Couples’ guide to planning a Great Ocean Road getaway

Travelling Well | Words: Clare Barry | Images: Lisa Luscombe and Visit Victoria | Posted on 19 April 2021

Spice up your love life with a weekend away on the Great Ocean Road. 

Sparkling ocean, fern-fringed forests, windswept vistas and ocean-side tables for two – all the ingredients for romance are laid out along the narrow ribbon of road connecting surf-side Torquay with the wild Shipwreck Coast. No matter how long your Great Ocean Road itinerary – just a quick trip or a days-long wander –just a quick trip or a week-long wander – this iconic stretch has all the elements for a memorable trip for two, especially if you travel in style with a luxury car from Thrifty.


Slideshow images (by Lisa Luscombe unless specified): Apollo Bay sparkles; Torquay (Visit Victoria); Livewire Park (Visit Victoria); Wye River General Store (Visit Victoria) Thrifty rental car, Movida Lorne (Visit Victoria).


Things to do for couples on a Great Ocean Road getaway


Torquay and Bells Beach

Get your journey along this iconic stretch of road off to a great start at RACV’s award-winning Torquay Resort, perfectly placed at No. 1 Great Ocean Road. All curving timber and glass, the resort has floor-to-ceiling windows throughout framing epic views across rolling green to the ocean. Cosy up for pre-dinner drinks at Harding’s Lounge, enjoy first-class local produce crafted into delicious meals at Number One restaurant, and bliss out together at One Spa’s array of experiences including steam room, thermal stone room, pools, and a state-of-the art Lusar room with steam, aroma-infusion, drench, mist and showers. Once on the Road take a quick detour to Victoria’s own surfer’s paradise Bells Beach, then drop into Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery for treats to share.

Anglesea to Lorne

Seaside villages dot this section of the road, each with its own character. Stroll riverside Anglesea’s boardwalk or tackle a clifftop section of the Surf Coast Walk connecting Torquay to Fairhaven. At Aireys Inlet explore galleries, markets and whopping ocean views from red-hatted Split Point Lighthouse. And at Lorne discover the quintessential beachside getaway beloved of Melbourne’s fashionable set since the 1920s, home of artists, festivals and art-deco architecture. If cascading water is your thing, there are 10 waterfalls within 10 minutes’ drive of Lorne, including Won Wondah Falls, a 3.6-kilometre wander through a pretty fern gully. At lunch or dinner take a table for two at MoVida or the Jetty Road Brewery. And if you’re still not sure what the Great Ocean Road fuss is about, head to Teddy’s Lookout for the perfect selfie of you, your love, and a frameful of magnificent turquoise ocean. For a dash of adventure, head to Live Wire Park’s range of treetop dare-devilling experiences including the Short Circuit and Super Circuit high ropes courses and Shockwave Zipcoaster.

Anglesea boardwalk

Anglesea Boardwalk. Image: Lisa Luscombe.


Drinks at hardings bar

Drinks at Hardings Bar, RACV Torquay Resort.


Selfie at teddys lookout

Take a selfie at Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne. Image: Visit Victoria.


Lorne to Apollo Bay

From here the road laps the beach in soft curves that are a joy to drive, white sand and brilliant blue water just metres away. Dip your toes in at Wye River or Kennett River, or park up and take a brisk beach walk to build an appetite. Because if seafood is the food of love, Apollo Bay’s the place to indulge. Go casual with Apollo Bay Bakery’s famed scallop pie, perfect for a quick and delicious seaside lunch. For a more elaborate spread make a visit to the Fishermen’s Co-op set beside bobbing boats that might just have brought your southern right lobster, snapper or octopus from Bass Strait to the harbour. And if a special lunch or night out is on the cards, take the high road to Chris’s Restaurant perched high above the bay with views through manna gums to the ocean below, the perfect pick for an intimate meal. Just outside Apollo Bay is Wildlife Wonders, where you’ll find Otways fauna living as nature intended, in a landscape designed by Brian Massey, an art director of The Hobbit.

In the Otways

After Apollo Bay the Great Ocean Road turns inland to meet the cool and ancient Otway Ranges. Stay on the road towards Port Campbell with a beauty stop at Maits Rest Rainforest Walk where you’ll plunge into a jumble of tree ferns and giant myrtle beech trees along a shaded boardwalk. Further along, Cape Otway Lightstation (look for koalas on the road in) and windswept Johanna Beach are worthwhile diversions if you have the time. Or from Apollo Bay take the road less travelled by backtracking a little and detouring north via Skenes Creek and spectacular Turtons Track to reach Hopetoun Falls, and beyond the falls take in the intriguing Californian redwoods plantation planted by foresters as an experiment in the 1930s. It’s doubtful they had romance in mind, but you might – the towering redwoods march down towards the fern-fringed Aire River and wandering among these giants across a carpet of soft needles is simply awe-inspiring. 

Deep blue spa

Wind down at Deep Blue Hot Springs in Warrnambool.


Bay of islands

The Bay of Islands near Peterborough. Image: Visit Victoria.


The Twelve Apostles

After the Otways detour the Great Ocean Road wanders inland twice more before returning to the coast for what you’ve both been waiting for. And the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park is never going to disappoint. The limestone stacks carved by wind and wave are simply spectacular, especially when sunrise and sunset play with the light, turning them golden. A short drive further on, take time to walk down to eerie and beautiful Loch Ard Gorge, named for one of countless ships that foundered on this coastline leaving just two survivors – 19-year-old Eva Carmichael and apprentice sailor Tom Pearce, also 19, who rescued her from the gorge’s churning waters. A love story in the making? You can find out a little further along the road at Warrnambool’s Flagstaff Hill. But before that, be sure to stop off at the Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs – mini-me versions of the Twelve Apostles that are landmarks in their own right.

Warrnambool

Warrnambool sits just beyond the end of the Great Ocean Road at Allansford, and has plenty to offer those who make it this far. But after all that driving, travellers on a budget might first like lay their heads at BIG4 NRMA Warrnambool Riverside Holiday Park, nestled on the tranquil Hopkins River (RACV members save 10 per cent when booking over the phone). Flagstaff Hill’s moving sound and light show is where you’ll hear from the Loch Ard’s Eva and Tom, and its historic village brings the stories of the treacherous Shipwreck Coast to life. Thunder Point is the perfect sunset date spot – walk to the viewing platform or in chilly weather take it all in from a front-row seat in the ocean-facing carpark. Follow up with a twilight session (they’re child free) at Deep Blue Hot Springs, which draws mineral-rich water from 850 metres below ground and distributes it throughout a kind of open-air water park for grown-ups with hot and cool pools, sensorial caves, rainforest showers and a moonstone garden


Holiday here this year with RACV

There has never been a better time to holiday in Australia and support local businesses and the tourism industry. Whether it’s a weekend getaway in country Victoria or an extended Australian adventure, RACV Members get more when they travel with discounts and benefits on everything from travel and accommodation to tours and other experiences so you can easily holiday here this year.