The Perfect Southern Touring Route

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What includes an iconic city, a rainforest filled with koalas, epic rock formations and a journey through fields of gold? The incredible Southern Touring Route. This unforgettable road trip takes you through the best of Victoria, but don’t just take our word for it. We’ve embedded recommendations from UK visitors within this guide so that you know the best places for travellers just like you!

Day 1: Melbourne

Starting point

Find your feet at the heart of the city, Flinders Street Station. This iconic spot is the bustling hub of the city and the perfect place to start your adventure.

Walk just across the road from Flinders Street Station to explore Federation Square. With its striking modern design and bustling bar and dining scene, it’s a happening place. Don’t miss your first taste of Melbourne’s thriving art scene with the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian collection.

Make sure to browse through the famous The Royal Arcade before getting a taste of Melbourne’s incredible food scene at the Queen Victoria Market. The largest open-air markets in the Southern Hemisphere, the area is a melting-pot of flavours, sounds and smells. Explore hundreds of shops and stalls selling everything from gourmet meats and cheeses to Australian opals and knitwear. After a day spent shopping, make your way to a nearby pub for a relaxing afternoon drink.

Finish your day nearly 300 metres above the city at Eureka Skydeck 88. With panoramic views of the city, it’s a spectacular way to end your first day in Melbourne.

Day 2: St. Kilda

Driving Time: None (Take the tram!)

Hop on a tram from Flinders Street and spend day two chilling out in seaside St Kilda. Take a stroll along the palm-lined foreshore, lie on the beach under the summer sun or try your hand at barefoot bowls.

For another level of relaxation, head to the St Kilda Sea Baths and enjoy a luxurious treatment at Spa Dreamtime or take a dip in the sea water pool offering views over the beach.

In the afternoon, walk through the iconic mouth of the Luna Park amusement park then move to nearby Fitzroy Street and kick back in any number of pubs, courtyards and wine bars. For those with a sweet tooth, a slice of coffee and cake on Acland Street is a must.

If you’re looking for a meal on the tram, we’ve got that covered too. Grab a reservation for The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant, where you can have dinner on a restored, moving tram.

Day 3: Melbourne to Apollo Bay

Driving Time: 3 hours

After two days around Melbourne, take it down a notch with a relaxed journey to Torquay. Just over an hour’s drive, the beautiful surfing capital of Australia marks the beginning of the Great Ocean Road. Torquay’s turquoise coastline is blessed with perfect waves that break at locations including the world-famous Bells Beach. Take in views from vantage points along the Surf Coast Walk.

For kangaroo spotting, stop at nearby Anglesea and venture to the local golf course where it’s not uncommon to see them hopping across the green or lounging under the shade of a tree. Next, pass by gorgeous coastal views all the way to the seaside town of Lorne.

Nearby the boutique shops and incredible scenery of Lorne is Kennett River and its koalas. Follow the ‘koala walk’ with your camera ready. Just don’t expect the koalas to wake up for you. They sleep up to 18 hours per day!

Finally, head to Apollo Bay. On your way you’ll travel up along cliff-tops offering incredible views alongside wild beaches. Make sure to stop at the lookouts for photos and spend some time exploring the beaches by foot.

Day 4: Apollo Bay

Located at the foothills of the Otways, the seafood village of Apollo Bay is a striking mix of tranquil beaches and rolling green hills. Leave time to explore the nearby Great Otway National Park, home to rainforests full of waterfalls, ferns and crystal-clear streams.

You’re almost guaranteed to spot a wild koala with a drive through the park to Cape Otway Lightstation. This forested land is home to the most dense population of koalas on the planet. At the end of the road is the lightstation, Australia’s oldest working lighthouse and perhaps the most photogenic as well.

Day 5: Apollo Bay to Port Fairy

Driving Time: 3 hours

Back on the Great Ocean Road, get your camera ready for the jaw-dropping coastline leading to Port Campbell and its famous 12 Apostles, a group of rock formations dotted along the Southern Ocean.  This UNESCO World Heritage site can be viewed from the sand, from an easy-to-access viewing platform or from the sky during a magical helicopter tour.

Appreciate the power of nature with a visit to Loch Ard Gorge. Take your time walking the trails and learn about the region’s shipwreck history.

As the drive continues, take a slight detour to The Tower Hill State Game Reserve. Walk the tracks to spot koalas, emus, kangaroos and waterbirds who roam freely among the hills and lake-filled craters of this extinct volcano.

Day 6: Port Fairy

If you’re missing the Melbourne food and art scene, Port Fairy is the perfect fix. This quaint little town is home to a diverse array of boutiques, antique stores and impressive hotels and restaurants.

For a taste of the region’s produce, pop in to the renowned Merrijig Kitchen or chef Ryan Sessions’ Fen. In the early evening, Griffiths Island is the place to be for birdwatchers.

Day 7: Port Fairy to Halls Gap

Driving Time: 2.5 hours

A slight turn north out of Port Fairy takes you to the foothills of The Grampians.  Watch as the landscape slowly changes and the rugged sandstone mountain ranges start to take shape.

Leave time for a quick stop at Dunkeld, another small town in love with the arts. Wander through the galleries and museum to see how generations of locals draw inspiration from the landscape. For lunch, try the award-winning Royal Mail Hotel.

Leaving Dunkeld, take the scenic Grampians Road right through the national park to Halls Gap, an excellent base for exploring the ranges. Have your camera ready to capture the kangaroos, koalas, emus and wedge-tailed eagles that call the area home.

Day 8: Halls Gap

Grab a takeaway coffee in the main street of Halls Gap and get ready for a morning of spectacular sight-seeing. Add Boroka, Reed and the Balconies to your itinerary, all three lookouts offer stunning views over the Mount William and Wonderland Ranges.

Leave enough time to check out MacKenzie Falls too, one of Victoria’s largest and most spectacular waterfalls. Take the steep climb down to the base of the falls (allow an hour return) or the easier trail that follows the top of the ridge line.

Spend the afternoon at Brambuk, The National Park and Cultural Centre, to experience Australia’s native flora and fauna and Aboriginal culture. Join local guides on tours to ancient rock art sites before enjoying lunch at The Bush Tucker Café.

Day 9: Halls Gap to Ballarat

Driving time: 2 hours

Back out on the open road, you’re just over an hour’s drive from your final destination for the day, Ballarat. Along the Western Highway, admire the imposing Mt Ghiran and explore the beautiful Langhi Ghiran State Park, rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage and significant art sites.

Upon arrival in Ballarat, stop for dinner or stay the night at Craig’s Royal Hotel, a grand heritage hotel. Leave time for a visit to Sovereign Hill where you can learn about local history and pan for nuggets of gold.

Day 10: Ballarat to Melbourne

Driving time: 2.5 hours

On the final day of your trip, spend the morning exploring Ballarat’s heritage precinct. Here you can learn how the city’s gold mining history shaped the design and look of the city. Notice the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, parks, gardens, statues and churches that speak of the town’s wealthy history.

To celebrate the near end of your journey, stop into Daylesford for the ultimate spa and dining experience at Lake House Restaurant & Spa.

Before heading back to Melbourne, take a detour to nearby Hepburn Springs. Taste mineral waters from old-fashioned pumps in the Hepburn Springs Mineral Springs Reserve or book in a visit to Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. Two spa experiences in one day will have you feeling refreshed and ready for the drive back to Melbourne.

As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do in Victoria. This itinerary is just a sample of the incredible experiences that await you in Australia. For more itinerary suggestions and information, head to our Visit Melbourne website!

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