A Perfect Itinerary for Australia’s Victoria Road Trip
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A Victoria road trip is one of the most popular trips in Australia, especially if you’re living in Melbourne. Although the state is compact, it has some impressive natural beauty that is easily accessible from the state capital.
Encompassing the spectacular coastline of the Great Ocean Road, over to the enthralling diversity of the Grampians National Park, through the historically significant gold-rush area around Ballarat and past arty townships like Daylesford, this week-long Victoria road trip itinerary will show you some of the best that this Australian state has to offer.
Any car or campervan can be used for this road trip; there is no need for 4WD or AWD capability. You can opt to camp along the way, or stay in hostels and hotels en-route. Use this Victorian road trip planner, which includes some recommendations for the best hotels and hostels, campgrounds and restaurants in certain areas, to create your dream trip. And, if you are living in Melbourne but don’t have the time to take a whole week off for this trip, you could split it into three weekend trips from Melbourne.
Victoria Road Trip Route
Day 1: Melbourne
Kicking off your Victoria road trip than none other than its state capital, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Melbourne for much longer than a day. However, if you’re keen to see the great Victorian countryside and only have a day to soak in the city, you can fit the highlights in in one day.
Things to do in Melbourne
- See the street art of Hoiser Lane
- Check out the amazing architecture of the State Library of Victoria
- Visit Federation Square and the AMCI
- Get lost down one of the laneways
- Enjoy a coffee at one of Melbourne’s best cafes
- Head to St Kilda to watch the penguins
- Dine at the vegetarian pay as you wish restaurant, Lentil as Anything
- And heaps more! Here’s a great list of things to do in Melbourne.
Where to stay in Melbourne
Urban Central Hostel offers affordable dorm rooms and great facilities. Each bunk is kitted with its own private light and charging points, and the 4 bed dorms are spacious. On site is a large kitchen and communal area. Check out prices and book today using this link.
Alternatively, if you’re after private accomodation, QT Melbourne is a fantastic option. It offers fantastic modern conveniences and is conveniently placed very near St Paul’s Cathedral and Federation Square, and there is an on site restaurant, cafe and bar. Click here for rates and book today.
Airbnbs are a popular option in Melbourne, and can be great for groups looking to travel on a budget. If you’re new to Airbnb, click here for money off your first booking!
Day 2 & 3: The Great Ocean Road
One of the best things to do outside Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is arguably Australia’s most famous stretch of coastline. You can do the Great Ocean Road in a day, but it’s best to take some time and spend two days driving along the coastal route – especially in the summer, when temperatures can top 40 degrees and you’ll be wanting a dip in the ocean!
There’s plenty to see on the Great Ocean Road, which includes beaches (of course), rainforest and intriguing natural formations. The Great Ocean Road is also a great place to spot wildlife – keep an eye out for kangaroos, koalas, tiger snakes (not too common but they do lurk around) and native birds.
Day 2 – Torquay to Apollo Bay
Drive to Torquay and begin your exploration of the Great Ocean Road. Some of the best parts to visit on the eastern side of the Great Ocean Road include:
- Bells Beach – this is a popular surfing spot and beautiful beach
- Aireys Inlet – a township with beautiful beaches and the Split Point Lighthouse which was made famous in the Aussie kid’s TV show Round the Twist.
- Lorne – a charming seaside town, Lorne has a wonderful pier, lots of restaurants and cafes and of course, stunning beaches.
- Apollo Bay – gateway to the Otways and a lovely township with cafes, restaurants and watersports on offer.
Get to Apollo Bay for sundown and enjoy food at one of its restaurants. There are a variety of accommodation options available in Apollo Bay – these range from free campsites to hotels.
Where to stay in Apollo Bay
If you’re after a hostel with cheap rates and backpacker facilities, the Apollo Bay Eco YHA is a fantastic option. It has clean, airy dormitories and private rooms and well facilitated communal areas. Click here for rates and to book.
Alternatively, you could book a private cabin at Marengo Holiday Park, which sleeps up to 5 people. These self-catering cabins feature cooking facilities, sleeping arrangements, a private bathroom and balcony with BBQ. Click here for rates and to book.
Day 3 Apollo Bay to Warrnambool:
- Maits Rest Rainforest Walk – just 15 minutes’ drive inland from Apollo Bay, nestled in the Otways is this tranquil rainforest walk. The walk takes 30 minutes, but there are lots of places to sit and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
- Twelve Apostles – these interesting rock formations, which along with Mutton Bird Island were originally called ‘sow and piglets’ (the island was the sow and the apostles the piglets), but their name was changed to the 12 apostles for tourism purposes. There were actually only 9 when they were named so – and now, only 8 remain.
- Loch Ard Gorge – just west of the 12 Apostles, this part of Port Campbell National Park is an impressive drop between two cliffs right at the ocean’s edge; it’s a great spot to relax on the beach or take some beautiful photos.
- London Arch – another intriguing form, London Arch (formerly London Bridge) collapsed in 1990, meaning that it now can only be admired from the shore, rather than on the arch itself. If you’re around at the end of the day, you might spot some resident penguins returning to their sleeping spots for the night.
- The Grotto – (pictured above) beneath an arch, seawater gathers and creates a beautiful effect of different blues and greens dancing and glittering in the light. It’s a great, lesser well known spot near the western end of the Great Ocean Road.
Later in the day, you’ll reach Warnambool. Galleries, restaurants and a Flagstaff Maritime Village comprise some of the best things to do in this coastal town.
Depending on the time, whether you want to drive in the dark (there are kangaroos on the road at night, so be very careful if you do) and how early you want to get up the next day, you could either stay in Warrnambool, find a wikicamp on the way to The Grampians, or find accomodation in the national park itself.
Accommodation in Warrnambool
If you’re after a hotel in Warrnambool, check out the Best Western Tudor Motor Inn. With clean, aesthetically pleasing rooms with features making for a comfortable nights stay, it’s a great place to rest in Warrnambool. Check out prices and booking details here.
If you’re after your own space, Apartments 521 is the answer. These stylish flats give you your own space for the night – some which come with a spa bath and kitchenette. Check out this great accomodation by clicking here.
Day 4 & 5: Gariwerd (The Grampians)
One of the greatest Victorian road trip destinations, Gariwerd (commonly known by its anglicized name, The Grampians – but it was called Gariwerd by the indigenous population for thousands of years prior) is a spectacular national park.
Like many National Parks in Australia, Gariwerd is rich in Aboriginal heritage and natural beauty. The area is a spiritual place for Aboriginal people due to the food, water and shelter offered by the landscape, and also because of its integral part of the creation story of Bunjil the Eagle; who created Gariwerd and then transfigured into an eagle to admire his work.
The park is home to Aboriginal rock art and a fantastic cultural centre, which is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated. Throughout the park, you can enjoy bush walks, spectacular waterfalls and astounding lookouts – it’s without a doubt one of the best spots to lose yourself in nature in Victoria.
Begin your day by checking out the Brambuk Cultural Centre; which has an impressive amount of information about local Aboriginal culture – and is one of my favourite cultural centres in Australia. It discusses both the poetic stories of the dreamtime and other aspects of Indigenous culture, but doesn’t shy away from showcasing the horrors of what happened during the European invasion of the land – which, as a sign of respect for Aboriginal people, should be something that every traveller to Australia makes an effort to understand.
Pass your first afternoon in the national park by visiting Mackenzie Falls, a tranquil swimming spot in beautiful surroundings. There are also short walks such as the 2km ‘The Balconies’ walk and ‘The Chimney Pots’ which is 2.8km and takes around 3 hours.
Spend that night within the national park. There are hostels, guesthouses and campsites at Halls Gap (where there are also shops and restaurants, so don’t worry if you’ve forgotten anything!) or free camping spots at other locations within the park.
Accommodation in Halls Gap
If you fancy treating yourself, take a peek at The Grampians Motel and The Views Bar and Restaurant. This boutique hotel features stylish rooms with elegant bedsheets and wall hangings. There are rooms to suit all size groups; each with a private bathroom. Click here for rates and to book today.
If you are wishing to stay within nature, but don’t fancy camping independently, Mountain View Motor Inn & Holiday Lodges is a great middle ground. Frequented by emus and kangaroos, the property offers spectacular views of Gariwerd and fantastic features within the cottages and rooms; including a spa bath, flat screen TV and electric blankets. Check here for rates and to book.
Day 5: The Pinnacle Hike
Today’s the day to conquer the Pinnacle hike! If it’s a hot day, set off early to beat most of the heat while you’re climbing up. The view from the top is spectacular spreading across fields, forests and lakes; take a picnic to the top and spend some time taking it all in.
Further down the Pinnacle are Venus Baths, which are perfect for a post-hike dip.
Once you reach the bottom of the pinnacle, continue your Victorian road trip by heading an hour and a half eastwards towards Ballarat.
Day 6 & 7: Ballarat & Daylesford
Famed for being the place where gold was first found in Victoria, Ballarat is a historic city with a wealth of attractions and sightseeing. Sovereign Hill is its most renowned attraction – which is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive outdoor museums in the world – but other things to do include admiring old architecture, strolling around the many lakes and gardens and getting lost in various museums and galleries that tell the tale of the city that was built on gold.
Day 6: Sovereign Hill
Ballarat is most notably famous for one thing: gold. It was the site of Australia’s biggest gold rush and the Eureka Rebellion; which is one of the most pivotal parts of Australian history. Ballarat preserves this history extraordinarily, and one of the best things to do in the goldfields area of Victoria is to visit Sovereign Hill.
Sovereign Hill is an immersive experience of what life was like in the goldfields in the 1850s and is complete with schools, blacksmiths, authentic pubs and mine tours. It is an all-day activity, and it’s best to get there early to make the most of all the attractions – although, if you do have some extra time on your road trip around Victoria, it’s worth noting that the tickets are valid for the following day as well.
Sovereign Hill Highlights
- Touring the mines (some come at an additional cost) to see how gold was extracted
- Learning how sweets, candles and more were made during the era
- Learning how to write in the cursive style typically taught in schools during that time (get ready to be told off – apparently I wouldn’t have got far in an 1850s school!)
- A Chinese temple – there were lots of Chinese workers on the goldfields and the area surrounding the temple tells their tale.
- Models of workers’ accomodations
- An 1850s bowling alley!
Soveriegn Hill is a fantastic way to learn about Australia’s gold rush and what life was like back then; and is a fascinating place to visit for people of all ages.
Blood on the Southern Cross
In the evening, Sovereign Hill turns into a re-enactment of the Eureka Stockade with the magnificent ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’. This sound and light show really gives you the feeling that you’re in the event, and can be combined with dinner and a stay in one of Sovereign Hill’s hotels.
Where to stay in Ballarat
Right in the heart of the city is Ballarat Station Apartments; self contained accommodation located next to the station. It’s a stones throw from the beautiful buildings of Lydiard Street, with facilities such as spa baths and free unlimited wifi; and each apartment offers fully equipped kitchens. Click here for rates and to book.
Set in one of Ballarat’s oldest buildings, built during the gold rush, Ansonia on Lydiard is a beautiful property catered for guests wanting to enjoy a night of relaxation. The guest lounge offers an open fireplace, and each room comes equipped with air conditioning, toiletries, an ipod dock and of course, an en suite bathroom. Check out the finer details here.
A short drive away from Ballarat, but perfect for budget travelers, Helen’s Luxury Hut is a firm favourite for travellers. The rooms are ornately decorated, and each features an en suite bathroom with free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is a communal kitchen and lounge area. Click here for more details and to book.
Day 7 – Ballarat Town and Daylesford
Use the morning to see some more of Ballarat’s attractions. Being one of Australia’s most historic towns, there’s old buildings to admire, as well as a wealth of culture.
Things to do in Ballarat
- See the historic buildings of Lydiard Street
- Walk Sturt Street and see the many statues
- Walk or cycle around Lake Wendouree
- Check out the Art Gallery of Ballarat
- Visit the Botanical Gardens
- A lunch or afternoon tea at Craig’s Hotel
After lunch, head to the beautiful spot of Daylesford, which is semi-en route back to Melbourne. The main street of Daylesford doesn’t take long to explore, but the charming buildings, the plentiful art shops and independent shops are well worth perusing.
Hepburn Springs is located just down the road from Daylesford, and is home to walking tracks and a spa; Hepburn Springs is known to have pure, healing waters. Conclude your Victoria road trip by enjoying the tranquillity of the springs.
If you’re in a rush to return to Melbourne, Daylesford is located just an hour and a half away away. Or, spend a night in tranquil Daylesford, enjoying the serene atmosphere and stay at one of their lovely hotels.
Accommodation in Daylesford
Exposed brick and funky furnishings make each room at Daylesford Royal Hotel a little unique, and other features like free toiletries, an electric kettle and electric blankets make it a home-away-from-home. It’s in a great location in Daylesford and has a bar and restaurant on site, which serves a continental breakfast every morning. Click here for rates and to book.
If you’re looking for somewhere to unwind before heading back to city life, check out Hepburn at Hepburn, which boasts self-contained accommodation in the tranquil forest of Hepburn Springs. As well as your standard facilities such as a kettle, ironing facilities and toiletries, each villa has luxury touches such as a hot tub, flat-screen TV and an iPod station. Click here for prices and to book today.
Day 8: Return to Melbourne
If you’ve overnighted in Daylesford, today’s the day to conclude your Victoria road trip by returning to Melbourne. From here, you could either stay and enjoy the city some more, or venture north-east wards to see what the east coast has to offer! Check out these itineraries for more information:
What time of year to do the Victoria road trip
Being British, I’m no stranger to talking about the weather – but while Victoria’s climate bears some similarities to ours in the UK; it can also be much more enthralling.
Victoria sometimes gets temperatures of up to 40 degrees, and many days in the summer top 30 degrees. BUT… you never know quite what the weather will do – one day it can be 35 and scorching, the next 15 and raining. It’s part of the adventure of travelling in Victoria.
Nonetheless, I’d recommend doing the Victoria road trip in the late spring, summer or early autumn (November-April) and just dealing with what weather comes your way. In an ideal world, you’d have a clear, but not too hot day to explore the Grampians, glorious beach weather for the Great Ocean Road and pleasant temperatures for Ballarat and Daylesford.
But you can’t guarantee anything until you see the weather forecast for the next week – and even then it’ll probably change.
Things you will need for your Victoria road trip
If you’re planning on staying in hotels, your road trip essentials are mainly your clothes, electronics and toiletries – whatever you’d take on a normal holiday. If you’re camping, you’ll need some more gear. Here’s some recommended items to consider bringing (click through to see the products and purchase)
- Lonely Planet Australia or Lonely Planet Victoria and Melbourne
- Road map of Victoria
- Camera – to get some great high quality photos on. I use the Fuji x-a3
- GoPro – to get some awesome video shots on! My Go Pro Hero 5 is AWESOME.
If you’re camping
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Here’s some more Australian road trip itineraries that I think you’ll love…
- West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary
- Broome to Darwin Drive Itinerary
- Darwin to Adelaide Road Trip Itinerary
- Melbourne to Perth Road Trip Itinerary
- Adelaide to Cairns Outback Drive Itinerary
- Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary