travelling in January during the New South Welsh and Victorian school holidays, as well as the Australian Open. We also had a list of what attractions we wanted to see at each stage of the journey, leaving room for any recommendations from locals and our Airbnb hosts. Booking accommodation ahead of time not only guaranteed that we had a place to sleep, it also made it much easier to plan our driving so we didn’t do more than five hours of driving each day.

Twelve Apostles
Taking in the Twelve Apostles

Itinerary

Day one: Central Coast – Sydney – Wollongong – Batemans Bay
Total drive time: Five hours
Accommodation: East Lynne

Day one was probably the longest day in terms of on-the-go travelling. We left the Central Coast at 7am and drove to Sydney where we dropped Sprocket off at our grandparent’s house where he was staying for the duration of our trip. From there it was on to Seacliff Bridge in Wollongong, the Kiama Blowhole where we stopped for lunch, Nowra, Hayms Beach and Batemans Bay.

Pebbly BeachDay two: Batemans Bay – Narooma – Eden
Total drive time: Three hours
Accommodation: Tura Beach

To kick off day two, we entered Murramarang National Park where we watched kangaroos on Pebbly Beach and Depot Beach. From there we drove to Holmes Lookout for views over Batemans Bay. Next stop: Narooma’s Bar Rock LookoutAustralia Rock and seals. Then we drove to Camel Rock and Bega before stopping for the night in Tura Beach near Merimbula.

Day three: Eden – Lakes Entrance – Woodside Beach
Total drive time: Five hours
Accommodation: Woodside Beach

Day three began with a walk along the white sands of Pambula Beach before it was on to Eden Lookout and Rotary Park and the Killer Whale Museum. Soon after crossing the Victorian border, we stopped at Genoa FallsMckenzie Rainforest where we did the short loop track over two swing bridges, Salmon Rocks and Stony Creek Trestle Bridge. We stopped for dinner in Lakes Entrance before spending the night in Woodside Beach.

Day four: Woodside Beach – Melbourne
Total drive time: Three hours
Accommodation: Melbourne (Rowville)

Our Airbnb host at Woodside Beach recommended a short stop at Agnes Falls before we continued our trek to Melbourne. From there we drove an hour into Wilsons Promontory National Park where we tried (and failed due to time constraints) to reach the southern most point of mainland Australia. From there we drove to Phillip Island where we saw penguins along the beach and we finished the day by watching the sun set from Brighton Beach in Melbourne.

Kangaroo on Pebbly Beach
Kangaroo on Pebbly Beach

Day five: Melbourne
Total drive time: N/A
Accommodation: Same as previous night

On day five we caught the tram from St Kilda into the centre of Melbourne and spent the day exploring the lane ways of the city, including AC/DC lane which was our personal favourite.

Day six: Melbourne – Great Ocean Road – Warrnambool
Total drive time: Five hours
Accommodation: Kirkstall

Day six was the day we finally reached the Great Ocean Road. We started with breakfast in St Kilda before embarking on the journey we’d all been waiting for. First stop was Torquay Beach followed by Bells Beach, lunch in Lorne, Teddy’s Lookout, Split Point Lighthouse, koala spotting in Kennett River, Apollo Bay, and of course, the Twelve Apostles.

Day seven: Warrnambool – Ballarat – Bendigo
Total drive time: Four hours
Accommodation: Bendigo

We spent the morning in a dormant volcanic crater at Tower Hill where we were attacked (or approached depending on how you look at it) by wild emus, swamp wallabies and kangaroos. We stopped for lunch in Ballarat where we walked the streets of the gold rush before making our way through the rain to Lake Daylesford and onto Bendigo.

Day eight: Bendigo – Beechworth – Albury/ Wodonga
Total drive time: Three and a half hours
Accommodation: Albury

This day was one of our absolute favourites thanks to our first stop; Bushland Dingo Haven in Shepparton, Victoria. After spending some time hugging dingo puppies, we explored the history of Ned Kelly in Glenrowan and Beechworth before crossing the border and spending the night in Albury.

Emu
An emu named Dot

Day nine: Albury/ Wodonga – Mt Kosciuszko – Jindabyne
Total drive time: Four hours
Accommodation: Family

Instead of heading home from Albury, we decided to take the scenic route and travel past Lake Hume and through Mt Kosciszko National Park, stopping at Thredbo to catch the chairlift to the top. We called it a night in Jindabyne.

Day nine: Jindabyne – Canberra
Total drive time: Two hours
Accommodation: Canberra

From Jindabyne we travelled through Cooma to Canberra where we visited the Australian War MemorialMount Ainslie Lookout and Parliament House.

Day ten: Canberra – Sydney – Central Coast
Total drive time: Four hours

The final leg of the journey took us through Goulburn, Bowral and Mittagong. Then it was back to Sydney to pick up Sprocket before heading home.

It’s safe to say that exploring Australia on a road trip with some of your best friends is the best way to do it. 🙂

Where should our next road trip take us? Let us know in the comments below! 

Ash & Dave
xx

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