- Go sightseeing, scout street art, taste coffee, and pub hop in Melbourne
- Explore the Otway Ranges via ziplining and treetop walking tours
- View the iconic waterside rock formations known as The Twelve Apostles
- Pan for gold at the outdoor Sovereign Hill museum in Ballarat
|Day 1||Arrive in Melbourne||Melbourne|
|Day 2||Travel Great Ocean Road||Lorne|
|Day 3||Great Ocean Road Tour||Apollo Bay|
|Day 4||Travel Inland to Ballarat and Return to Melbourne||Melbourne|
|Day 5||Depart Melbourne|
Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne
Welcome to Melbourne! Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car and head into the city. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
If you do a bit of sightseeing, bookmark Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Markets, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, to start. Since Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, expect funky street art and bohemian coffee shops tucked in many corners of the town.
The evening is at your leisure to enjoy a nice welcome dinner, along with exploring the local bar and pub scene—maybe even catch some live music.
Day 2: Travel Great Ocean Road
Depart from Melbourne in the morning, and begin your Great Ocean Road journey. The first destination is Bells Beach in Torquay, a famous location for surfers. Bells Beach is known for hosting Rip Curl Pro, a world surfing competition. Access a more in-depth look at the popular local sport at the Australian National Surfing Museum, too.
Next, stop in Aireys Inlet, a quaint seaside town. Enjoy a walk to the Split Point Lighthouse, which offers prime photo opportunities. Then, arrive in Lorne, and check in to your accommodations. The beach town has plenty of local shops and cafés to accommodate your overnight stay. Feel free to take a walk around, and keep an eye out for local wildlife. Additionally, there are several scenic waterfalls to check out, which include the following:
- Won Wondah Falls
- Erskine Falls
- Henderson Falls
- Phantom Falls
- Straw Falls
Pass through the Lorne Golf Course to see plenty of kangaroos roaming around, and koalas nestling in the gumtrees at Teddy’s Lookout.
Day 3: Great Ocean Road Tour
This morning, depart the small seaside town of Lorne and continue on your Great Ocean Road journey.
On the way to Apollo Bay, make a brief stop at Kennett River, which is home to numerous koala colonies. Then, stop at the Otway Ranges to immerse yourself in some of Australia's best rainforest scenery among tall trees, ancient plant life, and abundant ferns. Next, explore Cape Otway Lighthouse, which is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. Other activities at the Otway Ranges include the Tree Top Walk, where you can experience a birdseye view of the scenic ranges from the world’s tallest treetop walk, and a Zip Line Tour, that allows you to zip through the leafy treetops of the ranges from one cloud station to another.
Then, visit one of the main attractions: The Twelve Apostles. The collection of windswept limestone stacks was formed by erosion over millions of years. There are only eight remaining out of the 12. These are best viewed at dawn or dusk, however.
Three minutes west is the dramatic Loch Ard Gorge, named after the ship, Loch Ard, which tragically ran aground in 1878. Next, visit the site formerly known as London Bridge—until the section closest to the mainland collapsed in 1990. London Arch is one of Victoria’s most popular natural landmarks. Keep an eye out for little penguins here.
Only a few minutes from London Arch is the Grotto sinkhole, which can be seen by two viewing platforms. The first is easily accessible, while the second is reached following a steep decline. At the lookout, gaze through the void to discover the fine mist that falls as the ocean surges and the rock pools fill with water.
Located at the western tail-end of Great Ocean Road, visit Warrnambool, a historic city that has urban facilities, while maintaining a small-town feeling. At the end of the active day's events, return back to Apollo Bay for an overnight stay. Apollo Bay has some great local dining options; pop by the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse for a refreshing craft beer after the long day.
Day 4: Travel inland to Ballarat and return to Melbourne
Today, head back to Melbourne. Take the inland route and make a stop at the town of Ballarat. The town has enjoyed a rich and prosperous heritage, thanks to the Gold Rush, which began in 1851. While in Ballarat, you can partake in the following activities:
- Pan for real gold at the iconic outdoor Sovereign Hill museum
- Watch real-life jousters take to the main arena at Kryal Castle
- Admire colonial, contemporary, and indigenous works at the Art Gallery of Ballarat
- Get up-close and personal with the local fauna at the Ballarat Wildlife Park
Then, continue on back to Melbourne, and enjoy another overnight stay in the heart of the city.
Day 5: Depart from Melbourne
Today is the end of your Great Ocean Road journey. Return your car back to the car rental depot.
If you have time, extend your trip and explore more of the city, or continue on to another Australian city. Whatever you decide, Safe Travels!