I’d like to share my itinerary for this famous road trip to make your life easier!
Tip: It tends to be gloomy in the morning with really blue skies 12pm onwards, so keep this in mind for your photos.
Pick up car from Melbourne Airport, drive to the Great Ocean Road putting in Torquay as you first stop. The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives whilst fighting WW1. From here, head to Bell’s beach known for its surfing -> Anglesea -> Memorial Arch -> Lorne -> Eskirne Falls > Teddy’s Lookout -> Apollo Bay for lunch and grab takeaway dinner here -> Otway National Park for Cape Otway light station (this is a paid activity and closes at 5pm with last entry being 430pm. If you miss this, you can still do a free walk on the side to see the lighthouse from a distance). Check in to 12 Apostles Inn and drive to Gibson Steps and the 12 Apostles for sunset.
This sounds like a lot in one day but keep in mind it’s all about the drive and view points so nothing took up too much time other than the lighthouse walk. Of course we took the first flight that got us into Melbourne ASAP.
Continue along the Great Ocean Road and ensure plenty of time to stop at the lookouts along the way. There are short walks at Loch and Gorge -> Bay of Islands -> Logans Beach viewing platform for whale watching (May-Oct is best) -> Warrnambool for lunch and cheesy factory-> Tower Hill State Game Reserve for multiple walk options -> Port Fairy for Griffith Island lighthouse (nice gentle walk) -> Stay the night in Warrnambool Redwood Manor Motel Apartments.
Drive to the Grampians! First stop Dunkeld where you will find The Old Bakery known for its croissants (opens 9am) -> Boroka Lookout especially stunning at sunset if you wanted to do the drive here the night before instead (90m from carpark, best view) -> Reeds lookout (100m from carpark) -> The Balconies (Easy 2km return walk) starting from the Reeds lookout carpark -> Mackenzie Falls 2km return to the base of the falls (there are also other short walks to other falls from here) -> Beehive falls which is almost the highest point of the Grampians National Park (there wasn’t any water when we went, seasonal, 2.8km return therefore not worth doing) -> Pinnacle Lookout (2.1km climbing rocks too, best hike, starting from Sundial Carpark). Stay at Halls Gap, The Grampians Motel and eat at The Views Bar and Restaurant. Food around this area is pricy because there isn’t much choice. Halls Gap is the base for the Grampians. Sunset is best from The Balconies and Reeds Lookout if you want to catch this.
We initially thought we needed to split all these across two days but it is absolutely doable to see and hike everything in the one day as long as you stay the night because you will need the rest!
Grampians to Ballarat exploring the town known for Gold. From the information centre in the city centre, pick up a free walking tour guide so you can read up on the historic buildings you will see everywhere you walk. Definitely visit Sovereign Hill and the gold museum. Drive back to the airport to return the car and fly home.