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Port Campbell is a surprise gem in Victoria, Australia. Sure, it’s the perfect place to base yourself if you want to explore some of the most famous sights along the Great Ocean Road. But this quaint coastal town is worth staying a while.
Port Campbell is best known for its close proximity to the world-famous Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. It’s also a wonderful town for a family beach vacation!
We were lucky enough to spend some time here during our Great Ocean Road trip during the summer and it was one of our favourite places to stay during our road trip.
Best of all, you don’t have to travel far to find plenty of fun things to do in Port Campbell and the surrounding area!
There are plenty of great things to do in Port Campbell and just outside of town, making it an easy option to spend a few days if you want to really enjoy the area.
It’s much quieter than some of the bigger towns along the Great Ocean Road, such as Lorne, but still popular enough to draw the tourist crowds during the summer months when beach days are the best kind of days!
You can see some of our visit in our day 3 Great Ocean road video:
Here are the best Port Campbell attractions and things to do for your visit:
1. Explore Port Campbell National Park
This gorgeous coastal park is a must-visit when you visit Port Campbell and probably one of the reasons you are visiting in the first place.
This rugged coastline referred to as the Shipwreck Coast has been carved out over time by the harsh Southern Ocean. But the result is something magical!
There is no denying that Port Campbell National Park is one of the most recognised places to stop during a Great Ocean Road road trip. Specifically, the Twelve Apostles rock formations that jut from the ocean.
But those remaining structures (there were around 6 left when we visited) are just one of the places you need to see when exploring the national park.
The national park stretches between Princetown and Peterborough, and each of the iconic attractions are within a short drive from the centre of Port Campbell. You could easily spend a full day exploring the different points along the Port Campbell National Park coastline.
Here are some of the best things to do in Port Campbell National Park:
2. See The Unmissable Twelve Apostles
Visit the iconic 12 Apostles rock formations, take photos from the vantage points, and admire the rugged coastline alongside these natural wonders.
If you have been lucky enough to visit this popular landmark in the past, you might have seen it when there were more of the limestone stacks still standing.
These days there are around 6 remaining and a couple of those are definitely suffering the impact of the fierce waves of the Southern Ocean. A good reason to plan your trip quickly!
The Twelve Apostles Visitor Information Centre is a good place to stop for an ice cream or a drink and pick up a souvenir while you’re here.
3. London Bridge
Named for its bridge-like formation that connected two cliffs before it collapsed into the ocean in 1989. It is still a place to enjoy incredible views from a few different viewing platforms.
But what might have been one of our favourite things was the wildlife footprints along the beach.
The area is not accessible to people, helping it to stay preserved in its natural state and as an essential eco habitat for the local wildlife. If you get lucky, you might see Little Penguins strolling along the beach, usually in the afternoon.
We were a little too early for this but London Bridge still looks extra spectacular as the sun lowers. A perfect time for photos!
Fun Fact: The London Bridge was once connected to the mainland and visitors were able to walk across the limestone rock structure for views of the ocean. Back in 1989 when the rock collapsed, two tourists were stranded on the far end of the bridge as it fell and had to be rescued. Luckily no one was hurt!
4. The Grotto
View this sea cave that has been carved out by the waves over time. You can visit at high tide when you can stand on the cliff and look down into the water-filled cavern below.
We went during low tide in the afternoon when the natural lighting looks beautiful through the Grotto opening. We also spotted an echidna along the walking track from the car park so keep an eye out in the scrub along the way.
5. Loch Ard Gorge
Take the stairs down to Loch Ard Gorge and feel like you’re in paradise as you look out at the Southern Ocean between the cliffs, towards the tragic site of the Loch Ard Shipwreck.
There are a few different walking tracks around here if you are keen to explore the area even more.
While it’s not a great place to go for a swim as such, due to the strength of the waves pulling out to see, it’s a lovely spot to put your feet in the water. It does get really busy in summer, as expected!
6. Gibson’s Steps
Walk down the steep Gibson Steps to Gibsons Steps Beach (89 stairs) and get a stunning view of the coastline and the enormous cliffs that tower above you.
Nicknamed Gog and Magog, they are impressive too and you might be wondering if they are part of the 12 Apostles? They aren’t but they are very similar structures and this is a chance to get up close to the mammoth limestone stacks.
This was one of our favourite spots although due to changing high tides, it’s not always open!
You will feel like such a tiny spec in the world compared to the giant cliffs towering above the coastline. It’s also a really peaceful space to spend some time, if you can beat the tourist buses arriving. Early morning is good for this.
7. Go Wildlife Spotting
You might see Little Penguins on the beach near London Bridge or the Apostles or at certain times of the year, you might even be lucky enough to see whales or dolphins off the coast.
You can also watch the Short-tailed Shearwaters returning to their home of Muttonbird Island to roost (between September and April). The best way to do this is to take the Living On The Edge hiking trail to the viewing platform.
8. Port Campbell National Park Walking Tracks
If you prefer to explore on foot, rather than drive between the different landmarks, there is a 2.2km return walk between Gibsons Steps to The Twelve Apostles. This takes around an hour to complete if you have the time. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
There are 3 hiking trails accessible from the Loch Ard Gorge car park. They are all easy walks suitable for beginners and kids:
Geology Walk – 1km return (approximately 40 minutes).
Shipwreck Walk – 1.4km return (approximately 50 mins). This walk is good if you are interested in learning about the tragic story of the Loch Ard shipwreck site and takes you also to the Loch Ard cemetery.
Living on the Edge – 3.2km return(approximately) 1.5hrs. This walk is great if you want a view of Muttonbird Island with a viewing platform, as well as Thunder Cave and Broken Head.
9. Swim At Port Campbell Beach
While many of the popular coastal attractions surrounding Port Campbell aren’t places recommended (or permitted) for swimming, it doesn’t matter since there’s a great beach right in the centre of town that is always popular during the summer months!
It’s a great spot for swimming, fishing, surfing and rock pool exploring as it’s quite calm here. The beach is a sheltered inlet making it a great spot for swimming safely, with lifeguards patrolling.
Plus, there are plenty of picnic tables and BBQ facilities if you want to make a day of it.
This beach can get really busy on a hot summer day although the water won’t necessarily be warm! It’s still a perfect place to cool off.
If you are visiting with younger kids, there are some great little streams running between the ocean and Campbell’s Creek behind the surf club which are perfect for little ones to play.
The river is also a popular spot for swimming and is much warmer!
10. Stand Up Paddleboarding Or Kayaking Campbell’s Creek
You can hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore Campbell’s Creek.
This is a great way to enjoy some of Port Campbell’s amazing wildlife as you pass, such as eagles, kookaburras, pelicans and more!
Plus, you can get an entirely unique view of the town from the water. We didn’t get the chance to try this but there were lots of other people who were and many locals heading up the river in canoes for some fishing.
11. Enjoy The Best Views From Port Campbell’s Scenic Lookout
The best view of the town is from above and you can either walk across the Port Campbell suspension bridge and up the track or drive to the scenic lookout instead if you don’t fancy the walk.
Either way, you get some great views from above!
12. Visit The Less Touristy Bay Of Islands Coastal Park
Travel a little further, into Bay Of Islands Coastal Park, where you will find more impressive coastal views and rock formations that are not quite as breathtaking as the 12 Apostles but much less crowded and still really beautiful.
Just a few minutes apart, stop at the viewing areas for Bay of Islands and Bay of Martyrs.
By this stage of our trip, our kids were definitely convinced our holiday was all about rocks! So many rocks! Apparently, we really love looking at rocks. They are great rocks though!
13. Port Campbell Discovery Walk
If you are feeling extra energetic, especially in the cooler months, you can hike from the Port Campbell Lookout along the Discovery Walk. Start down at the mount of Campbell’s Creek or from the lookout itself.
The walking track is around 4.4km return and takes around an hour and a half. The walking track is not stroller-friendly or suitable for wheelchairs. Dogs aren’t allowed either.
14. Have Pizza And Beer At The Sow & Piglets Brewery
The Sow & Piglets Brewery is a popular spot in town with its vintage decor. It has a wide selection of craft beer, wood-fired pizzas and other delicious pub grub. It’s also a minute or so walk from the beachfront!
This place is always busy with locals and visitors alike so it’s best to get there early or book ahead if you don’t want to miss out! However, there are plenty of tables so you can usually walk in for lunch without a booking.
There are loads of board games to play which makes it a great place to visit with the kids! Our two had fun playing HeadBanz (sort of like Celebrity Heads).
15. Stroll Along Port Campbell Jetty
The Port Campbell Jetty is a great place to enjoy beautiful sunsets. It’s also a great spot for fishing in Port Campbell apparently.
Off the jetty area is also a popular place for scuba diving too.
16. Indulge At Port Campbell Ice Creamery
This is the sister store of Timboon Fine Ice Cream and a short walk from the beach so you can grab a sweet treat after a day of beach fun or grab your ice cream and take a sunset stroll along Port Campbell Beach instead.
17. Watch the Sun Go Down From The Barrel House
If you fancy a whisky, cocktail or locally distilled spirits from Timboon Distillery, head to The Barrel House Bar & Shop. This place overlooks the beach and is a great spot to watch the sun go down.
We tried the Timboon Limon cello during our trip.
They also offer picnic basket hampers to take and enjoy at one of the many beautiful spots nearby.
Things To Do Near Port Campbell
While there is more than enough to keep you busy close to town in Port Campbell, there’s no denying that it’s also a pretty great spot to take a day trip from or explore nearby.
Here are some more fun Port Campbell activities if you are looking to discover further afield:
18. Great Ocean Road Drive
Take a road trip along the iconic Great Ocean Road to explore some of the most picturesque landscapes in Australia. It’s quite possible that’s what you’re already doing, but just in case it’s not, it should be!
This is one of the most scenic drives in the world for a good reason!
19. Take the 12 Apostles Food Artisans Trail
If you’re a foodie, then the 12 Apostles Food Artisans Trail is for you! You can explore food and drink and experience the taste of the region. There are delicious cheeses, wines, beers, olive oils and more to be had!
Some of the most popular stops on the trail include:
Timboom Railway Shed Distillery
The Timboom Ice Creamery
Apostle Whey Cheese
Dairylicious Farm Fudge
20. Visit Timboon
Nearby Timboon is another charming small town that is well worth a visit. Many of the delicious places to visit on the 12 Apostles Food Artisans Trail are in Timboon too. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Port Campbell.
You will also find Childer’s Cove, a beautiful section of the historic Shipwreck Coast. Plus check out the historic Rail Trestle Bridge (Curdies River Bridge) and take the kids for a play at Power Creek Reserve Playground.
Hire a bike from near the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery and set out on exploring the town while enjoying fresh air and exercise.
21. Explore Other Local Towns and Beaches
Port Campbell is a great base for exploring other beaches, towns, and attractions in the area!
Some favourite nearby spots include Warrnambool, which is under an hour away and has loads to do (it’s a much bigger town), or a little further away are Port Fairy for delicious fish and chips or Apollo Bay.
Spend a day discovering Great Otway National Park. There are plenty of things to see and do here, many of which we did not have time to fit into our trip.
Some of the key highlights include the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, which has a 600m treetop walkway. At the top, you can enjoy views of the surrounding rainforest and coastline. There are also ziplines and high ropes for a day of energetic family fun.
And of course, there is the Cape Otway Lighthouse – take a tour to the top and enjoy the impressive views! And the Otway Redwoods, a chance to be dwarfed by the gigantic Californian Redwoods forest.
Port Campbell Travel Guide
To prepare for your Port Campbell visit, we have put together the essential info you need in an easy travel guide format!
After all, you don’t want to forget the important stuff now that you’ve planned what to do in Port Campbell with all the interesting attractions and activities you want to do.
Where Is Port Campbell?
Port Campbell is situated on the south-western coast of Victoria in Australia, between Warrnambool and Apollo Bay. It’s around 230km from Melbourne if you’re travelling by car or longer if you are travelling along the Great Ocean Road.
If you’re driving, Port Campbell is approximately a 4-hour drive away from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, if you take the scenic route. And chances are, you might be stopping to check out all the beautiful sights along the way!
If you are taking a more direct, inland route, it will take just under 3 hours.
How To Get To Port Campbell
The best way to get to Port Campbell is by car. You can hire a car from Melbourne or other major cities in Victoria. Or if you’re already in the region, it is easy to catch a bus from locations like Melbourne, Warrnambool and Apollo Bay.
We hired a car from Melbourne Airport for our visit, which we booked in advance to ensure availability. Check availability below:
Best Time To Visit Port Campbell
The best time to visit Port Campbell is between mid-November and March. That’s when the weather is warmer, temperatures are mostly comfortable and days last longer for more exploring time!
However, as it goes, it’s not unusual to get all 4 seasons in one day in Victoria so even if you are visiting in summer, bring a warm jacket and jeans, just in case! Sneakers are also a good option if you plan on doing any of the longer walking trails.
Where to Stay in Port Campbell
The town of Port Campbell is small but there are still plenty of accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for something affordable or luxurious, camping or glamping.
We changed our plans a little last minute before our trip, during the very busy Australian school holidays period so there weren’t many options left. We stayed at Eastern Reef Cottages just outside of the town centre. They are older-style cottages but affordable.
The NRMA Port Campbell Holiday Park in town sits alongside the creek and next to the beach, within walking distance to all amenities. This is a fantastic option if you are looking for Port Campbell camping or taking a van on your road trip.
Port Campbell Australia is a great destination for those looking to explore the Great Ocean Road and easily one of the best places in Victoria to visit. This small coastal town is one that you should definitely make time to stop at and spend a while!
Have you driven along the Great Ocean Road before? Share your favourite memories.
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