See some of Australia’s most spectacular sceneries and live some of its best experiences on a self-drive down the Great Southern Touring Route.
Geelong, an easy hour’s drive along the Princes Freeway from Melbourne, is the eastern gateway to the dramatic coastline of the Great Ocean Road.
It is also Victoria’s second largest city. One of the ‘must dos’ for any visitor to Geelong is to take a boat ride on, or a flight over, sparkling Corio Bay. The Geelong Waterfront has excellent restaurants and cafés with tables looking out over the water and the impressive display of colourful bollards telling the history of the city.
Torquay is Australia’s surfing capital as well as being the official start of the road. Surf World Museum tells the story of surfing in Australia and an all surfing-shopping precinct welcomes visitors year round.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s great coastal drives; Conde Nast travel magazine says it is one of the top 20 journeys of a lifetime. Hugging the seaside on the south-west coast of Victoria, it passes through some of the most dramatic scenery in Australia, including the world famous Twelve Apostles.
The Twelve Apostles, the gigantic limestone rock stacks that rise majestically from the Southern Ocean are a ‘must do’. Boardwalks, viewing platforms and an interpretive centre make it easy to see and understand this truly awe-inspiring scenery.
For the best view a helicopter ride over the coastline to see all the magnificent limestone stacks is highly recommended.
The city of Warrnambool overlooks the deep blue of the Southern Ocean and has a long,
fascinating maritime history. These remarkable times are recaptured at the city’s major attraction, Flagstaff Hill, a recreated maritime village and port representative of 19th century
Warrnambool. Flagstaff Hill also features a spectacular sound and laser light show ‘Shipwrecked’ recreating the tragic story of the Loch Ard disaster more than 125 years ago.
There are more than 400 million years of history in the Grampians, the verdant mountains rising from the vast landscapes of the Western District plains. They are the setting for the largest collection of Aboriginal rock art in Australia.
The Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Halls Gap provides a detailed insight into the culture of the original inhabitants of the region. A visit is one of the region’s ‘must dos’.
There are a number of waterfalls, the best known MacKenzie Falls, one of four in the
MacKenzie River Gorge. Spring, when it is framed by wildflowers, is the best time to
visit Beehive Falls, an easy walk from Roses Gap.
A walk at twilight, or even at night offers the chance to see some of the nocturnal native animals including owls, possums and koalas. More than 200 bird species live in the Grampians and kangaroos abound throughout.
Ballarat is the gateway to the Goldfields region. The city’s classic colonial architecture stretched out along broad, tree-lined streets reflects the riches taken from the ground after gold was discovered in the 19th century.
The city is also regarded as the birthplace of Australian democracy. Ballarat was the setting for one of just two civil uprisings in Australia’s modern history, the Eureka Rebellion. This battle between troopers and miners has left a stirring legacy in Ballarat.
Blood on the Southern Cross, a dramatic and fiery sound and light show, retells the story of the bloody uprising which killed 22 miners and four troopers, each night at Sovereign Hill - one of the finest tourist attractions in Australia. Constantly upgraded as a finely detailed recreation of a gold mining town, Sovereign Hill provides an interactive experience for visitors, allowing them to pan for gold or ride on a stagecoach.
The Great Southern Touring Route offers visitors the best of Australia’s natural attractions, coastal scenery, history and heritage – all in a flexible, compact touring package with Mercury Travels.