GREAT SOUTHERN TOURING ROUTE
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.