Get set for a fantastic nine-day adventure across Australia. Start in Melbourne, rent a car, and hit the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia's most iconic drives. Fly north to tropical Queensland to see the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Witness the magnificent Whitehaven Beach, famous for its pristine white silica sand, and go snorkeling. Drive south to Rockhampton, Australia's Beef Capital, then fly to beautiful Brisbane.


  • Drive the famous Great Ocean Road and see the Twelve Apostles
  • Visit the pristine Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays
  • Get a slice of the country at Australia's Beef Capital, Rockhampton
  • Explore the cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne and Brisbane

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Melbourne, Explore & Nightlife Tour Melbourne
Day 2 Pick Up Rental Car, Drive the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool Warrnambool
Day 3 Return to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road & See the Twelve Apostles Melbourne
Day 4 Fly to Proserpine, Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Airlie Beach Airlie Beach
Day 5 Day Trip to the Whitsunday Islands Airlie Beach
Day 6 Drive to Rockhampton via Mackay Rockhampton
Day 7 Explore Rockhampton Rockhampton
Day 8 Fly to Brisbane, Explore Brisbane
Day 9 Depart Brisbane  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Melbourne, Explore & Nightlife Tour

Melbourne shines brightly in the golden-hour light

G'day and welcome to Australia! You've landed in Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia. Collect your luggage and meet with your driver, who will transfer you to your accommodation. The afternoon is yours to explore as you wish. You could tick off Melbourne's top sights—board the free City Circle tram, starting at Flinders Street Station. The tram passes by must-see attractions such as St Paul's Cathedral, Parliament House, and the Royal Exhibition Building. Hop off at Flagstaff Station and walk to Queen Victoria Market, a Melbourne landmark for over a century. Grab a coffee from Market Lane Coffee and a spinach and cheese börek from the Borek Shop

Factor in some time to freshen up at your hotel before you head out for a lively night on the town. Explore Melbourne's nightlife on a guided tour that takes you into the heart of the city's elegant and vibrant nightlife. Begin with a dinner that reflects Melbourne's fantastic culinary scene, and learn about the city's history from a local expert. Next are some of the best spots in town, many of which are deliberately hard to find.

Day 2: Pick Up Rental Car, Drive the Great Ocean Road to Warrnambool

Great Ocean Road
Pick up your rental car and drive the Great Ocean Road

Today begins your road trip adventure on the iconic Great Ocean Road, which means you need wheels. Pick up your rental car and head to your first destination, 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. Nearby check out several scenic waterfalls, including Erskine Falls, Henderson Falls, Phantom Falls, and Sheoak Falls. Visit Teddy's Lookout before continuing to Apollo Bay. It's worth stopping halfway at Kennett River, where you can often spot local koala colonies. From Apollo Bay, continue to Cape Otway Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia, before continuing to your accommodation in Warrnambool. Today's total drive time is about five hours without stops.

Day 3: Return to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road & See the Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles rock formations on the Great Ocean Road

The most famous attraction on the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles, which are limestone columns that rise dramatically from the sea. The eight remaining pillars were once attached to the mainland. Take in the stunning views from a platform, then drive to nearby Loch Ard Gorge for a self-guided walk. Continue to the Grotto, where you may witness rainbows formed by the spray of waves and sunshine, and the Arch offers a spectacular view of the Twelve Apostles. Another sight to explore is London Bridge, a natural archway that collapsed in 1990.

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! After two huge days exploring the best of the Great Ocean Road, you'll return to Melbourne via the windy country roads of the Otway Ranges.

Day 4: Fly to Proserpine, Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach
Make your way to Airlie Beach

Return to Melbourne's airport this morning with enough time to drop off your rental car before your flight to Proserpine. When you land in the tropical, sunny state of Queensland, pick up another rental car and make your way to Airlie Beach. This relaxed resort town is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

The rest of the day is yours to relax. Watch a stunning sunset at the Airlie Beach Lagoon, an artificial swimming area surrounded by palm trees and bars. Then head to the Airlie Beach Hotel for a casual pub dinner, or book a table at Fish D'vine to enjoy fresh, locally-sourced seafood and more than 500 rums from around the world. 

Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Day Trip to the Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands
Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet on the famous Whitsunday Island

Board the Whitsunday Bullet for a big day in paradise. The Whitsunday Islands are a group of 74 islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Known for their breathtaking natural beauty, clear turquoise waters, pristine white sandy beaches, and lush tropical forests, you'll explore the world-famous Whitsunday icons today. Your high-speed catamaran will whisk you to Whitehaven Beach, famous for its pristine white silica sand. The sand is incredibly fine with a brilliant white color, making it one of the world's most picturesque and stunning beaches.

After visiting Whitehaven Beach, the Whitsunday Bullet will take you to secluded coves around the islands and finish with a special snorkeling spot so you can explore the reef's diverse range of marine life, including tropical fish, turtles, and colorful corals. Return to Airlie Beach and enjoy a quiet evening in town.

Day 6: Drive to Rockhampton via Mackay

Mackay - Cape Hillsborough
The earlier, the better to see wild wallabies at Cape Hillsborough near Mackay

Download a great playlist and hit the road. It's a five-hour drive to Rockhampton, but you'll make plenty of stops along the way. After two hours, you'll reach Mackay, a laid-back town and home to Cape Hillsborough National Park, famous for its wild wallabies and kangaroos that hang out on the beach. Jump back in the car heading south, making a halfway stop for ice cream and coffee at Flaggy Rock.

This afternoon you'll arrive in Rockhampton, Australia's Beef Capital. Here big hats, boots, and utes (utility vehicles) rule the streets, and you'll find over 2.5 million cattle within a 155-mile (250 km) radius of the city. Rocky, as the locals call it, was founded in 1858 on the banks of the mighty Fitzroy River. If you're a beef lover, seek dinner at one of the many steakhouses along the heritage-listed streets and continue the night with a pint of beer at a local pub.

Day 7: Explore Rockhampton

Rockhampton - Courthouse
Explore historic buildings in Rockhampton

Wake ready to explore Rockhampton. Start by taking in the stunning views from the top of Mount Archer National Park, near the city. Then visit the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, an oasis for over 130 years. Stroll along Quay Street and marvel at historic buildings such as the Customs House, the Supreme Court House, and the Post Office. If you're interested in all things country life and cattle, don't miss the Wednesday cattle auction at CQ Livestock Exchange, a short drive from the city.

For a classic Rockhampton dining experience, venture to the Great Western Hotel tonight. This legendary steakhouse hosts live bull riding events in the arena most Wednesday and Friday nights. Check the schedule—this is as Rockhampton as it gets!

Day 8: Fly to Brisbane, Explore

Streets Beach is an artificial lagoon in the center of Brisbane

Drop off your rental car and catch a short flight to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. On arrival, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your accommodation. Freshen up and venture out to explore the rapidly evolving cosmopolitan city. Start with a walk along the Brisbane River—either exploring the beautiful City Botanic Gardens toward the hip Howard Smith Wharves area or on the other side of the river at South Bank, where Streets Beach, a sprawling riverside parkland and top art galleries await. 

As a big city, you can find almost every cuisine in Brisbane. For your final dinner in Australia, seek Middle Eastern-inspired Gerard's Bistro, indulge with wood-fired pizza and fresh pasta at Julius Pizzeria, or try contemporary Chinese at Donna Chang in the CBD.

Day 9: Depart Brisbane

Brisbane City at night, with the Story Bridge in the foreground
It's time to say goodbye to Australia. A driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Great Ocean Road & the Whitsundays - 9 Days
Map of Great Ocean Road & the Whitsundays - 9 Days