Walks on the Great Ocean Road

While most people head off down the Great Ocean Road to explore by car, there are some incredible walks to do along the coast and in the Otways. From walking to hidden waterfalls in the rainforest to coastal viewpoints above the cliffs, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to walks on the Great Ocean Road.

It may not be a traditional walking destination in Victoria, but there’s certainly no shortage of trails. With short, easy strolls on boardwalks to longer hikes through the trees behind Lorne, everyone will find something to suit their fitness level. After exploring the Great Ocean Road numerous times over the last couple of years, I’ve ticked off many of the walks in the area.

In this guide, I’m going to run through the best walks on the Great Ocean Road, so you can plan to spend some time out in nature and on your feet.

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About the Great Ocean Road

The famous Great Ocean Road coastal drive is one of Australia’s biggest attractions. The nearly 250 km long stretch of road runs from Torquay to Allansford along Victoria’s southwestern coast. The area is known for its stunning coastal views, surf beaches, laidback towns, dense Otway rainforest and hidden waterfalls.

While it’s known as a road trip adventure, there’s plenty of places to stop off and explore on foot. If you’re looking to head out on a walk, you’ll find everything from short easy strolls to waterfalls to longer hikes along the rugged coast. I’ve included a nice balance of both longer and shorter options below so you’ll be able to find something to suit your style.

There are of course two long distance trails on the Great Ocean Road: Surf Coast Walk and Great Ocean Walk. While both can be done in their full lengths, there are also options to do shorter day hikes on sections. I’ve included a few options below that include sections of both these trails, if you wanted to get a taste of either one.

Otherwise, if you wanted to do a full end to end of the Great Ocean Walk, you’ll find my guide here.

Great Ocean Road walks pin

Where to Stay on the Great Ocean Road

No matter whether you’re camping or looking for a secluded bed and breakfast, the Great Ocean Road has a range of options along the stunning coastline. There’s plenty of towns to base yourself in with Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell being the most popular choices. Check out some of my recommendations below:

15 Best Campsites on the Great Ocean Road

12 Unique Places to Stay on the Great Ocean Road

Best Walks on the Great Ocean Road

If you’re looking to explore by foot on the Great Ocean Road, there are some great walks to do, from short rambles to waterfalls to longer coastal hikes with stunning views. Let’s take a look at some of the best walks on the Great Ocean Road!

Shorter Walks

For those with less time or only looking to do some easier walks, these five options offer something for everyone.

Maits Rest
Maits Rest

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk

  • Distance: 800m loop
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Trailhead: Maits Rest Carpark, 17km from Apollo Bay

This is a self-guided rainforest walk through the ancient trees of the Otways. While less than a kilometre long, the gentle loop walk takes you through one of the most beautiful parts of the rainforest.

I was incredibly surprised by the beauty of the place, with a well-maintained boardwalk and dirt track taking you past information boards. The towering trees and lush ferns are up to 300 years old, making it a truly memorable experience.

It’s definitely a walk on the Great Ocean Road that everyone can do, and I would highly recommend a quick stop here between Apollo Bay and Lavers Hill. While it’s often busy, there’s plenty of parking space.

Triplet Falls
Triplet Falls

Triplet Falls

  • Distance: 2km loop
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead: Triplet Falls Carpark, 22km from Lavers Hill

One of the best walks in the Beech Forest area off the Great Ocean Road is Triplet Falls. While there are several waterfalls to explore in the area, this 2km loop walk to the wide cascade was one of my favourites.

The trail takes you down and around past the thundering falls in a very cool, damp and shady forest. Along the way there are a couple of viewing platforms to see the stunning three tiered cascades of Triplet Falls. There are some stairs on the loop to get back up to the carpark, but it’s still an easy-moderate walk.

The car park is accessed via Phillips Track, which is a dirt road but well-maintained for all vehicles. 

Read more: 10 Best Waterfalls on the Great Ocean Road

Port Campbell Discovery Walk
Port Campbell Discovery Walk

Port Campbell Discovery Walk

  • Distance: 4.5km return
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Port Campbell Beach

Probably one of the most underrated and unknown walks on the Great Ocean Road, the Port Campbell Discovery Walk is perfect for those staying in town. It starts at the beach in town and goes down beside the caravan park until it crosses the suspension bridge to the other side of the river.

From there, it ascends the cliff top for a nice view over the town, before continuing around the headland. Along the way you’ll get views along the spectacular sea cliffs and 12 Apostles just further down the coast – a view few others will get elsewhere.

The trail finishes when it comes out at Two Bay Mile Road carpark, just off the Great Ocean Road. From here, you can simply turn around and head back to town. But there is actually access to a secluded beach from here as well, if you head down the marked track from the other side of the car park.

Wreck Beach
Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach and the Gables Lookout

  • Distance: 2km return for Wreck Beach and 2.6km return for the Gables Lookout
  • Time: 2-3 hours (if combining both)
  • Trailhead: Wreck Beach Carpark, 38km from Port Campbell

There are two walks to do from Wreck Beach Carpark off the Great Ocean Road. Technically, these are part of the Great Ocean Walk, so it gives you a nice taste of this much longer hike.

The main walk descends 350 steps down to Wreck Beach, then you simply walk along the beach to reach two anchors from ship wrecks, Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji. They represent reminders of the rough Southern Ocean which has swallowed up many a ship over the years.

It’s best done at low tide, when you can actually see the anchors up close.

In the opposite direction from the car park, you can also walk along to Gables Lookout. This beautiful lookout is on the Great Ocean Walk looking back along the rugged coast. This is a 2.6km return walk that is not too difficult, otherwise you can also drive closer to the lookout and walk just 400m to the lookout.

Loch Ard Gorge walk

Living On The Edge Walk at Loch Ard Gorge

  • Distance: 4.5km return
  • Time: 1-1.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Loch Ard Gorge Carpark, 8km from Port Campbell

An overlooked walk on the Great Ocean Road, the Living On The Edge Trail at Loch Ard Gorge is worth your time. While most people simply go to Loch Ard Gorge to snap photos at the famous beach, there’s actually some spectacular coastal views along some of the lookouts above the cliffs.

From Loch Ard Gorge car park, head west on the road towards Thunder Cave. There’s a walking trail that heads off the road towards Mutton Bird Island Lookout. Then, it continues around to link back up to the main trail to Thunder Cave.

From there, you can walk further to Broken Head and then Sherbrooke Estuary. Then, walk back to the car park along the main trail. All up this is around 4.5km including side trips to the viewpoints, making it a nice sub-2 hour wander with beautiful views.

Longer Hikes

If you’re looking for something more serious or walks that will soak up a good part of your day, these walks on the Great Ocean Road are a bit longer.

Surfer at Bells Beach
Surfer at Bells Beach

Point Danger to Bells Beach on Surf Coast Walk

  • Distance: 6km one way
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Trailhead: Point Danger in Torquay or Bells Beach

While the Surf Coast Walk stretches for 44km from Torquay to Aireys Inlet, it’s easily broken into sections. One of the most beautiful parts of the walk goes from Point Danger on the edge of Torquay to Bells Beach. This takes in some stunning coastal scenery and provides the opportunity to watch surfers out in the water.

About halfway along this section, you can also admire the view from Bird Rock Lookout, which follows some of the early tracks surfers used to access the surf breaks before infrastructure was built.

There’s plenty of access points and carparks along this stretch, so you could either car shuffle with a friend or walk the section return, which would be 12km.

Lower Kalimna Falls
Lower Kalimna Falls

Lower Kalimna Falls

  • Distance: 6km return
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Trailhead: Sheoak Picnic Area, 4.5km from Lorne

There are so many waterfalls near Lorne worth checking out, but this one is quite unique because you can actually walk behind the curtain of water.

The walking track is well-trafficked starting from the Sheoak Picnic Area, the start point of many waterfall hikes in the area. It’s not overly difficult, as it follows an old timber tramway through the forest.

The waterfall is definitely not as impressive at first sight as others near Lorne, but it’s a fun place to explore the cave behind the waterfall and watch as the water tumbles over.

You can either return the same way or continue onto Upper Kalimna Falls, which is another 2.4km return on top of the total distance.

Sheoak Falls
Sheoak Falls

Sheoak Falls via Castle Rock

  • Distance: 9km loop
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Trailhead: Sheoak Picnic Area, 4.5km from Lorne

This is definitely one of the best day hikes on the Great Ocean Road, plus it takes in some incredible views and an impressive waterfall all with minimal amount of people around.

Sheoak Falls can easily be accessed on the Great Ocean Road, but I recommend taking this longer walking option from Sheoak Picnic Area near Lorne. From here, I took the signposted trail to Swallow Cave and Sheoak Falls. There’s a nice side-trip to a lookout of the cave and cascades, then you can return to follow the trail, cross the creek and get down to Sheoak Falls. One way, this is about 3.5km.

You could return the same way, but I recommend taking the trail on your left which is a steep climb up out of the valley towards Castle Rock. To reach Castle Rock viewpoint, you have to follow a side trip down about 700m one way. The view from the lookout overlooks the Great Ocean Road and Cumberland River where it meets the sea.

Once you return to the main trail, continue until the intersection with Garvey Track. Then turn right which will take you back to the picnic area and carpark. This loop is about 9km all up.

Phantom Falls and Henderson Falls via The Canyon

  • Distance: 8.5km loop
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Trailhead: Sheoak Picnic Area, 4.5km from Lorne

Another fantastic loop walk on the Great Ocean Road, this waterfall walk near Lorne takes in multiple falls and some stunning forest. Beginning from Sheoak Picnic Area, it’s an easy ramble to Henderson Falls passing by Won Wondah Falls on the way.

There are a couple of wooden bridges to help you cross streams, before you finally emerge through the trees to this hidden waterfall. Then, you can continue on towards Phantom Falls through The Canyon.

The Canyon is a fun stretch of the trail passing large rocks and boulders. It does require a bit of scrambling and climbing through narrow passages, but is certainly enjoyable and a beautiful section of the forest. It’s doable for kids and relatively fit people.

You’ll then arrive soon after at Phantom Falls. At the top of the falls, you have to descend some stairs from a vehicle track to the bottom. From there, you can explore around the base and along the river.

To make this hike a loop, from Phantom Falls you can follow the trail along St George River. This is a well-maintained trail that descends down to Allenvale Road.

From here, unfortunately it’s a 2km walk along the road back to Sheoak Picnic Area. But the road is only used by a few locals and tourists heading to the waterfalls, so it’s not overly busy.

Parker Inlet
Parker Inlet

Blanket Bay to Parker Inlet on Great Ocean Walk

  • Distance: 4.5km one way
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Blanket Bay Campground or Parker Hill Campsite

This is a section of the Great Ocean Walk, which offers beautiful views, a walk through coastal scrub and access to a hidden cove and beach. You can hike this in either direction, but traditionally the Great Ocean Walk goes west so it’s best to start in Blanket Bay.

Blanket Bay on the eastern side of Cape Otway is around 36km away from Apollo Bay. There is a campground there, which is perfect if you want to explore more of the secluded coast along the Great Ocean Road. From there, you can follow the Great Ocean Walk which is well signposted with yellow arrows.

It traces along the coast before heading steeply upwards through the forest to a nice lookout. From there, it’s a nice meander through the coastal scrub along the coast. Finally, you’ll emerge overlooking Parker Inlet. It’s a very steep descent to the inlet and beach, but it’s worth it to have the place usually to yourself.

Across the inlet, there is actually another campground above the cliff there called Parker Hill Campsite. This is another nice option for car camping or tents.

I’d recommend doing this walk return, which would be 9km all up for a nice day hike. Because otherwise, car shuffling would be quite annoying as Parker Hill and Blanket Bay are quite a distance off the Great Ocean Road.

Walking on the Great Ocean Road

Recommended Day Hiking Essentials

  • Proper footwear: It’s important to wear sturdy footwear while hiking. There are so many options on the market, but I’ve been impressed with the Keen Targhee III hiking boots over the last couple of years.
  • Daypack: A good daypack will help you carry all your things comfortably while on trail. I like my Osprey Tempest 30L daypack, which is perfect for a wide range of day hikes.
  • Hiking poles: For steep, rocky trails, hiking poles can be extremely useful in easing the strain and pressure on your body. I’ve used Helinox trekking poles for years and love how light and compact they are.
  • Hydration reservoir or bladder: Carrying enough water is important. I prefer to take a 3L hydration reservoir or bladder so I can sip on water throughout the day.
  • Personal Location Beacon: No hiker should head out on a trail without an emergency device. A PLB is a safety essential so that you can call for help whenever and wherever you are in the wilderness.
  • First aid kit: Another safety essential, you should always carry at least a basic first aid kit with you on any day hike.
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