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Great Southern Touring via Ballarat (Melbourne to Melbourne) 4 nights

5 days/4 nights Melbourne - Ballarat - Grampians - Great Ocean Road - Melbourne.

Price from £278 per person

TA great self drive Australia tour via Ballarat in the Central Highlands of Victoria that includes 5 days car rental with Hertz Australia, 4 nights standard accommodation, meals indicated and daily driving notes. Price includes car pick up from downtown depot - supplements may apply from airport.

Melbourne – Ballarat – Grampians – Great Ocean Road - Melbourne

Prices depend on seasonality and based on twin share accommodation.

DAY 1 MELBOURNE - BALLARAT (NM)

Pick up your HERTZ STANDARD AUTOMATIC rental car at the Melbourne City Depot or Melbourne Airport Depot and commence your drive via the Western Freeway to Ballarat.

BALLARAT is the main centre of the Victorian Central Highlands. Ballarat was made famous through the Eureka Stockade, the bloody miners' rebellion in 1854. A Eureka Stockade Memorial sits on the corner of Stawell and Eureka Streets, while an exhibition of this event can be found on Eureka Street. Gold was first discovered in the Ballarat area in 1851 and it is here that the world’s second biggest gold nugget was found. The Welcome Nugget weighed 68,956 grams and was found at Bakery Hill in 1858. There are plenty of attractions to see in Ballarat, the biggest is Sovereign Hill, a theme park re-creating the old gold rush days. Its staff members dress in period costume, and it contains realistic stores and banks. It is situated in the old Sovereign Hill Quarts Mining Site. Other attractions include the Gold Museum and the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn Main Lead, Ballarat

DAY 2 BALLARAT – HALLS GAP (NM)

Depart Ballarat and rejoin the Western Freeway travelling through Ararat to arrive at Halls Gap. On the way to the Grampians National Park, take a self-guided tour of the wine regions of Ballarat, the Pyrenees and Grampians and learn the intimate secrets of some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines along the Great Grape Touring Route.

ARARAT was established in 1857 and is the only Australian town to have been founded by the Chinese. Today, the thriving community serves a district renowned for its production of quality merino wool, a diverse range of agricultural crops and a range of fine wines. For a glimpse of Ararat’s unique past, visit the town’s cultural experience, the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.

THE GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK is one of Victoria’s most popular holiday destinations. Renowned for its breathtaking rocky views, rich Aboriginal culture, European heritage and stunning spring wildflower displays, there is plenty to see and do in this rugged ancient landscape. Declared in 1984, the 168,000 hectare National park is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the park.

HALLS GAP is hidden in the heart of Australia’s most spectacular wilderness region. The sleepy little village offers specialty shops, adventure and tour providers, activities, attractions, restaurants and cafes.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn Country Plaza Halls Gap, Halls Gap

DAY 3 HALLS GAP – PORT FAIRY (NM)

Depart the Grampians region and travel along the scenic route through the bushland of the Grampians to the township of Dunkeld, then onto the Great Ocean Road to arrive at Port Fairy. Along the way, Tower Hill offers the opportunity to intimately observe Australian wildlife including koalas, kangaroos and emus in a dormant volcano and get an Aboriginal perspective on native animals, bush existence and culture with Worn Gundidj.

DUNKELD, at the southern end of the Grampians, stands in the shadow of Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt, the highest mountain in the southern Grampians. The two mountains were named by Major Thomas Mitchell after he camped in the area in 1836. Settlement came soon after as a result of his glowing reports of the region. Originally called Mt Sturgeon, the town was renamed after a town in Scotland by nostalgic settlers. The impressive setting of the town has inspired many early Australian painters and images can be found throughout regional galleries in Victoria.

PORT FAIRY - This delightful little fishing port and seaside resort at the mouth of the Moyne River is one of the oldest settlements in Victoria, having been home to sealers and whalers in the early years of the 19th century. There are 50 buildings classified as historic by the National Trust, so well worth a look around this town.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn Port Fairy, Port Fairy

DAY 4 PORT FAIRY – APOLLO BAY (NM)

Depart Port Fairy via Warrnambool, Peterborough and Port Campbell to arrive at Apollo Bay.

WARRNAMBOOL - Few places can boast such a beautiful location as Warrnambool. Nestled into the rising contour of the coast amid green dairying countryside, the city overlooks the deep blue of the Southern Ocean. The only city on the rugged Shipwreck Coast, Warrnambool has had a long and colourful history linked with the sea. Today much of this history is on show at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. With original buildings, lighthouse and a recreated port complete with ships, the museum provides a fascinating insight into the nineteenth century life of the city. There are many shipwreck relics on display including the famous porcelain peacock washed up from the tragic wreck of the Loch Ard in 1878. Warrnambool is known as Victoria’s southern right whale nursery – these giants return to Logans Beach every June to September and can often be seen just 100 metres off the shore. Explore numerous coastal reserves and walking tracks with secluded beaches and rocky points, penguin colonies, and some good places for fishing and bird watching. The city has a thriving arts and events scene, excellent restaurants serving the best of the freshest local produce and a relaxed café scene, most evident at the bottom end of Liebig Street. A few kilometres west of town is Tower Hill State Game Reserve, home to an ancient volcanic crater complete with lake and lava tongue.

PORT CAMPBELL is situated near the major attractions of the Great Ocean Road and is a small cray fishing village. On the lengthy voyage to and from England during the 1800s and early 1900s, the ruthless southern coastline of Australia was considered one of the worst stretches of the journey. Many ships met their end along the coastline of what is now the Port Campbell National Park. The most famous is the Loch Ard, which was wrecked in 1878 claiming the lives of 52 people. The Loch Ard Gorge is on the stretch of road from Princetown to Port Campbell, along with a number of other notable clusters of islands off the coastline such as the Blow Hole, Mutton Bird Island and Elephant Rock. London Bridge is another formation which was once a double arch resembling London Bridge, but it collapsed in 1990, stranding sightseers, and is now a detached landmass. Without doubt the most spectacular landmark on the whole of the Victorian coastline and the most photographed is the Twelve Apostles, offshore stacks which have eroded over the years, with only eight now left standing above the water line.

APOLLO BAY is a scenic little fishing port, boasting some magnificent beaches. The town is an excellent base for exploring the superb rainforest of the Otway Ranges and Otway National Park, with its waterfalls and fern gullies. The hills reach the sea at nearby Cape Otway, the "fearful coastline” described by explorer Matthew Flinders, with a lighthouse rising from 100 metre high cliffs. There are two museums in town. The Bass Strait Shell Museum features a huge display of shells from all around the world, and information on shipwrecks that have occurred off this treacherous western coastline; the Historical Museum has thousands of photographs showcasing the area’s shipping history. A steep and narrow road will take you to Mariners Lookout east of town, where a short walk leads to spectacular views of the township and the coastline.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn The International, Apollo Bay

DAY 5 APOLLO BAY – MELBOURNE (NM)

Depart Apollo Bay and continue the coastal journey along the Great Ocean Road, to Lorne.

Before departing Lorne a visit to Erskine Falls is a must. A short walk allows visitors to experience the amazing cascade of water that rushes through the surrounding rainforest. From Lorne the Great Ocean Road continues through Aireys Inlet, Anglesea and Torquay. Travel through Geelong joining the Princes Freeway into Melbourne.

ANGLESEA - Beaches, bushland, kangaroos and stunning coastal scenery all make Anglesea a favourite Great Ocean Road holiday destination. Anglesea’s main beach, a wide sandy expanse beside the Anglesea River, is perfect for swimming, surfing or just relaxing, while the protected waters at nearby Point Roadknight beach are popular with families. Anglesea is also a great place to explore on foot. Coogoorah Park fronts the river and has a series of walking tracks, boardwalks and bridges that wind through native bush, span reedy wetlands teeming with birds and cross the river. Aireys Inlet, just a few kilometres from Anglesea, is hard to miss with Split Point Lighthouse attracting many visitors to this peaceful hamlet nestled in the shadow of Angahook-Lorne State Park. Walk along clifftop tracks to see rocky reefs, rock pools and sheltered coves. Aireys Inlet boasts superb beaches, with Fairhaven the main surf beach for swimming and board riding. Aireys Inlet also has a huge national park at its backdoor with native trees and heathlands that blaze with colour when wildflowers bloom in winter, spring and early summer.

TORQUAY – Torquay is Victoria’s surfing capital and a major holiday resort town, where the beach based culture is at its strongest. Some of the biggest names in surfwear and accessories are headquartered here. The Surfworld Museum captures the spirit of the popular pursuit in words, pictures and hands-on displays. Torquay has both protected family beaches, and the action of the surging surf. Nearby Jan Juc is a little wilder. Bells Beach is next stop on the coast where the big swells are definitely for experienced surfers. This world famous beach is the venue for the Rip Curl Pro, one of the most sought after titles on the World Championship Tour.

GEELONG - The name ‘Geelong’ is derived from ‘jillong’, the Aboriginal word for bay, which means ‘a place of the sea bird over the white cliffs’. This waterfront city offers a diverse range of food, wine, cultural and recreation attractions and colonial history evident in the city’s 100 National Trustlisted buildings. Geelong takes full advantage of its unique north-facing bay with fabulous waterfront eateries, landscaped gardens and walking paths set against the backdrop of Corio Bay.

Return your vehicle to the Melbourne Airport depot or Melbourne city Hertz Depot.