When is the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road?

When is the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/07/2020

Reading time: 4 mins

Summer months are the most popular time to visit the Great Ocean Road. However, a trip during spring or autumn offers a less crowded experience and winter is full of wild charm. Read on for our full guide on the best time to visit the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road is an expansive drive that winds along the southern coast of Victoria. It encompasses nearly 300 kilometres of pristine beaches and boasts spectacular natural scenery.

Attractions such as the iconic 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Otway Rainforest and several surf beaches draw travellers to the area all year round. Certain times of the year can be more or less busy than others. Special events, weather and crowds make different times of the year more appealing. Depending on the kind of experience you are looking for, find the ideal time for you!

Summer (December – February)

The weather along the Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly the warmest from December to February. The longer days and a decreased chance of rain make this an excellent time to visit. However, the Australian school holidays start just before Christmas and last until early February. This means that summer is also the busiest time to visit the area. Popular attractions will be crowded, including the 12 Apostles and many other sights. Lots of locals and visitors will want to make the most of the pleasant weather.

If you want to travel during this time, we recommend our Reverse Great Ocean Road tour. This tour travels in the opposite direction to the regular route, avoiding the crowds at many of the stops. The Sunset Tour is also available during the summer. This tour offers the wonderful opportunity of witnessing the sun drift across the skyline above the 12 Apostles.

Remember, Melbourne is known for its drastic changing of weather. The wind off the Southern Ocean means the Great Ocean Road can be cool all year round, especially in the evening. Always bring a jacket along, even in these warmer summer months. This is the best time of the year to swim without a wetsuit, but be warned, the water will still be chilly about 18 degrees.

Autumn (March – May)

The weather in Autumn is generally milder. It’s a quieter time to visit the Great Ocean Road, except for Easter weekend. Exploring during this time will mean a more relaxed trip with smaller crowds. You will also be able to find cheaper accommodation options if you choose to spend the night along the Great Ocean Road.

Winter (June – August)

The cooler months of winter are the quietest time to visit the Great Ocean Road. This also makes it the cheapest when looking for accommodation in the area. It does get pretty cold by Australian standards, but don’t let that deter you. There are plenty of reasons to visit during this time!

The increased rainfall makes the waterfalls and creeks more abundant. The wild weather in the Southern Ocean makes witnessing the waves smash against the 12 Apostles a mesmerising experience. May – October is also the best time to spot whales along the Great Ocean Road. Keep an eye out for them as they migrate from the cooler waters of the south.

Spring (September – November)

As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, the draw of the coast sees crowds increase on the Great Ocean Road. Bushwalkers will enjoy the full-flowing waterfalls and added colour from the blooming wildflowers.

Special Events

The Great Ocean Road and towns along the drive host festivals and events throughout the year. The events celebrate everything from local seafood to folk music. Here are some of the most popular events you may want to check out:

  • The Falls Music & Arts Festival – Usually held in Lorne over New Year’s Eve, this festival attracts thousands of music fans to ring in the new year. The atmosphere is filled with popular local and international acts.
  • Lorne Pier to Pub – This unique 1.2-kilometre open water swim takes place annually in January. The active and unique event attracts up to 4,000 competitors each year.
  • Rip Curl Pro – They don’t call it the Surf Coast for nothing. Each year at Easter, Bells Beach hosts some of the world’s best surfers as they compete to win the iconic bell trophy.

Related article: Which is the Best Great Ocean Road Tour?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.