Collect your hire car in Melbourne then potter out of this most characterful Australian city, heading south along the Mornington Peninsula. Give yourself time to stop and savour the sweeping coastal scenery and a countryside that has been gentrified by viticulture. At your stop for the night you’ll be able to treat your palate to the peninsula’s gastronomic pleasures – as well as watching and swimming with bottlenose dolphins.
Stay: One night at Woodman Estate.
Great Ocean Road
In the morning you’ll take the ferry over Port Phillip Bay to begin your road trip along one of Australia’s most iconic highways – the Great Ocean Road. Magnificent sea panoramas will be your travelling companions along this simply yet aptly named highway, but there are also astonishing 360˚ views from Cape Otway Light Station, near Apollo Bay. And you’ll be able to see koalas from the Otway Range’s soaring treetop walkway.
Stay: One night at Beacon Point Ocean View Villas.
Great Ocean Road
Today begins with a canoe trip on Lake Elizabeth and an opportunity to see the extraordinary platypus in its natural environment. Then you journey on along the infamous Shipwreck Coast and past the time-eroded Twelve Apostles – gigantic limestone rocks towering out of the ocean (and eventually returning; erosion means only seven Apostles now remain). After an unforgettable trip you arrive at Port Fairy, where you’ll be staying.
Stay: One night at the boutique Oscars.
The Grampians National Park awaits in the north, but first you take a detour to Portland where you could be rewarded by sightings of blue whales at one of the few places in the world where these vast creatures can be seen from land. A helicopter flight will give you an even more memorable view. And then comes the Grampians National Park – a vast landscape of towering mountains, dizzying valleys, crashing waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art sites. Wildflowers, birds – over 200 different species – kangaroos and emus abound. You’ll be able to take guided nature walks and nocturnal expeditions to see owls, possums and koalas.
Stay: Two nights in a luxury, self-contained residence at Boroka Downs, followed by one night at the Crown Promenade.
You can choose to extend your epic trip to South Australia with a night in Robe before pushing on to Adelaide.
Victoria was incredibly easy to chat to, quick to gauge our requirements and produced a fab itinerary. She was enthusiastic and knowledgable.- EP, Kenya, 2014