Port Campbell is a charming coastal town, the last settlement of any size as you head west on the Great Ocean Road. Nestled between rolling hills and the rugged coastline of the Southern Ocean, it’s the kind of place that just invites you to get out in nature, from hiking and surfing to fishing and wandering on deserted beaches.
Surveyed and settled in the 1870s, the town is named after Alexander Campbell, a well-known whaler and trader of his time. Originally a rough and ready kind of place, it’s been completely transformed in the 150 years since, and is now a relaxed, attractive holiday destination.
I’ve visited many times over the last few years, whether just for an hour or two to grab a meal enroute to somewhere else, or for overnight stays when I’m driving the Great Ocean Road. With all of the cafes, pubs, and restaurants clustered around the beach in the middle of town, it’s nice to be able to leave the car parked up for a while!
Of course, it’s the town’s most famous landmark that draws in visitors from all over the world: the 12 Apostles, a collection of towering limestone stacks that rise majestically out of the ocean only a ten minute drive away. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though: I’ve found far more to do here than just viewing those impressive rock formations.
Whether you’re looking to explore the local area, indulge in fresh seafood and craft beers and wine from local producers, or simply work on your tan, Port Campbell has plenty to offer. Pack your bags, grab your camera, and discover the magic of this delightful spot on Australia’s southern coast.
Paddle at Port Campbell Beach
Like any town worth stopping at along this stretch of coast, Port Campbell has a lovely stretch of sand for kids (and adults) to enjoy. This delightful little cove is right in the heart of town, and a safe spot to swim: it’s pretty much the only sheltered beach on the western half of the Great Ocean Road, and lifeguards are on duty over summer.
Splash around in the water on hot summer days, build sandcastles along the shore, or sit up on the gently-sloping grass banks alongside and keep an eye on all the comings and goings. It’s a popular spot during summer school holidays, but there’s usually enough room for everyone.
Even if you don’t spend all day there, be sure to wander past the beach at the start and end of the day: dramatic sunsets are common, and the cliffs are bathed in a beautiful golden light first thing on a sunny morning.
Check Out the Historic Port Campbell Pier
What the Port Campbell pier lacks in size, it makes up for in historical importance: this small jetty dates back around 150 years. It’s been rebuilt a few times over the years, and is now largely made of concrete, but there’s a narrow wooden boardwalk along one side for you to stroll along.
It’s a good place to fish from, and you’ll often find people sitting there with a rod dangled over the side early in the morning or as the sun goes down. I wandered past just after 7am on my most recent trip, and there were already half a dozen locals swapping tales and trying to catch that night’s dinner.
If you’re not fishing, it’s a great spot to take photos of the beach in one direction and crashing ocean waves in the other. Even on calm days, it’s easy to see why this wild coastline has wrecked close to 100 ships over the years.
The most eye-catching aspect of the pier is the crane at the far end: it’s used to help get small boats in and out of the water, so you can back your boat trailer up alongside and just lift the boat straight off.
Although it sits on one side of the town bay, you can’t get up onto the pier directly from the beach. Instead, just walk from the foreshore up Lord Street, past the Parks Vic building and onto the pier itself. The building is interesting in its own right: almost a century old, it was originally for housing rockets that were used to fire ropes out to boats struggling in bad weather.
Visit the Soldier’s Memorial and Prady’s Lookout
Once you’re finished at the pier, rejoin Lord Street and follow the short nature trail up the hill to the Port Campbell Soldier’s Memorial. Inscribed with the names of local men who died in the World Wars, it’s a simple, solemn reminder of the sacrifice made by so many at that time.
The memorial overlooks the town beach, and is the site of the town’s ANZAC Day ceremony each year.
Once you’re paid your respects, continue along the path for another minute to Prady’s Lookout, where you’ll have dramatic views out over the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean. Head up there early in the morning to see the limestone cliffs turn gold in the rising sun.
If you don’t fancy the climb up the hill, you can also drive almost to the lookout: just head to the end of Hennessy Street, park the car, and walk a few metres.
Stretch Your Legs on the Port Campbell Discovery Walk
If the short stroll up to the memorial wasn’t enough exercise for the day, it’s time to tackle the Port Campbell Discovery Walk. This 4.4km trail starts beside the holiday park, crossing over the impressive pedestrian suspension bridge before climbing up to a viewpoint (discussed below) that looks over the town and dramatic nearby coastline.
This viewpoint is only a few metres from the road and a small carpark, so you can choose to start the walk there instead of in town if you’d prefer. The distance is only slightly shorter, but it saves you the steep climb up and down the cliff.
Wherever you started from, the walk then continues on a well-maintained path along the cliffs for around 2km to Two Mile Bay Road. You’ll have great views of the ocean, Sentinel Rock, and back towards town most of the way, and there’s a good chance of spotting birds and local wildlife if you’re walking quietly.
There’s road access (and limited parking) at the end of the trail, so you can be picked up from there if you like, but otherwise it’s just a matter of returning the way you came.
Enjoy Stunning Views From the Port Campbell Lookout
If you’re looking for the best views in Port Campbell, you don’t have to go far: the lookout just outside town delivers them in spades. The easiest way to get there is to just stay on the Great Ocean Road as it continues west: there’s a turnout on the side of the road where you can park the car and walk for less than a minute.
If you’d rather work for your views, follow the Discovery Walk mentioned above from beside the holiday park, climb the steep steps up the side of the hill, and turn right at the track junction.
Either way, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views out over the beach and town in one direction, and back along Port Campbell Creek in the other.
Grab a Beer at Sow and Piglets Brewery
The Sow and Piglets microbrewery is a bit of a local institution, turning out a small range of delicious staples and inventive seasonal beers. You’ll find their offerings at a few other bars and cafes in the area, but you’re better off going to the source.
Operating as both a brewpub and guesthouse, the brewery is only a few metres from the beach, and the ideal spot to enjoy a refreshing lager in the sun when the weather is cooperating, or settle in with something heavier indoors when it isn’t.
It’s worth trying a tasting paddle: reasonably-priced (ten bucks when we last visited), you get to try four different beers to find out which one(s) you like the most. The owner is super-friendly, and only too happy to talk about all things beer and brewing if you’re interested!
In terms of food, if you like pizza, you’re in luck: that’s the only thing on the menu, other than perhaps a soup or other daily special. They’re not bad, but if that’s not what you feel like for dinner, never fear: it’s only a matter of metres to 12 Rocks (below), which has plenty more options.
Wondering how it got its name? Sow and Piglets was actually the original name of the rock formations now known as Mutton Bird Island and the famous 12 Apostles, until they were renamed by someone with a better understanding of marketing in the 1920s! The brewpub is open from 2pm until 8pm each day.
Enjoy a Hearty Meal at 12 Rocks
In any tourist town, you’ll find places to eat that are all style and no substance: they look great from the outside, but the food and ambience are entirely forgettable. 12 Rocks Beach Bar is the exact opposite: the decor is unremarkable, but the food is great, the staff friendly, and the vibe warm and welcoming.
Opposite the beach and right in the middle of town, it isn’t hard to find. The place opens at 9:30am and serves food most of the day, with different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Like many places in Port Campbell, it shuts reasonably early: the kitchen closes by 8:30pm.
There’s plenty on the dinner menu, from staples like steak and parma to Thai seafood curry and Taiwanese fried chicken. Throw in a good selection of local beers and wines, and it’s not hard to understand why it’s where we usually end up for dinner.
We particularly enjoyed the fish and chips last time we ate there, with perfectly-battered flake and plenty of crispy chips despite the nationwide potato shortage at the time. Even on a chilly Monday night outside school holidays, the place was near-full of locals and visitors alike: always a good sign.
You need to order and pay for your food and drinks in two different places, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, but if that’s my biggest issue with a place, there really isn’t much to complain about.
Grab Brunch or Coffee at Grassroots Deli Cafe
Think you can’t get a Melbourne-style brunch or perfect flat white just because you’re in a small town? Think again. The food and coffee at Grassroots Deli wouldn’t be out of place in Fitzroy or Brunswick, in a lovely cafe just a minute’s walk from the town beach.
I really enjoyed my smoked salmon with goat’s cheese, and the three other people around the table were equally enthusiastic about the dishes they ordered as well. Likewise with the coffee: I’m a snob about my flat whites, and this was easily one of the best I’ve had outside Melbourne.
The staff were super-friendly and more than happy to answer my annoying dietary questions about the menu, and there were even some high-quality souvenirs inside that Lauren’s mum was only too happy to add to her bulging suitcase.
We sat outside in the ever-increasing sunshine, lingering longer than we should have given how much we had planned for the day. It was just too nice not to!
The cafe is open every day, closing at 2:30pm on Sundays and 3pm the rest of the time, and switching to a lunch menu from midday. If you’re hungry in Port Campbell during the day, I’d highly recommend stopping in.
Take Your Taste Buds on a Road Trip
The Sow and Piglets brewpub mentioned above is the start of the 12 Apostles Food Artisan trail, a loose association of food and drink producers around the nearby area. You’ll need a car to visit the other spots, but none are far away: the total driving distance is under 100km.
The trail includes a winery, distillery, and cheesemaker, along with gourmet chocolate producers, an ice-creamery, fruit growers, and more. I talk about a few of them in more detail below: some are set up as a full retail experience, others are a simpler affair running as a sideline to a working farm.
As a result, be sure to check the hours for each business before planning out your trip: some aren’t open every day, or don’t operate year-round. Download the trail map, see what appeals, and give your tastebuds a treat!
Moving on from Port Campbell itself, there's a huge amount to do nearby. From world-famous natural attractions to standout local experiences, you really don't need to go far to make the most of the area. With that in mind, none of the things I mention below are more than a half-hour drive from the centre of town, and most are even closer.
Be Amazed by the 12 Apostles
The main reason most people find themselves near Port Campbell, of course, is the 12 Apostles. They’re just a ten minute drive from town down the Great Ocean Road, making it the best place to stay if you’re visiting these famous limestone formations at sunset or early in the morning.
And that’s very much when you should visit, if you can. First thing in the morning, you’ll likely have the place largely to yourself before the day trippers and tour buses roll in, and get to see the rocks beautifully lit up by the rising sun.
Last thing at night, it’ll be much busier, with barely a space on the viewing ledge as the sun sinks below the horizon and the sky turns a fiery orange behind the Apostles. The crowds are there for a reason, of course: it’s a dramatic, spectacular scene that will live on in your memory long after the daylight finally fades.
We’ve got a complete guide to visiting the 12 Apostles, but suffice it to say that despite having visited at least half a dozen times over the years, I still can’t drive past the carpark without stopping in whenever I’m in the area. No matter what time of day you get there, it’s an absolute must-visit.
Climb Down the Gibson Steps for a Different View
While I’ve been going to the 12 Apostles for many years, it took me much longer to discover the delights of the Gibson Steps just down the road. These 80-odd stairs zig-zag their way down the cliff from a small carpark, leading to a stunning stretch of beach with spectacular views in both directions.
Towards one end sits Gog and Magog, two rock formations in the ocean that look very much like they’re part of the 12 Apostles, but officially aren’t. Whatever the technicalities, they’re guaranteed to impress: be sure to take photos from a range of different angles.
The other end of the beach is more wild and less busy, with small caves and a few rocks on the beach. If you’ve got the time, it’s the ideal spot for sunbathing, well away from the steps with people coming and going all day.
It’s possible to swim and bodyboard here, but be careful: even on relatively calm days, there’s a lot of surf. When the wind picks up or there are stormy seas, our advice is to stay on the shore and admire the views safely from there.
The Gibson Steps are only about a kilometre from the 12 Apostles, and there’s a flat walking trail that runs between the two. The carpark at the Steps is small and fills up quickly: last time we visited, there was no room an hour before sunset, and we got one of the last spots at around 9:30am the next day.
If you’re coming from the east, by all means drive through the carpark and see if there’s a space, but otherwise we’d suggest leaving your vehicle in the (much larger) 12 Apostles carpark and walking from there.
Take in the Sights at Loch Ard Gorge
For all the popularity of the 12 Apostles, there are several places nearby that don’t get a fraction of the attention but probably should. At the top of that list is Loch Ard Gorge, so-named for the clipper that ran aground on Mutton Bird Island just offshore in 1878.
There were only two survivors, teenagers Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, who were able to drag themselves onto the narrow beach. They became local celebrities for a time, and there’s now a lookout named after them which overlooks the gorge. As you can see above, it was the perfect spot for a sunset photo on my last visit!
Further down the short loop track from the main carpark is a viewing area for The Razorback, a narrow wall of rock with distinctive sharp edges and bumps along the top. On the other side of the gorge, a different lookout is the perfect spot to see Island Arch, a distinctive hole in the limestone cliff.
Once you’ve been to the viewpoints on both sides of the gorge, it would usually be time to head back to the middle and take the short set of stairs down to the beach. On our last visit in late November 2023, however, they were blocked off due to erosion and safety issues. They’re due to re-open next year, but there’s no exact date yet.
When you can get back down there, the cliffs on either side provide more shade in summer than most of the other beaches in the area, and it’s a fantastic photo spot as well. Don’t forget to head to the back of the gorge to check out the stalactites in the shallow caves before you head back up.
All of the above attractions are very close to each other, and easily accessed from the main Loch Ard Gorge car park. The viewpoint for Mutton Bird Island is closer to the Thunder Cave carparks (below), but you can easily walk between them all: no need to move the car unless you really want to.
Every night between April and October, thousands of short-tailed shearwaters, aka muttonbirds, return to the island to feed their hungry chicks. If you’re there at the right time of year, it’s quite the sight (and sound) to behold. You’ll likely need to wait until daylight is almost completely gone, however.
Admire Nature’s Power at Thunder Cave
Once you’re done with the Loch Ard Gorge beach and lookouts, it’s time to head to Thunder Cave. Following a paved path 300-500m each way depending on exactly where you start from, you’ll hear this natural cavern long before you see it.
The ocean rushes in through a narrow gap in the rocks to hit the back walls with a loud booming sound: I’ve been to many so-called “thunder” caves over the years, and this is one of the few that’s actually lived up to its name even when it wasn’t high tide or rough seas.
Be sure to peek over the edge to see the surging water and tumbling foam. Rocks that have fallen from the surrounding cliffs over the millennia now lie just below the surface, creating large breaking waves.
The viewing area isn’t in the greatest spot for, well, viewing, but you should still get a reasonable photo if the undergrowth isn’t too high at the time.
Pose for a Photo at the Grotto
On the other side of Port Campbell and only ten minutes from town, the Grotto is a beautiful and surprisingly tranquil spot. It requires a short walk from the carpark and descending a few sets of stairs to get there: maybe that’s what keeps the crowds away, as it’s always been quiet when I’ve visited.
While you can get a good view of the grotto (a small rock arch) from near the top of the stairs, it’s absolutely worth continuing all the way to the bottom. There, the sound of crashing waves all but disappears, leaving little but a great photo opportunity and the opportunity for a few minutes of quiet contemplation.
Hop up on the low stone wall in front of the archway and find a willing photographer: this is the place to get a new profile shot for your favourite social media platform.
See Where London Bridge Fell Down
Until 1990, the rocky causeway known as London Bridge was, like most bridges, connected to the mainland. On one otherwise unremarkable day in January, however, millions of years of erosion took their inevitable toll, with the thinner bridge section suddenly cracking apart and falling into the ocean below.
At the time, you were able to walk out to a viewpoint on the end, and two people were left stranded there when London Bridge fell down. A helicopter rescue ensued and everything ended safely, but let’s just say that you’re now limited to viewing what’s left from a suitably safe distance!
Five minutes from Port Campbell on the way to the Grotto, there’s a reasonably-sized carpark available beside a small network of paths that take you to the various lookouts. The two higher ones give the best views: the lower one is closest, but the shallower angle means you can’t see the arch quite as well.
This is also a good place to spot fairy penguins at sunset, discussed below. The colony here is relatively small, but the viewing platforms are quite close to them, so there’s a good chance of being able to make out more than just small black dots on a beach.
Enjoy the Tranquility at the Bakers Oven
At certain times of day (late morning to mid-afternoon, especially in summer), many places on this section of the Great Ocean Road can get very busy with tour buses. If that’s the case when you’re there and you’re looking for somewhere quieter, head over to the Bakers Oven.
This rock formation just offshore is particularly impressive at high tide or in stormy weather, when water is pushed up from behind the rock and surges through the semi-circular hole in the middle that resembles, well, a baker’s oven.
It’s not as impressive at other times, but is still a lovely tranquil spot to stop for a while. That’s mainly due to the (relative) difficulty of accessing it: a dirt path that isn’t wide enough for two vehicles and isn’t signposted from the main road. You can see all the way to the small carpark, at least, so there’s little chance of unexpectedly meeting someone coming the other way!
That dirt path also means the tour buses and some of the minivans avoid this stop, so you’re likely to have it almost to yourself even during peak times. It’s about halfway between Port Campbell and the 12 Apostles, a five minute drive from either one.
Alpacas and Chocolate: The Perfect Combo
A little-known fact about Lauren (the other half of this website) is that she’s a huge fan of both chocolate and alpacas. When she found out about Gorge Chocolates, an artisan chocolate maker and alpaca farm on the Princetown Road ten minutes inland from the 12 Apostles: well, let’s just say that excited doesn’t even start to describe it.
You don’t have to wait long for your first alpaca sighting: chances are they’ll be grazing nearby as you drive in. A number of products made from their wool are available in the farm shop, including socks, hats, and blankets, as is a wide range of handmade chocolate. Including, of course, the perfect combo: chocolate alpacas.
If you’re thirsty, you’re in luck. There’s locally roasted coffee available, along with tea and my pick: hot chocolate, made from real chocolate rather than the powder you usually get. It’s an absolute delight on a cold morning!
Take the Heat Off at Timboon Fine Ice Cream
The hot chocolate at Gorge Chocolates (above) is a godsend on a cold day, but what to do if it’s the middle of summer and you’re desperate for a tasty way to beat the heat? That’s when it’s time to head to Timboon Fine Ice Cream.
Shockingly enough, the store is right in the centre of Timboon, a small town that’s roughly a 15 minute drive inland from Port Campbell. It’s part of the 12 Apostles Food Artisan Trail mentioned earlier, as are several other businesses in and around the town.
There are usually around two dozen flavours on offer, including staples like vanilla and chocolate along with more unusual options such as orange and cardamon or maple and cinnamon. If you’re dairy-free like me, never fear: there’s a small range of delicious sorbets available as well.
The ice cream is made a few kilometres down the road from the shop, and the main ingredients are all locally sourced: milk comes from a nearby farm, and cream from only slightly further afield in Warrnambool. You can’t ask for fewer food miles than that!
Take in a Tasting at Timboon Distillery
I mentioned the Sow and Piglets brewery earlier, but if you prefer your craft booze a little stronger, you’ll want to make the trip out to Timboon Distillery. Opposite the ice cream store mentioned above (yes, you should definitely visit both), it used to be a disused railway shed before owners Josh and Caitlin Walker gave it a new lease on life.
The stills turn out small-batch gin, vodka, liqueurs, and single malt whiskies, all of which can be purchased by the bottle. There’s also a great whisky tasting option, which costs $15 for four whiskeys. Even better, the fee gets waived if you buy a bottle. Now that’s an incentive I can get behind.
Open seven days a week (other than a few public holidays) from 10am until 4pm, the distillery also offers lunch from 11-2pm.
Tackle a Section of the Great Ocean Walk
I love long distance hiking, and tackling the full 100km+ Great Ocean Walk is very much on my radar. Running mainly along the coast from Apollo Bay in the east to the 12 Apostles in the west, it’s one of the country’s premier multiday walks.
If you don’t have a week to spare, however, you can still lace up your boots and sample a section of the route. There are a number of spots along the trail that are accessible by car, including a delightful 7km section at the end that starts at Princetown and finishes at the Gibson Steps or 12 Apostles.
There’s ample parking at both ends, or you can get dropped off at the start and picked up at the finish. You can walk in either direction, or both ways if you’d like a longer walk, but I’d recommend going east to west thanks to the great views of the 12 Apostles that open up as you get closer.
The trail is very well maintained, especially in this section, and is pretty flat unless you decide to climb down to Clifton Beach (more difficult) or the Gibson Steps (easy). As with any nature walk in Australia, dress appropriately for the weather, take more water and food than you think you’ll need, and keep an eye out for snakes and other local wildlife.
Pat Dingoes at the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park
Dingoes get a bad rap in Australia, and unfairly so. These endangered native canines play a vital role in keeping the ecosystem in balance, but they’ve been targeted by farmers and others for centuries as a threat to livestock and humans.
The Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park aims to change that misconception at its awareness centre, providing information and one-on-one encounters to help save the dingo by showing it in a different light. The encounters are definitely the highlight: for $30, you get to spend time petting and hanging out with these friendly, misunderstood animals.
There’s plenty to do elsewhere at the park as well, including a petting area where you can hand-feed kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and alpacas. A nature walk takes you around much of the 40-acre property, giving the opportunity to see everything from red deer to more traditional farm animals like horses, donkeys, and sheep.
Once you’re finished, grab a coffee and something homemade to eat at the Earthbound Cafe onsite. The Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park is a twenty minute drive east of Port Campbell, and you’ll likely spend an hour or so there. Entry is $27 per adult and $15 per child, with discounts for families.
See the World’s Smallest Penguins at Sunset
If you prefer your wildlife a little smaller, Port Campbell has you covered there as well. Fairy penguins come ashore at nearby beaches every night, heading for their burrows in large groups to help keep them safe from predators.
This species is also known as little penguins, and for good reason: they’re the smallest penguins in the world, only growing to around 33cm in height. A large colony of around 800 birds lives at the 12 Apostles, and are usually visible from the main viewing area there.
You’re quite a long way from the penguins there, though, so depending on how dark it is when they show up and exactly where they come ashore, you’ll want to have binoculars, or a good camera with a long lens, to see them up close.
The other option is the lookouts at London Bridge. The colony here is much smaller, at around 100 birds, but because you’re quite a bit closer to the beach, your chances of seeing more than small black blobs on the sand may actually be a little higher.
There’s no set time for when the birds will show up (its hard for penguins to get a wristwatch to stay on their flippers), but it’s likely to be around 20-30 minutes after sunset as the last light fades from the sky.
Depending on the tides, there’s a good chance of seeing the penguin’s tiny footprints dotted all over the beach the next morning as well. Just a reminder of what you missed out on the night before!
Take a Helicopter Ride Over the 12 Apostles
One of the best ways of appreciating the 12 Apostles and surrounding coastline is from the air, and since recreational drones are banned there (it’s a national park area), a better option is to jump on a scenic helicopter ride instead.
12 Apostles Helicopters operates from the northern end of the main carpark, and offers tours that go as far afield as the Cape Otway lighthouse, over 100km to the east. If you’re a bit short on time (or money), other flights take you to London Bridge or the Bay of Islands to the west.
It’s a spectacular way of seeing the Shipwreck Coast from above, as well as getting a different perspective on all of the bays, beaches, rock formations, and crumbling cliffs that make up this beautiful part of Victoria.
Flights operate from 10am until 7pm in summer, 9am to 5pm the rest of the year. Because sunset flights aren’t available due to national park regulations, my recommendation is to head out as early as possible instead: the light on the cliffs and rock formations is stunning at that time of day.
Or Jump Out of a Plane and Skydive Instead
If a helicopter ride doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping hard enough for you, how does jumping out of a perfectly-good plane sound instead? The folks at Skydive 12 Apostles can help you out with that,
Flying from the tiny Great Ocean Road airport in Peterborough, ten minutes west of Port Campbell, it’s a scenic flight and adventure sport rolled into one. The plane climbs to cruising altitude over major sights like Loch Ard Gorge and the Bay of Islands before you and your jump master throw yourselves out the door and towards the earth below.
You’ll freefall for around a minute (cue the screaming) before pulling the rip cord at around 5000 feet/1.5km up and slowly descending over the next 5-7 minutes. On a clear day, there are incredible views all up and down the coastline: the highlight is of course the 12 Apostles, but there’s so much more to see than that.
The company recommends booking in advance, especially during busy times of year. Almost anyone over the age of 16 can jump, and you’ve got the option of buying photos and video of your skydive afterward if you’d like a memento.
Where to Stay in Port Campbell
Port Campbell has a fair amount of accommodation on offer for such a small town, but it’s a popular place, especially during summer and school holidays. As a result, I’d highly recommend booking well in advance if you’ll be visiting during those times.
We’ve stayed in a number of different hotels here over the years, at a range of price points. Our favourite, and current pick for the best place to stay in Port Campbell for singles or couples, is Daysy Hill Country Cottages.
The impeccably clean suites and cottages were quiet and peaceful, out in nature on 55 acres of land but still less than a two-minute drive from the centre of town. We loved the large deck outside where we could enjoy a drink in the evenings, and the pot-belly style electric heater that warmed up the room in a few minutes one chilly night.
Check-in was fast, friendly, and efficient despite arriving after dark, the bed was super-comfortable, and there was plenty of hot water in the shower. We also got to make good use of the kitchenette for breakfast and a hot drink before setting off for the day: always a welcome addition.
If you want to be within walking distance of the pubs and restaurants, you’ve got a couple of other good options. At the budget end, the rooms at the Sow and Piglets Guesthouse are clean and comfortable, with dorm beds for around $50 and private rooms starting at $120 depending on the time of year. There’s also the bonus of only having to walk downstairs for great pizza and beer!
For those happy to spend a bit more, I’d suggest the Portside Motel. The rooms are clean and spacious, each with their own little kitchenette, plus a lovely deck for when the weather is nice and plenty of indoor seating for when it isn’t.
It’s particularly nice to wake up and look straight out into the gardens: even though you’ll likely be sharing a wall with your neighbour, it feels like you’re in your own private setting. Everything in Port Campbell is less than a five minute walk away, so there’s no need to drive anywhere around town.
If you’re traveling with family or as a group, I can recommend The PC Cottage. With a well-equipped kitchen, two bedrooms, and a good-sized living/dining area, there was plenty of space for both us and Lauren’s parents last time we visited.
It was very reasonably priced for four people, and in a good location, far enough from the main street that we didn’t get any traffic noise, but still only a few minutes’ walk to the town centre for coffee or food. Clean, well-maintained, and easy to access via a lockbox at night after visiting the 12 Apostles for sunset, it was just what we were looking for.
So there you have it, my guide to the very best things to do in Port Campbell, whether you’re only passing through for a few hours or using it as a base to explore the 12 Apostles and Great Ocean Road.
We visit regularly (the Shipwreck Coast, and Great Ocean Road more generally, is one of our favourite spots in the state), but if you come across a new attraction that should be included before we get to it, feel free to let us know in the comments!
All images copyright Everything Victoria unless otherwise noted