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The Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles are iconic landmarks in Australia. But there are many other locations along the Great Ocean Road which are equally worthy of visiting and adding to your once in a lifetime road trip. The Grotto is one of those.
Most people doing the Great Ocean Road drive from east to west have run out of steam by this point and often don’t bother driving the extra 10-15 minutes to this westerly stop on the Great Ocean Road, but that really is a mistake.
This guide includes everything you need to know about visiting the The Grotto, why you should add this to your Great Ocean Road trip, how to get there and where to stay nearby.
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How to get to the Grotto on the Great Ocean Road
The Grotto is located on the Great Ocean Road and can be accessed from its own designated car park. This is actually the first stop I recommend starting at if you’re doing a Great Ocean Road day trip from Melbourne as you can take a more direct inland route here from the city.
This car park is clearly signposted as the Grotto along the Great Ocean Road, so follow these signs. Not many people visit the Grotto because it’s located west of Port Campbell whereas the other main attractions are to the east of Port Campbell. The Grotto parking area is a 18 minute drive from the 12 Apostles Viewing Area, or an 8 minute drive west from the town of Port Campbell.
The car park is free.
To get to the Grotto, there is a path from the car park that goes along a boardwalk for a few hundred metres before reaching the cliffs. From here you can see the Grotto cave formation from above, or go down the wooden stairway to go inside the sinkhole area and see the cave formation and rock pool.
The Formation of The Grotto on the Great Ocean Road
The Grotto is actually a sinkhole, where the limestone cliffs have collapsed into the sea below. This has left a partial rock formation and partial cave, with the rock forming an extended archway through which you can see the sea beyond.
The way the sinkhole collapsed has allowed for this coastal formation and also allows the tunnels and rocks to create blowholes at certain tide times.
What to see and expect at The Grotto
Accessibility: the boardwalk is flat and accessible for pretty much everyone. However the wooden staircase is steep and the only way down which makes it pretty inaccessible for people with mobility issues.
Walking distance: 700 metres from the car park
Access hours: 24 hour access
Best time to visit: Whilst The Grotto is a lesser visited spot, it can still get busy at peak times. I suggest visiting before 10am. Sunrise or sunset are also quiet and you have a good chance of seeing the sun appear through the Grotto archway if you’re looking to photograph this spot.
The viewpoint can be different on any day you visit. For me it was blue skies and sunshine but it can also be dramatic and stormy, cloudy days are also great for photography.
This really is a unique coastal area and fascinating rock formation and view. There are rounded pebbles around the viewing area which lead out to a picturesque rock pool in the Grotto itself. The light changes throughout the day, so you’ll see the light and the shadows changing too as well as the light reflecting of the rockpool and the sound of the waves crashing beyond.
Whenever you visit, make sure to add this stop to your Great Ocean Road trip, it’s only an extra 10 minute drive!
Safety at The Grotto
The Grotto is accessed via a wooden stairway which leads to the cave below. The viewing area is behind a stone wall, over which you can see the Grotto, the rock pool and the sea beyond.
Because of the sharp cliff drop into the water and the lack of visibility of the tide from The Grotto, it’s important to stay on the designated stairway and behind the stone wall barrier.
People do climb over the barrier, I’ve done it too, but the rocks on the other side are slippery and can be dangerous. At high tide, the waves can come over the back wall of the Grotto unexpectedly, making it dangerous and unpredictable.
Whilst I don’t advise climbing over the wall, if you do decide to, please check the tide times and sea conditions before you do, to ensure you don’t get caught out! If it’s been raining or the weather is unpredictable, don’t take a risk.
Where to stay near The Grotto
There aren’t many places to stay along this stretch of the Great Ocean Road. But because The Grotto is furthest west, it actually sits between two towns, Port Campbell is 8 minutes to the east and Peterborough is 8 minutes to the west. Further west you also have the larger town of Warrnambool, 44 minutes away, if you’re continuing your onwards journey, perhaps towards South Australia.
Port Campbell is the most popular stop to take the quicker inland route back to Melbourne, so I’ve included a further breakdown of accommodation options below.
Budget Port Campbell accommodation options:
Port Campbell Hostel- perfect for budget travellers. $58 AUD per person per night for a 4 bed dorm with shared bathroom.
Port Campbell Parkview Motel and Apartments - great for budget travellers or couples who don't want to stay in a hostel. Rooms for $77 AUD, for 1 night for 2 adults.
Mid-range Port Campbell accommodation options:
Port O'Call Motel - a super chic, boho vibe hotel but for a great price. $109 AUD per night for 2 adults.
Loch Ard Motor Inn - great value, tastefully decorated and in an amazing location. $103 AUD per night for 2 adults.
Splurge Port Campbell Accommodation options:
Anchors Beach House - a beautiful 5 bedroom apartment with a sea view. Entire place to yourself. From $430 AUD per night for 2 adults.
Southern Ocean Villas - beautiful private villas with garden patios. Perfect for couples. From $171 AUD per night for 2 adults.
I hope you find this guide to The Grotto useful and be sure to include it in your stops along the Great Ocean Road!
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