Thursday, November 24, 2011

A magical journey down Australia’s Great Southern Touring Route

Journey through some of the most spectacular, enchanting and exquisitely different landscapes on a self-drive down the Great Southern Touring Route.

This magical journey through some of the most exciting, enchanting and exquisitely different landscapes in Australia is found in the south-west of Victoria, the nation’s smallest mainland state.

Marvellous Melbourne, the cosmopolitan capital with its dramatic towers, art galleries, restaurants and charming river, is a natural starting and finishing point.
The romance of the Great Ocean Road, with its rugged coastline, lush forests and overpowering sense of freedom, is an unforgettable experience. The road also links the major regional cities of Geelong and Warrnambool, both vibrant destinations in their own right.

The soaring mountains of The Grampians National Park have been the spiritual heartland of the Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. Their ancient rock art is all part of the enriching experience of a visit to the Grampians.

Ballarat and its Goldfields are a heady mix of the romance and majesty of the 1850s gold rush and a whole range of modern treasures.

Native Australian wildlife abounds across the region, including kangaroos, koalas, platypus, native birds and Australian wildflowers.

Top 10 must do experiences

> The Great Ocean Road

1. Majestic Scenery: Drive the exhilarating Great Ocean Road, taking in highlights like the famous Bells Beach, the seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay, and the dramatic coastline of the Shipwreck Coast, including the Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell and Port Fairy. The regions rich maritime history is recreated at Flagstaff Hill in Warrnambool.

2. Surf Culture: Torquay is the surfing capital of Australia with its beaches, surf museum and an all surfing shopping centre. It is also home to Bells Beach.

3. The Twelve Apostles: The icon of the Great Ocean Road coast, The Twelve Apostles are majestic limestone stacks rising up out of the ocean. They can be viewed from a helicopter or from a boardwalk for easy walking and great views.

4. Wildlife: Southern Right Whales come to Warrnambool’s Logans Beach each year between June and September to give birth to the calves. Other wildlife along the road includes koalas at Kennett River, Cape Otway and Tower Hill and the friendly mob of kangaroos on the golf course at Anglesea.

> Grampians

5. MacKenzie Falls: The roar of falling water and the magic of the rising mists are just part of the charm of these falls, one of four in the MacKenzie River Gorge.

6. Soaring Peaks: The centrepiece of Victoria’s Western District, the Grampians are three mountain ranges that rise majestically from the plains with their lakes and valleys. Rockclimbing, bushwalking and wildlife spotting are just some of the adventure activities available. The Grampians region is also home to some of Australia’s finest vineyards.

7. Rock Art: The Grampians contain some of the best examples of Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Visit Brambuk – The National Park and Heritage Centre to learn the story of these ancient works.

> Ballarat Goldfields

8. Gold!: The Ballarat Goldfields capture much of the spirit of colonial Victoria. When gold was discovered in the region in the mid 19th Century, it changed the state forever. The riches quickly turned Ballarat from a city of tents into a place of ornate buildings including the magnificent Art Gallery of Ballarat.

9. Ballarat Wildlife Park: Enjoy close contact with Australian native animals. Feed the free-roaming kangaroos.

10. Sovereign Hill: Re-creates the days of the goldfields, scene of one of just two civil up-risings in the history of Australia. Blood on the Southern Cross, an explosive light and sound show, tells the story of that battle.

The Great Southern Touring Route offers you the best of Australia’s natural attractions, coastal scenery, history and heritage – all in a flexible, compact touring package.

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