Melbourne – Bellarine Peninsula – Great Ocean Road –Grampians National Park –Ballarat – Daylesford – Echuca
Take one of the world’s great roadtrips along the spectacular Great Ocean Road, then head inland to the magnificent rugged mountains of the Grampians. Continue on to the spa country in Daylesford before you arrive at the mighty Murray River. Step back in time at the historic port of Echuca and cruise on paddlesteamer. On your return to Melbourne, stop in Beechworth, where intriguing gold rush stories, fabulous food and wine produce entice you to stay another night.
At a glance:
Melbourne is an easy city to walk around but you can also hop on and off on the nostalgic city circle tram or the free inner city trams.
Federation Square is a must stop and famous for its striking architecture. It includes the Ian Potter Centre-NGV, a gallery dedicated to Australian art, restaurants and entertainment.
Very relaxing is a stroll along the banks of the Yarra River, or a walk through the impressive Royal Botanic Gardens.
For a wildlife fix head to Melbourne Zoo or SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, where you can see the only Antarctic penguins in Australia.
Take a guided tour of Melbourne’s inner city laneways. Here you’ll find local boutiques, bars, and cafes. Alternatively join the locals at Queen Victoria Market, where you can buy everything from fruit and vegetables to opals and other souvenirs.
For amazing views over Melbourne head up to the Eureka Skydeck 88, the highest public lookout in the Southern Hemisphere.
Depart Melbourne for the Bellarine Peninsula. Enjoy breathtaking ocean views over lunch at Jack Rabbit Winery. Explore the historic village of Queenscliff and cruise with South Bay Eco Adventures to see the wildlife of the bay up close. Practise your swing with a round of golf at Thirteenth Beach or Curlewis in Torquay.
Visit the Australian Surf Museum in Torquay and Surf shopping plaza, home of Ripcurl and Quiksilver; be adventurous and take a surf lesson with Go Ride A Wave or watch the professionals at Bells Beach, home of the Rip Curl Pro each Easter.
Continue to Lorne via Anglesea (stop in for a round of golf with the kangaroos if you like), Aireys Inlet and Eastern View, with its iconic monument to the building of the Great Ocean Road.
Keep your eyes on the trees – this area is full of koalas. Stop at Kennett River for virtually guaranteed viewing.
Overnight in Apollo Bay or Cape Otway
Visit the Twelve Apostles, the most famous rock formations along the coast. Stop at Loch Ard Gorge and Gibsons Steps before you continue to Warrnambool via the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands, two spectacular coastal stack viewing areas. Don’t miss out on Logans Beach at Warrnambool for whale watching in season (June – September), or learn about the town’s maritime history at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum.
The extinct volcano crater of Tower Hill is filled with free-roaming wildlife, from emus to koalas to wallabies and kangaroos, as well as the occasional echidna. Take a walk with Worn Gundidj, the local Aboriginal cooperative, or follow the signs for a self-guided tour of the lava flows. Overnight in Warrnambool or historic village of Port Fairy.
Rise early and head north to the Grampians National Park, an area of rugged mountains, spectacular waterfalls, wildflowers and lots of wildlife.
Check in at Brambuk The National Park and Cultural Centre for tips on which walks to do in the National Park, and find one or two that suit your level of fitness and interest. The Grampians are home to 90% of the Aboriginal Rock Art sites in Victoria. Some estimated to date back 22,000 years. Local Aboriginal guides lead tours, and there are also plenty of scenic walks in the park.
How about a bushwalk at sunrise? Then make your way to the goldfield region and stop in Ballarat for some gold digging at Sovereign Hill. Continue to Daylesford for some relaxation. Indulge in a spa treatment featuring the region’s famous natural mineral springs at Hepburn Mineral Springs Bathhouse, or Salus Spa at the Lake House. Visit the Convent Gallery with its ever-changing displays and unique history. Learn all about local produce over dinner at the Lake House.
Today, continue to Echuca and cruise on a paddle steamer along the Murray River. Echuca is a bustling heritage port and home to one of the largest riverboat fleets in the world.
There is much to do in Echuca. Stroll along the river, watch traditional shipwrights at work, take a ride on a horse and carriage, and visit the underground bar and escape tunnel at the Star Hotel.
From here you can return via the High Country to Melbourne or continue your journey to Sydney.