Melbourne – Apollo Bay – Port Fairy – Halls Gap – Ballarat – Melbourne
Total Distance 792kms
- Werribee Open Range Zoo
- Otway Fly
- Twelve Apostles
- Port Campbell National Park
- Sovereign Hill
- Grampians National Park
- Ballarat Wildlife Park
- Eureka Centre
- Victoria Wineries
The Great Southern Touring Route offers the very best of Victoria’s attractions – stunning coastal and inland scenery, history and heritage all in a circular route connecting Melbourne to 3 of Victoria’s regional cities – Geelong, Warrnambool and Ballarat. The flexible, compact touring route is a unique and diverse driving experience, providing links with the internationally acclaimed Great Ocean Road, the natural wonders of the Grampians National Park and the historic Ballarat goldfields.
Pickup car hire Melbourne.
Day 1 – Melbourne to Apollo Bay (184km, 2 hrs 45 mins)
From Melbourne travel towards Geelong along the Princess Highway, stopping at Werribee Park which features an award winning historic mansion and the Werribee Open Range Zoo, an Out of Africa adventure. Geelong’s new waterfront is a popular attraction to take a break.
Then it’s on to Torquay Australia’s surfing capital with beautiful beaches, a surfing museum, and a great shopping centre devoted to surfwear and surfing merchandise. Torquay is the official start of the Great Ocean Road, where it begins to wind its way though Angelsea and onto Lorne. With the ocean on one side and rainforest behind, Lorne is a cosmopolitan beachside destination, popular for swimming and surfing. Restaurants, cafes and boutique shops adorn the street overlooking the bay.
The road hugs the coastline to Apollo Bay, providing spectacular lookout opportunities along the way. Apollo Bay is set in the picturesque green foothills of the Great Otway National Park and boasts long sandy beaches and deep-blue sea. Sample some freshly caught seafood.
Overnight: Apollo Bay
Day 2 – Apollo Bay to Port Fairy (193km, 2 hrs 45 mins)
The Great Ocean Road briefly leaves the coast as you head through the Great Otway National Park where you’ll marvel at mighty fern gullies, huge trees, beautiful waterfalls and native animals in the lush temperate rainforest. For a bird’s eye view, take a walk along the 600 metre long Otway Fly Tree Top canopy walk.
As the Great Ocean Road returns to the coast, the majesty of the Port Campbell National Park quickly begins to unfold. Colossal rock stacks soar from the ocean floor and blowholes roar with spouting water. The massive Twelve Apostles are a highlight of the whole trip. See them from the boardwalk or for truly awe-inspiring scenery and breathtaking photographic opportunities take a helicopter flight with Great Ocean Road Helicopters. More of nature’s beauty is revealed in the Bay of Islands Coastal Park on the drive to Warrnambool. The picturesque city overlooks the deep blue of the Southern Ocean and has a fascinating maritime history. Visit Flagstaff Hill, a recreated 19th century maritime village and in the evening experience ‘Shipwrecked’, a sound and laser spectacular that tells the tragic story of the Loch Ard disaster on a 9-metre aqua screen.
On the way to Port Fairy, visit Tower Hill to intimately observe Australian wildlife in a dormant volcano or experience bush culture with Worn Gundidj, the local Aboriginals. Travel a further 10 minutes along the road to the historic fishing village of Port Fairy. Steeped in history and charm, Port Fairy’s culture and architecture have been beautifully preserved.
Overnight: Port Fairy.
Day 3 – Port Fairy to Halls Gap (158kms, 2 hrs)
The Great Southern Touring Route leaves the coast near Port Fairy and travels north towards the Grampians National Park. Along the way, character packed country towns provide a glimpse of Australian life. Nearing the Grampians, the pristine beauty and enormity of the ranges becomes apparent as they begin to dominate the horizon. In the Grampians National Park, you’ll discover hidden valleys, waterfalls, lakes and wildlife. Explore the region on one of the many walks in the magnificent Halls Gap are and soak up the breathtaking views from the spectacular lookouts. Take a tour to see Koori rock art within the park and learn about the local Aboriginal culture at Brambuck. For the adventurous, Grampians Adventure Services provides rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, guided walks, canoeing and kayaking.
Overnight: Halls Gap
Day 4 – Halls Gap to Ballarat (142kms, 1 hr 45 mins)
The touring route continues onto Ballarat and along the way you can take a self-guided tour of the wine regions of the Pyrenees, Grampians and Ballarat and learning the intimate secrets of some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.
In Ararat you’ll find Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, which re-lives the journey and story of gold prospectors from Southern China and their discovery of Australia’s largest alluvial goldfield.
The legacy of the boom from the gold rush days is evident in the majestic architecture and wide tree-lined streets of Ballarat. Strike gold at Sovereign Hill, the city’s major attraction recreating the gold fever that gripped Australia in the 1850’s. Sovereign Hill is brought to life in this outdoor living museum, which features a working bakery, blacksmith, lolly shop and main street troopers. At night ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ depicts the 1854 Eureka Stockade, the only civil uprising when miners took on the authorities. It’s a spectacular sound and light show not to miss!
Day 5 – Ballarat to Melbourne (115 kms, 1.5 hrs)
Spend the day looking around Ballarat, as it boasts a number of other great attractions including the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, beautiful botanic gardens, the Eureka Centre and a wildlife park. At Ballarat Wildlife Park enjoy close contact with Australian native animals. Feed the free-roaming kangaroos, watch crocodiles and Tasmanian Devil feedings, and participate in koala and wombat photo opportunities.