We’ve all seen the images that flood our Instagram feeds, the incredible shots of the 12 Apostles, Loch Ards Gorge, or even the well hidden Hopetoun Falls.
But this beautiful stretch of coastline spanning almost 250kms can be a daunting task to plan and undertake! Which spots do I prioritize? Can I see enough in one day? Which spots are best for sunrise and which are best for sunset? Well I’m here to answer all of the above, and even give you guys a day trip plan you can use next time you decide to tackle this incredible drive, a foolproof plan that will leave you with so many bangers you wont be able to edit them quickly enough.
Spots you need to see
The First and arguably my favorite spot on the Great Ocean Road is Point Addis, just next door to the popular Bells Beach. This is a must do sunrise spot, as the sun rises over the water, and allows for some incredible compositions from either up on the cliff edge, or down next to the water! the towering cliffs surrounding the cove create one of the most unique perspectives you’ll find on your trek.
The best part of this spot is that it is far less popular with tourists. and 9/10 you’ll have this entire stretch of coast to yourself. especially during the winter months.
When to visit
The best time to visit Point Addis is just before sunrise, this way the light will be coming from over the water, and you’ll be able to use the light to your advantage!
From down on the sand, use the high cliffs to create a sense of scale. contrasting between your subject and the cliffs towering over the beach.
Lorne Is another great sunrise spot, a beach that can have some amazing falling tides if you catch it at the right time, as well as being a popular surf destination.
Sunrise is the best time to visit Lorne, as the sun rises over the water. If you can line up sunrise and low tide, you’ll be treated to a scene similar to the photo in this blog post.
Lorne is also becoming extremely popular as a beach holiday destination, and being almost exactly halfway between Melbourne, and the 12 apostles, it can be a great spot to book an airbnb for the evening and split your trip over 2 days! if you are only passing through though, the restaurant, Bottle of Milk makes some of the best and most underrated burgers in Victoria, which makes it a great spot to wait whilst you backup all the bangers you just captured during sunrise.
When to visit
The best time to visit Lorne beach Is just before sunrise, however this is a great spot for sunrise or sunset!
Use the long tides to your advantage! The wet sand on a falling tide can be like standing on a mirror, time that with some crazy skies and you can catch some pretty incredible images. So make sure you pay attention to the tides with an app like ‘willyweather.’
(And the rest of the Otway national park)
A spot that has well and truly made the rounds on Instagram is Hopetoun falls. It’s easy to see why though it’s one of if not the most picturesque waterfalls in Victoria!
For all its exposure though, its still one of the better hidden spots along the Great Ocean Road and often overlooked by people passing through to get to the 12 apostles.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit hopetoun falls is just after sunrise-midmorning, as it is in the middle of the dense national park, it can be shaded in darkness at sunrise and sunset. Try to time it with the rising or setting sun above the tree line for the best light.
Use the foreground to your advantage, the surrounding trees and ferns can create incredible framing for the waterfall itself.
This is arguably one of the more unique spots along The Great Ocean Road, a little hidden beach, by cliffs leading to one opening. It’s a spot that can inspire some amazing creativity and compositions! However, its beauty hasn’t remained much of a secret and during the afternoon and through to sunset it can be one of the busiest spots along this stretch of coast!
Best time to visit
If you can stay overnight close by, or if you’re brave enough to make the sunrise trek out to Loch Ards Gorge, you’ll beat the bus loads of tourists, and have this place mostly to yourself with the exception of other keen photographers. However, the light is best at sunset, particularly for the composition you see above! luckily, the tour buses tend to take their groups back to the Carpark just before sunset, so they can get over to the 12 apostles, so if you stick around and be patient, you might be lucky enough to score an empty sunset!
Pay close attention to the light, because of the high cliffs, the contrast between the shaded beach, and bright sky can be tricky to play with. My advice would be shoot here either just before sunrise, so you dont have the light flooding into the side of your scene yet still illuminating the beach! Or, wait till just after the sun has dipped past the horizon, leaving the whole area in a nice even coat of light.
The Twelve Apostles
And the classic, the famous 12 apostles. Obviously a must see destination, but don’t expect to be alone! This spot is filled every hour of the day, 7 days a week.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
This spot is definitely a sunset destination! From the main viewing platform, the sun sets right behind the remaining apostles still standing. And you can get a great view of this amazing spot easily anywhere along the viewing platform, only the short walk from the carpark!
Get there early!! This spot is packed, and I mean it. Literally shoulder to shoulder as the sun is setting most days. So if you’re planning on heading down with your tripod and snapping some long exposures make sure you get there early!
My day trip plan!
Start with Point Addis or Lorne!
Depending on the time of year, and which spot you find more appealing, these two will be your best choices to kick off your great ocean road day trip! Point Addis being just under 90 minutes from Melbourne city, and Lorne being Just under 2 hours. They’re both very reasonable options for a sunrise drive!
Use the middle of the day to explore the Otway national park!
At just over an hour from Lorne, following the coast along the great ocean road, the Great Otway national park is a great choice to fill the middle of the day. The dense forest makes it the perfect spot for shooting at any time of the day, And it is right in the middle of Lorne, and the 12 Apostles. So even if you have no interest in Photographing the Otways, it can be a great choice to break up the driving a little bit!
Finish the day with a visit to the 12 apostles!
Give yourself an hour or two before sunset to arrive at the 12 apostles! This will be plenty of time to visit both Loch Ards gorge just before sunset and the 12 apostles during sunset!
The best burgers in Victoria (and I would argue the world) are actually in Lorne! A little spot called ‘the bottle of milk’ makes for a perfect lunch spot if you decide to stay in Lorne a little longer!
BONUS BONUS TIP
Invite me, I’m always up for trip up the Great Ocean Road!
So in conclusion! It’s definitely a drive that needs to be done multiple times in order to truly experience all its beauty but hopefully this guide will help you to make the most of it next time you’re lucky enough to visit Melbourne!
FOLLOW MY SOCIALS