The Great Southern Touring Route [ST-RV25C2]
17 Days: The Great Southern Touring Route [ST-RV25C2]
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Highlights & Inclusions
  • Accommodation - Sydney (2), Batemans Bay (1), Merimbula (1), Lakes Entrance (1), Foster (1), Melbourne (2), Phillip Island (2), Mornington Peninsula (1), Apollo Bay (1), Port Campbell (1), Halls Gap (1), Melbourne (1)
  • Flights not included but can be included on request - see detailed pricing below.
  • Car Hires - 16 Day Car Rental, Pick Up Sydney Airport and Drop Off Melbourne Airport
  • Rental Car Hires are base rate only and do not include taxes, insurance, fuel levies, drop off fees, or environmental fees.
  • Day Tours Included - Sydney: Sydney Opera House Tour, Hop On Hop Off Sydney Harbour Cruise
  • All Day Tours listed are Optional (Not Included)
  • Visa Issuance for entry into Australia (additional US$15.00 per person)
  • F.I.T. (Free & Independent Travel, i.e. this is not an Organized Group Tour)
  • All Taxes and Fuel Levies (Except where noted)
  • Itinerary is flexible and can be tailored to suit your needs.
Itinerary Details
Day 1 - Hometown to Los Angeles (Check quote for inclusion)

Travel by domestic air to your destination.

If you request US domestic air pricing, this inclusion will be reflected in your quote.

Day 1 - International Flight, Los Angeles to Sydney (check quote for inclusion)

Travel by international air to your destination.

International air to your destination is not included in the starting price. If you requested international air, this inclusion will be reflected in your quote.

Days 2 to 17 - 16 Day Rental, PickUp in Sydney and Drop Off in Melbourne

Discover Australia as you travel by rental car for 16 days.

As part of your vacation self-drive Australia and explore our stunning landscapes, coastlines, regional towns and wildlife. Stop and meet the locals, maybe enjoy a counter meal at a local Aussie pub, or relax on the beach while sampling some takeaway fish & chips from the local deli or servo. During one of your rest stops try to spot a kangaroo, emu or even a Koala in the wild.

Please bring a valid American drivers license with you and be aware that the Australians drives on the left hand side of the road.

Base rate only paid by About Australia. GPS, Insurance, Premium Location Surcharge, Fuel and Fees to driver’s credit card.

Days 2 to 4 - 2 Nights Accommodation in Sydney

Travel to your accommodation where you will be staying whilst on vacation for 2 nights.

Day 3 - Day Tour, Hop On Hop Off Sydney Harbour Cruise - All Day Pass

On your vacation explore Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia with this unlimited full day pass, or take the 1 1/2 hour round trip cruise and see all the main harbour sights with commentary.

Hop On and Hop Off at up to seven famous harbour attractions with this unlimited full day pass, or simply take the 1 1/2 hour round trip cruise and see all the main harbour sights with commentary.

The Harbour Express stops at the following tourist attractions:

Fort Denison: The historic island and cafe in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

Taronga Zoo: Discover Australia’s amazing wildlife including koalas, platypus and kangaroos.

Shark Island: This island national park is the perfect destination for a BYO picnic lunch, complete with a small beach area for swimming.

Watson’s Bay: Home of Doyle’s famous seafood restaurant and only a short walk to beautiful harbour swimming beaches, HMAS Watson and headland parks.

Luna Park: Sydney’s famous fun park with rides and games, or walk across the Harbour Bridge from Milsons Point station.

Darling Harbour: Aquarium & Wildlife World, Australian Maritime Museum, shops, restaurants and only a short stroll or Monorail to Sydney Tower, Star City Casino, Powerhouse Museum and China Town.

Circular Quay: The Rocks historic precinct, weekend markets, Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens and Harbour Bridge pylon. (Additional Fees apply for Park Entry to Fort Denison, Shark Island & Taronga Zoo).

Day 3 - Day Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour (1 Hour)

On your vacation, participate in an inspiring tour of the Sydney Opera House.


This one hour tour outlines the intricate and controversial history of the Sydney Opera House along with details of the unique design of this architectural masterpiece. You will visit a number of the six performance venues, including the magnificent wood paneled Concert Hall and the Opera Theatre as well as the new Utzon room. You will also visit the glass enclosed northern foyer areas which boast spectacular views of Sydney Harbour – a perfect photo opportunity.


Upgrade to Opera House Tour & Tasting Plate Available

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour

Be touched by the most ancient human culture on earth on a 90-minute leisurely walkabout with an Aboriginal guide in The Rocks, and Journey into Dreamtime, the culture of Aboriginal People.

The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour is 100% Aboriginal owned and was developed by Aboriginal Elder, Margret Campbell, a Dunghutti-Jerrinjah woman. It is led by Aboriginal guides who have Margret’s permission to share her cultural knowledge and interpretation of Sydney’s Dreamtime Symbology – all within Sydney’s natural billion year old saltwater harbour and marine environment, sandstone strata, fresh waterways, flora and fauna that continue to influence Aboriginal people’s thinking and lifestyle today in cosmopolitan Sydney.

The tour content is grounded in Aboriginal Culture with Aboriginal guides who are experts in culture, horticulture and storytelling. The journey will begin with a traditional OCHRE acknowledgement of Earth Mother’s EORA Cadigal heritage. This is further showcased in an interactive leisurely ‘walking on county experience’ that will connect you to the living wisdoms inherent in Sydney’s natural waterways, skies, and landscape.

This 90 minute walkabout tour in The Rocks is a perfect introduction of Aboriginal Culture. It highlights the perspective of Sydney’s Dreamtime heritage that is intimate, enlightening and very informative.

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb

Reach new heights and climb the famous Harbour Bridge in Sydney!

Achieve exhilaration and personal satisfaction as you climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For approximately 3.5 hours you and 11 other eager climbers will join a climb guide and weave through catwalks, climb up ladders and then arrive at the most spectacular point of all – the upper arch climb. The steady incline to the upper arch leaves you free to focus your attention on your Sydney experience, with opportunities for 360 degree views of Sydney, including east to the ocean, west to the mountains and the harbor city surrounds.


It is at this point that you not only have a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Sydney Harbour and the city, but have the exhilarating and rewarding experience of reaching the top of the iconic Harbour Bridge.

When you reach the top you will have a sense of achievement you’ll remember forever – you’ve conquered an Australian icon recognized the world over! No other Sydney tourist attraction can give you this feeling of standing at the top of the world, with the harbor spread before you.

All climbers will be issued a complimentary photograph of your climb group.

Operates: Daily, in all weather conditions (except in cases of extreme weather conditions like electrical storms or high winds).

Need to Know: Wear comfortable, enclosed rubber-soled shoes and comfortable clothing; Secure lockers will be provided to store your personal belongings; No cameras, phones, GoPros or other video and mobile devices are allowed on the climb; Children ages 8 – 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Children younger than 8 are not permitted on the climb; Maximum of 14 people per group.

Times: The climb lasts approximately 3.5 hours. Climbs are available at dawn (limited departures), day, twilight or night.

Inclusions: BridgeClimb cap; Certificate of Achievement; A complimentary Climb Group photo.

Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

Insider's Tip: Australian Opals

View the world famous black opal, the ‘Aurora Australis’, valued at 1 Million Dollars; with the opportunity to bring home the colors of Australia with a beautiful piece of opal jewelry.

Australia is known as the country of origin for this splendid stone with 95% of the world’s precious gem opal found exclusively in Australia. Australian opal displays all the colors of the rainbow and holds a spectrum of colors found in nature, fire, the ocean and more. It is these contrasts that make opals a truly fascinating and unique gemstone with no two opals appearing exactly the same. In the Middle Ages the Romans considered opal a stone that could provide great luck, as it was believed to possess all the virtues of Emeralds, Sapphires and Rubies.

Share this unique experience and be educated about Australian Opal at Altmann & Cherny. Established in 1948 with hopes of sharing this unique gemstone with the world, they have built a reputation of excellence with 3 generations actively involved the families are considered leading opal experts. Please visit them at:

18 Pitt Street
Sydney, NSW
Telephone: 61 2 9251 9477

Days 4 to 8 - Coastal Self Drive from Sydney to Melbourne 5 Days / 4 Nights

Coastal Self Drive Tour: Sydney (New South Wales) through to Melbourne (Victoria).

DAY 1: SYDNEY / KIAMA / JERVIS BAY / BATEMANS BAY (approx 4.5 hrs)

Depart Sydney and begin your self-drive adventure with your first stop being the city of Kiama, meaning “where the sea makes a noise” in the local indigenous language. Stop and see the famous blowhole or Kiama’s local rock pool a popular location for spotting dolphins or whales. If you continue your self drive through Gerroa you can stop at the Coolangatta Estate Winery for lunch and possibly some wine tasting. But don’t stop for too long, you will follow the scenic route via Huskisson to Jervis Bay Marine Park where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach, the world’s whitest sands and crystal clear waters provide a picturesque setting for the diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of Jervis Bay. Pass through the district of Shoalhaven and spend the night in Batemans Bay, a pretty coastal town on the east coast of New South Wales.

DAY 2: BATEMANS BAY / NAROOMA / MERIMBULA (approx 3.5 hrs)

Grab some breakfast in Batemans Bay before heading out on the scenic coastal self-drive. Just before reaching Moruya, maybe take some time to stop in Bega, a town popular for its cheese and dairy products. Continuing south, enjoy the coastal views on your drive on your way to Merimbula. Stop off in Narooma, a town known for its winding river and oceans rich with marine life. Montague Island, about 6 miles off the coast of Narooma, is well-known as for its great wildlife and whale watching. It is home to New South Wales’ only known colony of fur seals, as well as sea eagles, little penguins and peregrine falcons. End this leg of your journey in Merimbula, a resort town deep in the heart of the famed ‘Sapphire Coast’ region of New South Wales. Stop at one of Merimbula’s numerous beaches and see how this town is a mecca for water sports and activities whether you’re in to surfing, body surfing or simply catching some sun surrounded by pristine shoreline.

Fishing is a major activity in Merimbula no matter what style you prefer. Hire a boat for some on the water action, or check out the wharf, which allows a deep sea fishing experience without setting foot on a boat.

DAY 3: MERIMBULA / EDEN / GIPSY POINT / LAKES ENTRANCE (approx 4.5 hrs)

Head out from Merimbula and head south on your way to Lakes Entrance. Along the way make a stop over in Eden, also known as the “humpback highway”. Each year between September and November, humpback whales begin their migration to Antarctica and pass by Eden, making this part of the coast the easiest city to whale-watch. Eden’s history is steeped in sea traditions and there is no better place to learn about them all than at the Eden Killer Whale Museum. As you continue south along the coast take a break in Gipsy Point, a largely untouched land of forests, rivers, lakes and coastline. Make the time to explore a bit of Croajingolong National Park. At a size of 87,500 hectares, it would be easy to spend an entire trip here without even seeing everything, but a quick nature hike through the park still allows for incredible views of some of Australia’s most incredible natural landscape.

DAY 4: LAKES ENTRANCE / FOSTER (approx 4 hrs)

Depart Lakes Entrance and head southwest towards Wilsons Promontory National Park. Wilsons Promontory is Australia’s most southerly point on the mainland and one of Victoria’s most beautiful National Parks. It protects over 50,000 hectares which include some of Victoria’s best beaches, cool shaded rainforest gullies, cloud soaked mountain peaks, rugged offshore islands and remote light stations illuminating the seas surrounding the southern tip. Take time to enjoy the view from Picknick Point Lookout and take a stroll to Squeaky Beach. From here you will continue your self-drive west to Phillip Island. From here you will head to the quaint town of Foster. We recommend stopping in and treating yourself to a delicious dinner. You can pick up a meat pie, fish and chips or some tasty sandwiches before turning in for the night.

DAY 5: FOSTER / MELBOURNE (approx 3.5 hrs)

End this scenic coastal self drive in Melbourne, Victoria.

Image Credit: Tourism Australia / Andrew Smith

Days 4 to 5 - 1 Night Accommodation in Batemans Bay

Spend 1 night in your vacation accommodation along this coastal self-drive in Batemans Bay, New South Wales.

Batemans Bay is a divine place to visit where pelicans and seagulls flock to the shores. Relax on the dozens of clean beaches located in the surrounding area or take a river cruise. Enjoy your stay at a spacious rural homestead. Fully hosted service with generous homestyle breakfast. Salt pool, spa, sauna, lounge areas and open fire evoke a resort atmosphere. Minutes from Batemans Bay township, pristine beaches, restaurants and cafes.

Days 5 to 6 - 1 Night Accommodation in Merimbula

Travel to your accommodation in Merimbula, Australia, where you will be staying whilst on vacation for 1 night.

A 3 star Merimbula hotel beautifully located just minutes from some of the city’s best surfing and snorkeling beaches. Your accommodation is also convenient to surrounding bars and restaurants.
Recreational activities nearby also include fishing, scuba diving, golfing and boating.

On-site restaurant The Balcony offers breakfast and lunch daily.

Days 6 to 7 - 1 Night Accommodation in Lakes Entrance

Next stop along your coastal self-drive is Lakes Entrance, Victoria, where you will spend 1 night.

Your vacation accommodation is a lakefront property in the heart of Lakes Entrance, near Lake Wellington, Lake Reeve, Lake Victoria and Lake King. This accommodation is close to the Lakes Entrance Museum and is located within walking distance from several shops, clubs and restaurants.

Days 7 to 8 - 1 Night Accommodation in Foster

Travel to your vacation accommodation where you will stay for one night whilst in Foster.

The township of Foster is located within an easy drive to Wilsons Promontory National Park, the major natural attraction of this unspoilt coastal region. The history of Foster is in the Gold Rush era in the 1870’s. Other nearby attractions include the Great Southern Rail Trail, nature walks, horse riding & cycling trails.

The Foster North Lookout, on the South Gippsland Highway 6 kilometres north-west of town, provides good views over Corner Inlet with the mountain ranges of Wilsons Promontory providing an attractive backdrop.

Days 8 to 10 - 2 Nights Accommodation in Melbourne

Travel to your accommodation where you will be staying whilst on vacation for 2 nights.

Day 8 - Free Day to Explore Melbourne

Today you’ll have the day free to Explore Melbourne City’s vast shopping centres, markets and boutiques, maybe do some souvenir shopping.

Melbourne is a Multicultural City boasting many boutique cafes, wineries and extensive shopping. You’ll also find it very easy to get around on the trains and trams, especially within the inners of Melbourne.

Photo Credit: Tourism Victoria

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Puffing Billy Steam Train, Yarra Valley & Healesville Wildlife

See some of the most beautiful scenery in Victoria with a ride on the Puffing Billy Steam Train!

Travel to the Dandenong Ranges, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Devonshire Tea in the mountains, followed by an unforgettable ride on the Puffing Billy Steam Train. Then you;ll visit the delightful village of Sassafras for boutique shopping.

The Dandenong Ranges, known to the locals as the Dandenongs, are beautiful low mountain ranges just 21 miles east of Melbourne. At their peak, they rise to more than 2,066 feet and are cloaked in lush rainforests of Mountain Ash trees (the tallest flowering plant in the world), waterfalls, rolling hills and steep valleys. The region is home to the famous Puffing Billy Railway, numerous art and craft stores and cafes offering delicious homemade produce.

Nestled in the heart of the Dandenong Mountains is Grant’s Reserve, a haven in the wilderness. On arrival you will be charmed by the surrounding mountain hue and crisp clear air. While here you will enjoy a traditional Devonshire Tea of homemade scones, served warm with jam and cream, and tea served in china tea cups – just a treat!

Grant’s Reserve is a paradise for bird life and will be you’ll be serenaded by the wonderful bird song that fills the valley. You can also handfeed some of the most striking Australian birds such as the colorful Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and pink-chested Galah. It’s a lot of fun and a great opportunity to get a photo.

Next you head the short distance to Belgrave, home of the famous Puffing Billy Steam Train, where you are in for a real treat!

This century-old steam train is maintained in its original glory and runs to this day on its own mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook. Here you’ll go back in time as you get on board for a 30-minute ride through the heart of the rainforest.

You’ll see the locomotive depot that services and maintains the train, head through the gorgeous Sherbrooke Forest and ride over the old Trestle Bridge. Just before Menzies Creek you can see stunning views of Port Phillip Bay before heading through Paradise Valley and on to the townships of Emerald and Gembrook. What a great ride!

From Gembrook you will then be on your way to the lovely little village of Sassafras. You’ll be travelling through thick rainforest that is home to all sorts of wildlife, so keep an eye out for Lyre Birds and Wallabies. Once in Sassafras you can take your time to explore the delightful antique and craft shops dotted throughout the village. You might even find a little something to take home with you.

Operates

Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday except December 25.

Need to Know

– Tour departs from Federation Square, Melbourne, corner of Flinders & Russell Streets.
– Return transfers from your accommodation are available – advise prior to booking.
– Wear enclosed walking shoes.
– Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and water bottle are recommended.
– Wear warm layers in cooler months.

Times

Departs at 8:10am and returns at 1pm, lasting approximately 4.5 hours.

Inclusions

– Puffing Billy Steam Train ride.
– Devonshire Tea.
– Experienced driver guide.
– Comprehensive commentary.
– Travel in an air-conditioned coach.

Upgrades

– Add a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary to meet native Australian wildlife at the end of your Puffing Billy journey – additional cost.
– Add a wine tour with tastings at three boutique wineries in the Yarra Valley at the end of your Puffing Billy journey – additional cost.

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Hidden Secrets of Melbourne Tours

Discover the secrets of creative Melbourne with this dynamic small group, guided walking tour!

Join your passionate local guide, who is more of an aficionado, as they take you around the style capital of Australia.

Your guide will show you all of Melbourne’s best salons, studios and hidden hotspots tucked away in the European-style lanes in the heart of the city. Discover shops where Melbourne’s celebrated food, coffee and art scene thrive, and are usually missed by tourists. You’ll practically become a local before lunch!

On this half day indulgent walking tour, you’ll immerse yourself in the historical, architectural, cultural insights while exploring more than 30 exquisite boutiques.

After your casual tour, make it a day by returning to your favorite spots visited in the city of marvelous Melbourne!

Operates Daily except Sundays. Departs at 10:00am from Federation Square near Time Out Cafe and returns at 2:00pm, lasting approximately 4 hours.

Need to Know Minimum of 2 guests required. Maximum of 8 guests allowed. Not ideal for children ages 12 and under, special requests taken case by case. Runs in all weather – wear weather appropriate clothing and umbrellas will be on loan if required. General level of fitness required. There may be stairs along the way. Dietary accommodations available – please speak to your About Australia Destination Specialist before booking. Mobility accommodations available – please advise prior to booking.

Inclusions Morning coffee & tea. 3 hour guided walking tour. Knowledgeable and professional local guide. Lunch. City map.

Alternate Tours Available Café Culture Walk – Explore Melbourne’s food and café scene, perfect for foodies and coffee lovers. Progressive Degustation Walk – Sample some of Melbourne’s best restaurants and enjoy wine paired dishes across three unique venues. Golden Mile Heritage Walk – Learn about Melbourne’s history and architecture, and see important historical landmarks. Progressive High Tea Stroll – Taste an array of delicacies such as cupcakes, macarons, chocolates, scones and tea across Melbourne’s best afternoon tea spots. Liquid Crafts Walk – Explore the quirky side of Melbourne and discover the city’s bar scene as you try drinks and spirits from local distillers, mixologists and craft brewers.

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Yarra Valley Wine Tour

Enjoy a personalized Yarra Wine Valley tour guided by a friendly wine expert.

Join a fun, educational and delectable day out on this specialized Yarra Valley Wine Experience.

Inclusions: A Real Wine Expert, (not a snob!) as your guide that will entertain and educate you. Cellar Door Tasting at Yering Station, Yering Farm and Balgownie Estate. A La Carte Lunch at Balgownie Estate including a glass of estate wine. A private tour of Domaine Chandon plus a glass of their premium sparkling wine and light tasting platters. Travel in a luxury, air-conditioned bus.


Itinerary:

9:00am – 9:40am: Meet at pick up points.

10:00am: Depart final pick-up point for Yarra Valley, just under an hour in a deluxe coach.

11:00am: Punt Road Wines, enthusiastic and knowledgeable cellar door staff will share with you some of Punt Road’s award winning wines. This winery has a rich history and is the ideal place to sample a selection of exciting wines that reflect the earthiness and personality of the Yarra Valley. The wines here speak for themselves but we will let you be the judge.

12:00pm: Balgownie Estate Clearly one of the most stylish venues in the Yarra Valley with wines to match; Balgownie Estate have a marvelous restaurant with fantastic views and great wines to taste at the cellar door. Enjoy a high quality restaurant lunch with a glass of Balgownie Estate wine to compliment your meal.

1:30pm: Yering Farm One of the Yarra Valleys more boutique wineries, Yering Farm has stunning views and is oozing with rustic charm. Experience wines made with traditional methods in their cellar door, which showcases antique copper wine making tools used by pioneer wine makers.

2:15pm Domaine Chandon How better to finish the day than with a visit to French champagne company Moet & Chandon’s Australian production house. If you’ve ever wondered at the magic that puts the bubbles in bubbly, wonder no more – your privileged- access guided tour of the winery will reveal all. You’ll leave the riddling room to enjoy breath-taking views over a relaxing glass of Australia’s best bubbly.

3:30pm: Depart the Yarra Valley for Melbourne.

4:30pm – 5:00pm: Return to Drop off points.

Operates: Daily (except December 25 & 26).

Need to Know: Maximum number of guests is 24, typical group size is 12-20. Group bookings are limited to 8. Meeting points are at: Radisson Flagstaff Hotel 380 William Street Melbourne; 570 Flinders Street Melbourn; St. Paul’s Cathedral 200 Flinders Street Melbourne; Old Melbourne Gaol 377 Russell Street Melbourne

Insider's Tip: Bunjilaka Melbourne Museum

Bunjilaka is a word derived from two local Aboriginal languages meaning “creation place” and is the name of the Melbourne Museum’s Aboriginal Centre. Developed after a lengthy consultation process, the Centre’s aim is to enable Victoria’s indigenous communities to express their history themselves.

Bunjilaka’s significant collection of Aboriginal cultural heritage items is complemented by a series of performance, exhibition and meeting spaces including a native garden area. Even the Welcome (Wominjeka) Desk serves an important function as part of the customary greeting ritual when welcoming visitors to country.

The museum is open daily from 10:00am till 5:00pm (except Christmas Day and Good Friday); Admission is $10AUD for Adults and Children 16 and Under are Free

Insider's Tip: Queen Victoria Market

The Queen Victoria Market is an historic Melbourne landmark and a Melbourne institution dating back to more than 120 years ago.


Queen Victoria Market hasn’t been just a market. At different times in the past it has been a cemetery, a livestock market and a place to sell fruit and veggies (vegetables) wholesale. It is said to be the southern hemisphere’s largest open-air market offering a variety of fresh farm produce and, on Sundays, a wider range of merchant items which turn the market into a modern Arabian Nights bazaar. This is the place to buy your souvenirs.


Aside from the variety of wares offered at the Queen Victoria Market, buskers and street entertainment are a market feature, particularly on Sundays when Queen St is closed and becomes a place of cafes, carnival rides and other activities. And there’s always the sound of spruikers cajoling visitors into buying their goods, and you can haggle for the best prices you’re able to get.

The Queen Victoria Market trading hours are 6am to 2pm on Tuesday and Thursday; 6am to 6pm (with the general merchandise section closing at 4pm) on Friday; 6am to 3pm on Saturday; and 9am to 4pm on Sunday. The market is closed on Monday and Wednesday, and on Good Friday, Anzac Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. (Please double check times before you go.)

Photo Credit: Queen Victoria Market

Day 10 - Self Drive - Melbourne to Phillip Island

Enjoy your Self Drive Tour through regional Victoria, Australia: starting in Melbourne, then passing by the Puffing Billy Steam Train, on route to Phillip Island.

Melbourne to Phillip Island passing by the Puffing Billy Steam Train Station (approx 2.5 hrs) Depart Melbourne and head south east towards Phillip Island. Along the way, we suggest stopping off at the Puffing Billy Steam Railway to ride on a historic steam train.

When most people think of Phillip Island they think of Penguins, but you might be surprised to hear that there is so much more offered here. Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is fun for the whole family. You can race around on the go kart track or you can strap in for the real deal and ride in a race car with a professional race car driver! Stroll around the Koala Conservation Centre and enjoy the bushwalking tracks where you can spot native Aussie animals in a natural environment.

Note: Make sure you have spare time at least 1 hour prior to sunset. The Penguin Parade begins at sunset and is truly a must see at the Phillip Island Nature Park. Stay on Phillip Island. Continue on to your next Australian destination.


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Days 10 to 12 - 2 Nights Accommodation on Phillip Island

Next stop along your coastal self-drive is Phillip Island, Victoria, where you will spend 2 nights.

Your vacation accommodation is just 1.5 hours south-east of Melbourne in Cowes, the principal township of Phillip Island. Guests of this delightful Cowes accommodation have direct access to safe beaches, the rugged surf coastline and a variety of shops and restaurants. Kaloha is only a 10 minute drive from the world renowned Penguin Parade, where each evening after sunset the little penguins waddle ashore, much to the delight of visitors. Set among beautiful tropical gardens, the resort’s secluded location ensures a quiet night’s rest.

Day 11 - Free Day to Explore Phillip Island

Discover endless coastlines and seaside villages, abundant wildlife and a multitude of family attractions on a little island with a big reputation.

Explore the natural wonders of land and sea, dine al fresco and sample fine local wines. Take a stroll and pick up local wares in quaint seaside villages or roll out your towel on the beach and get that sand between your toes.

Let Phillip Island’s resident fur seals entertain you with their playful behaviour as they frolic, frisk and feed on their Seal Rocks home. Then at dusk, make your way to the Penguin Parade for the unforgettable sight of little penguins waddling their way over the dunes.

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Koala Conservation Centre

Do you want to see a koala up close in its natural environment? Come visit the treetop & woodland boardwalks at the Koala Conservation Centre.

Experience wild koalas in their natural habitat and stroll through Aussie bushland at this environmentally sustainable centre dedicated to koala conservation on six hectares. Originally established in 1991, the centre is dedicated to koala research and conservation and has played a vital role in ensuring there is a protected koala population on Phillip Island.

Enjoy 2 boardwalks, the Koala Boardwalk and the Woodland Boardwalk. On the bushwalking tracks, keep an eye out for wallabies, echidnas, birds and other Aussie wildlife. Learn about the amazing lives of koalas in the interactive Visitor’s Centre. The Koala Conservation Centre is also home to a host of Australian Wildlife such as wallabies, nocturnal brushtail and ringtail possums, echidnas and over 80 species of birds.

Open 10am to 5pm daily (2pm Christmas Day)

Photo Credit: Koala Conservation Centre; Phillip Island Nature Park

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Grand Prix Circuit

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is just 90 minutes southeast of Melbourne and has a range of activities that will simply drop your jaw and dazzle your eyes.

This is your chance to experience the iconic venue in the flesh. Let rip in a go-kart on our 760m replica Grand Prix track, or buckle in for the real deal; an adrenalin-amping triple Hot Lap lightning ride around the Phillip Island circuit with an experienced racing driver.

Revisit the heart-pumping history of the venue within the Visitor Centre’s History of Motorsport Display. Follow in the footsteps of motorcycle racing champions on the Guided Circuit Tour, allowing you exclusive access to off-limits areas trackside, including Race Control, Media Centre, Pit lane, Pit Roof and, where every racer would love to finish, the winner’s podium being sprayed with champagne.

The ride is only half the experience.

Day 12 - Self Drive from Phillip Island to Mornington Peninsula

Self Drive from Phillip Island to Mornington Peninsula.(approx 1.5 hrs)


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Days 12 to 13 - 1 Night Accommodation on Mornington Peninsula

Spend 1 night on Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Your vacation accommodation is a multi-award winning complex located on Western Port Bay, near the south western tip of the Mornington Peninsula in the village of Flinders.

Sensitively extended and refurbished, you’ll love this hotel’s historic charm, gentle wit and casual sophistication. Just a 5-minute walk to the beach and celebrated clifftop golf course. A 10-minute drive to wineries, horse riding, national parks, bush walks, farm gates, mazes, grand gardens, cycling trails and galleries. And the charming seaside town of Flinders right at the front door, with cafes, antique shops, art galleries, boutiques and charming specialty food stores.

Day 13 - Self Drive from Mornington Peninsula to Apollo Bay

Continue your self drive from Mornington Peninsula to the start of the Great Ocean Road near Apollo Bay.

Mornington Peninsula to Apollo Bay via the ferry (pay as you go), 3 hr 50 min (185km or 115miles)


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Days 13 to 14 - 1 Night Accommodation in Apollo Bay

Travel to your vacation accommodation where you will stay for 1 night whilst in Apollo Bay.

Stay in the picturesque green foothills of the Otway Ranges, Apollo Bay. Visit gorgeous valleys just a few kilometres out of town full of rainforests, waterfalls, streams and fireflies or take a spectacular bush walk. Participate in every water sport imaginable from surfing to fishing to diving or just lounging on the beach. Nearby Cape Otway has nature walks through petrified forests and walks to mighty water falls or you can visit some of the highest ocean cliffs in Victoria on your way to the Cape Otway lighthouse, one of the most significant lighthouses in Australia (Open daily).

Your four star accommodation is centrally located in Apollo Bay. During your stay you will have access to laundry facilities, free coffee, hi-speed web access, in-room air conditioning, an outdoor pool and 100 percent non-smoking facilities.

Photo Credit: Tourism Victoria

Day 14 - Self Drive from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell

Continue your self drive from Apollo Bay down the Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell.

Apollo Bay to Port Campbell, 1 hr 28 min (96km or 60miles)

Days 14 to 15 - 1 Night Accommodation in Port Campbell

Enjoy 1 night of your self drive along the Great Ocean Road with the ultimate contemporary accommodation.


Port Campbell is your destination, perfectly located just minutes from the Twelve Apostles, the majestic icons of Victoria, Australia. Enjoy the convenience of being just a short walk from the town center and beach! The spectacular scenery, shipwreck coast and overall breathtaking environment will make your Great Ocean Road self-drive vacation truly unforgettable. This is a good opportunity to rest and relax or hop on some day tours and scenic adventures.


Nearby Famous Attractions: the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Bay of Islands, Port Campbell National Park

Insiders Tip: Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

One hour west of Port Campbell lies Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, Victoria, Australia’s first National Park (1852). This is truly a magnificent sight to see.

This is an ancient volcano full of geological fascination and abundant wildlife. Here you will discover the vast amount of Kangaroos, Emus, Koalas and Echidnas. Learn of the Aboriginal history, experience bush food and medicine. You also can learn of the ash layers that show Aboriginal people existed at the time of eruption, 32,000 years ago, with its last eruption being over 7,000 years ago.

Open Daily from 10am – 4pm.

Day 15 - Self Drive from Port Campbell to Halls Gap

Today continue on your self-drive adventure from Port Campbell and ending in Halls Gap, home of the Grampians National Park, Victoria, Australia.

Today you will begin your self drive and head west towards Warrnambool. Along the way you will drive by the Bay of Islands, similar to the Twelve Apostles, and a great photo opportunity. If you’re travelling between the months of June and September, stop off at Logans Beach viewing platform for some Right Whale watching. You may want to stop at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, which offers you a peek into the past of the maritime lifestyles and trades of the 1870’s. Just outside of Warrnambool you will go through Tower Hill, home of the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. This is an ancient dormant volcano which is now home to an abundant array of flora and fauna. If you climb the summit of the volcano, you are offered uninterrupted views of the coastline to Port Fairy.

You might want to stop in Port Fairy for lunch. It is said to be one of the prettiest villages in the region. From Port Fairy you can head North toward Hamilton. If you have time to stop over at the Hamilton Art Gallery, you won’t be disappointed. It is home to a spectacular collection of Australian and European artworks.

Conclude today’s drive in the Grampians National Park, Halls Gap. Discover grand and rugged mountain ranges, spectacular wildflower displays, a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, and a wealth of Aboriginal rock art sites here at Grampian National Park.

The Grampians are a series of five jagged sandstone ridges running from north to south with steep and craggy slopes on the eastern side and gentler slopes on the west. Come between August and October to see the colourful spring wildflower displays in the park, with heathlands enlivened with striking shows of Grampians Boronia, Blue Pin-cushion Lily, and a multitude of other herbs and shrubs. The park is also home to a profusion of native animals and birds. You can find kangaroos, koalas, emus, wedge-tailed eagles and more.

Be inspired by the fresh air to get active in the park. Go bushwalking and rock climbing, or fishing and canoeing. Set out on one of the numerous walking tracks for a casual stroll or an overnight trek.

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Days 15 to 16 - 1 Night Accommodation in Halls Gap

Whilst on your self-drive through Victoria, Australia you will spend 1 night in Halls Gap.

The Grampians National Park in Halls Gap is your playground. You will be surrounded by 400 million year old mountain ranges and the largest collection of Aboriginal rock art in Southern Australia. Marvel at these spectacular sights and natural landmarks in Victoria, Australia. In addition to being surrounded by abundant wildlife and native fauna, the local shopping galleries and attractions are just a short walk away. Indulge yourself in the contemporary cuisine at the onsite restaurant. You can choose from many local wines on the menu, hand selected from numerous wineries in the Victoria region before continuing on your self drive.

Also onsite: Swimming Pool, Breakfast Buffet Lounge and Wireless Internet Access.

Insider's Tip: Brambuk, The National Park and Cultural Centre

Your Australia self-drive is not complete without a trip to Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap. The Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung Aboriginal communities of South-Western Victoria will truly come to life as you learn of their history and culture.


Be sure to join in on some of the activities and tours offered at the centre. The Bunjil Creation Tour takes you on an educational journey of the local Dreamtime creation story. You will view the ancient rock art at the resting place of the Creator Spirit Bunjil, his two helpers the Bram-Bram-Bult brothers, and learn about the spiritual significance of the area (3hrs).




Take the opportunity to experience Six Seasons Tour, where you will be given the chance to immerse yourself in the Aboriginal culture AND spectacular environment of the Grampians National Park. You will venture out and explore a variety of ancient rock art and view the Park from the most scenic vantage points (5½hrs, pre-booking required). You may also choose from a range of exciting cultural activities offered at the centre. Learn how to throw a Boomerang, discover the Didgeridoo and its hypnotic tones, stroll through the gardens on a Bushfoods Discovery Walk or join the Badeema Djilga Creations activity and create a unique momento of your self drive trip using Aboriginal art as your inspiration (choose from message stones, boomerangs or canvas). All this and more awaits you at The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia.

Open Daily from 9am-5pm; Free Entry; a 5 minute drive from your accommodation.

Insider's Tip: Top 10, Grampians National Park

Don’t miss these Top 10 Must Do Experiences in the Grampians National Park (Victoria, Australia):

1. Wildlife: Halls Gap is just one of the places you are virtually guaranteed to see kangaroos and emus freely roaming. Best time is early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to have your camera ready!

2. Art Gallery: The Hamilton Art Gallery, located in the quaint town of Hamilton, is home to a diverse collection of Australian and European artworks. Also known for its works in silver, porcelain and glass. If you have the time to stop in, you won’t be disappointed.

3. Great Heights: Get your hiking boots out and get ready for Chataqua Peak or the more challenging Boronia Peak walks. These walks will offer breathtaking views of Grampians National Park.

4. Educational: Your Australia self-drive is not complete without a trip to Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap. The Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung Aboriginal communities of South-Western Victoria will truly come to life as you learn of their history and culture.

5. Year Round: Kayaking and Bushwalking are just a few of the things you can enjoy while exploring the lakes, rivers and waterfalls of the park. Wonderful photography opportunity.

6. Geopark: The Kanawinka Global Geopark offers a chance to take in the amazing landscapes and travel back in time over thousands of years. See how the Aboriginal people made use of the land when they lived here. Located near Hamilton.

7. Flaura: If your self-drive in Victoria takes place between August and mid November, you are in for a real treat! Spring is when the wildflowers frame the waterfalls and walking trails. The wildflowers make for an unforgettable sight.

8. Adventurous: If you are a thrill seeker, try your hand at rock climbing, abseiling, quad bike safaris, horse trail rides and bush walking.

9. Wine: See the town of Great Western and visit the underground cellars housing thousands of bottles of sparkling wine. Or choose from the many above ground wineries.

10. History: The Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre is located in Ararat, and details the start of this gold-mining town. Ararat is the only town established by the Chinese.

Day 16 - Self Drive from Halls Gap to Melbourne

Continuing to on your last portion of the Victoria Self Drive, you will be traveling between Halls Gap and Melbourne. This is your opportunity to stop over at Ballarat Goldfields or some of its surrounding areas. You will gain the chance to experience a historic gold rush town.

From Halls Gap you will drive east towards Ballarat. Be sure to stop in this amazing historic town,home to many attractions including Sovereign Hill, deluxe spas, the fascinating Gold Museum and so much more!

Here are some ideas of things to do along your self-drive through Victoria, Australia:

1. Visit Sovereign Hill, an outdoor living museum located in Ballarat, Victoria. Travel back in time and experience life as it was during the 1850’s gold rush! This is a remarkable replica of this historic town. Dress up in the 19th century fashions and visit the old mining village.
2. When you stop in at Sovereign Hill be sure to stay for the Blood on the Southern Cross, a spectacular sound and light show retelling the story of the Eureka Uprising.
3. Experience the history of Australian art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Enjoy the extensive permanent collection of colonial, impressionist and contemporary masterpieces. Keep an eye out for the original Eureka Flag and learn about its importance with your free iPod tour guide.
4. Meet native animals and come in close contact free-roaming Kangaroos at the Ballarat Wildlife Park. This is the perfect opportunity for a Koala or Wombat photo.
5. Ballarat Botanical Gardens is one of Australia’s oldest and finest gardens. Stroll through the statuary pavilion, which features Benzoni’s beautiful Flight from Pompeii among other treasures. 6. While you’re at the Boanical Gardens, be sure to explore the Prime Minister’s Avenue – a remarkable collection of bronze portraits of all 25 Australian Prime Ministers.
7. Take a stroll around the town to check out the magnificent buildings and architecture. These are a result of the extreme wealth generated by the gold rush.
8. Ballarat’s fascinating Gold Museum boasts one of Australia’s finest collections of gold coins and gold nuggets. Here you will learn of the tales and legends of the gold rush years.
9. If rest and relaxation is what you are looking for, venture off the beaten track to Daylesford or Hepburn Springs, known as the Spa Capital of Australia. Also a renowned location for food lovers and luxury seekers.
10. Wineries are abundant in Victoria, Australia. Travel to Avoca at the base of the Pyrenees, or along your way to Melbourne stop by the wineries around Bacchus Marsh. You won’t be disappointed.


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Days 16 to 17 - 1 Night Accommodation in Melbourne

Travel to your accommodation where you will be staying whilst on vacation for 1 night.

Optional Evening Event (Not Included) - Colonial Tram Car Early Dinner

As you cruise the scenic streets of Melbourne, you will enjoy fine cuisine and drink the very best of Australian wines. The atmosphere is cosy, the service friendly and the decor as inviting as the colonial period these trams reflect.



The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant officially commenced operation in August 1983. These glossy, burgundy restaurants on wheels are the first travelling tramcar restaurants in the world and ensure a delightful innovative approach to dining. Dining aboard the Tramcar is not only a culinary delight, but also a trip into a little piece of Victoria’s history.



The tram is air-conditioned for total comfort and piped music helps to create a unique mood on wheels. Smart casual, suit or similar dress is appropriate when dining.

Early Dinner 5:45-7:15pm (Daily)

Also available: Lunch 1:00-3:00pm (On Request); Late Dinner 8:35-11:30pm (Daily)

(Please note that a surcharge will apply for Christmas Day Luncheon and New Years Eve Late dinner.)

Day 17 - International Flight, Sydney to Los Angeles (check quote for inclusion)

Travel by international air to your destination.

International air to your destination is not included in the starting price. If you requested international air, this inclusion will be reflected in your quote.

Day 17 - Los Angeles to Hometown (Check quote for inclusion)

Travel by domestic air to your destination.

If you request US domestic air pricing, this inclusion will be reflected in your quote.

Packages by About Australia, a fully bonded and ARC Accredited travel company.