Melbourne to Great Ocean Road
Distance: 98 kilometres
Route summary: Leave Melbourne, heading west over the West Gate Bridge and the Yarra River towards the open plains of Werribee Open Range Zoo. Have coffee or lunch in Geelong beside Corio Bay before heading along the Surf Coast Highway, or via the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula, to Torquay, official start of the Great Ocean Road and Australia’s surfing capital.
Highlights: Werribee Open Range Zoo, Echidna Walkabout, National Wool Museum, Geelong Gallery, Little Creatures Brewery, Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Curlewis Golf Club, Queenscliff Brewhouse, Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Leura Park Estate, Flying Brick Cider Company and Australian National Surfing Museum.
Great Ocean Road
O/night: Warrnambool/Port Fairy
Distance: Approx 283 kilometres
Route summary: Drive the Great Ocean Road past sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, the mighty Twelve Apostles (best seen from a helicopter), the Bay of Islands (try seeing them at sunset) and on to Warrnambool or the pretty fishing village of Port Fairy.
Highlights: Australian National Surfing Museum, Anglesea Golf Course, Cape Otway Lightstation, Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Flagstaff Hill Maritime, Basalt Wines and Moyne River.
Great Ocean Road to Grampians
Depart: Warrnambool/Port Fairy
O/night: Halls Gap/Dunkeld
Distance: Approx 158 kilometres
Route summary: Drive through the fertile Western District farmland to Dunkeld, southern gateway to the magic and mystery of the Grampians National Park. Discover the Aboriginal history of the region at Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap. Take a short bushwalk to meet Australian native animals.
Highlights: Hamilton Gallery, Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre, MacKenzie Falls, Grampians Peaks Trail, wildlife and Aboriginal rock art.
Grampians to Ballarat
Depart: Halls Gap/Dunkeld
Distance: Approx 152 kilometres
Route summary: Visit Ararat, the only town in Australia founded by Chinese settlers. Drive through some of Australia’s finest winemaking country, detouring underground to see the vintages at Great Western. Learn the amazing history from Ballarat’s gold rush days and spend some time panning for gold at Sovereign Hill, before admiring the works of art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in historic Lydiard Street.
Highlights: Winery cellar doors, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Sovereign Hill and Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
Ballarat to Spa Country
Distance: 43 kilometres
Route summary: After enjoying a cuddle or two and a bite to eat with the local koalas and kangaroos at the Ballarat Wildlife Park head off to indulge in Australia’s famous spa country. On the way there be sure to experience the historic Creswick Woollen Mills. Once in spa country drink the mineral waters bubbling up from the earth, enjoy a massage and other lavish beauty treatments then stay in luxury replete with fine wining and dining.
Highlights: Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Gold & Relics Gold Prospecting Adventures, Creswick Woollen Mill and Salus Spa.
Spa Country to Melbourne
Distance: 112 kilometres
Route summary: Spend time taking in the pleasures of both Daylesford and Hepburn Springs before making the journey back to Melbourne.
Highlights: Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, The Cooking School at Lake House, Lake House Restaurant, Sault Restaurant and Tastings at Bellinzona.