Melbourne - Lorne - Port Fairy - Mount Gambier - Coonawarra - Robe - Victor Harbor - McLaren Vale - Kangaroo Island - Adelaide
Travel from Melbourne to Adelaide along the country's breathtaking south-east coastline. Drive the Great Ocean Road past the iconic surf spots of Torquay and Bells Beach, then onto the holiday haven of Lorne and the magnificent Twelve Apostles. Walk through waterfalls and lush forest in Otway National Park and watch whales from historic Warrnambool. Soak up seafaring history in Port Fairy and Portland, near the towering sea cliffs of Cape Bridgewater. Taste wine in Coonawarra and see the fossils of giant marsupials in World heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves. Cruise the Coorong and explore the inviting beaches and wineries of the Fleurieu Peninsula on your way to Adelaide.
At a glance:
- Melbourne – Lorne (2 hours)
- Lorne – Port Fairy (3 hours, 30 mins)
- Port Fairy – Mount Gambier (1 hour, 45 mins)
- Mount Gambier – Coonawarra (50 mins)
- Coonawarra - Robe (1 hour, 20 mins)
- Robe – Victor Harbor (4 hours)
- Victor Harbor – McLaren Vale (40 mins)
- McLaren Vale – Kangaroo Island (3 hours, 15 mins)
- Kangaroo Island – Adelaide (3 hours, 50 mins)
Melbourne to Lorne
Drive into Geelong on the Bellarine Peninsula, where you can walk along the waterfront, visit local vineyards or swim from the beaches. Continue onto Torquay, where the spectacular, cliff-hugging Great Ocean Road begins. Torquay is also the gateway to Victoria’s Surf Coast. Visit the huge surfing museum and ride the waves of popular Jan Juc or iconic Bells Beach. Surf at Point Addis and Anglesea, where golfers share the scenic golf course with grazing kangaroos. The great waves continue at Fairhaven and Eastern View, en route to the seaside holiday haven of Lorne. Swim from the golden beach of Loutit Bay and walk to waterfalls such as Erskine Falls tucked into the Otway Ranges. Trawl the galleries, boutiques and restaurants of the main street and drink coffee at one of Victoria‘s first cafes. Stay in a bed and breakfast, camping site or in luxury accommodation spilling into the surrounding forest.
Lorne to Port Fairy
Watch the rugged cliffs drop dramatically to ocean on one side and national park on the other driving into Apollo Bay. Explore the ancient rainforests, heathlands, glow worm caves and waterfalls of Great Otway National Park. Visit the 150-year-old Cape Otway Lighthouse and picnic at Paradise or Shelly Beaches. Curving round the coast, you’ll see the craggy limestone towers of the Twelve Apostles rising out of the Southern Ocean. Take photos from the boardwalk or Gibson’s steps and wander the paths at London Bridge, Bay of Islands and Loch Ard Gorge. Continue along Shipwreck Coast, named after the wild seas that sent at least 700 ships crashing on the rocks. Explore Warrnambool, where from May to October Southern Right Whales calve off Logan Beach. Soak up seafaring history in Port Fairy, with its old whitewashed cottages and Georgian-style homes. See Australia‘s largest fur seal colony and get up close to dolphins, whales and sharks from a boat.
Port Fairy to Coonawarra via Mount Gambier
Continue along the coastal road to Portland, Victoria’s first European settlement. Check out the hundreds of heritage buildings and watch fishing boats unload their catch on the waterfront. Drive the scenic coastal route to rugged Cape Nelson State Park and the towering sea cliffs of Cape Bridgewater. Look over the deep-blue waters of Bridgewater Bay, explore a sand-petrified forest and walk around the cape to see the large fur seal colony. Back on the highway, drive through Nelson and across the South Australian border to Mount Gambier.
When in Mount Gambier, a must visit is the Blue Lake – an extinct volcano crater filled with water, which from early November until late February changes to an intense deep turquoise colour almost overnight. Further south at Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, snorkel across the top of The Chasm and peer down into the dark depths below. For those who don’t want to get into the water, take a walk along the beach and see the freshwater springs bubbling up onto the sand. The town is also on the doorstep of the Coonawarra wine region. Coonawarra is the Limestone Coast’s main wine region, sometimes called Australia’s ‘other red centre’. Cellar doors are close together and well signposted, so look out for Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate, Hollick Wines, Zema Estate, Balnaves of Coonawarra and Rymill Coonawarra. If you have the time, there are a couple of other must-sees while you’re in the area. Mayura Station, near Millicent is famous for its premium quality Wagyu beef. You can visit their Tasting Room for samples and private dining. Also nearby is the Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park which consists of a single cavern bursting with helictites.
Coonawarra to Robe
Speaking of caves, your trip isn’t complete without a visit to the Naracoorte Caves National Park. As well as the caves, you will find fossilised skeletons of the giant animals that once roamed the area. Head west towards the ocean and the beautiful town of Robe. The Robe Obelisk is a local icon – it’s 12 metres tall and visible 20 kilometres out to sea. Robe’s Long Beach is a great family beach with gentle surf and you can safely drive your car onto the sand.
Robe to Victor Harbor
Travel north along the Coorong from Robe, past Meningie to Wellington where one of the first ferries started crossing the Murray River in 1839. The Wellington ferry still operates today and will carry you and your vehicle across the river free of charge. Once you’ve crossed the Murray River, head west to the Langhorne Creek wine region. It’s known for its outstanding red wines, but you will also find fantastic crisp white wines. On your way to Goolwa, Currency Creek Winery is a great place to visit any time of the year. The last stop for the day is the historic river town of Goolwa, from where you can take a ‘Spirit of the Coorong’ cruise to the mouth of the Murray River, or if you like a little adventure you can take a Canoe the Coorong tour. From Goolwa it’s only a short drive to Victor Harbor.
Victor Harbor to McLaren Vale
The Big Duck Boat Tour is a spectacular ocean experience on board a large semi-inflatable boat. The tour visits inaccessible areas off the coast and gets you up close to seals, dolphins, seabirds and whales (in season). Tours depart from the Granite Island causeway. The horse-drawn tram is a fun way to get to Granite Island. It’s the only tramway of its kind in Australia, and is powered by beautiful Clydesdale horses. Once you are on Granite Island, maybe enjoy a picnic or follow the boardwalk around the island. When you leave Victor Harbor, head either south to Kangaroo Island or north to McLaren Vale. In McLaren Vale, look for McMurtrie Mile which leads past six great food and wine attractions all on the same road. Or if you have the time and have planned ahead, catch the ferry from Cape Jervis and end the day on Kangaroo Island.
At Seal Bay Conservation Park you can walk on the beach with endangered Australian sea lions in their natural environment. Join one of the regular guided tours, or wander along the 800-metre boardwalk.
Nearby Raptor Domain is an animal education and rehabilitation centre. Instead of displaying animals, they present them in three different educational and interactive presentations daily.
If you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, enjoy some outdoor fun with Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action.
Ride quad bikes through the bush or hire a sandboard and surf the massive sand dunes at Little Sahara. Formed over thousands of years from eroded limestone, Little Sahara dunes are spectacular and worth a visit.
Kangaroo Island to Adelaide
Marron doesn’t come any fresher than at Andermel Marron and Two Wheeler Creek Wines in Parndana. Visitors can take a tour of the marron shed and taste wine before enjoying a meal in the café .
Witness the amazing forces of nature at Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park. A boardwalk leads visitors to this spectacular rock arch which is also home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
Still in Flinders Chase National Park, the impressive Remarkable Rocks look like a cluster of precariously balanced granite. This stunning work of nature has been shaped by the
forces of wind, sea spray and rain over some 500 million years. Finally, visit Stokes Bay on the north coast. Walk to the east of the bay and follow the signs pointing to the beach. Follow a secret passage through boulders and be greeted by a picture perfect swimming beach. Return to Adelaide, or if you have time, stay another day because there’s still so much to see and do.