Top Things to Do For Families
on Great Ocean Road Victoria
There is so much peace in knowing that the place you are about to travel to has previously been visited by other travelers who rave about the location. Such knowledge has always given me peace as a single parent especially when planning our next trip for us and as a guide for other families on Great Ocean Road.
As single parent travel makes up a majority of our time as we explore parts of the world, we try to research and pass on that knowledge to our readers. Also, if you are looking to plan a vacation to Australia you can try this Trip Planner.
Whilst we were researching, we asked several Australian families we know for their advice and tips, and have included what they say in this article.
So, if you are confused on what to do on your family travel trip to the Great Ocean Road, here are some expert tips for you (in no particular order):
1. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures
Sally Lucas and her family are world travelers like us. On her website Our 3 Kids V The World she suggests – Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is located about a 40 min drive from Apollo Bay off the Great Ocean Road. The road is very windy making it a slow drive. There are two activities at the Otways Tree Tops, the treetops walk or the zip line tour. You can do both in a day but it would take a good few hours. The tree top walk which takes you through the canopy of the Otways Ranges is $25 per adult and $15 for kids. At the entrance, you will receive a booklet for the kids to complete nature-related activities along the walk. This is great because it keeps them entertained and engaged.
The Zipline takes you through Otways Ranges from station to station which are timber platforms suspended up to 30 meters above ground. The tour will take approximately 2.5hours and you will be accompanied by trained professional staff. The ziplining costs $120 per adult and $85 per child and includes entrance to the treetops walk.
2. Loch Ard Gorge Beach
Kirralee Baker from Escape With Kids tells us that her favorite place is Loch Ard Gorge. Loch Ard Gorge’s popularity is in part due to its sheer natural beauty. But it is the famous shipwreck which really sparks the imagination. The Loch Ard ran aground here in 1878 and only two people survived – 19-year-old crew member Tom and 19-year-old passenger Eva. Tom saved Eva and somehow managed to climb the sheer cliffs surrounding the Gorge to raise the alarm.
Loch Ard Gorge is my favorite place to visit on the whole of the Great Ocean Road, even more than the Twelve Apostles, because you can really feel immersed in its dramatic story. But, like any popular tourist attraction the world over, it can be very crowded, so try to visit early in the day. Take the time to climb down into the Gorge and explore the stalactite-covered rock formations. The sea entry to the Gorge is so narrow that it feels almost enclosed. Take your shoes off, feel the sand between your toes and imagine Tom battling to scale the rock walls around you. It is such a spectacular place of natural beauty.
Bay Of Islands
We loved visiting the Bay Of Islands on our last part of our road trip. Exploring families on Great Ocean Road Drive will enjoy this break as you head to Peterborough and Mt. Gambier. Although it was a really cold and windy morning, we still wanted to see this final iconic destination. It is a beached bay with a heap of little tiny islands that pop out of the sea. Fortunately for us, it is just a quick walk from the car park to the lookout, and I kept toasty warm in my Adrift Clothing lovely knit poncho and basics clothing.
3. Airey’s Inlet
Katy Clarke from Untold Morsels tells us that their favorite place on the Great Ocean Road is Aireys Inlet. This little town is just before the historic arch that marks the start of the iconic drive. Airey’s (as the locals call it) is famous for its wide sweeping beaches and iconic lighthouse.
For a small town, Airey’s has a lot to do and is an interesting stop on your Great Ocean Road trip. You can take a beach walk along windswept Urquhart’s Bluff then head to the Split Point Lighthouse for a walk along the clifftops for sweeping views of the coastline. There are tours of the lighthouse several times a day. Nearby, Willows teahouse is a lovely cafe for a coffee or snack.
The town is well known for its support of local artists and there are many pieces featuring the local landscape on display at Eagle’s Nest Fine Art Gallery.
You won’t regret spending an afternoon at the Airey’s pub. Well known for its large beer garden with sea views, the pub also has its very own craft brewery and a cozy fireplace in winter.
4. Helicopter Tour
If you are short of time, a helicopter ride is an excellent way to have a view of the famous attractions like the 12 apostles. It is a ride that lasts for slightly less than 30 minutes so ideal for ‘limited traveling time’ families on Great Ocean Road. Within this time, you will be able to get beautiful snapshots and have a thrill as the helicopter flies a safe distance from these rock formations. If you haven’t done this before, it might be the perfect thing to add to your travel bucket list.
5. Kennett River Koala Walk
Great Ocean Road has so many amazing stops says Jurga from A Full Suitcase. Our family’s favorite is the Kennett River Koala Walk, home to a big population of wild koalas, king parrots, and other colorful birds. Spotting koalas require some patience, but there are so many of them here that you’ll be able to easily find at least a few. In the meantime, get a bag of bird seed at the nearby cafe and in no time you’ll be surrounded by colorful birds – kids will love feeding them!
Even if you have limited time on the GOR, don’t miss the Kennett River Koala Walk. After all, you don’t get to see koalas in the wild every day, and this is one of the best places in Australia where you can spot them without too much effort.
TIP: get there early in the morning when the birds are still hungry and before the tour buses arrive.
The Twelve Apostles
“When we were doing research on where to go in Australia, we focused on natural wonders,” tells Kristie Probst from the family travel blog World is Wide.
We read about the Great Ocean Road and saw pictures of the Twelve Apostles, and we knew we had to go.
We eventually got used to driving on the left and found our way to the rugged shoreline. It was more beautiful than we imagined! The eight remaining formations create a beautiful scene. Despite the inaccurate name, the Twelve Apostles are a lovely stop on your Great Ocean Road adventure. While not a “hidden gem,” they are definitely not to be missed!
Australian National Surfing Museum
Mark Wyld loves traveling the world with his family and writes articles for Wyld Family Travel. Mark thought my son would love the Australian National Surfing Museum located in Torquay township next to the Information Centre. Torquay is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Melbourne marks the start of the Great Ocean Road. In Torquay, you will find an amazing museum that pays homage to the past, present and future of Australian Surfing. The Australian National surfing Museums sits hand in hand with the surf culture that was born out of Torquay. Home of international Surf Brands Rip Curl and Billabong and the location of the world’s longest-running professional surf event – the Bells Beach Easter Classic. The museum features the evolution of the sport the massive boars made out of wood from the early 19th century to the lightweight fiberglass designs of today. The Museum has a shaping room where you can see people making surfboards.
The section on popular culture highlights just how far surfing has transcended – from a sport with a bad reputation to today’s loved fun activity. Surf brands have transformed into fashion, a weekend pastime has turned into a wildly popular world tour and more. The highlight of the Museum is The Australian Surfing Hall of fame that celebrates the many world champions we have produced. You will find the museum at the visitor information center – just off the main street behind the surf coast plaza for more info.
Erin Bender from Explore with Erin loved taking her family to The Grotto. When the tide is out the rocky open top cave is perfect for a walk down the stairs to the base. Remember to hold hands for the young and the old. There is a safety wall so vacationing families on Great Ocean Road can ensure their little ones stay out of the water.
The Great Otway National Park
Dawn Nicholson is a fab Mum and writer behind 5 Lost Together. Dawn tells us that when most people think of the Great Ocean Road, they think of the iconic sights and coastal vistas. Part of the Great Ocean Road runs through Great Otway National Park, a lush temperate rainforest that deserves some time. Just an hour off the main road you will find a circuit of lush waterfalls that you can often enjoy all to yourself.
Have your pick of Beauchamp Falls, Triplet Falls, or Hopetoun Falls and enjoy the short walks (30-90 minutes return) through the magnificent forests. It is also worth stopping at the California Redwoods to see the stunning result of this forestry experiment in the 1930s. So enjoy the beautiful coastal drive of Great Ocean Road, but head inland to also experience the magic of the Otways.
Timboon Cheesery and Timboon Ice Creamery
Take a short drive inland from coastal Port Campbell when you are exploring and you will be in the dairy town of Timboon. For infinite free samples of ice cream, then this is the place to visit, though we both decided straight after our first sample.
We then drove slightly out of town to the Cheesery where for $1 you can taste cheeses.
Most traveling families on Great Ocean Road will enjoy this detour and delight all the bodies packed into your vehicle.
Hill Wildlife Reserve
You can visit Hill Wildlife Reserve and experience the bushes of Australia as you get amazed by the beauty of nature. Getting an opportunity to see a wide range of bird species at this reserve is amazing. You also get to see animals like Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Echidnas, and emus.
This is like stepping into a classroom where flora and fauna is the subject and you are the student. A guided tour help you have a deeper understanding of the history of this place. We were amazed to discover that this reserve lies on an extinct volcano. So much to be learned here and a great education for families on Great Ocean Road.
London Bridge – Now London Arch
In our Exploramum article Where to Stay Central to Attractions on Great Ocean Road, you will find all the information you need to know about London Bridge which is now London Arch due to one side collapsing into the ocean. Rumour has it that it was hit in 1989 which weakened the natural bridge and the next year it collapsed. When holidaying families on Great Ocean Road all say this is a ‘must see’ location.
Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground
Whilst we never managed to get there as we ran out of time, I hear this is a wonderful place where parents can sit back and relax as their children play. Such a great getaway from just experiencing natural formations, especially for families on Great Ocean who have smaller children.
You might probably be interested in paying for a boat ride and having some family fun in the beautiful lake that happens to be part of this large playground.
With its rocky back, this long rock formation appears to have a Razorback to it. Almost like the back of a dinosaur, some would say. It is a perfect place to teach younger children that are traveling along with their families on Great Ocean Road.
You can park at Loch Ard Gorge and walk just a little further to see this.
Port O’Call Motel
At the end of your day exploring why not have some fun or relax in the hanging chairs and spend the night with your family at the Port O’ Call Motel in Port Campbell. The rooms are newly renovated and very comfortable. We loved how neat and organized they were and that we had a kitchenette too.
We were most impressed by the fact that this Motel is close to most of the famous attractions in the area. From here, you can easily access the 12 Apostles, London Bridge, and Lord Ard Gorge. It takes less than 15 minutes to get to any of the attractions. This means you can spend more time in this attraction spots than on the road.
Hope you loved the ideas we gave.
Please share with us how your last vacation was.
What did you do?
If you are including Melbourne on your road trip, you might also enjoy this article.