I've driven along Great Ocean Road (GOR) twice in my life. The first time was in 2010, after I graduated from uni in Melbourne. My family came over for my graduation and we did it in a hasty day trip, driving the GOR to The Twelve Apostles before making a beeline back to the city the same night. We took turns driving - and I remember it being a pretty awesome (if tiring!) trip.
The second time I drove along the GOR was in December 2019. This time I came with my husband Faizal and three of our close friends. I was the only one out of the group who could drive, and as I mapped out our complete route to and fro (totalling more than 500km!), I wondered if I was biting off more than I could chew as the sole driver. But truthfully, it was an incredible experience and one that I'm so glad I had the chance to do with friends.
Here's my take on the GOR, for anyone who's wondering what it's really like driving the route. You have to be prepared to drive along super windy roads, some of which hug coastal cliffs and steep banks. There are a couple sections that have a series of hairpin turns - take it slow and steady, and if there are vehicles behind you, feel free to let them pass when you reach a safe spot to do so (there are sections along the road built specifically for this!). The roads are very well maintained, and traffic for me was scarce in most areas along the coast, making for a super pleasant drive. I think it takes a confident driver to manouvre the whole route - but in all honesty, with a good Spotify playlist, great company,and zero traffic, I actually found the drive super enjoyable.
Fun driving aside, there's a reason why the GOR is often rated one of the most beautiful drives in the world. I got to see some of the most incredible scenery, and even though I'd seen a lot of it before, it still took my breath away.
The beauty of driving GOR ourselves (as opposed to going for a tour) is that we got to really take our time, stopping by any point of interest that stuck our fancy. We made pit-stops at towns like Lorne (stop by Teddy's Lookout for an iconic view of the GOR!) and Apollo Bay, and scenic spots like Gibson Steps and Loch Ard Gorge.
We chose to drive along the GOR the whole day, ending our route at Port Campbell where we stayed the night before travelling back to the city the next day. I highly recommend this, especially if you're relying on one driver - it's a very tiring drive and you'd want to be well rested for the next leg of the trip! By staying overnight you'd avoid driving super windy stretches at night too (there's no street lights along the roads outside of towns or main intersections).
Port Campbell is a very small town - there aren't any halal restaurants there, so unless you're ok with eating seafood or Margherita pizza at the few restaurants, it's best to pack food you can prepare or reheat at your AirBnb.
But any way you decide to plan your route, I think you'll have an amazing time. My favourite part of the trip? There's plenty, but I think seeing the Twelve Apostles for the second time is a big one - I remember being spellbound all over again by the sight of the massive rock formations standing solemnly in the water, with sea spray covering the air and the wind whipping in our faces. It's the sort of place that makes you feel small and inconsequential.
I'm not gonna lie, if I ever get the chance to drive the Great Ocean Road again, I would!