In horrifying scenes, the driver was flung on to rocks more than 20m from the vehicle after it careered through a guard rail near the Cape Patton Lookout, east of Apollo Bay.
The man was killed instantly but the woman, in her 40s, was pinned inside the crumpled car and had to be monitored by emergency crews using binoculars until they could get to her.
The couple were travelling east along the busy tourist route when the accident happened about 4.30pm.
It took 90 minutes for the woman to be freed before she was winched to safety.
“She was conscious the whole time,” CFA District 6 officer Byron Kershaw said.
“When rescue crews arrived they could see her waving her arm.
“It was a very technical rescue, because the embankment was vertical.
“Rescue crews used ropes to take down their hydraulic equipment.”
The impact had caused the vehicle’s motor to be flung from the bonnet, he said. An air ambulance landed on rocks near the mangled Volkswagen, which had fallen about 150m below the cliff.
She was flown to Kennett River for stabilisation before being flown to The Alfred.
A spokeswoman for Ambulance Victoria said the woman was suffering injuries to the pelvis, legs and stomach.
She was last night in a serious but stable condition.
Points South Hotel owner Bryan James said the road was not dangerous but people were often distracted by the scenery or tourists who forgot which side of the road to drive on.
Mr James said he travelled the road daily and often saw tourists stopped dangerously on the road.
“You’ll get tourists who stop in the middle of the road to look at the view or a koala,” he said.
The Cape Patton lookout was also a draw card that people had to cross lanes to get into, he said.