GREAT SOUTH­ERN TOUR­ING ROUTE

Outer Edge - - Contents -

The spec­tac­u­lar Great South­ern Tour­ing Route show­cases ev­ery­thing from his­tor­i­cal ci­ties steeped in cul­ture and art, out­stand­ing winer­ies, moun­tains to climb, fan­tas­tic azure seas and in­spir­ing char­ac­ters with many sto­ries to tell.

Mar­vel­lous Mel­bourne, the cos­mopoli­tan cap­i­tal with its dra­matic tow­ers, art gal­leries, restau­rants and charm­ing river, is a nat­u­ral start­ing and fin­ish­ing point and the ro­mance of the Great Ocean Road, with its rugged coast­line, lush forests and over­pow­er­ing sense of free­dom, is an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gee­long’s bay­side water­front precinct is a cul­tural par­adise and with all the ac­tiv­i­ties such as bay cruises, chop­per flights, carousel rides, prom­e­nade walks and res­tau­rant mas­tery you will need to plan a longer stay.

The area is renowned as one of Aus­tralia’s truly iconic wine re­gions and a wine tour will help you dis­cover how myr­iad mi­cro­cli­mates make the Gee­long Wine Re­gion a di­verse fu­sion of in­ten­sity and in­ti­macy. Bike en­thu­si­asts will love the hik­ing or moun­tain bik­ing trails through bush­land and rocky out­crops to the sum­mit of the oddly named You Yangs, and with spec­tac­u­lar views across vol­canic plains it will be worth your while to visit.

Vil­lage life is alive and well on The Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula where you will find your­self en­ter­ing into a mini-clus­ter of sea­side charm, re­laxed am­bi­ence and lit­tle-known foodie de­lights in Portarlington, Ocean Grove, Queen­scliff, Drys­dale, Point Lons­dale and Bar­won Heads. The very best of the Bel­lar­ine’s gourmet food and bev­er­age ex­pe­ri­ences is clev­erly gath­ered into the Bel­lar­ine Taste Trail.

Queen­scliff’s grand colo­nial ho­tels, streetscapes, an­tique shops and steam rail­way are loaded with charm and will cer­tainly pro­vide you with stun­ning pho­to­graphs and mem­o­ries, while the fresh-offthe-boat seafood is sure to tempt your taste buds.

The Great Ocean Road is wildly beau­ti­ful. The in­fa­mous Twelve Apos­tles rise ma­jes­ti­cally from the South­ern Ocean and with ev­ery sun­rise and sun­set you can ex­pect ever chang­ing colour from dark and fore­bod­ing in shadow to bril­liant sandy yel­low un­der a full sun. Be­yond the beauty of the Twelve Apos­tles there lies a world of fas­ci­na­tion.

The Ship­wreck Coast, the bustling sea­side city of War­rnam­bool and the pretty lit­tle vil­lage of Port Fairy all of­fer rich ex­pe­ri­ences. The stacks that tower from the ocean in the Bay of Is­lands cre­ate a haunt­ing nat­u­ral land­scape and with the sun set­ting in the west, they are a pho­tog­ra­pher’s de­light. War­rnam­bool is the ideal place to en­joy the sea with its prom­e­nade that’s just made for walk­ing or cycling and what bet­ter way to en­joy the stun­ning views of the ocean than with a cof­fee from one of the many sea­side café’s.

Take a step back in time and visit Flagstaff Hill Mar­itime Vil­lage. By day it’s an in­ter­ac­tive 1870s mar­itime vil­lage and mu­seum, of­fer­ing a glimpse of the time when the seas were the su­per high­way and the coast be­came known as the Ship­wreck Coast. By night, ev­ery­thing changes and you get to ex­pe­ri­ence ‘Ship­wrecked’, a world-class sound and laser show which re­lives the tragedy and tri­umph of the ill-fated clip­per ‘Loch Ard’.

Grif­fiths Is­land is an ex­plorer’s de­light with its colony of shear­wa­ters, and spec­tac­u­lar light­house. At dusk bird­watch­ers are in for a treat as the colony of shear­wa­ters, or mut­ton-birds, re­turn in swarms to their nests after a day fish­ing. At the end of the Great Ocean Road, you will un­cover an­other place and time in his­tory from ev­ery vista when you visit the charm­ing fish­ing vil­lage of Port Fairy. Its wide streets are edged by nine­teenth cen­tury cot­tages, Nor­folk pines, old stone churches and inns.

The ma­jes­tic Grampians rise up from the plains of the West­ern Dis­trict with an abun­dance of wa­ter­falls, wild­flow­ers and na­tive an­i­mals - just some of the rea­sons to take the time to ex­plore the na­tional and state parks. Macken­zie Falls of­fers you the most spec­tac­u­lar view as tor­ren­tial wa­ter cas­cades over cliffs that send a spray of rain­bow mist high into the air above a mag­nif­i­cent gorge.

The Grampians is fa­mous for its moun­tain­ous and rugged scenery and spec­tac­u­lar scenic look­outs and the Chataqua Peak or the more chal­leng­ing Boro­nia Peak walks, both over­look­ing Halls Gap of­fer un­beat­able views of the Grampians Na­tional Park.

Bal­larat is the gate­way to the Gold­fields re­gion and this grand old city’s colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture stretches out along broad, tree-lined streets and re­flects the riches taken from the ground after the dis­cov­ery of gold in the 19th Cen­tury. The up­ris­ing at the Eu­reka Stock­ade is re­garded as a piv­otal mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of Aus­tralian democ­racy.

Ex­pe­ri­ence the hus­tle and bus­tle of life on the Bal­larat gold­fields in the 1850s at Sov­er­eign Hill, one of Vic­to­ria’s most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions. Pan for real gold, ride in horse-drawn car­riages, or travel un­der­ground on a tour of the Red Hill Mine. Bal­larat is also home to the coun­try’s old­est and largest re­gional gallery and Bal­larat Wildlife Park, with its 16 hectares of nat­u­ral bush­land.

The towns of Dayles­ford and Hep­burn Springs are sur­rounded by more than 60 min­eral springs, with the wa­ter long renowned for its ben­e­fi­cial qual­i­ties. The Great South­ern Tour­ing Route has much to of­fer. You just have to see it for your­self.

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