Leg 1: Melbourne to Apollo Bay
187 km/116 miles, about 3 hours
Ease into your roadtrip with the leisurely drive from Melbourne to Torquay, just over an hour's drive. Home to some of Australia's best-known surf beaches, Torquay marks the official beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Dose up on surf culture at Surfworld before visiting Bell's Beach, host of the annual Rip Curl Pro.
Stop at nearby Anglesea and take a detour to the golf course, famous for the kangaroos lounging under the trees surrounding the greens.
Magnificent coastal views will dominate the next 30 kilometres as you drive to beach town Lorne, the perfect spot for lunch – fish and chips on the beach is a must.
Another twenty minutes winding along the coastal road will bring you to Kennett River and its most famous locals: koalas. Take some birdseed for their flighty friends then follow the 'koala walk' with your camera ready.
As you make your way to Apollo Bay, you'll travel up along cliff-tops offering incredible views and alongside wild beaches – take time to stop at the lookouts for photos, or beachside for a stroll.
From coastal town Apollo Bay, follow the Great Ocean Road into the lush Otway National Park, and turn off to the Cape Otway light station (about a 50-minute drive). Take a tour of the oldest surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia, climb to the top 90 metres above sea level and see where the Bass Strait meets the Southern Ocean.
Make your way back to Apollo Bay for the night. Dine at Chris's at Beacon's Point, where gourmet food is complemented by spectacular cliff-top views, and sleep next to the beach at Whitecrest. Or escape it all at the Great Ocean Eco Lodge, a conservation centre nestled 25 kilometres away in the Otway National Park, for an extraordinary encounter with native wildlife.