- Drive the Great Ocean Road over three spectacular days
- See the world-famous Twelve Apostles at different times of the day
- Eat your way around Melbourne city
- Explore trails and lookouts at Grampians National Park
- Dive into gold rush history at Ballarat
|Day 1||Arrive in Melbourne, Explore & Optional Guided Cultural Walk||Melbourne|
|Day 2||Lanes and Arcades Tour, Guided Culinary Experience||Melbourne|
|Day 3||Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Lorne via the Great Ocean Road||Lorne|
|Day 4||Drive to Port Campbell via Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road||Port Campbell|
|Day 5||Drive to Port Fairy via the Great Ocean Road||Port Fairy|
|Day 6||Explore Port Fairy, Drive to Halls Gap via the Grampians National Park||Halls Gap|
|Day 7||Explore Brambuk Cultural Centre, Hike in the Grampians||Halls Gap|
|Day 8||Return to Melbourne via Aboriginal Bunjil Shelter Artwork & Ballarat||Melbourne|
|Day 9||Depart Melbourne|
Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne, Explore & Optional Guided Cultural Walk
G'day and welcome! You've landed in Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia. On arrival, collect your luggage and meet a shuttle transfer, who will drop you at your hotel. Spend the rest of the day as you please. You could start by diving into the city's Aboriginal culture. Take an immersive self-guided tour with the Koorie Heritage Center, beginning in the city's heart at Federation Square. View a collection of artworks and artifacts, then choose to meet with a local guide for a cultural walk along the Yarra / Birrarung River.
Later, explore the creative and cool side of this eclectic metropolis. Wander down city laneways to discover hidden bars and trendy boutiques. Venture to the suburbs and visit the bustling Prahran Market, renowned for its gourmet delis and specialty produce, and then walk down eclectic Greville Street. Take a taxi to St Kilda Beach, where you can stroll along the esplanade and historic St Kilda Pier and enjoy a cake at one of Acland Street's famous pâtisseries.
Day 2: Lanes & Arcades Tour, Guided Culinary Experience
Get lost in Melbourne's back streets, laneways, and arcades with a guide who will show you the city's greatest secrets. This city is famous for its laneway culture, and on a three-hour morning walk, you'll discover local designers and specialty retailers, quirky cafés, and cool street art—all while hearing fascinating tales from your local guide.
Melbourne is home to more than five million people and is a melting pot of diversity and a paradise for foodies. Join a tapa-style tasting across the city to sample Melbourne's incredible restaurant scene. In one evening, you'll try hidden spots and local favorites, all within walking distance of one another. Your local guide will lead you to three unique venues where you can try various dishes with carefully paired wines and hear the stories about each place.
Day 3: Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Lorne via the Great Ocean Road
Today marks the start of your Australia road trip! Take the shuttle transfer back to the airport to pick up your rental car and hit the Great Ocean Road. Your first is Bells Beach in Torquay, a famous surf spot known for hosting Rip Curl Pro, a world surfing competition. If you're curious, visit the Australian National Surfing Museum here. Continue to Aireys Inlet, a quaint seaside town. Enjoy a walk to the Split Point Lighthouse, which offers prime photo opportunities.
Make your way to Lorne for lunch, a big beach town with plenty of local shops and cafés. This is your base for the evening, so check in and then venture out to explore scenic waterfalls, including Erskine, Henderson, Phantom, and Sheoak. In Lorne, don't miss the views from Teddy's Lookout, a short drive or an easy coastal walk from town. Today's total drive time is about 2.5 hours without stops.
Day 4: Drive to Port Campbell via Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
Continue along the Great Ocean Road toward Apollo Bay this morning. It's worth making a stop halfway at Kennett River, where you can often spot wild koala colonies. From Apollo Bay, continue to Cape Otway Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia. If you have time, climb up to the lighthouse observation deck for fantastic views across the Southern Ocean.
Your next stop is the Great Ocean Road's most famous landmark: the Twelve Apostles. Here eight remaining limestone columns rise dramatically from the sea. Take in this significant landmark from a viewing platform. Three minutes west is the dramatic Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship that ran aground in 1878. Descend the 86 stairs of Gibson Steps to access a beautiful beach backed by 230-foot (70 m) limestone cliffs, then make your way to the enormous offshore rock formations of Gog and Magog—just make sure you check the tide times!
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive to Port Fairy via the Great Ocean Road
If you're eager to witness the Twelve Apostles in a different light, rise early and return to the landmark before continuing west along the Great Ocean Road. Your next stop is nearby London Bridge, a natural arch until it collapsed in 1990. Keep an eye out for little penguins here before you seek out the Grotto sinkhole a few minutes away, which can be seen by two viewing platforms. The first is easily accessible, while the second is reached following a steep decline.
Continue along the Shipwreck Coast, named after the wild seas that sent at least 700 ships crashing on the rocks. Located at the western tail-end of Great Ocean Road, check into your accommodation in Port Fairy. This charming fishing village is full of pride and features a historical center, wild and stunning coastline, walking tracks, and great cafés and restaurants. Today's total drive time is 1.5 hours without stops.
Day 6: Explore Port Fairy, Drive to Halls Gap via the Grampians National Park
Use your morning to explore Port Fairy. Venture down to the local port to watch fishermen unload their catch of crayfish and abalone. Grab a coffee and explore the town's eclectic array of boutiques, antique stores, and art and craft shops, admiring the 1800s architecture as you go. Follow historic walking trails to discover charming cottages, Georgian-style merchants' homes, and grand public buildings. Tuck into some of the region's best produce at the renowned Merrijig Kitchen Inn or nearby Basalt Vineyard before hitting the road again.
Swap the coast for the countryside when you drive north a couple of hours toward the rugged Grampians Moutain range. Explore walking tracks leading to dazzling waterfalls, wildlife, and awe-inspiring lookouts, and witness ancient Aboriginal rock art paintings. Easy-to-reach Reeds Lookout offers beautiful views, or take a 1.2-mile (2 km) walk to reach The Balconies. Boroka Lookout provides impressive views over Halls Gap and Lake Bellfield. Or consider taking a steep walk up to Mount William, the Grampians' tallest peak that rises 3,828 feet (1,167 m). As night falls, check into your accommodation.
Day 7: Explore Brambuk Cultural Centre, Hike in the Grampians
Today is yours to explore Grampians National Park a little more, starting at Brambuk Cultural Centre. Explore the Aboriginal culture, traditions, and history of the Jadawadjali and Djab Wurrung people and their relationship to Gariwerd (the Grampians) with a series of self-guided walks through native gardens and wetlands. Then, choose a hike or short walk to explore the park's wide range of flora and fauna, including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas, and echidnas.
Day 8: Return to Melbourne via Aboriginal Bunjil Shelter Artwork & Ballarat
Before leaving the Grampians, detour to the Bunjil Shelter, a significant Aboriginal artwork site in the Black Range Scenic Reserve. Take the Bunjil Cave Road to the parking area; it's just a five-minute walk to the large boulder that houses the painting. This artwork is regarded as the most important in the area as it shows an image of the creator.
Back in the car, make the 90-minute drive to Ballarat, the largest inland city in Victoria with a rich heritage and a thriving arts and food scene. Explore Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum that recreates the former gold-mining town of Ballarat in the 1850s after its gold discovery. Here costumed characters bring the shops, hotels, theater, underground mines, etc., to life over 10 hectares (25 acres) of the original mining site. When you're ready, continue the drive to Melbourne. Today's total drive time is 3.5 hours.
Day 9: Depart Melbourne
It's time to say farewell—your nine-day Australian adventure ends today. When it's time, return to the airport to drop off your rental car and catch your flight home. Safe travels!