Arrival - Melbourne - Apollo Bay
Distance: 187Km, Approx. Travel Time: 2.5Hr
Depart Melbourne via the West Gate Bridge and follow the Princess Highway towards Werribee. You may like to visit the Werribee Open Range Zoo where animals from Africa, Asia, North America and Australia roam in open grasslands. Continue to Geelong, Victoria's second-largest city, and explore its historic waterfront; a lively area filled with restaurants and cafés. The Geelong waterfront with its colourful bollards and yachts is a sight to behold. Call into the Bellarine Peninsula and get to the wild heart of Port Phillip Bay with a South Bay Eco Adventures tour (optional) into the habitat of dolphins, seals, whales, penguins and sea birds. From here, a short drive to Torquay - the official start of the spectacular coastal drive along the Great Ocean Road. The Surf World Museum at Torquay documents surfing history in the region and provides interpretative displays. Along with Bells Beach, Torquay is recognised among the world's premier surf locations. Time permitting, you can learn to surf with the experts. Continue on through the townships of Anglesea and Aireys Inlet to Lorne, a resort-style town combining restaurants and shops with historic properties and natural attractions such as the Angahook-Lorne State Park. Approaching Apollo Bay, the contrast between rugged coast and inland forest becomes more spectacular. The stretch between Lorne and Apollo Bay is considered by many to be the most picturesque section of the Great Ocean Road. The highway is carved into sheer cliffs that drop away into the ocean, offering commanding views of the waves swelling and crashing onto the rocks and beaches below. This small fishing and farming village is also an excellent base for exploring the waterfalls and rainforests in the Otway National Park whilst enjoying the fresh seafood and local produce. Not to be missed is dinner at award-wining Chris Restaurant, which overlooks Apollo Bay.
Overnight: Apollo Bay.
Apollo Bay - Warrnambool
Distance: 169Km, Approx. Travel Time: 2.5Hr
Continue your journey west from Apollo Bay and walk through breathtaking wilderness, explore secluded beaches or the forest canopy via the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk in the Otway National Park. Thereafter, drive to Port Campbell National Park to witness nature's marvellous rock formations. This is the most famous section of the Great Ocean Road featuring an amazing collection of rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles - carved out of the headland by the fierce waves of the southern ocean. Spectacular shapes in the nearby cliffs, including Loch Ard Gorge, the Arch, the Blowhole and London Bridge as well as Wreck Beach are also not to be missed. Adventurous sightseers can take the boardwalks that lead to lookouts and great views of the coastline, which is dotted with plaques and signs that mark the places where more than 160 ships floundered along the aptly named Shipwreck Coast. An exhilarating helicopter experience over the coastline and rock formations will mark an unforgettable experience! This leg of the journey ends at Warrnambool, the only city on the Shipwreck Coast. Set on the edge of Lady Bay, Warrnambool boasts a colourful history, which can be explored at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. Whales migrate along the part of the coastline and can be spotted from lookouts and on boat trips between May and October. The nightly "Shipwrecked" sound and light show is a definite highlight!
Warrnambool - Halls Gap
Distance: 158Km, Approx. Travel Time: 2.5Hr
Head to the quaint fishing township of Port Fairy from Warrnambool for morning tea. Discover more about maritime history at Port Fairy, a busy fishing port and one of the state's earliest settled coastal villages. Take the time to explore the town's streets and over 50 nineteenth-century buildings classified by the National Trust. From Port Fairy, the Great Southern Touring Route turns north, away from the coast and towards the natural beauty of the Grampians mountain range. Dunkeld is a beautiful village on the edge of the Grampians. A highlight is the Royal Mail Hotel which has won many accolades for its local produce driven menus. The Grampians National Park is famous for some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia and is the perfect place for both relaxation and adventure.. Along with its natural beauty, the Grampians are home to the largest collection of Aboriginal rock paintings in Victoria. The town of Halls Gap is the tourist hub of the region. Halls Gap nestles right in the heart of the majestic Grampians National Park with its wildflowers and waterfalls, alongside local village stores, alluring wineries and colourful galleries. Explore the scenic drives, lookouts, and waterfalls in the beautiful Grampians National Park. Brambuk, a National Park & Cultural Centre located 2.5 kilometres South of Halls Gap shops, is a good starting point for anyone interested in exploring the park. Learn about the diverse culture of the indigenous people at Brambuk and join a tour of the many ancient aboriginal rock art sites in the area. Explore the park by foot and drive to walks such as MacKenzie Falls, Hollow Mountain and The Pinnacle which offer a wonderful variety of vegetation and landscapes. View Australian native animals in the wild throughout the Grampians National Park or visit the Halls Gap Zoo on Halls Gap-Ararat Road. You will get to see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, emus, possums and dingoes. Don't miss exotic animals like meerkats, giraffe and red pandas in a bushland setting.
Overnight: Halls Gap.
Halls Gap - Ballarat
Distance: 185Km, Approx. Travel Time: 2.5Hr
Leaving the Grampians, the Great Southern Touring Route heads north towards the Goldfields. Call into one of the many wineries in the township of Great Western where wine has been produced for over 150 years. Take a tour of the 3km of underground cellars at Seppelt. South-east of Stawell is Ararat, a thriving community settled during the gold rush of the 1800s. Visit the former gaol for the criminally insane, J Ward, explore the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre and the Langi Morgala Museum, which commemorate the history and culture of the Chinese immigrants who settled in the region to seek their fortune. From here the route turns east to Ballarat, one of Victoria's largest cities. Built with the wealth of the gold rush, much of the opulence of the era is still on display in the grand public buildings, hotels and historic streetscapes. Ballarat was the site of the world's largest deposit of alluvial gold and also of the Eureka Stockade - the famous uprising of miners against the government licensing system. Step back to the gold-mining era of the 1850s at Sovereign Hill. See blacksmiths at work, people dressed in Victorian costumes, pan for gold or go down an underground mine. Get up close with Australian wildlife at Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Overnight : Ballarat
Ballarat - Melbourne
Distance: 170Km, Approx. Travel Time: 1.5Hr
Spend time taking in the pleasures of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs before making the journey back to Melbourne. Free at leisure
Melbourne - Departure
Extend your journey into Melbourne and beyond, or fly onwards to your next destination.