When visiting Melbourne, you might find yourself completely enchanted by this city. It’s full of life, delicious coffee, arts and culture. However, not everyone feels that special “vibe” that got so many people fascinated by Melbourne. In this case, you might want to explore other parts of the state and learn more about how to visit Victoria.
Originally, we went to Melbourne to visit our friends and enjoy great coffee. Still, we love nature and road trips, so we couldn’t stay in the city for a week. As much as we would love to get to know this Europe of Australia better, we needed to get out. We rented a van and started the adventure.
The itinerary below is based on our experience, but amended according to our recommendations. Remember that driving in Australia can take longer than it seems (remember us driving in New Zealand?), especially if you have to drive through Melbourne. While you can use public transport and tour buses, we strongly recommend hiring your own vehicle.
Visit Victoria in 1 week
Day 1: Melbourne
As this itinerary isn’t focused on Melbourne, we left only one day for exploring the city. Of course, one day in Melbourne won’t do much for you, and we highly recommend to spend more time in this beloved destination. Soon we will publish some tips on things you could do while in Melbourne!
Day 2 and 3: Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous Australian Road Trip destinations. While some say that it’s a must-do when in Oz, others find it less remarkable in comparison to roads you see in New Zealand or Montenegro. You might also find this route very touristy. However, when you visit Victoria, we recommend to do Great Ocean Road no matter what your previous experiences are.
What to see along the Great Ocean Road?
Great Ocean Road offers variety of stops, and unfortunately, during two days you can’t see them all. You might want to spend longer on this ride, but you don’t have to. And remember, we are talking about the part of the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne, since that’s the direction our suggested itinerary goes.
- Wildlife spotting – along the Great Ocean Road you will find lots of places for the wildlife watching. Between June and September you can see whales who migrate to the southern tip of Australia to give birth. While driving through the eucalyptus forests, you can spot plenty of koalas. There are also many different species of parrots in the region. And of course, look out for kangaroos, wallabies and other wildlife.
- Rainforest Walks – even though it’s supposedly a great OCEAN road, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy forest while you’re at it. Choose your own walk, it can be Maits Rest Rainforest Walk, Madsen’s Track Nature Walk or any other rainforest adventure.
- Lighthouses – there are several lighthouses located along Great Ocean Road. Two most prominent ones are Cape Otway Lightstation and Split Point Lighthouse. Get out there, take a walk, and if you can – visit them to learn about their history.
- Creat Otway National Park – one of our favorite places in that region. It contains variety of landscapes, myriad of bird, animal and plant species and is a great place for camping. Consider choosing it for your overnight stay.
- Twelve Apostles – probably the most famous stop along Great Ocean Road. To say that there were a lot of people is an understatement. Nevertheless, it’s a must see and one of the end destinations for many road trips. These limestone formations shaped by water offer gorgeous views, but don’t aim to find all 12 – there are only 8 of them left.
- Loch Ard Gorge – another well-known spot for beautiful view of the ocean and beach. It comes with a story of ship that has wrecked at the shore and had only two survivors.
- Waterfalls – to be honest, we weren’t lucky enough to see any waterfalls on our route. Some of the ones we stopped for were almost dry due to the hot weather. And we didn’t make time to stop for others. But there are plenty of waterfalls along the Great Ocean Road: Erskine Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls, Carisbook Waterfall, Beauchamp Falls and more. Some of them require a detour, but if that’s what you’re hunting, go for it.
- Lookouts – there are soooo so many lookouts! You can probably stop every 10 minutes – Teddy’s lookout, Anglesea lookout, Cinema point lookout and more. There’s no need to stop every single time you see a sign, but make sure you do visit some of them.
- Shipwreck sites – one thing you need to know when you visit Victoria is that there are a lot of shipwrecks along the coast. If you’re into that stuff – awesome! You will find beaches with anchors or parts of ships together some interesting information about what happened there.
Where to stay?
Depending on the transportation you use, there is a good choice of places to sleep at along Great Ocean Road. Those who choose to go with a tour company will most likely have their accommodation arranged by the tour provider. If you are driving car, you might want to stop in one of the towns along the road. Many of them have hotels, hostels and inns available for travelers. Campgrounds and caravan parks also offer cabins and trailers to stay in. Those traveling in a van or a camper also can use local campgrounds. For that we recommend WikiCamps Australia app, which helped us a lot on the way. It will show you nearby campsites, trails, dump points and various points of interest. We stayed at Bimbi Park during the first night at Mortlake Caravan Park before we drove to Halls Gap.
Find more information at https://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au
Day 4 and 5: The Grampians and Halls Gap
The truth is: we only spent 1 day in Halls Gap, but we wish we spent more. First of all, it’s a great change to looking at the beach for two days. And second, it’s an absolutely beautiful scenery!
The Grampians is a National Park which is full of stunning views, nature trails and wildlife. But what’s even more amazing is that it’s one of the places where you can learn a lot about Aboriginal culture. The Grampians are especially rich for Aboriginal rock art and it’s a must see for everyone who decides to visit Victoria.
During the first day explore the National Park. The Grampians Peaks Trail is now open and it takes 3 days, if you have time for that. But you might choose to see different parts of the region. Head to Mount Sturgeon Walk, The Piccaninny or Mount Abrupt Walk. If you have any energy left, head on to Halls Gap and hike from the city to Pinnacle via Wonderland Loop Hike. You can also leave it for the next day, and choose to wonder the city instead.
There are two main things we loved about Halls Gap town. First of all, there are plenty of kangaroos wondering around. Second, they sell delicious ice cream at Coolas Ice Creamery. All in all, it’s a cozy town and is worth a stop.
When you are done with The Grampians and Halls Gap, start driving towards Yarra Valley. But be aware that the drive might take longer than you plan since the path leads you through Melbourne.
Where to stay?
For the first night we really recommend to stay in Halls Gap. We weren’t fortunate enough to have enough time, but we wish we did. Next day, if you decide to drive in the evening, you can split your drive in two. When you visit Victoria, you should definitely stay in one of the cozy small towns, and it’s a perfect opportunity. We spent our evening and night in Clunes, but you might choose Ararat, some other town or stay close to one of the lakes on the way.
Day 6 and 7: Yarra Valley and back to Melbourne
One might ask: why spend two days in Yarra Valley? Isn’t it just one-day wine tour? And it might be, if that’s what you want. But Yarra Valley offers much more to a curious visitor, and here are some examples.
What to do in Yarra Valley?
- Visit Healesville Sanctuary. While we are not huge fans of animals in captivity, Healesville Sanctuary seems to be more than just a zoo. Their wildlife conservation program is extensive, they are trying to preserve many species that face extinction. In some cases, they put breeding programs in place to sustain endangered populations.
- Go on Black Spur Drive. Another stunning road in Victoria, it’s not as long as Great Ocean Road, but worth spending time on. Through the rain forest and the eucalyptus trees, it takes you from Healesville to Narbethong. And yes, it is a destination on its own.
- Hike/walk in Yarra Ranges. If you read any of our previous articles, you know that we love hiking and trekking. This is why we were so sad we didn’t get to do it in Yarra Valley! You can find some ideas here and here.
- Enjoy adventures. Hot air balloons, horse riding, biking and theme parks – Yarra region has plenty of options!
- Explore wineries. That’s probably the most obvious thing you can do when you visit Victoria and Australia in general. So do it! No regrets.
So, first reason why we recommend to spend at least two days in Yarra Valley is to enjoy all of these activities. You cannot spend 1 hour in Healesville Sanctuary, especially if you want to learn something from one of the amazing talks they give go their visitors. It will take you a while to do some walks or adventurous activities, or to go on a 30 minute drive. Another reason we recommend two days is because those of you who are into wineries can’t drive back to Melbourne straight after that – we sure hope you’ll enjoy some wine on your tour!
Where to stay?
If you are visiting Yarra Valley during weekend (including Friday), we recommend to pre-book your accommodation, even if you plan to stay on the campground. There are plenty of hostels, guest houses and hotels in Healesville and neighbouring cities, as well as a few caravan parks. Use WikiCamps app to find your accommodation. If you can’t make it all the way to Melbourne during the last day, consider staying at the Crystal Brook Tourist Park.
To sum up, sample itinerary for those who visit Victoria:
Day 1 – Walk around Melbourne, enjoy coffee, food and street art.
Day 2 – Start driving down the Great Ocean Road. Stop at a few lookout points, Split Point Lighthouse, take a walk in the rainforest and sleep around the Great Otway National Park.
Day 3 – Continue driving along the Great Ocean Road. Visit Cape Otway Lightstation, find some waterfalls and shipwreck beaches, enjoy 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. Stay at Port Campbell or drive towards the Grampians.
Day 4 – Drive to the southern part of the Grampians, enjoy a few walks and explore indigenous art. Drive to Halls Gap and explore the town.
Day 5 – Take a Wonderland Loop Hike to the Pinnacle, get some ice cream and spend second half of the day making your way to Yarra Valley. Stay in one of the small towns on the way there.
Day 6 – Spend this day as a combination of hiking, adventure and wine tasting! Stay in Healesville or other towns/sites in Yarra region.
Day 7 – Visit Healesville Sanctuary, drive down the Black Spur Road and head back to Melbourne.
We hope we gave you plenty of ideas on what to do in Victoria! With more time comes more possibilities. Therefore, don’t think that’s all there is to see – it’s just a starting point.
Let us know in the comments what would YOU recommend to those who visit Victoria!
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