How to Travel the Great Ocean Road With Your Cat
The Great Ocean Road is probably the most famous road in Australia. Amazing views of ocean, beaches and cliffs on one side and then beautiful rain forests on the other side.
It is one of those roads that make you catch your breath as you drive on it.
The landscape is so picturesque partly due to numerous National Parks along the way.
However, National Parks are usually not pet friendly and are definitely not cat friendly in Australia.
But we still wanted to see the beauty of the Great Ocean Road. We just needed to find a way to keep our kitties entertained when they couldn’t come with us.
I was impressed with the number of pet friendly accommodation options available on the Great Ocean Road. Of course, some of these were only dog friendly or insisted that your pets have to stay outside, which honestly does not work when you are travelling with cats!
As we were concerned that our cats would not be able to go anywhere with us, we wanted to find accommodation with a garden they could explore. In an ideal world, we would have stayed on a farm. However, we really wanted to stay by the water and found that most cat friendly farm style accommodation was at least a 20 minute drive from the ocean.
We settled on staying at Stephanie’s at Onion Bay, a lovely BnB run by, you guessed it, Stephanie. The BnB has several rooms with access to a beautiful garden and there is a path just across the road that takes you straight to the beach.
Stephanie was very kind, introduced herself and even allowed our cats, Lumos & Noxie, to explore her backyard (on leash). Stephanie has a kitty too so we rostered Lumos & Noxie’s exploring time around her cat’s backyard time. However, Stephanie did offer to vary her cat’s exploring roster, which we did appreciate.
It is about 15 minutes from Apollo Bay, which has many options for food, drinks, coffee and more. Stephanie provided us with breakfast, which meant that we didn’t have to go searching for breakfast most days.
Travelling from Melbourne to Apollo Bay with our Cats
Technically the drive from Melbourne to Apollo Bay should only take 2 – 3 hours, but what is the point of driving through some of the most beautiful places in Australia (or the world) if you aren’t going to stop along the way?
We also made the decision to take the costal route so it did take us a little longer.
Sticks and Stones Café
We initially stopped in Torquay, to have lunch. Typically this is easy, find a café & sit down right?
But we had our 2 kitties, so we needed a pet friendly café.
Luckily we knew that Sticks and Stones Café was pet friendly. It is tucked away on the side of a outdoor shopping mall, and was relatively quiet when were there. This allowed Lumos & Noxie to stretch their legs and go for a walk as we waited for our food.
Point Addis Boardwalk
Next up was a walk on the Point Addis Boardwalk.
I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about Point Addis Boardwalk. Everything I read indicated that it was pet friendly, but it was also very close to a National Park. Luckily there were signs that stated it was pet friendly.
Ideally I would have liked to allow Lumos & Noxie to walk along the boardwalk, but it was rather windy and they preferred to stay in their backpacks.
The view is phenomenal and they did get to see some of it.
We also stopped by Teddy’s Lookout, another cat friendly spot. The walk is relatively short, but not short enough to keep your kitties in the car.
If you’re looking for an area that is on the Great Ocean Road that is pet friendly, foodie and has a little bit of walking, Timboon is your answer.
But a warning, the drive there from Apollo Bay is a little windy, which may bother some cats. In fact, the whole Great Ocean Road can be a bit windy, which is why we made regular breaks.
Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
Most commonly known as a whisky distillery, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, also has vodka, snaps & other alcoholic beverages. Not only do they do tastings, they also serve a delicious lunch.
AND, they are pet friendly. They have an outdoor deck area where your pets can sit.
However, during food service, cats are not allowed to walk around the inside area. In saying this, they were very welcoming of Lumos and Noxie, which we appreciated.
They are also a stop on the Great Ocean Road Gourmet Trail, which has some great food destinations!
Camperdown Timboon Railway Trail
This is a great pet friendly trail that starts at the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery.
While it is 34km, there is no need to complete the whole trail and it is extremely pet friendly and pretty easy to walk on.
Noxie enjoyed the trail so much that she hiked for 5 km of it.
Timboon Fine Ice Cream
While not necessarily pet friendly, we also enjoyed Timboon Fine Ice Cream. There is a large outdoor seating area with grass, where you can sit with your pets.
Our favourite ice creams were definitely the Aperol Spritz flavour & the Honeycomb flavour.
One of the struggles with the Great Ocean Road and travelling with cats, it that majority of the pet friendly beaches also happen to be off leash dog beaches – not ideal for cats.
Johanna Beach was one exception. It is also off the beaten path so was relatively quiet. This allowed Lumos and Noxie to explore to their hearts content.
However, it is important to remember that some birds may be nesting in the vegetated area, so keep your kitties away from there!
Apollo Bay is probably one of the most well known towns on the Great Ocean Road. It is the ideal spot to stay as it sits in the ‘middle’ and acts as a great base to explore this beautiful part of Australia. It also has many options for eating and drinking.
We found ourselves having many meals in Apollo Bay. A plus was that most establishments had outdoor seating, which meant that we could sit there with our cats.
Great Ocean Road Brewhouse – Tastes of the Region
You know those places, where your cat is welcomed with open arms? Where they stop work to talk to you and pat your cat? Where they make your cat feel special? Where you go back to again and again because they were so nice (even if your cat is not with you)?
They market themselves as dog friendly inside, but when we asked if the kitties could come in, they pretty much begged us to bring them in!
They helped keep Lumos and Noxie so at ease that Lumos even did his first ever fist bump out of home!
The tasting room has several tasting platters, ranging from local beers, ciders and wines. We highly recommend it.
And the beer garden is also pet friendly and they have a great deal for happy hour. In fact, we returned back when we didn’t have the kitties too.
Other Pet Friendly Places on the Great Ocean Road
We didn’t have a chance to take Lumos & Noxie to all the pet friendly places on the Great Ocean Road, so here are the ones we did not travel to.
Port Fairy is often described as being very pet friendly and having some beautiful cafes and scenery.
Serpentine Boardwalk (Princetown)
Otway Estate (Otway)
Swing Bridge Café & Boathouse (Lorne)
Café Moby (Torquay)
The Down Low
When We Travelled
Cat Friendly Locations We Went To
Cat Friendly Food & Drink Spots
Sticks and Stones Café, Torquay
How We Travelled with Our Cats
We travelled by car, with our 2 cats.