With its incredible landmarks and dramatic views, the 243-kilometre world-famous Great Ocean Road isn’t just a highway, it’s a journey and destination all in one.
Winding along the south-eastern Australia coast from Torquay to Allansford, this historic highway urges you to take your time and immerse yourself in nature.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of great campsites – let’s visit just a few, travelling east to west, Torquay to Port Campbell.
1. Bellbrae Camping, Torquay
Just 95 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, bustling Torquay is the official start of the Great Ocean Road, and home to famous Bells Beach.
So, what better way to launch your adventure than exploring the coast before bedding down under a blanket of stars?
Bellbrae Camping is bare-bones camping at its most relaxing.
Set up your tent, trailer or RV on one of the five sites alongside the dam, and wake to an early morning dip.
At $100 a night for up to 12 guests, this picturesque site provides drinking water and campfires, and an organic, long-drop ‘loo with a view’.
Surfers will relish being a mere 10 minutes from Torquay’s awesome swells, while land lovers can stroll the rugged sandstone cliffs of the Surf Coast Walk.
2. Hammonds Campground, Wensleydale
Bush camping is one of Australia’s greatest past times, offering tranquillity and nature, and Hammonds delivers on all fronts.
Only 12 kilometres in from Aireys Inlet, this peaceful site set among scrubland is rustic, but not without facilities. Here, you’ll find non-flush toilets and shared fireplaces that you need to fuel with your own wood, ensuring you’re not stealing from the many animals who call the camp home.
Snorkel and dive at Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary, Aireys Inlet, or hike through the Anglesea end of Great Otway.
Whatever you do, when night falls you’ll be grateful for the 16 unpowered sites (four of which can take camper trailers or caravans), letting you rest your head in relaxing bush surrounds.
3. Cumberland River Holiday Park, Lorne
Just 10 minutes outside of Lorne is this popular spot on the Cumberland River.
Lying in a sheltered valley amid rolling mountains and majestic cliffs, this lush campground is an ideal place to be lulled to sleep by water flowing through rock pools.
There are over 80 unpowered camping sites, easy car access, and, best of all, each spot comes with its own campfire.
The facilities are exceptional, too, including hot showers costing only 20 cents for 5 minutes!
Enjoy scenic views from Teddy’s Lookout along Point Shipwreck Walk, or hit the trails and discover one of the area’s 10 spectacular waterfalls.
Head to the park’s private beach to surf, swim or fish, and where – between May and September – you might glimpse whales frolicking by.
4. Blanket Bay Campground, Great Otway National Park
One of the Great Ocean Road’s unmissable attractions is the 103,000-hectare Great Otway National Park, where you can stay by the beach at Blanket Bay.
The perfect home base for exploring prehistoric rainforests and waterfalls, this camp boasts 22 unpowered sites welcoming caravans, motorhomes, and tents.
Thanks to its fabulous location by the sheltered bay, the site is perfect for snorkelers, swimmers and fishermen.
Hikers will love the park’s many trails through lush fauna, home to 170 bird species and a variety of native mammals.
Campers can access toilets and wood barbeques for about $14 a night. Do bring water, don’t bring pets!
Be warned, this site is incredibly popular and, during peak season – summer, when there’s coastal access – runs on a ballot booking system.
5. Johanna Beach Campground, Johanna
Four hours from Melbourne, just off The Great Ocean Road near Glenaire lies one of Victoria’s best coastal sites – Johanna Beach Campground.
It’s not fancy – just 25 sites and drop-toilets, but it’s a wonderful stop, especially for those who wish to surf or catch some salmon to throw on the barbecue.
From here you can hike a section of the Road (with your dog, if you wish, they are welcome as long as they’re on a lead).
During summer, this tranquil seaside spot gets busy, but if you don’t mind camping in cold weather, you can avoid the crowds and perhaps glimpse the Humpback and Southern Right Whales that migrate each May to October. For the colder months, check out our top tips on how to stay warm while camping.
The site takes tents, caravans and camp trailers from about $14 a night – BYO water!
6. Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping, Princetown
No trip along the road is complete without a visit to the world-famous 12 Apostles; dramatic limestone stacks considered a must-see.
Fortunately for travellers, this campground is less than a 10-minute drive from them!
Perched by the Gellibrand River, close enough to hear the ocean, Princetown Recreation Reserve provides a comfortable place to relax with curious kangaroos.
Choose from powered or unpowered spots, many tucked away in between shady trees.
There are ample facilities, including undercover BBQs, picnic tables, and even a kids playground, making it perfect for families.
It’s dog friendly, too, as long as your furry friend is kept on a lead.
No bookings are taken, so first in, best dressed.
Related Post: 7 Best Camping Destinations for Families in Australia
7. Timboon Recreation Reserve, Timboon
Most travelling the Great Ocean Road will stop at Port Campbell at some stage, and this camp, just 15 kilometres up the road, is a great spot to do so.
Set on an oval, this dog-friendly camp can accommodate trailers and campers, is pretty roomy and includes a dumpsite.
Showers and toilets are on-site, and, while it’s no longer the gold coin donation it once was, it’s still affordable at $20 a night.
Nearby, visit the vibrant seaside village of Port Campbell.
Closer to camp, you can indulge at Timboon Cheesery or the Timboon Distiller, offering craft whisky and fabulous dining – great if you’ve had enough of camp beans!
With breathtaking vistas at every turn, plenty of national parks, and miles of coastline, it’s unsurprising that The Great Ocean Road is top of most bucket lists.
Thanks to a variety of bush, beach and inland campsites, you can roam without reservation, and make some lifelong friends along the way.
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