Melbourne: Explore "The World's Most Liveable City"
Crowned "The World's Most Liveable City" for seven years in a row, friendly Melbourne is the perfect place to begin your Australian self-drive adventure.
This compact, diverse metropolis is begging to be explored after settling in to your comfortable accommodation. There are hidden charms around every corner, beautiful Botanic Gardens and chic city squares where you can soak up the atmosphere to your heart's content.
Hidden Secrets: Guided Tour of Melbourne's Lanes & Arcades
Melbourne’s arcades and laneways hide many treasures. Today's Lanes and Arcades walking tour is the ideal way to discover the inner heart of the city.
Wandering through Melbourne’s signature lanes and arcades with your guide, you'll visit the quirkiest cafes, independent designers, street art and architecture, with historical tales of Melbourne along the way.
Accommodation: Melbourne - 1 Night
Melbourne to Apollo Bay: Discover the Great Ocean Road
Collect your rental car and get ready to embark on one of the world's greatest coastal drives: the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road Touring Route has a number of scenic lookouts all the way from Torquay to the border of Victoria and South Australia. Make your way along the coast to Bells Beach to check out the amazing surf and capture some spectacular views of the coastline and the Southern Ocean.
Be sure to stop at the town of Anglesea and visit the golf course: it's famous for the kangaroos lounging under the trees and hopping across the greens!
Apollo Bay: Paradise By The Sea
Tonight you will stay in the beautiful village of Apollo Bay. The Bay is referred to as the “Paradise by the Sea” and is a great place for those who love the beaches and water sports.
Accommodation: Apollo Bay - 1 Night
Approximate Distance: 199 km | 124 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 38 mins
Apollo Bay to Warrnambool: Marvel at the 12 Apostles
Continue along the Great Ocean Road for a scenic 2.5 hour drive, pausing at Port Campbell to view the magnificent 12 Apostles.
Scenic Flight over the 12 Apostles
The giant limestone rock stacks of the 12 Apostles rise majestically from the Southern Ocean. They are considered some of the most beautiful of Australia's natural wonders.
The best way to enjoy the rugged splendour of these famous rock formations is by helicopter. A 15 minute scenic flight gets you up close and personal with Victoria's dramatic shoreline.
Onwards to Warrnambool
Keep your eyes peeled as you continue along the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool: the coastline is dotted with plaques and signs marking where more than 160 ships sank along the fittingly named Shipwreck Coast.
Dramatically situated on a plateau behind a steep bluff, the coastal town of Warrnambool overlooks lovely Lady Bay. With clean sheltered beaches at the city's front door, visiting whales, notorious shipwrecks and unique volcanoes, there's plenty to explore here tomorrow.
Accommodation: Warrnambool - 2 Nights
Approximate Distance: 160 km | 99 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins
Warrnambool at Your Leisure
A free day to relax and enjoy Warrnambool however you desire.
Surrounded by such spectacular coastline, fantastic beaches and ocean views, you may want to spend a lazy day strolling the beautiful parks and gardens or exploring the beach and bike trails. For a more active day, here are our favourite suggestions:
Suggested Activity: Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum & Village
At Flagstaff Hill you'll travel back in time and experience what life was like for the Shipwreck Coast’s first European settlers.
As you wander this replica village you'll learn the stories of hundreds of ships, crewmen and passengers who succumbed to the Shipwreck Coast in the 19th Century. Discover how the Coast got its name and see the many treasures reclaimed from the ocean floor by divers.
Suggested Activity: Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Koalas, emus, kangaroos and native waterbirds roam freely in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, which sits inside a 30,000-year-old extinct volcano. There are over 200 koalas and kangaroos living here, and you're guaranteed to meet a few!
Bird-lovers can take advantage of the boardwalks, nesting boxes and bird-hide where you can spy on fabulous natives such as the chestnut teal and the awkward-looking Spoonbill.
Warrnambool to Halls Gap - Gateway to the Grampians
Bid farewell to the coast and venture inland to Halls Gap, the gateway to Grampians National Park.
Grampians National Park and Halls Gap
Rising up from Victoria's Western Plains, the Grampians is a series of sandstone mountain ranges and lush forests filled with wildlife. It's home to one of South-East Australia's richest Aboriginal rock art sites.
Halls Gap is a delightful village nestled at the heart of the Grampians National Park. The village is home to many popular annual events, from the Grampians Grape Escape Food & Wine Festival to the Grampians Jazz & Blues Festival. It's the perfect base from which to explore.
There is no light pollution at Halls Gap, meaning you can see the stars shining in all their glory when the sun goes down. Grab a torch, head outside and look to the skies for fantastic light shows on a clear night.
Accommodation: Halls Gap - 2 Nights
Approximate Distance: 162 km | 101 miles Total Driving Time: 1 hour 56 mins
Grampians National Park: Rugged Beauty & Wildlife
Spend a fabulous free day in the Grampians National Park: cascading waterfalls, beautiful walking trails and sacred Indigenous sites are just a short walk or drive away.
You could enjoy an afternoon at Halls Gap Zoo with over 160 native and wild animals including cheetah, giraffe, meerkats, koalas and kangaroos. Or hike to the top of The Pinnacle for sensational views over a huge expanse of western Victoria.
You may wish to hike the downhill trail to Mackenzie Falls, the largest waterfall in Victoria. Or visit the Brambuk Cultural Centre for insights into local culture through traditional stories, art, music, dance, weapons, tools and photographs. Try some native Australian flavours at their cafe, such as grilled emu or kangaroo pie.
However you choose to spend your day, don't forget to catch a last glimpse of the starry skies before you go to bed.
Halls Gap to Melbourne: Strike Gold at Sovereign Hill
Hit the road once more and head for Ballarat, Victoria's largest inland city. Here you will visit Sovereign Hill where you can try your luck at panning for gold!
Ballarat: Gold Rush
Thanks to the Gold Rush beginning in 1851, Ballarat has enjoyed a rich and prosperous past. In fact, the gold output from the state of Victoria was once the second-largest in the world (after California). The Gold Rush legacy is still visible in the grand architecture and tree-lined streets of the town: there are many Victorian and Edwardian buildings, parks, gardens and statues to admire as you stroll around.
Visit Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill's amazing outdoor museum re-creates Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold in 1851. Thousands of international adventurers rushed to the goldfields hoping to make their fortune.
You can see a spectacular $160,000 gold pour, take a fully guided underground gold mine tour, or ride around the old town in a horse-drawn coach. See steam-driven machinery in action and chat with the wheelwrights, candlemakers and confectioners as they ply their trades. At the Red Hill Gully you can pan for real gold and keep any that you find!
Continue on to Melbourne
Return to Melbourne this evening and spend a last night enjoying the bright lights of this friendly city.
Accommodation: Melbourne - 1 Night
Approximate Distance: 254 km | 158 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 54 mins
Return Rental Car and Depart Melbourne
Say farewell to Melbourne today as you board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional Australian experience. We know you will enjoy your 8 Day Great Ocean Road & Grampians Tour and we hope you will return soon to discover even more highlights of this incredible continent.