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Great road trips begin in Melbourne

A road trip from Melbourne in the state of Victoria has highlights around every corner.

Stand on the cliffs taking in the splendour of 12 Apostles, those giant rock formations erupting out of the sea along the Great Ocean Road. Feel the thrill of swimming in the pristine waters of the Mornington Peninsula with a pod of wild bottle-nosed dolphins. Taste the Yarra Valley’s easy-drinking wines while watching kangaroos graze at sunset.

Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state – and its compact size is the state’s best asset. You see, Victoria is packed full of incredibly diverse regions to explore. From the wonderful wildlife of Phillip Island to the endless beaches of Gippsland and unique flavours and landscapes of the Grampians. What’s more, all of these regions are just an hour or so from Melbourne, and each other. This makes Victoria the home of Australia’s best road trips.

Here’s three of our favourites.

Twelve Apostles

Great Southern Touring Route

First place I saw a koala in the wild [was] in the trees above Lorne. Wonderful sight.

Janet Rees Parnaby, UK visitor
  • Dramatic coastal cliffs. Check.
  • Aboriginal rock art sites. Check.
  • Australia’s golden history. Check.
  • Mobs of wild kangaroos. Double check.

The Great Southern Touring Route is arguably Australia’s best road trip. Why? Because every corner of this journey offers something new and something remarkable.

Begin with a journey down the Great Ocean Road – a stunning, diverse and breathtaking experience. Every turn of the 243km road reveals a new natural spectacle – vast beaches with sculpted cliffs, mobs of wild kangaroos, koalas snoozing in gumtrees, temperate rainforests and scenic lookouts hosting views of famous sights such as the 12 Apostles.

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On the road heading towards Apollo Bay where we spent a few days in a remote cabin, far off the beaten track.

Laura Mackfall, UK visitor/photographer

Venture inland to the rugged mountain ranges of the Grampians National Park. It’s here that the beauty of the Australian bush is best understood, with its springtime wildflower smattered amongst rocky outcrops. From the Grampians, drive-on to the Goldfields. Delve into Australia’s gold rush history at Ballarat, once the richest town in the world with a legacy of grand architecture to prove it. Finish this ultimate road trip in the spa-town of Daylesford for a soak in the natural mineral springs and meal to remember at the Lake House.

Read more about the Great Southern Touring Route

Photo: Destination Gippsland

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

It was whilst we were visiting Squeaky Beach that we saw a mother wombat and her baby in the car park.

UK visitor, Pamela Fleet

Weedy seadragons vs beaches that squeak. What’s the best part of taking the incredible Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive?

Is it the endless sandy beaches? The amazing and unique wildlife to be met? Or the ocean-to-plate seafood to be devoured? Let’s take a closer look at all three before deciding.

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Rye Beach, [Mornington Peninsula] April this year.

Alan Sives, UK visitor/photographer

The trip truly includes a who’s-who of Australian wildlife meetings. Start in the Mornington Peninsula and don a snorkel for an intimate encounter with the region’s weedy seadragons – an amazing creature of vibrant colours and leafy limbs. Then head to Phillip Island and say g’day to the local population of koalas, Australia’s largest colony of fur seals, and of course, the “awww”-inspiring little penguins who parade up the beach at dusk every night. A few hours down the road you’ll find Wilsons Promontory, a 50,000 hectare coastal national park and home to vast array of wildlife. A hike in “the prom” is sure to provide meetings with wombats, wallabies, emus and more.

Further up the Victorian coast visitors will discover Croajingolong National Park, home to an extraordinary diversity of landscapes from pure white sandy beaches, rocky coastal headlands and granite peaks to rambling heathland, lush rainforests and towering eucalypts. It’s also home to 300 bird species.

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Great day spent on Phillip Island.

Kevin Gatrell, UK visitor/photographer

There’s something magical about watching [the penguins] come out of the ocean… whilst being under the stars… in the elements.

UK visitor, Jacky Crewe

Every part of this road trip puts on show some of Australia’s best beaches. Picking your favourite will be challenge and a half. But finalists are likely to include Wilsons Promontory’s Squeaky Beach, where the rounded grains of white quartz “squeak” as you walk along the dry sand as well as 90 Mile Beach in the Gippsland Lakes region. This the long stretch of pristine golden sand separates the Gippsland Lakes from Bass Strait and is the ideal place for swimming, fishing, walking or simply whale and dolphin watching in the sunshine.

Been there, and the sand really squeaked!!

UK visitor, Maureen Riddex 

But there’s one more important thing to note for anyone who takes on this journey. And that’s the incredible taste of the road trip’s ocean-to-plate seafood, local wines and boutique beers. Of course, this is all best served at a sunset picnic on the beach of your choice.

Read more about the Great Southern Touring Route

South East Touring Triangle

Ever heard of the South East Touring Triangle? Let us tell you why you should have.

Start your day to the song of Melbourne city and its bustling, art-filled laneways and depart with the taste of some of the globe’s finest coffee lingering in your mouth. An hour later, arrive in the lush Yarra Valley and watch kangaroos bounding around the vineyard as you sip tip-top pinot noir and chardonnay. Come sunset, feel the sand between your toes and the laugh in your belly as hundreds of little penguins parade up the beach on Phillip Island. And that’s just day one.

Visited Punt Road Winery this time last year and brought some of their wine all the way home to Northern Ireland.

Ann Porter, UK visitor

The most unique aspect of this road trip is that in four days, you could have driven less than four hours – maximizing your time out of the car and experiencing the best of Australia. In those four days you will have visited three of Victoria’s most diverse regions. After experiencing the famous wines of the Yarra Valley and wildlife of Phillip Island, it’s time to walk on the white sandy beaches of the Mornington Peninsula. Here you’ll find a coastal wine region with beaches begging to be wandered, wineries laying lunch tables of fresh local produce and a bay teeming with remarkable wildlife, including bottle-nosed dolphins, fur seals and even weedy seadragons.

Read more about the South East Touring Triangle

Time to plan your Australia road trip?

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Sun going down in Melbourne… My last night.

Hazel Connelly, UK visitor

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Head to our website to view more Australia road trips

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