The Great Ocean Road can be 'done' as a day trip from Melbourne to see the Twelve Apostles. However, it would be a shame to race through in one day and back and miss most of it.
The spectacular coastline west of Cape Otway cannot be enjoyed from the car. The road is too far inland to offer any view of the cliffs. You have to stop at the viewpoints and walk a bit to see something, and there are many worthwhile viewpoints. This takes time. Slow down. Loch Ard Gorge alone deserves half a day.
I'd recommend a minimum of three days from Melbourne/Geelong to Warrnambool or Port Fairy. Even then you'll have to make some choices what to see and what to miss.
Favorite thing: The Great Ocean Road is build as a mi=onument for the soldiers who have served in the first worldwar. The start was in 1910 and it was finished in 1934, many of the 3000 men who has worked on the road has been veterans of the worldwar1.
One of the nice things that Port Campbell has done to boost visitor's experience is the new visitor's center, which the Victorian Government pumped 5.5 million AUD toward.
The visitor center offers toilets, Great Ocean Road information, history about how it was built and the conditions early visitors faced on the "Shipwreck Coast", and scientific information on how and why the 12 apostles and other landmarks were formed.
Overall, it was definitely worth a peek, and was opportunely placed right next to the major Twelve Apostles Landmark.
This was one of my favorite views of Port Campbell, from our cliff-top picnic spot 5 mins drive out and above the town, with the end of the 12 Apostles just visible in the distance.
It was one of my favorite views because, unlike the 12 Apostles themselves, which were crawling with people, we were the only ones up here.
The 12 Apostles are probably the most famous and most photographed things along the Great Ocean Road... You will always get great photos here! :)
The 12 Apostles are located between Port Campbell and Princetown.
Favorite thing: When driving along the Great Ocean Road stop off at the Petrified Forest near Portland, or closer still Cape Bridgewater...it is really amazing... The landscape changes so much in just a few kilometres.
Favorite thing: In Portland, go for a walk out to the tip of Cape Bridgewater. We had planned to take a boat ride out to see the wild seals but the ocean was too rough, instead we hiked out to the cape. It was a nice walk...
Favorite thing: The Great Ocean Road start oficial in the old touristplace Torquay 40 km south of Geelong. it follows the rocky Shipwreck Coast 240 till km later by Warrnambool.
Favorite thing: In the direction of The Great Ocean Road can you make nice stops and visit some walking area's, where you can go tot waterfalls or lighthouses.
Favorite thing: The Great Ocean Road has views over the beautiful coastal landscape, around every turn you make in the road there is another spectaculair view over the coastline.