The Great Southern Touring Route – 5 Day Self-Drive Itinerary

Melbourne – Apollo Bay – Port Fairy – Halls Gap – Ballarat – Melbourne

Total Distance 792kms

Highlights

  • Werribee Open Range Zoo
  • Surfworld
  • Otway Fly
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Port Campbell National Park
  • Sovereign Hill
  • Grampians National Park
  • Ballarat Wildlife Park
  • Eureka Centre
  • Victoria Wineries

The Great Southern Touring Route offers the very best of Victoria’s attractions – stunning coastal and inland scenery, history and heritage all in a circular route connecting Melbourne to 3 of Victoria’s regional cities – Geelong, Warrnambool and Ballarat. The flexible, compact touring route is a unique and diverse driving experience, providing links with the internationally acclaimed Great Ocean Road, the natural wonders of the Grampians National Park and the historic Ballarat goldfields.

Pickup car hire Melbourne.

Day 1 – Melbourne to Apollo Bay (184km, 2 hrs 45 mins)

From Melbourne travel towards Geelong along the Princess Highway, stopping at Werribee Park which features an award winning historic mansion and the Werribee Open Range Zoo, an Out of Africa adventure. Geelong’s new waterfront is a popular attraction to take a break.

Then it’s on to Torquay Australia’s surfing capital with beautiful beaches, a surfing museum, and a great shopping centre devoted to surfwear and surfing merchandise. Torquay is the official start of the Great Ocean Road, where it begins to wind its way though Angelsea and onto Lorne. With the ocean on one side and rainforest behind, Lorne is a cosmopolitan beachside destination, popular for swimming and surfing. Restaurants, cafes and boutique shops adorn the street overlooking the bay.

The road hugs the coastline to Apollo Bay, providing spectacular lookout opportunities along the way. Apollo Bay is set in the picturesque green foothills of the Great Otway National Park and boasts long sandy beaches and deep-blue sea. Sample some freshly caught seafood.

Overnight: Apollo Bay

Day 2 – Apollo Bay to Port Fairy (193km, 2 hrs 45 mins)

The Great Ocean Road briefly leaves the coast as you head through the Great Otway National Park where you’ll marvel at mighty fern gullies, huge trees, beautiful waterfalls and native animals in the lush temperate rainforest. For a bird’s eye view, take a walk along the 600 metre long Otway Fly Tree Top canopy walk.

As the Great Ocean Road returns to the coast, the majesty of the Port Campbell National Park quickly begins to unfold. Colossal rock stacks soar from the ocean floor and blowholes roar with spouting water. The massive Twelve Apostles are a highlight of the whole trip. See them from the boardwalk or for truly awe-inspiring scenery and breathtaking photographic opportunities take a helicopter flight with Great Ocean Road Helicopters. More of nature’s beauty is revealed in the Bay of Islands Coastal Park on the drive to Warrnambool. The picturesque city overlooks the deep blue of the Southern Ocean and has a fascinating maritime history. Visit Flagstaff Hill, a recreated 19th century maritime village and in the evening experience ‘Shipwrecked’, a sound and laser spectacular that tells the tragic story of the Loch Ard disaster on a 9-metre aqua screen.

On the way to Port Fairy, visit Tower Hill to intimately observe Australian wildlife in a dormant volcano or experience bush culture with Worn Gundidj, the local Aboriginals. Travel a further 10 minutes along the road to the historic fishing village of Port Fairy. Steeped in history and charm, Port Fairy’s culture and architecture have been beautifully preserved.

Overnight: Port Fairy.

Day 3 – Port Fairy to Halls Gap (158kms, 2 hrs)

The Great Southern Touring Route leaves the coast near Port Fairy and travels north towards the Grampians National Park. Along the way, character packed country towns provide a glimpse of Australian life. Nearing the Grampians, the pristine beauty and enormity of the ranges becomes apparent as they begin to dominate the horizon. In the Grampians National Park, you’ll discover hidden valleys, waterfalls, lakes and wildlife. Explore the region on one of the many walks in the magnificent Halls Gap are and soak up the breathtaking views from the spectacular lookouts. Take a tour to see Koori rock art within the park and learn about the local Aboriginal culture at Brambuck. For the adventurous, Grampians Adventure Services provides rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, guided walks, canoeing and kayaking.

Overnight: Halls Gap

Day 4 – Halls Gap to Ballarat (142kms, 1 hr 45 mins)

The touring route continues onto Ballarat and along the way you can take a self-guided tour of the wine regions of the Pyrenees, Grampians and Ballarat and learning the intimate secrets of some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.

In Ararat you’ll find Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, which re-lives the journey and story of gold prospectors from Southern China and their discovery of Australia’s largest alluvial goldfield.

The legacy of the boom from the gold rush days is evident in the majestic architecture and wide tree-lined streets of Ballarat. Strike gold at Sovereign Hill, the city’s major attraction recreating the gold fever that gripped Australia in the 1850’s. Sovereign Hill is brought to life in this outdoor living museum, which features a working bakery, blacksmith, lolly shop and main street troopers. At night ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’ depicts the 1854 Eureka Stockade, the only civil uprising when miners took on the authorities. It’s a spectacular sound and light show not to miss!

Overnight: Ballarat

Day 5 – Ballarat to Melbourne (115 kms, 1.5 hrs)

Spend the day looking around Ballarat, as it boasts a number of other great attractions including the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, beautiful botanic gardens, the Eureka Centre and a wildlife park. At Ballarat Wildlife Park enjoy close contact with Australian native animals. Feed the free-roaming kangaroos, watch crocodiles and Tasmanian Devil feedings, and participate in koala and wombat photo opportunities.

Holiday & Travel Guide For Sydney, Australia

Sightseeing

The metropolitan city of Sydney is a very popular place for tourists, with many varied attractions. To start, Featherdale is a privately owned wild life park that received the gold tourism award for 2009. It is an ideal day out for all the family with more than 2000 animals, such as the cuddly Koala plus Wombats and Reptiles to see and don’t forget the local Kangaroos. The world heritage sandstone Blue Mountains just bordering Sydney are a fabulous sight, where natural forests of eucalyptus densely grow and you can explore the nature trails and fast flowing Wentworth waterfalls. The rock formation known as the Three Sisters can be seen from most areas of the mountain. There are many short cruise excursions around the local harbour; it can be a little choppy on the water, but well worth it for the views. Sydney opera house is an enormous building for the performing arts, you can take guided tours around the building or relax watching one of the many famous shows that are performed daily. One of the most popular tours in the region is one to partake in whale watching; they sail out from Sydney harbour daily from mid May where tourists can view the fabulous sight of a humpback whale. There is always something to do in Sydney that will suit most tourists.

Shopping

There is so much shopping to be done in Sydney, it’s a shoppers heaven! You won’t know where to start or when to stop with large department stores and massive shopping complexes all within walking distance of each other. There are speciality stores and designer boutiques selling everything you could possibly think of. You could spend a week visiting the stores in centre point and still not have seen them all. Not only do you have all the indoor stores though, there are also outdoor markets held weekly for a different experience.

Eating

Fish and chips are served widely in Australia. It is one of their favourite dishes alongside a variety of fresh sea food dishes. If you like something a little different, or even wacky, then try a ‘bush tucker’ which is the aborigine traditional food consisting of nutritious bugs, grubs and ants; not for the faint hearted. Sydney is very diverse in its cuisine and regional foods like Greek, Asian and Mediterranean can be found easily. Sydney has some top notch restaurants, especially around the harbour and prices are quite reasonable.

Nightlife

Sydney Opera House has performances nightly from comedy to theatre and more, there are also regular shows that are aimed at the family, so you will surely find a show to suit your requirements. If you’re looking for pubs, clubs and nightclubs then Sydney is the place to be a party animal too. If you are looking for something lighter then this main city has something to suit everyone’s taste, from loud and rowdy clubs to quiet and romantic evening cruises around the harbour.

Beaches

Sun, sea and surf is the Australian way. If you’re not swimming or topping up your tan on the white sand beaches, then surfing it must be. There are life guards along the beaches to stay safe and there are plenty of other water sports available if you want to do more than swim. Surfing really is the sport of the country though, so have a go.

Romance Tours and Singles Vacations

Can’t find a suitable life partner at home? Would you like to meet 500-2000 single women in 7-10 days? Do you have a valid passport? Well, here is your chance! Coco Swan takes a peek at singles tours and gives you the lowdown.

In 1999 a report to Congress by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated more than 200 US based businesses paired 4000-6000 US men with women from overseas seeking marriage. This number had doubled by 2004.

A romance tour is a holiday outside of the United States where you are provided with a guide and interpreter, if needed, with the ultimate goal of meeting foreign women interested in matrimony outside their native country.

Most tour groups have an average of 25-40 men in them, so not too much competition, but enough men for the ladies to want to attend the functions. Tours seem to average 7-10 nights, depending upon your destination, with some as long as 45 nights.

The reputable romance tour companies will escort you from a gateway city to your destination. They will also meet you at the airport at your destination, assist with check-in, and provide local getting around tours. All ethical companies will have office open all year round in the city you are headed for. Once you have signed on to a romance vacation site you should be provided with addresses and profiles of women before you leave. You should also be able to peruse the files of the ladies and request meetings with the ones who take your fancy. Included in your holiday package should be a fiancée visa kit with all-pertinent information and forms.

The Fiancée Visa. Make sure you are using a site that is licensed in your part of the States for immigration law and also licensed to work in the country you are headed for. The fiancée visa (K-1) is a non-immigrant visa allowing a foreigner to enter the US for the purpose of marriage. They are normally valid for 3 months only, during which time a marriage must take place. If the marriage does not take place within this time any extension of stay will not be allowed. There are 4 main service centers to handle these petitions, according to your place of residence. These are in California, Texas, Vermont and Nebraska. It is now considered impossible for a foreign single girl to enter the States on a tourist visa and then try and stay on and marry. So get the paperwork right the first time and save yourself a lot of time, trouble and money. Most of the reputable companies offer several levels of fiancée visa assistance packages ranging from self described basic, but proper, to full on liaising with your fiancée and lots of after care. Children under the age of 21 years seemed to be covered in all the packages.

Social Nights. It appeared that the standard tour provided 2-3 Social Nights in your tour. 3 nights seemed the norm for Russia and 2 or 3 for Asia, Latin America and Philippines. These are averages only. It would appear that the ethical companies should provide a similar formula to this. The socials should be fully catered with food, drink and champagne or the like. You should not be expected to pay for the food or drink for the ladies at these particular events. The social night should be held somewhere like a banquet room in a hotel or private entertainment complex. You should be able to indicate any ladies who you would like to meet here. Anyone you meet who you do like, you just ask for her phone number. The ladies should all be screened at the front door. The ladies should all be different at each and every social night. The ladies should all be personal invitees and not just females invited in off the street. Depending on your tour, you should have the opportunity to meet somewhere between 500-2000 females.

Most tour packages seemed to include buffet breakfasts. Make sure your tour will provide you with a private hotel room that you will not be sharing with another client.

It is a great idea to take along photos to show of your home, family, town, lifestyle etc; so that any prospective fiancées can obtain a better idea of the life you will be offering them.

Destinations: The most popular destinations, leaving out of the US, are Russia, the Ukraine, Latin America, Thailand and the Philippines. Males from other parts of the world are more than welcome to embark on these US based tours, although they can probably see if their own host country has sites offering the same services.

Russia and the Ukraine have at least 20 cities to choose from including St Petersburg, Volgograd, Ufa, Kiev, Odessa, Crimea, Poltava and Sumy, to mention just a few. Some of the longer tours incorporate multiple cities on the one holiday. To go to Russia you need to have at least 6 months left on your passport and you will also need a visa for Russia. Amongst Russian men there is a high death ratio and a high alcoholism rate. Due to the poor economy there, wives and families have become unaffordable for many Russian men.

The Philippines. No translators are needed in the Philippines as English is the primary language there. The Philippine females are often perceived as being happy to work. Philipino ladies apparently see the older man as more desirable and stable as life partners and fathers.
In the Philippines it appeared that 3 social nights was the norm. Airport collections, breakfasts and 24 hour guidance should be provided. In the Philippines it would seem that unlimited personal introductions were being provided with about 15 minutes of staff attendance at the start of each meeting. If after the 15 minutes things are going nicely then generally you move on to a café or restaurant where you will be expected to pay for your date. As a rule you should be getting at the minimum a city orientation tour by the company.

Bangkok, Thailand. This is the place to go if you are looking for exhilarating nightlife. The accommodation that I saw as being provided in these romance tours was astonishingly luxurious, far and away better than any other country that I saw. So if night clubs and swanky sophisticated accommodation are on your holiday wish list then this could be the destination for you. Buffet breakfasts were also included. You should be provided with interpreters, 24-hour guidance from staff, 2-3 social nights, a city tour and a metro tour showing you how to use the Sky Train. Your hotel should be just minutes from the nightlife. You should be entitled to unlimited introductions much as described above. The other benefits of Thailand are the great golf courses and the fact that you can have medical and dental procedures done in hospitals there for about 90% less than in the State. Imagine, new teeth and a new wife!

San Jose, Costa Rica. Rainforests, volcanoes, beaches and surfing. Not to mention absolutely stunning looking girls. Apparently girls are raised in Costa Rica with romantic family oriented cultures. In Costa Rica you should be entitled to 2 Social nights, unlimited personal introductions, interpreters, airport pick up, and breakfast.

Colombia. Medillin, Barranquilla, Cartagena and Manizales were all featured as places to go. Again, stunning scenery and even more stunning girls were heavily featured.

Machu-Picchu, Lima, Peru and Nicaragua are all other destinations that have been opened up to the world of singles travel tours. The Latin America tours were providing up to 3 one-on-one introductions per day.

Cape Town Lures Visitors With Spectacular Beauty and a Rich Cultural Diversity

Cape Town has had a long and turbulent history. With Apartheid still linger in the minds and hearts of its people. Transformation has led to the new ‘Rainbow Nation’, which can be experienced in the cosmopolitan city centre of Cape Town.

Flower sellers, business executives, parking attendants, office workers and shoppers all rub shoulders in a setting of both historical and modern buildings, backed by the city’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain. The colourful Malay Quarter, the remains of District Six, St George’s Cathedral, Government Avenue and the old Castle are historically significant, while world-class African and international restaurants tempt travellers with their culinary delights.

Although an African city, Cape Town has a European flavour but the city has comforts of First World standard.

Cape Town’s unique setting means that it can be enjoyed from various vantage points: Table Mountain provide breathtaking vistas over the city bowl and the Cape peninsula.

You can find many scenic routes along magnificent stretches of coastline and inland terrain leading to special places like Cape Point.

The city has four distinct seasons.

Summer – White sandy beaches, Autumn – Crisp colours, Winter – Ferocity of stormy seas in winter, Spring – Show of Cape ‘fynbos’ flowers.

From culture, history and scenery – to an unforgettable experience.

Cape Town is a special place with much to contribute towards its growing reputation as a favoured travel destination.

Cape Town Excursions

** Robben Island and Table Mountain

South Africa’s most widely known tourist attraction is probably Robben Island, seven miles (11 km) from Cape Town in the centre of Table Bay.

For nearly 400 years this tiny rocky island outcrop was utilised as a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment for numerous categories of people ostracised by society, ranging from political protestors to lepers.

During the years of Apartheid, Robben Island became synonymous with institutional brutality as numerous freedom fighters, including the island’s most famous resident Nelson Mandela, were imprisoned here for more than a quarter of a century.

The island is now a museum, symbolising liberation and the triumph of the human spirit. Regular island tours are conducted, lasting three and a half hours. The tours, which are guided by former prisoners, include a visit to the maximum-security prison on the island where an estimated 3,000 freedom fighters were incarcerated between 1962 and 1991.

** Capman’s Peak Drive lookout Chapman’s Peak

Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular coastal roads in South Africa, linking the seaside community of Hout Bay to the Noordhoek Valley along the Atlantic Coast, with breathtaking views from along the narrow, winding road blasted into the cliffs.

Constructed in 1915, the six-mile (9km) route took about seven years to complete and was built as a shorter, alternative route between Cape Town central and the South Peninsula. Many visitors use this scenic route to reach Cape Point Nature Reserve situated at the tip of the Peninsula.

** Penguins on Boulders Beach

A recommended day excursion from the city includes a trip through the southern suburbs and along the scenically beautiful False Bay coastline via Muizenberg to Simonstown, South Africa’s principal naval base.

Simonstown lies about 25 miles (40km) from the city and is a quaint town built around a naval dockyard, with well-preserved Victorian buildings, museums, sidewalk cafes and local legends to learn about. One such legend is about a dog called ‘Just Nuisance’ who ‘joined’ the British navy, becoming their mascot, when Simonstown was a British base.

A short distance from the town is Boulder’s beach, famous for its protected colony of African Penguins (formerly Jackass Penguin) that can be viewed from the boardwalks.

Transport: Metrorail suburban train from Cape Town’s central station; Admission: Boulders Beach Penguin Colony: R15 (adults), R5 (scholars)

** Cape Point

Most visitors to Cape Town are keen to make a day trip 40 miles (65km) from the city to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, not only to take in its floral diversity in what at first sight appears to be a bleak landscape, but to stand at the top of the towering promontory at the most southerly point of the Cape Peninsula (not of Africa, visitors must go further afield to Cape Agulhus for this).

From the viewpoint and lighthouse at Cape Point, reached via a funicular, it is awesome to watch the thundering waves crashing at the base of the cliffs 686ft (209m) below. The reserve itself is worth exploring, particularly on foot, for those interested in birds and botany. The restaurant at Cape Point has a terrace offering spectacular views.

Resident baboons here enjoy the spoils from tourists’ snacks – particularly their ice-cream; they can be quite aggressive. Because feeding of the baboons carries a stiff penalty, it is worth ensuring there are no free lunches for these hirsute scavengers!

** Cape Town township Township Tours

The N2 highway that connects Cape Town International Airport to the city is lined with townships, consisting of a mixture of shacks and solid buildings. During the days of apartheid, people of colour were not allowed to live in the white suburbs and were banished to areas away from the city. Township tours allow visitors to experience how the majority of Capetonians live in the townships that surround the city.

Guides, often residents, take visitors around to meet the people, see community projects, have a drink in a ‘shebeen’ (township pub) and shop for local crafts. Each township has its own colourful character, and despite their difficult living conditions, residents are generally hospitable and delighted to receive visitors.

Townships were once no-go areas for many people, but today a visit is becoming a popular experience for tourists to Cape Town.

Visit Langa, the oldest of South Africa’s black townships, established in 1923, or the newest and second largest in the country, Khayelitsha, which dates from the 1980s. Guguletu and Nyanga were set up in the 1950s.

Visitors are advised not to visit the townships alone; there are many tour companies that offer tours, including transport to and from the township areas. Contact the Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information Centre or its satellite, the Sivuyile Tourism Centre in Guguletu for information about tours, accommodation and entertainment in the townships.

** Bathing houses at Muizenberg Muizenberg

A historical beach-side suburb on the False Bay coast, Muizenberg is popular with families for its long, gentle-sloping beach, warm water, beautiful views, and activities such as mini-golf and supertubing. The beach is famous for its row of colourful changing houses and is a photo favourite from the mountain road far above. Muizenberg beach has also long been the preference of beginner surfers and several popular surf schools have been established at Surfers Corner, the closest side to the mountain. False Bay is known for its Great White Shark population, but a shark watch service is in operation to give warning to bathers and surfers. A scenic walkway below the railway line links Muizenberg to the next seaside village of St James with its tidal pool. The delightful fishing village of Kalk Bay is a few minutes drive away with its protected harbour, and its main street lined with fascinating antique and art shops, as well as cafes and restaurants.

Make Your Holiday Complete With a Great Ocean Road Tour

No coastal drive in the world can compare with the beauty and splendor of Melbourne’s Great Ocean Road. The drive is incredible not only for its spectacular landscape but for its breathtaking diversity. From rocky cliffs to roaring surf to the serenity of the rain forest, there is so much to see and explore. The very best way to take it all in is through the Great Ocean Road Tour. Bus tours along this glorious coast ensure that you get to experience all that this treasure of Victoria provides. From families to backpackers, Great Ocean Road Tours are the perfect way to take in all the splendor and contrast the coast has to offer.

Your holiday excursion with a Great Ocean Road Tour will begin early since there is so much to see and do. Throughout your sightseeing experience you’ll wind alongside some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. As you work you way along the coast you’ll see fabled surf beaches, limestone towers, and have the chance to visit with koalas and get up close and personal with colorful birds. While there are plenty of stops along the way, the pace is relaxing and you’ll have plenty of time to take it all in.

Your Great Ocean Road Tour will take to famous Bells Beach, a favorite of world class surfers. You’ll visit Port Campbell National Park. Here you’ll see the famous 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and London Bridge. These natural wonders are not to be missed. You can even choose to break from your Melbourne tour and enjoy a helicopter ride to see Port Campbell from above. As your day moves along you’ll visit Otways rainforest and be able to take a leisurely stroll among the giant hardwood trees and fragrant eucalyptus trees. You’ll be able to spend some time with the locals when you stop for lunch in quaint Apollo Bay.

The best Great Ocean Road Tours use small buses so that you can navigate areas where larger charters used by many day tours just can’t go. The small group size ensures that you get the chance to take advantage of the knowledge of the tour guide. As you work your way along you’ll have plenty of opportunity to take photos for your holiday album. You can capture snapshots of white sandy beaches, mind boggling surf, and breathtaking cliffs. You will certainly want to make sure that you have plenty of documentation of this unique travel experience. But this is much more than just a quick stop here and there for snapshots. You’ll have plenty of time to explore each and every highlight along the way.

Of course as you reflect back on your Great Ocean Road Tour you’ll have your favorite spot. But regardless of whether the Twelve Apostles, the crashing waves, or the adorable koalas made the strongest impression you’ll know that this is a guided tour that you’ll never forget. At the end of your long day you’ll be tired but happy. Your vacation in Melbourne is complete. You’ve gotten the full experience of the Great Ocean Road.