The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Scenic’s 11-day Vic­to­rian Dis­cov­ery small-group coach tour is a round trip from Mel­bourne that in­cludes vis­it­ing Lorne, Warrnambool, Bal­larat, Dayles­ford, Bendigo and Echuca. The tour de­buts on May 28 and costs from $4795 a per­son twin-share. More: holds Eva’s mother and sis­ter, buried in coffins fash­ioned from pi­ano cases sal­vaged from the wreck. Warrnambool’s Flagstaff Hill de­votes plenty of space to the Loch Ard story; the cen­tre­piece of its dis­play is a mag­nif­i­cent earth­en­ware pea­cock that stands 1.4m tall and is val­ued at $4.5 mil­lion.

The gorge is near the Twelve Apos­tles vis­i­tor cen­tre; we park and cross un­der the Great Ocean Road to a clifftop look­out. No mat­ter how many times you’ve seen post­cards of th­ese sea stacks, it doesn’t com­pare to stand­ing be­fore the lime­stone pil­lars and the neigh­bour­ing sheer cliffs, soak­ing up their grandeur. The for­ma­tions are such a draw­card that the sound­track in­cludes the buzz of sight­see­ing he­li­copters.

In Warrnambool, we’re based at Qual­ity Suites Deep Blue Ho­tel & Spa, a few min­utes’ stroll from a view over Mid­dle Is­land. I rise early to see the is­land from shore; flocks of seabirds take off and land on sand­bars as waves ebb and flow. Back at the ho­tel, in keep­ing with the tour’s name, I make an un­ex­pected Vic­to­rian dis­cov­ery: guests can wal­low in hot springs within the depths of the 80-room prop­erty.

The tour also in­cludes an­other (lit­eral) Eureka mo­ment. The Mu­seum of Aus­tralian Democ­racy at Eureka, built on the site of Bal­larat’s 1854 Eureka Stock­ade, houses the Eureka flag.

What’s left of this frag­ile, hand-stitched tex­tile trea­sure fea­tur­ing the South­ern Cross is housed be­hind glass and given its own gallery, com­plete with the evoca­tive sound of squawk­ing mag­pies. Some­how birds — from pea­cocks to pen­guins, seabirds to chick­ens — just keep pok­ing their beaks into this jour­ney.

Ka­t­rina Lob­ley was a guest of Scenic.

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