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Great Ocean Road

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Great Ocean Road

My husband and I will be arriving in Melbourne on Sunday the 14th August from Sydney. We are staying in Melbourne on the Sunday night and are picking up a hire car on the Monday morning, when we will drive to Philip Island to see the island and to watch the Penguin Parade, stay on the island on Monday night and then drive along the Great Ocean Road, spending Friday 23rd at Mount Gambier before dropping the car off in Adelaide on Saturday 24th August.

I have read a lot of the questions and answers on the travel form but I am still unsure where we should spend the intervening nights. I do understand that it is too far to drive from Philip Island to Apollo Bay in one day so was wondering if we should leave Philip Island after the parade to get to a stop from where we could reach Apollo bay on the Tuesday. If this is a good idea where should we stay on the Monday night? Also is it possible to watch the penguins going back into the water at dawn? If so that is something I would be interested in seeing in which case we would need to stay on Philip Island on Monday night, thereby throwing open the question again about where to stop on Tuesday night.

Finally, is it necessary to pre-book accommodation for August now or is it possible to see how we are going and either turn up or book a day ahead?

Thank you

8 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Great Ocean Road

A bit confused here - Saturday is 25 August (not 24th). Can you clarify your dates ?

PI to Adelaide via the GOR is a 1,100km drive so you need time to do it properly.

Destination Expert
for Melbourne
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2. Re: Great Ocean Road

“A bit confused here - Saturday is 25 August (not 24th). Can you clarify your dates ?” And the 14 August is not a Sunday. It’s a Tuesday.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Great Ocean Road

Ignoring the dates, if you leave Phillip Island after the Penguin Parade on Monday night, you could drive back to Melbourne in a couple of hours. Or press on to Geelong -an extra 45mins or so. Allow 3 hours to be on the safe side.

NOTE: This will be a fairly late night -see the Penguin parade times ( and note, they are wild animals, without watches, so may not run exactly to schedule )


Book your accommodation in advance & make sure you give the hotel your ETA.

Ballarat, Australia
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4. Re: Great Ocean Road

I don't think you can watch the penguins set out at dawn. The end of the island where the Penguin Parade is located is fenced off to keep foxes out, effectively keeping humans out as well. Most people aren't interested in getting up at the crack of dawn, plus the fact that the penguins return at dusk in rafts (groups) of penguins, making their return quite spectacular. They hang around offshore a little distance, waiting for enough birds to form a raft, before they come in to shore together. I don't know if they set off each morning in large groups or not. They are fairly safe at sea on their own; it's just in the waves and on the sand that there is safety in numbers. I'd email the PP and ask about dawn viewings if you are still keen.

My recommended stops between PI and Adelaide in winter: Geelong, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Port Fairy, Robe.

Greater Melbourne...
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5. Re: Great Ocean Road

I think you can drive from Philip Island to Geelong after penguin parade in August. It will be dark but not late as there are short days anyway in winter. And start next day from Geelong just before or at sunrise.

Stopover in Apollo Bay for a night there and continue next day for your likings.

It is getting dark at about 5.30 pm in August.

Prepare for cold and windy weather. Good luck and enjoy

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6. Re: Great Ocean Road

Thank you for everyone's help and I am sorry about the dates. We leave the UK on the 14th and Sydney on 19th for Melbourne and arrive in Adelaide on 25th.

I will contact the Penguin Parade people about the morning but I think we will probably leave on the Monday evening.

Do you it is necessary to pre-book the accommodation at the suggested places after a night in Geelong? Again thank you all for your help.

Destination Expert
for Geelong, Great Ocean Road
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7. Re: Great Ocean Road

You would find it ok to just wing it at that time of the year but if it was me I would pre book accommodation as soon as your itinerary was finalised. Having somewhere definite to stay each night would save valuable time hunting for a room at the last minute and risk getting substandard accommodation.

Enjoy your trip.

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8. Re: Great Ocean Road

Thank you for all your help. I am so looking forward to our view.

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