Exploring the Great Ocean Walk and the Grampians on one fabulous road trip in Victoria

Some of our Great Ocean Walkers’ often like to experience the Great Ocean Walk and the Grampians in one compact road trip in Victoria, if they have the time and energy! So, here are a few tips if you only have a week to spare but you just can’t decide between these two amazing locations.

Why walk both the Great Ocean Walk and the Grampians?

What is fabulous about walking in both the Grampians and along the Great Ocean Walk is that you really get to experience how different the Victorian landscape can be by driving only 3 hours from one to the other. The Great Ocean Walk offers ocean views, long deserted beach walks and coastal tracks, whilst the Grampians take you inland to enjoy huge rock formations and impressive lookouts.

A lone hiker walks along a deserted beach with gentle waves and a background of green hills under a clear sky.

What you will see on your road trip starting in Apollo Bay and ending at the Grampians

If you start in Apollo Bay at the trailhead of the Great Ocean Walk you will have already experienced a wonderful drive along the world-famous Great Ocean Road. It is a great idea to drive from the direction of Melbourne (instead of going to the Grampians first), as once you hit the Great Ocean Road the ocean will be on your left. This will give you the best vantage point to marvel at the beautiful views this iconic road has to offer.

Coastal road winding along a scenic coastline with waves crashing against the shore, flanked by green hills. Two vehicles are driving on the road under partly cloudy skies.

Once you have enjoyed some wonderful ‘hop on and off’ sections the Great Ocean Walk, you can then head straight up to the Grampians via Colac, which is the quickest option if you are short on time.

The drive inland through to Forrest is a scenic drive leading up and over the Otway Ranges and you will be blown away by the spectacular views of the Great Southern Ocean from the top of the Otways. This rainforest soon merges into open farmland as you head through Colac and on to the Grampians. Slowly the large ancient rock formations of the Grampians come into view and the next step of your journey begins.

At the Grampians you will experience dramatic peaks, rugged landscapes and majestic views before heading home after a wonderful short adventure!

The Great Ocean Walk

The Great Ocean Walk begins by hugging the coastline at the trailhead in Apollo Bay and then slowly leads into the coastal forest along the old sawmill and Parks Victoria management tracks. This is a wonderful contrast from ocean to forest as the fern trees sit shoulder to shoulder alongside the tall whispering gum trees. It is so quiet along this trail with only the sounds of the birds to keep you company.

The rainforest soon leads up along spectacular cliffs offering wonderful views of the historical Shipwreck Coast.

To be able to experience such diverse landscapes in one trip is pretty awesome, so here are a few of the highlights we recommend on both the Great Ocean Walk and in the Grampians.

A 7 day rough guide to the Great Ocean Walk and the Grampians

DAY 1

If you are heading off from Melbourne in the morning, by the early afternoon (after an approximate 3-hour drive), you will have made your way down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay.

If you arrive by lunchtime, we suggest grabbing a scallop pie from the ‘Apollo Bay Bakery’ followed by a vanilla slice (yum) and walking from Shelly Beach back into Apollo Bay for a nice ‘easy to medium’ 8km walk. It is a good idea to leave your car in Apollo Bay or at Marengo and book a shuttle to Shelly Beach and walk back to your car. The reason for this is there is no phone reception at Shelly Beach carpark when you finish your walk to call for a ride. If you need a shuttle please remember to contact us in advance.

Two men are outdoors eating slices of cake, smiling and facing the camera. One is wearing a black cap and blue shirt, and the other is in a green shirt. The background shows a serene, mountainous landscape.

If your timing is right you can arrive back in Apollo Bay just in time for sunset and a wonderful dinner. Try La Bimba, Chris’ Restaurant, or even a nice pizza in the Apollo Bay Distillery. And remember, Dooley’s ice-cream shop has won countless awards so don’t miss out!

DAY 2 

After spending a night in Apollo Bay, and enjoying a nice breakfast in the Bay Leaf Café, you can either walk from Shelly Beach to Blanket Bay (14km) or for a longer walk, Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay (22km). Again, if you need help with shuttles (whilst utilising your car) just drop us a line, or if you want us to plan your next 3 days just get in touch. We have listed more details here and can plan the whole trip for you

A person wearing a sunhat, sunglasses, a white shirt, and pink shorts hikes uphill on a trail with ocean and trees in the background.

This section of the track offers coastal bushwalking, beach walking and some rainforest too. One of the highlights is ending your walk at Blanket Bay which is a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquillity (named after a ‘Blanket’ as it symbolised ‘resting’).  This section of track is a great way to experience a little bit of everything!

DAY 3

This is also a good day to choose how far you want to walk. Either leave your car at the Cape Otway Lighthouse and grab a shuttle to Parker Hill for a short 4.5km walk, or to Blanket Bay for a 14km walk.  Both walks are beautiful and this really is koala country so keep your eyes peeled!

The wonderful staircase leading to the Cape Otway Lighthouse offers fantastic views of the ocean and the surrounding hills and farmland

A visit to the Cape Otway Lighthouse at the end of your walk is well worthwhile as this is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. As well as the Lighthouse itself there are some great exhibitions to see here as well as a new audio-visual interpretation project which delves deep into WW2 history and uncovers the story of a top-secret mission at Cape Otway. You will have to go there yourself to find out more!

DAY 4

Starting back at the Lighthouse this is a great section of the trail. We would suggest walking through to Castle Cove, passing the old light station cemetery at the start of your walk and ending at the lookout platform at Castle Cove- just in time for a wonderful sunset. If you feel like a detour at wild and wonderful Station Beach, head down to Rainbow Falls (but check the tide and swell first).

If this 17.5km walk is a little too far for you, planning to conclude your walk at the heritage-listed Aire River is a good choice (approx. 10km). Cool off by having a quick dip, or for the less adventurous, just dangle your feet in!

DAY 5

Now it’s time for a change of scenery! Hop in the car and enjoy a relaxing 3-hour ride to the Grampians. The scenery on the way is really beautiful so this is an enjoyable journey. When you arrive at the Grampians and have settled into your accommodation (early afternoon check-in is around 2pm in most places), you can easily fit in a couple of short walks.

There are so many accommodation options on offer in different price ranges from motels to cabins to camping that you are spoilt for choice. However, we would suggest booking in advance especially if it is a weekend.

A great short walk on your arrival is a trip to Venus Baths. An easy 2.3kms from Halls Gap town center, this walk crosses over Stony Creek and leads up to rocky platforms filled with ice-cold water. Soak up the scenery resting on the large cool rocks, or enjoy exploring the wonderful rock pools.

If you have time to fit in an afternoon tea, or a nice glass of wine in lovely gardens, pop into the MOCO gallery. Denise, its owner, used to be the manager of the Cape Otway Lighthouse and lived there for many years, so say G’day!

DAY 6

This is probably the day for walking ‘The Pinnacle’, one of the highlights of your visit to the Grampians.

This walk is well designed as you can choose one of 3 options to access this trail, depending on your fitness level. The views are stunning as you look over Halls Gap, surrounded by its stunning peaks. However, make sure you take plenty of water and take care to keep on the track. Sometimes the track is a little unclear (as friends of ours learned the hard way, getting quite lost and adding at least an hour or so to their planned walk.)

If you started your day early you will still have time to hop back in the car and make your way to Mackenzie Falls. Be prepared for a lot of steps, but the view of the falls is definitely worth it. A quick side tour which is worth a look is the ‘Balconies’ which offers great panoramic views of the surrounding ranges and volcanic plains.

If you are looking for more info on a longer continuous walk in the Grampians and have a few days to spare, check out Parks Victoria’s website on the center Grampians Peaks Trail. At the moment it is a 36km 3-day, 2-night loop trek. However, it will soon be extended to 13 days, 12 nights covering over 160kms, connecting Mt Zero in the north to Mt Abrupt which overlooks the Dunkeld township.

DAY 7

In the morning, after checking out of your accommodation, you can slowly make your way to Dunkeld. Depending on how much energy you have you could stop and walk up Mount Abrupt, which is a steep track winding up through the Grampians. The view from the summit of the Serra Range makes the walk well worth it.

Or for a bit of a leg stretch before your drive home, you could walk the easier trail to The Piccaninny. This wonderful track winds through grass trees and the views are still pretty special!

If you feel like a snack in Dunkeld, we stopped at Lizzy’s Café and enjoyed a mean egg and bacon wrap here! There are also some nice art galleries and little gift shops here if you want to buy a gift to take home with you.

It doesn’t have to end here….

So, there we have it. A quick fun-filled trip to two amazing locations. But remember, if you do have more time and want to come back to the Great Ocean Walk and spend more time here remember there is so much more walking to do! Walk91 offer self-guided walks from 7 Days to 3 Days and we are always flexible in planning the perfect walk for you, so don’t hesitate to contact us 🙂

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