Great Ocean Road travel advice

Go off road

Janine Duffy is a wild koala researcher and co-founder and co-owner of our Great Ocean Road tour experts Echidna Walkabout: “We always encourage travellers to get off the beaten track and be adventurous rather than booking the same old tour with a multi-national operator. Take the Old Ocean Road, for instance. This is basically a dirt track which leads along the Gellibrand River estuary. You'll find reeds, providing habitat for untold species of native birds, for as far as the eye can see.”

Stick around

“The wetlands around Curdies Inlet are a key area for water birds and feature a gorgeous beach looking right out onto the Southern Ocean. It's just down the road from the Twelve Apostles but no one ever bothers to see it as they're in far too much of a rush to return home. Those who stick around might be treated to the sight of hundreds of black swans taking to the air or maybe seeing a Latham's snipe, a summer visitor that's come all the way from Japan.”

Walk the walk

Brett Neagle, owner and walking guide at our Aussie tour experts Auswalk, shares his recommendations for anyone planning on visiting the Great Ocean Road: “Although the Great Ocean Walk is fairly well posted, you still need route notes if you're heading out without a guide. You just can't walk from one accommodation to the next. You have to walk post to post and then get picked up and taken to your overnight stay. This is why an organised self guided walk works so well. Your luggage gets transferred while you walk and there's a driver waiting to take you to your accommodation once you've completed a section. You even get an insulated bag for your packed lunch.”

“This area is just a lovely contrasting snap shot of this portion of Australia. My favourite stretches are the walks from Shelly Beach to Blanket Bay, and Milanesia Beach to The Gables Lookout. You'll find massive mountain ash and straight up gum trees as well as contrasting coastal flora and fauna and the green and blue ocean swells - absolutely amazing.”

Aboriginal heritage

Jeremy Redmond is co-owner and small group guide at our Great Ocean Road tour specialists, Australian Natural Treasures: “Aboriginal heritage on the Great Ocean Road needs to be addressed sensitively and is not something we would be discussing on the first morning – luckily we usually have two or three days. As the group relaxes and gets more comfortable many topics arise and the Aboriginal people, is often one of them. When the conversation takes place at a place such as the 'Bay of Martyrs' for instance, known for the settlers driving the Aboriginal men off the cliff at gun point, it comes as a surprise to even the Australian tourists as we were all a little oblivious to what went on. As such, it can get quite an emotional response.”

Aboriginal education

“There is a great non-government funded cultural centre in the Grampians National Park called 'Brambuk' where the Aboriginal creation story is told in a short video we show our guests. This centre also has wonderful displays including boomerangs, shields, artwork and plenty of confronting information along the lines of the 'Bay of Martyrs' and historical mistreatment of the local indigenous people. The guests we introduce to this centre are generally enlightened and touched by the deeper understanding they receive about the people, history and issues.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Great Ocean Road or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

And advice from our responsible travellers

“Travelling along the Ocean Drive Road was the most memorable and thanks to Pierre, our guide and driver, we saw places and heard interesting information, which we would never have had doing the trip between Melbourne and Adelaide on our own.” – Jane Jimenez

“We were encouraged to go to locally owned and run restaurants/cafes and were taken to a great restaurant (Chris's) on our night away. The towns along the Great Ocean Road are clearly dependent on tourism and it was good to feel we were helping get it going again after the road had been closed off due to bush fires. Sad to see the burned out homes and concerned about the wildlife but it was a great experience visiting this area with an experienced guide and I felt we were doing a little to reduce our impact by travelling with others and supporting local businesses.” – Vivienne Grimes

“Conversations with our driver, Scott, made it clear that the holiday provider was supporting local communities. The walk itself was scenic and in many instances a little remote. The trail takes you along parts of the coast which you would never see from a car. The trail was not at all crowded and while it would be possible to backpack it, we found it much nicer to sleep in real beds, eat real food and meet interesting and wonderful Australians like our hosts and drivers.” – Alan and Sue Sherbrooke
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Diliff] [Go off road: Mark Watson / Visit Victoria] [Walk the walk: Visit Victoria] [Aboriginal heritage - The Bay of Martyrs: Haaslave185]