Australia features an incredible variety of experiences across the continent. From epic landscapes and amazing adventures that will immerse you in the depths of nature; to cultural events, festivals and culinary flavors that will dazzle your palate. But this does not mean that you have to feel overwhelmed when planning your vacation.
One of the most popular routes in Australia is the Great Ocean Road. Although winter is coming along, it’s still a great time to do this trip.
Not many people are around, so you can fully enjoy the beauty of nature and take great pictures for your social media accounts. Because of higher rainfall, the waterfalls really come alive. It is also the best time to see whales along the way. It’s also cheaper and who doesn’t like to save some money? The best start point for this trip is Melbourne.
Guide to your first trip to Melbourne
This trip is popularly enjoyed over a two week period as there is so much to see along the way. For this reason, we put together a travel guide for 12-14 days with the most interesting spots that you cannot miss.
- Rent a car if you don’t have one. It will give you the freedom to go off road and visit magical places outside of the routes outlined on the map.
- If you are going to rent a car, we recommend checking out campers with a bed inside it. This will give you the possibility to sleep anywhere, regardless of whether it is a campsite or not.
- Camping Apps we recommend: WikiCamps Australia and CamperMate.
- Always keep an eye out for temperature gauges and signs that show whether campfires are allowed.
- Remember that in almost all campsites, beaches and national parks you will find bathrooms with showers. So don’t worry, you will have the opportunity to take a nice shower before continuing your journey.
- Don’t rush, enjoy every moment, every beach, national park and little town. Don’t wear a watch, let yourself be carried away by what you see and feel.
- Take your time to walk and observe nature. You will find yourself surrounded by animals willing to be seen.
MELBOURNE AS A DEPARTURE POINT (1-2 days)
Melbourne is full of colour and emotion. It gives you the possibility to enjoy incredible cultural, sporting and musical events.
The city not only provides iconic places to its visitors, such as historical landmarks, cathedrals or cultural centers like the famous Princess Theater, the National Gallery of Victoria and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It also lends itself to discovering its active hipster culture and artistic corners in its streets.
Take the time to get acquainted with the vibrant street art at Hosier and Rutledge Lane, where you find street graffiti style since the early ’90s. Also, walk through Federation Square where you can enjoy many cultural activities that take place there. You will find yourself involved in a circuit of gastronomic shops; tasting your way through Melbourne’s vibrant cafe and restaurant scene.
We recommend that you stay in a hostel the first day, so you can enjoy the nightlife of Melbourne, which is spread through the financial districts in the CBD to alleys and on top of buildings. You will find all kinds of wine bars, cocktail bars, or clubs. Also, during the summer season, the suburb on the beach – St Kilda, is bustling full of bars and keen party goers.
GETTING INTO THE NATURE – WILSON PROMONTORY (2-3 days)
Having fully enjoyed the attractions of the city, you can relax with a coffee in the morning and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the beach in “The Prom”.
The largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria is within Wilsons Prom. The park has over 80 km of trails that meander through its variety of terrains. There is no better place for a close encounter with animals, you will see wombats, kangaroos and emus among many others. You will also be surprised by not finding many man-made structures.
Where to stay? There are only two options to stay within the park: camping in Tidal River, which is the main campground in the National Park ($30/night), remember to book online in advance. The other options are rent huts ($118/night) and cabins ($272/night). Otherwise, just outside the park boundaries, there is a great variety of accommodations.
MARINE LIFE – PHILLIP ISLAND (1 day)
Phillip Islands offers several coastal walks to appreciate wildlife and watch seals! Also, each night at sunset, you can witness penguins returning ashore after a day of fishing as they return to their natural habitats for the night.
There are different experiences organized within the island to watch the parade of penguins, as guided underground observations. The tickets usually cost around $27 and $75, depending on the tour you choose.
VISIT THE QUIET BEACHES – MORNINGTON PENINSULA (1 -2 days)
Don’t miss out on visiting the well-known beaches of the Mornington Peninsula. It stands out for its secluded, tranquil beaches. It offers many different attractions and activities, for all tastes and budgets.
It is not one of the cheapest regions to stay. Therefore, if you decide to spend the day and then return to a campsite, these are some beaches and panoramic points that you cannot miss:
- Arthurs Seat Lookout: This is the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula.
- Diamond bay: It’s a tiny bay with access to turquoise waters. Paradise!
- The Dragon’s Head: It will drive you crazy, it’s an excellent place for fans of photography.
- Mills Beach: The popular beach with the mythical colored houses on the sand.
- Somers Beach: Incredible to have the opportunity to observe dolphins.
- Bushrangers Bay: A unique beach, where you can relax in rock pools. Who wouldn’t want that?
THE ASTOUNDING GREAT OCEAN ROAD (6-7 days)
The amazing Great Ocean Road is the perfect plan to escape from the city. It winds alongside breathtaking cliffs, endless empty beaches and features the famous 12 Apostles. Offering the possibility of carrying out countless activities, such as surfing or incredible walks with the most diverse landscapes that you can imagine.
It starts 1.3 hours from central Melbourne, spans 400km from the town of Torquay to Nelson. Another way to get there without crossing the entire city is by taking the ferry from Mornington Peninsula, which takes approximately 2.3hrs and offers a whole new view of the Great Ocean Road.
Some of the places we recommend you to fully explore and take your time to enjoy:
- Torquay: If you are interested in surfing, this is the perfect place for you. Visit the Australian National Surfing Museum and take surfing lessons on its beaches. Of course, don’t forget to get off at Bells Beach where the major surfing competitions in the world take place.
- Fairhaven Beach: This is the longest beach on the Great Ocean Road. Go for a walk and enjoy a beautiful sunrise or a spectacular sunset before heading back.
- Otway National Park: Many people are mesmerized by the Great Ocean Road, overlooking this magical place. You can marvel at the thundering waterfalls and ancient volcanoes, as you hike between mossy trees and rugged coastlines. Otway Park shows nature at its most diverse form. If you need to stretch your legs after a long car ride, the Otway Fly Treetop Walk is a perfect option, with a 600m long elevated treetop walk.
Another tour is the Otway Fly Zip line, where you will rise 30 meters above the ground and zip your way through the spectacular views.
- 12 Apostles: The most famous and acclaimed attractions, stretching from Apollo Bay. It has several short trails along the coastal strip. Many people take a helicopter tour to appreciate the view from above. Their prices and durations range from 15 minutes
($ 145) to 60 minutes ($570). But in case you don’t have the budget for it, the 12 Apostles will definitely not disappoint you. Its view is impressive from wherever you observe it.
- Warrnambool: Even if the main attraction of seeing the 12 Apostles has already ended, don’t turn around yet! It’s a small town with a very nice view. And if you are lucky, you will be able to see the whales migrating. Also, 14km west of Warrnambool on the Tower Hill, you will stumble upon a dazzling reserve, nestled within a dormant volcano. Now home to a vivacious population of wildlife, you will find many explorers alike, picnicking, hiking and observing the various koalas, emus, kangaroos and water birds which all live in harmony among the walls of a once roaring volcano.
The Victorian coast is so diverse and the Great Ocean Road is a trip that you definitely cannot miss when you are in Australia.