Melbourne provides the ideal starting point if you’re interested in a self-drive journey around the diverse and compact state of Victoria. You can tailor your own adventure, choosing between the city, coast and country; ticking off an impressive checklist of must see icons and attractions along the way.
Within a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, you can experience tall forests, historic villages, Australian wildlife, vine-filled valleys and rugged coastlines. Regardless of length of time, there are options to suit all budgets to help you discover Victoria’s cultural, epicurean, and natural delights.
A number of major touring routes showcase the best Victoria has to offer. Here is a snapshot of where you should head and what you can expect as you take to the road in Victoria.
Great Southern Touring Route Encompassing the spectacular Great Ocean Road, the Great Southern Touring Route allows you to experience dramatic seascapes, the rugged grandeur of the Grampians, the indulgence and tranquillity of Daylesford and the history and heritage of Victoria’s Goldfields region.
The journey starts in cosmopolitan Melbourne, and heads southwest to the vibrant seaside city of Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city. It continues along the coast past heritage towns and the plentiful vineyards of the Bellarine Peninsula to the spectacular Great Ocean Road. Conde Nast travel magazine rates the Great Ocean Road as one of the top 20 journeys of a lifetime, while Frommer’s puts it in the top 10 road trips on the planet.
The first stop along the iconic stretch of road is Bells Beach, Australia’s most famous surf beach near the equally legendary surf-town of Torquay. Continue the journey through popular seaside resort towns such as Lorne and Apollo Bay and past stunning waterfalls and spectacular scenery.
Further along, the lushness of the Great Otway National Park gives way to the imposing beauty of the Twelve Apostles and the fascinating history of the shipwreck coast. At picturesque Port Fairy the route turns north towards the peaks of the Grampians mountain range.
As you enter the beautiful Grampians National Park, you’ll find yourself in a dramatic natural oasis, full of walking trails, waterfalls, wildlife and floral splendour whereyou can discover the largest selection of Aboriginal rock paintings in Victoria.
The final leg of the Great Southern Touring Route journeys east through the Goldfields region to Ballarat, an enriching city that brings the glorious days of the 19th century gold rush to life. Here you can discover the fascinating cultural history of the region and explore enticing art galleries and museums.
Before the route returns to Melbourne, take time to rejuvenate in the Daylesford region. Boasting Australia’s largest number of naturally occurring mineral springs the region is famous for soothing travel-weary visitors with fine food and wine, and fabulous spas. An indulgent spa treatment, followed by the finest local produce, paired with boutique wine is a fitting way to end an inspiring and rewarding journey along the Great Southern Touring Route.
Sydney-Melbourne Touring From the unparalleled grandeur of the coast to the spectacular vistas of the Australian Alps, Sydney-Melbourne Touring’s three distinctive travel routes – the Sydney-Melbourne Coastal Drive, the Sydney-Melbourne Heritage Drive and the Great Alpine Road - all offer experiences to remember.
Sydney-Melbourne Coastal Drive The coastline between Sydney and Melbourne is some of the most spectacular in Australia, with tranquil coves, long, golden beaches and wild, rocky shorelines carved by the mighty Pacific and Southern oceans. Here there’s no end to the fun that can be had on the water – from surfing, sailing and snorkelling to seeing dolphins, penguins and whales in the wild.
Vast stretches of the coastline have been preserved as national parks, teeming with native flora and fauna, including kangaroos, koalas, emus and native parrots. You can learn about Aboriginal bush foods on a guided tour, or cruise, water-ski or kayak around the Gippsland Lakes or walk on pure white beaches at Wilsons Promontory.
The route then gently winds its way to Phillip Island, famous for the little penguins, which make their nightly march up Summerland Beach to their dune burrows. Continuing on to the Mornington Peninsula, you can discover the region’s renowned food, wine, golf and spas before finishing your journey in Melbourne. With so much to see and do, the Coastal Drive is an essential Australian touring experience.
Sydney-Melbourne Heritage Drive The inland route between Melbourne and Sydney is a journey through Australian history. You can discover timeless indigenous culture, the relics of colonial times, and an ancient river that winds its way through rolling hills and past historic townships.
From Melbourne, the Heritage Drive travels to the gold rush region around Bendigo. Here you can venture down old goldmines, see Chinese Dragons and dine in ornate civic buildings now refashioned as fashionable bars and restaurants. Then it’s on to the mighty Murray River, where paddle steamers offer a fun way to get downstream and the many farm-gates offer fresh local produce for sale. Barmah National Park is the place to see giant river red gums, native wildlife such as koalas and kangaroos, and Aboriginal scar trees. The route continues on to Rutherglen, famous for its fortified wines, where family vineyards have been handed down through the generations.
Beyond the borders of Victoria, the drive continues to the nation’s capital, Canberra, an architect-designed political hub that is home to some of the country’s most important institutions. From here the drive winds through the Southern Highlands of New South Wales before ending in Sydney.
The Great Alpine Road The Great Alpine Road offers a journey into some of the continent’s highest mountains, where the majestic Australian wilderness offers breathtaking vistas. Whether blanketed with wildflowers or carpeted in snow, the Alps are the ideal place for an active adventure. Surrounded by big blue skies and crisp mountain air, you can hike, cycle or take a horseback ride past stunning alpine views, go abseiling, hang-gliding and rock-climbing, or enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter. At day’s end, you can relax in a traditional pub, indulge at a boutique resort and spa, or camp under brilliant stars in the Alpine National Park.
In the foothills, and down near the coast, the Great Alpine Road offers other great experiences. Discover historic gold rush towns such as Beechworth and Omeo, enjoy the gourmet delights of Bright or cycle along scenic rail trails. The road ends at the magnificent Gippsland Lakes, where abundant marine life, water sports and fabulous fresh seafood are highlights.
Melbourne South East Touring Triangle Melbourne’s South East Touring Triangle links three beautiful regions surrounding Melbourne – the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, Phillip Island and the Mornington Peninsula.
From Melbourne, the route heads to the Yarra Valley, famous for its abundance of wineries, with over 70 wineries tucked into the picturesque countryside. You can also see more than 200 native wildlife species, including platypus, koalas, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos and wallabies up close at Healesville Sanctuary.
Not far away, in the fairytale-like forest of the Dandenong Ranges, modern wheels can be exchanged for old-fashioned steam aboard Puffing Billy, a meticulously restored steam train, which travels through 25 kilometres of cool fern gullies.
The route continues to Phillip Island where you can enjoy stunning beaches and watch the famous Penguin Parade.
Further along the route on the Mornington Peninsula there are more than 50 winery cellar doors specialising in superb pinot noir and chardonnay. Many of them also have outstanding restaurants, which feature the region’s abundant fresh produce.
The Mornington Peninsula is home to the Peninsula Hot Springs, the only natural thermal mineral springs bathing and day spa facility in Australia. The region is also renowned for outstanding golf courses, spectacular gardens and is a perfect place for aquatic adventures, including dolphin and seal swims and scuba diving around one of Victoria’s many shipwrecks.
West Gippsland Hinterland Drive The scenic West Gippsland Hinterland Drive winds its way through magnificent and diverse landscapes. The circular route - approximately five hours driving time - begins in Melbourne and passes through the Yarra Ranges to the small towns of Powelltown and Noojee in Gippsland. It then travels across to the summit of Mount Baw Baw, taking in the sub-Alpine villages of Walhalla, Rawson and Erica, before passing through Moe and Yarragon on its return to Melbourne.
The drive highlights West Gippsland’s natural attractions, including giant mountain ash trees and waterfalls, as well as the region’s local food options and boutique wineries.Search Villas