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Australia, Cycle Touring, travel

Cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road

With stunning ocean views and cliffs, lush forests in the Otway National Park and opportunities to see Australian wildlife, cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road is nothing short of spectacular!

The Great Ocean Road is considered one of the great coastal routes in the world.  This incredible tourist route is ideal for cycling, with good roads, great places to stop along the way for food and drinks, and I have to say it again – the greatest views for days.  Starting in Warnambool, the route winds its way along the coast, climbing and descending through the Otway National Park, past stunning lookouts and the Shipwreck Coast, finishing in Geelong.

road bikes

Our trusty steeds! Very minimally packed for the Great Ocean Road.

We did a fully self sufficient 3 day ride on our racing bikes (we were in Australia for a bike race so touring bikes complete with panniers were left behind!).  I traveled with only a saddle and handle bar bag (see second bike in photo above), while Peter carried a small backpack.  While we experienced cooler than average temperatures for late September, we were able to get by with very little!  Everything was tightly packed on our bikes, DSLRs included (the views were so amazing, the big cameras were a must in my opinion!).  We rode all day, soaking in the surrounding views, having a drink at the pub with the locals and taking photographs to our hearts content!  (Click here for more photos.)

Our adventure started with an early train out of Melbourne to Warnambool.  There was no problems bringing our bikes, although it was recommended that we reserve in advance as space for bikes may be limited.  We were the only 2 bikes on the train and had no problems.  Arriving in Warnambool in time for lunch, we went to the local bakery for the freshest sandwiches and savoury meat pies.  Stomachs full, we were off!

The ride out of town was easy, and we were soon rewarded with the famous views along the Australian Coastline.

Contemplating the view along the Great Ocean Road.

With jet lag to our advantage, we were up before the sun (day 2) to ride in the dark to see sunrise over the Twelve Apostles.  The had the viewing platforms to ourselves – it was incredible!  If you are able to travel to see the Twelve Apostles in person, I highly recommend getting there before sunrise – it is a magic moment as the sun hits the towering limestone pillars.  We even saw our first kangaroo of the trip as we road silently down the Great Ocean Road at dawn.

We continued on to Apollo Bay, riding through Otway National Park.  Leaving the coast behind, we climbed into the park, rainforst and eucalypts dominating the views.  We hit some steep climbs and exhilarating descents.  My eyes were peeled for a chance to see any koalas as I climbed.  We lunched up in the rainforest before hitting a spectacular descent into Apollo Bay.  We overnighted in Apollo Bay Beachfront Motel where we could cook our own dinner and enjoy a moonlight walk along the beach.

Our final day of riding took us along more spectacular sections of the Great Ocean Road.  Here, the route is carved into the cliffs, winding along the coast, through tourist towns and eucalypts forests.  We ran into many people driving the coast at Cape Patton, another of many stunning lookouts along the route.

We stopped for lunch along Mountjoy Parade in Lorne which proved to be the busiest place on our cycling trip.  The cafes with their outdoor patios were full of tourists relaxing in the sunshine.  It is easy to see that Lorne is a popular holiday destination for Australians and foreigners alike!  (We actually liked the route from Lorne to Geelong so much that we rode back the next day for lunch, enjoying BBQ Chook and chips on the beach!)

road bikes

Map check at Lorne

The final run in to Geelong was less than ideal!  We were hit with huge headwinds and no hotel reservation!  The visitor centre downtown were very helpful considering the town was completely booked out with many conventions in town!  (We may have taken the last room in town for the night!)  I would definitely book my room here in advance next time!  Geelong was the only place on the entire route that we didn’t book.  I knew that accommodation along the Great Ocean Road fills up quickly.  As we were cycling, riding to the next town wouldn’t always be practical – everything was booked in advance.  We ended up with a crazy old 2 bedroom apartment with kitchen for 2 nights.  The view out our room was of the Thirsty Camel drive through liquor store!  At least a good bottle of wine with dinner was only steps away!

Cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road proved to be better than I could have expected.  Whether taking your time touring, or racing the route in an organized race, it is well worth the visit.  It is a trip I will definitely repeat!  As you can see, it is all smiles along the Great Ocean Road.

bike tours

My Route (modified from Lonely Planet’s Cycling Australia guide).

start/finish distance highlights
Day 1 Warnambool to Port Campbell 70 kms The Groto, London Bridge and The Arch
Day 2 Port Campbell to Apollo Bay 98 kms Sunrise at the Twelve Apostles, Cape Otway and the National Park
Day 3 Apollo Bay to Geelong 115 kms Incredible scenery with cliffs plunging into the sea, Lunch in Lorne, side trip to Bells Beach to watch the surfers

Note: we Condensed the 5 days of riding into 3 – there are so many things to see and do along the way, you could easily go back to the original 5 day plan and experience more of what the area had to offer.  We were on a whirlwind trip to include the states of Victoria and NSW and had to keep our trip short.  There is so much more to do and experience, I am looking forward to going back and doing it again!

Needless to say, even the pros think it is great riding!!!  Photo taken from the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and Cycling Tips.

The Great Ocean Road – it was a great ride!

To see more posts of cycling trips by me, click on the links below:

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!

Discussion

41 thoughts on “Cycling Australia’s Great Ocean Road

  1. Looks like a wonderful and beautiful place to bike – love the photos.

    Posted by Renee | October 17, 2011, 12:14 pm
  2. Terrific photos of a beautiful place! Love the Twelve Apostles shot!

    Posted by Steve | October 17, 2011, 1:20 pm
  3. Great views, ALL of them!

    Posted by PC PHOTO | October 18, 2011, 9:52 pm
  4. This trip sounds amazing! Reading your post makes me feel as if I were there minus being tired from the ride :-) What a beautiful place and to see it all by bike is a bonus. I will add this to my list, though my list is getting long these days. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by f-stop mama | October 22, 2011, 12:02 pm
  5. My soul aches for the day I am able to cycle that road. I have a long bucket list in random order, but this trip is definitely on the Top 5. Thank you for sharing.

    Posted by thejessicaness | December 2, 2011, 10:40 am
    • That road is so amazing – I wouldn’t doubt it calls to you! I know that it is already call to me again! Planning a trip with a group of friends, just may have to wait til 2013 (sadly as I would love to go do it right now!!!) Not to worry – good things come to those who wait! When you finally do get to go – it will have been worth the wait!

      Posted by Anita Mac | December 2, 2011, 11:29 am
  6. This is one of my most favourite places of everywhere I’ve been. We loved it so much, we did it twice (by car) but it truly is magical. Enjoyed your post and relived our trip.

    Posted by Drink2that | April 16, 2012, 10:47 pm
  7. Of all the times I’ve been on the Great Ocean Road, I’ve never thought of riding it. I always imagined the road to be too narrow.

    Posted by Leanne's delicious food and travel adventures | January 1, 2013, 5:32 pm
    • Not at all! We had no trouble with cars at all. Had a brilliant time. In fact, I was really surprised at how few cars there were! We weren’t there for school holidays, so maybe that helped. We road out to the Twelve Apostles for sunrise and could not believe how few people were out there! We had the place to ourselves. Magic.

      Posted by Anita Mac | January 1, 2013, 5:40 pm
  8. Alright, I’m not a cyclist, but given this view, I could forget that I’m not and the pain in my legs. Awesome!

    Posted by Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) | April 13, 2013, 10:48 am
    • It’s a gorgeous route Leah! The views are jaw dropping. If you don’t mind driving on the other side of the road, you can always rent a car. There are a lot of places to pull over and have a look or walk down to the lookouts. Cycling the Great Ocean Road had been on my bucket list for years and was well worth the visit.

      Posted by Anita Mac | April 13, 2013, 12:02 pm
  9. Bah.. we didn’t have enough time to see this when we were i Australia last year.. so sad. :(

    Posted by Kieu ~ GQ trippin | April 15, 2013, 1:06 am
  10. I absolutely enjoyed the Great Ocean Road! Surely one of my biggest highlights in Australia! Would love to visit again – on a bicycle!

    Posted by love.antoinette | April 15, 2013, 1:24 am
  11. Absolutely stunning photos, Anita! Wow!

    Posted by Ana Silva O'Reilly (@mrsoaroundworld) | April 15, 2013, 7:05 am
  12. Australia just keep becoming more and more of a must see… stay adventurous, Craig

    Posted by craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) | April 15, 2013, 7:17 am
  13. OMG gorgeous photos. i want to go there big time!

    Posted by lola | April 15, 2013, 5:34 pm
  14. This is AMAZING!!! What beautiful photos you were able to take! Now that I was finally able to get back on a bike, THIS is what I need to do!

    Posted by The World Wanderer (@TheWrldWanderer) | April 15, 2013, 7:52 pm
  15. this post is so timely for us, seeing as how the romantic & the hubs are in australia right now! have a feeling our lazy streaks would keep us from participating in something like this cycling trip though…

    Posted by the lazy travelers | April 17, 2013, 2:37 pm
  16. Great :) This is Amazing!! I have been australia last year but didnt get a chance to see the Great ocean road. :( But in the future if i get an opportunity, I would love to visit Great ocean road.

    Posted by Nancy | May 2, 2013, 3:57 am
  17. Nice clicks and Australia is really amazing place…..and for tourist its always new and entertaining experience.

    Posted by Ian Mcindoe | June 14, 2013, 8:05 am

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