Melbourne back to Melbourne - Great Southern Touring Route, Victoria

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Driving the Great Southern Touring Route turns the romance of the road trip into a grand love affair. Travel the Great Ocean Road past the iconic surf spots of Torquay and Bells Beach, then onto the holiday haven of Lorne and the magnificent Twelve Apostles. Walk through waterfalls and lush forest in Otway National Park and enjoy whale watching from the historic town of Warrnambool. Stay in any of the many scenic seaside towns, from Apollo Bay to Port Fairy. Away from the wild and windswept Southern Ocean, you may like to explore Aboriginal history in the Grampians or gold rush heritage in Ballarat.

Passing through Melbourne, for 4 days

Day: 1 - Melbourne to Lorne

As you drive past the distinctive humps of The You Yangs (a favourite with mountain bikers and rock climbers) you’ll know your journey has begun. In the pretty port of Geelong, get the seaside mood by wandering along the 100-plus painted bollards on the city’s shorefront. Just beyond the city centre is the turnoff for the Great Ocean Road and Torquay – a famed surfing town boasting the world’s largest surfing museum. A short drive from there you can look for point break at the iconic surf spot of Bells Beach. As you drive along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll find it hard to believe that returned First World War soldiers carved the road out of the cliff with only picks, shovels and crowbars. At the seaside town of Lorne, you can hit the surf, go fishing, sunbake on the golden sand or drink coffee at one of Victoria’s first cafes.Visit a host of waterfalls among the folds of the Otway Range accessable via  many walking tracks.

Day: 2 - Lorne to Port Fairy

Rugged cliffs drop dramatically to the ocean on one side and national park on the other as you drive to Apollo Bay. Explore the ancient rainforests, heathlands, glow worm caves and spectacular waterfalls of Great Otway National Park on a bushwalk or bike ride. Visit the 150-year-old Cape Otway Lighthouse or stop for a picnic at Paradise or Shelly Beaches. As you continue round the coast, you’ll spot the craggy limestone towers of the Twelve Apostles. Soak up the stunning views from two easy walkways. Continue along the stretch known as Shipwreck Coast famous for the wild seas that sent at least 700 ships crashing on the rocks. Pass through the historic whale-watching town of Warrnambool you drive to the pretty village of Port Fairy. See Australia’s largest fur seal colony and get up close to dolphins, whales and sharks from a boat.

Day: 3 - Port Fairy to Halls Gap

Continue north to Dunkeld and see the racecourse framed by the peaks of the southern Grampians, or detour to see the lava tubes at Byaduk Caves in Mount Napier State Park The sandstone ranges of the southern Grampians stay in your sights as you drive into the tourist hub of Halls Gap, surrounded by the Wonderland and Mount William ranges. Stay in accommodation ranging from 5-star villas to basic camping grounds and explore many of the Grampians’ major attractions. Walking trails such as Venus Baths, Boronia Peak and Chatauqua abound. Visit Boroka and Reed’s lookouts, McKenzie Falls, Lake Bellfield and the pretty picnic spot of Zumsteins. Learn about the culture of the local Aboriginal people at the Brambuk Cultural Centre or take a tour to see ancient Aboriginal rock art sites.

Day: 4 - Halls Gap to Melbourne

Head north towards the goldfields stopping along the way at Stawell, where Australia’s most famous foot race is held each Easter. Learn about the history of the Chinese prospectors in the nearby gold rush town of Ararat. Have your own Eureka moment as you head into Ballarat, the heart of Victoria’s goldfields. Explore the tree-lined streets and grand public buildings, the legacy of the 1850s goldmining boom. Relive the past at Sovereign Hill, a living museum where you can pan for gold alongside volunteers in period costume. Then learn about the famous uprising of the Eureka stockade at the Mining Exchange. Head back to Melbourne through the charming towns of Trentham and Blackwood.