While hitting the road for a bit of family travel anywhere in Australia will deliver amazing scenery and wonderful destinations to explore, there are some road trips which offer an iconic drive that is extra special. For us, one of the greatest road trips in Australia is Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
You’ll meander along 245 kilometres of turquoise beaches, mouth-watering food to tempt the palate, luscious forest areas, national parks to explore, historic port towns to savour, spectacular natural wonders and an absolute abundance of native wildlife it offers a spectacular drive with many great places to explore along the way. Starting in Torquay, and following a coastal route through to Warrnambool, the Great Ocean Road offers something for everyone.
The must-see first stop of the trip is right at the beginning, stopping in to the world-famous Bells Beach, which hosts the Rip Curl Pro each year around Easter. Towering rock faces offer a spectacular border to the surf beach, and a swim is a must. If you’re after a bit of history, there’s also a surfing museum in Torquay that gives an interesting insight into both the local region and some of Australia’s biggest surf heroes.
Split Point Lighthouse
If you grew up in the nineties then you might be familiar with the kids program “Round the Twist”. If you’re nodding your head at memories of watching Paul Jennings’ stories brought to life on the TV screen, then I highly recommend a stop into Split Point Lighthouse, the very lighthouse that featured in the series. Even if it wasn’t in your viewing history it’s well worth a visit, and there are tours and a gorgeous tea house available for refreshments. You’ll find it located outside Airey’s Inlet.
Otway National Park
The Otway National Park sits waiting for adventurers to uncover its luscious and rugged beauty. One of the highlights of the Otways is the Otway Fly Treetop Adventure that takes you zip-lining through the forest, or takes you walking through the tree tops. For something a bit less height inspired, there’s plenty of walking tracks to get you up close and personal with the wildlife at ground level.
Possibly the greatest icon of The Great Ocean Road drive is The Twelve Apostles, just east of Port Campbell. Upon approach of these grand, rock structures I felt in awe, similarly to how I felt approaching Uluru from the distance. These limestone structures reach out of the ocean tucked along the shoreline in a row of grandeur. They sit within the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park running along 17km of shoreline, also providing visitors with the amazingness that is the Loch Ard Gorge and a range of other canyons, arches and spectacular ocean cliffs to view.
Don’t forget to take your time to enjoy the small coastal towns dotted along the way, Lorne, Port Fairy, Apollo Bay, Portland, Warrnambool, Torquay, Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, they all offer their own taste of Victorian life, delicious food, and history to be uncovered. All are slightly different, and offer delights for the traveller that won’t be uncovered in a rushed one day drive. Allow yourself a couple of days, or more if you can to take in the real treasures of this iconic Australian road trip.
Planning your drive
If you’re looking to plan your drive, or share your experience with family and friends, then we recommend using the Shell LoVe Drives website, you can check out photos and tips from our own road trip along the Great Ocean Road, or you can start your own. This awesome site allows you to plot your trip in advance, see other people’s trips, notes and travels, then add your own photos and videos along with trip notes once you’ve done the drive. Then you can easily share it with anyone who might want to see, as well as other visitors to the LoVe Drives website. Give it a try, and get out there and explore Australia!
*Disclaimer – This post was sponsored by Nuffnang & Shell but all opinions and information contained within are our own experiences and opinions.
The Yarra Valley is well known for its wine tasting tours, but the region also has plenty to offer for families. Whether you’re looking for a day out from Melbourne or a weekend away, you’ll find no shortage of attractions to keep the kids occupied. Stop at scenic lookouts, go berry picking, take a wander along the pleasant walking trails of the Dandenong Mountain Range, or go sledding at Lake Mountain before enjoying a picnic utilising fresh produce from the area’s farms. It’s also ideally situated a short drive away from Melbourne, minimising time in the car. If you’re bringing the family along to the Yarra Valley, you won’t want to miss the following fun filled activities.
Do your kids love animals? Take them for a day out at the Healesville Sanctuary in the Yarra Valley. It’s one of the world’s best places to spot Australian wildlife in its natural habitat, set on 70 acres of untouched bush land. The sanctuary is home to kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, platypus, and koalas, among others. There’s also a café and working animal hospital offering tours. Best of all for your budget, children under the age of 15 can visit for free on holidays and weekends.
The Puffing Billy Steam Railway is an excursion that both young and old can enjoy. It’s the oldest steam railway in Australia, travelling 24 kilometres through the Dandenong Ranges. You’ll pass ancient fern gullies and old growth forest along the way, potentially spotting native wildlife from these open sided carriages. There are often special events held on the Puffing Billy, including pantomime performances and dance evenings. There’s a café on the car if the family starts to get peckish, and tours are run throughout the year.
The Yarra Valley is home to many working farms, and one of the greatest pleasures of a visit to this area is visiting them to go berry picking, pet the tame animals, or learn more about the agricultural way of life. One of the original working farms is Gulf Station, which has been in operation for 160 years. Let your children learn more about the area’s original pioneer lifestyle, by visiting the original outbuildings that make up this working station. The farm is still home to chickens, geese, horses, and pigs, and offers a number of trails to wander along and enjoy a picnic in the countryside.
If your children have energy to burn, take them away to the Trees Adventure in the Dandenong Ranges. Your kids will get the same type of thrill through looking at these giant flying foxes and ziplines as you do when looking at bmw motorcycles on Bikesales. The zipline courses are ranked by difficulty, ensuring that there are courses for both young and old. Participants are all attached to safety lines, for added comfort. The Trees Adventure Park is located in a rain forest, with a number of interesting old growth trees to spot. You may also spot native wildlife such as owls, possums, or kookaburras.
Whether you want to learn more about the Yarra Valley’s farmstead heritage or take a wild ride through the trees, there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained on a day out from Melbourne.
When planning a family holiday, it is not always easy to keep every family member happy. So for a great day out that has something for everybody, the in the gorgeous state of Victoria, family day trip ideas are everywhere. From markets to railways, to museums and galleries, there’s activities that include kids rides, to cultural indulgence. So let’s take a look at some quick tips for a day out.
Arriving at Melbourne gives you the chance to experience the metropolitan life and Australian culture. There are plenty of Melbourne family attractions that let the kids connect with nature, while providing plenty of relaxation time for parents too. Taking a ride on the free tram is also a great way to navigate the city and see what’s on offer. So let’s take a look at a few things to do:
This iconic theme park will keep the entire family entertained for hours and hours. From the youngest members to the oldest, get swept away in the joy, happiness and exhilaration that is Luna Park.
Adventure Park in Geelong
With watery fun for the entire family, the Adventure Park at Geelong offers fast paced extreme water rides, right through to a tiny tot splash zone. The restored 1920’s style grande carousel offers something different and unique to experience while you’re there.
Caribbean Gardens Market
The Caribbean Gardens Market is a brilliant idea for a family day out. First of all, there is a huge number of stalls selling fresh produce, IT equipment, clothes and many more things. However, probably the most exciting attraction is the rides. Together, you can explore the gardens by a fancy train, by boat or by chair lift. The Gardens offer many playgrounds for the little ones and give the parents time to relax in the greens.
Diamond Valley Railway Eltham
Old and young alike are fascinated by history and the imagination often drifts away to the more adventurous times. In the Diamond Valley Railway people can learn about and travel on passenger carrying railways built there in miniature. Driving through forests and bush, everyone can truly feel drawn back to a different time.
Of course, when travelling with many members of the family, the budget has to be planned carefully. For that reason, the theme park visits are best organized with regard to seasonal discount offers which occur now and then and sometimes even the whole year round. The internet proves to be a great place to find various coupons for getting discounts. In that way, the trip does not cut a deep hole into the money bag, and leaves the opportunity to repeat a trip like this more often.
The Great Ocean Road offers a special road trip opportunity, that allows families to make the most of some of Australia’s most unique landscapes and stunning coastline delivering a wilderness playground right at their fingertips.
Our feature series on the family travel along the Great Ocean Road began with a general introduction, and now continues on to some great budget family camping and cheap family accommodation ideas for a fulfilling family road trip adventure.
While it’s not possible to go Free Camping along the entire Great Ocean Road journey, it is possible to plan your trip to make the most of the options that are available. If you’re not familiar with some of the considerations that are important when free camping, then don’t forget to take a look at our free camping tips.
Due to the large number of sites and camping options to cover, we’re breaking down our coverage into a couple of posts to make it easier to read through. The first is covering:
Free Camping Along the Great Ocean Road…. Part 1 Torquay to Lorne:
Free Camping from Torquay to Anglesea
The council has ruled that there is no Free camping within residential or commercial areas along The “Surf Coast” of Victoria, which encompasses the beginning of the Great Ocean Road near Torquay right through to the Lorne area, also taking in the towns of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. The region has quite strict rules when it comes to free camping, and has ruled that the only Free Camps are within National Parks across the region.
Camping is only allowed in allocated camp zones, and these are few and far between. For the most part, camping near Torquay, right thorugh to Aireys Inlet will need to be done within caravan parks. If you choose to take the risk to free camp, you can expect a $125 fine from the council rangers.
Major caravan parks in the region are:
Torquay Campgrounds: Torquay Holiday Park, Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park and Jan Juc Holiday Park. Pricing starts at around $25 off peak/mid week for 2 adults. Basing on an average of 2 adults and 2 children for families, you can expect to pay from $40 to $70+ per night for a powered campsite. Unpowered sites are mainly offered during Peak seasons, but are available at some parks.
Anglesea Campgrounds:Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park with sites starting from around $31 – $71 depending on the season for a powered site with 2 people with extra charge for children. Big 4 Anglesea with family camping at powered sites costing from around $60+ per night
Tip: If you’re starting your Great Ocean Road travels from Late December right through January, then Barwon Heads which is not far from Torquay, offers Riverside camping with over 220 unpowered sites at a great price of only $220 per week for 2 adults and children included. This option is great for peak season travellers who are on a budget and are self sufficient.
Free Camping from Aireys Inlet to Lorne
As we move down the Great Ocean Road toward National Park areas, free camping sites start to arise. These great spots are most commonly within National Parks, so will often be some way from the main road, and will generally require some level of self sufficiency whilst camping. Please be sure to take your own drinking water into these campgrounds.
Aireys Inlet Paid Campgrounds: Major park is: Aireys Inlet Holiday Park which offers camping for families around $40+ a night for 2 adults/2 Children in a powered campsite depending on the season.
Free Camping Near Aireys Inlet: Hammonds Road Campground (Great Otway National Park) is around 10kms from Aireys Inlet. There is around 9km of dirt road, offering 10 tent sites and 5 caravan and camper sites, it is open all year around and has a 4wd recommendation. It offers drop toilets.
Lorne Paid Campgrounds: Lorne Foreshore Caravan Parks are 5 parks offering a range of camping options, all looked after from the same office. All camp sites are powered and range from around $43 + depending on the season for 2 adults and 2 children.
Free Camping Near Lorne:Big Hill Track (Great Otway National Park: Around 12 kms on the Lorne-Deans Marsh Rd . 20 campsites with access for caravans, campers in dry weather, and tents. Toilets available. Closed from June to end of October. Cora Lynn: Erskine Falls Road – Required to walk in approx 1km via Cora Lynn Cascades Foot track to 2 small camp spaces. Allenvale Mill Site: Allenvale Rd (Great Otway National Park): 20 campsites in forest beside creek, a short walk from car park, open year round, toilets available. Sharps Track – Via Allenvale Rd, turn onto Garvey track, then Sharps Track. No toilets, 8 camping spaces available, Access to Kalimna Falls, but no toilets are available here.
Just down the road from Lorne is Cumberland River Holiday Park – Paid camping sites for a family of 4 range from around $55 off peak, variable depending on the season.
Jamiesons Track is on the way South of Lorne and offers bush camping, without facilities. It’s accessible only by 4wd, subject to seasonal access.
Use the map above to take a look at the locations for the camp grounds we’ve mentioned. The $ signs are paid campsites and the tent symbols offer free camping options.
It becomes quite obvious, that the more self sufficient you are as a camping family, the easier it is to find camping areas along this route. While some of the caravan parks along the way are pet friendly, it’s important to remember that travelling with dogs or other pets into the National Park is illegal, so it will make it impossible to camp there without making other arrangements for any pets you may be travelling with.
Next up we’ll be covering free and budget camping from Wye River, right through to Port Campbell. (We’ll update the post when it’s finished)
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic tourist drives in Australia, and one that won’t disappoint the senses. From never ending horizons of turquoise oceans, to luscious green rainforest retreats, quaint fishing villages and delicious boutique eateries, fun activities, everything from great camp sites to exquisite accommodation options, it’s definitely one of our most recommended Australian family holidays. Taking in winding coastline and breathtaking rainforest, the journey offers a visual feast for the eyes.
Getting to the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is located in Victoria. The official road is the B100, starting around Torquay and ending around Warrnambool. It stretches for about 250kms, although there are gorgeous towns such as Port Fairy and Portland a little further down the road than this and it’s well worth continuing on to include them in your journey.
The closest city to the Great Ocean Road is Melbourne. If flying in to begin your road trip, Melbourne airport offers a range of car hire options and is 1.5 hours from the starting point, Torquay.
Family Transportation on the Great Ocean Road
For families, a self drive tour is recommended as it’s much easier to adjust your itinerary to suit the kids needs. If you decide to drive your own car, factoring in the travel distance and accommodation and time requirements to get to the starting point is important. If the distance is prohibitive, then hiring a car is a great option.
For those people who don’t feel comfortable driving long distances with children, or on roads they aren’t familiar with, or the distance to travel from home to the starting point in your own car is prohibitive, there are still options for a Great Ocean Road tour. There are plenty of bus and coach tours available that offer tours taking in a variety of tourist sites and budgets. If opting for a guided tour or bus tour, be sure that children are able to handle sitting quietly so to not affect other travellers.
Family Accommodation Options Along the Great Ocean Road
There are many great towns, sites and natural wonders along this amazing stretch of highway. The great news is that there are also a large number of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Towns such as Lorne, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway, Warrnambool and Port Campbell all offer accommodation ranging from luxurious to basic camping. Add to this a variety of options within Cape Otway National Park and you can be sure that whether it’s cheap campsites, gorgeous B&B accommodation or 5 star options, there’s something for all families on this road trip.
Head over to our next addition to this series where we are taking a closer look at family camping along the Great Ocean Road as we continue with the next addition to our Great Ocean Road for Families series…..
Do you have family travel stories from the Great Ocean Road? Share them in the comments section below, we’d love to hear them!
When we headed off on our National Geographic Holiday, we started our journey with a kind offer by Melbourne Aquarium to explore for the day. We’d been to other aquariums before, so we didn’t expect to be blown away with how wonderful this place was!
We’re keeping our past promise and we’ve combined some of our footage into a video so you can see just how wonderful Melbourne Aquarium is! Welcome to Little Aussie Travellers Video Blogging!
We’d really love your feedback at our first real video attempt, and
Be sure to join our Newsletter over on the Right -> So you can have the chance to win a family pass to the Aquarium!