Great Southern Touring Route has a diverse mix of natural attractions close to Melbourne. Witness wild seascapes, mountain vistas and Victoria’s best waterfalls.
The You Yangs are distinctive granite peaks which rise from the flat volcanic plains between Melbourne and Geelong and can be seen from all along the Bellarine Peninsula. The You Yangs Regional Park has two extensive mountain biking areas with over 50 km of thrilling trails catering to riders of all ages and ability. The You Yangs is also popular for its great views, birdlife, rock climbing, abseiling and bushwalks. You Yang is an aboriginal word and means big mountain in the middle of a plain. For more information go to Parks Victoria here.
Surf Coast Walk
The Surf Coast Walk connects the coastal towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. These coastal tracks allow you to experience this magnificent coastline over an hour, a few days or a week at your own pace. From surf culture at Bells Beach to abundant wildlife or exploring unique landscapes this walk will have you primed for what lays ahead on the Great Ocean Road. Stay a few days at Great Ocean Road Resort and take the time to explore. For more information go to Parks Victoria here.
Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park stretches from Torquay through to Princetown and up through the Otways hinterland towards Colac. The park features rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms and windswept heathland. In the north, the park features tall forests, ferny gullies, magnificent waterfalls and tranquil lakes. Down south, the rainforest gives way to the ocean in dramatic fashion. Visit the turbulent meeting of the South Ocean and Bass straight at Cape Otway Light Station, or seek out a sheltered beach for a day of sea play.
Stay on The Great Ocean Road at the Cumberland Lorne which has magnificent views over the sea, venture down to the beach and take your shoes and socks off and dip your toe in!
For more information go to Parks Victoria.
Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk is one of Australia’s most sought after walks, offering a backstage pass to the famous Great Ocean Road. It is a challenging and diverse walking experience traversing windswept cliffs, pristine beaches and tall-forests. Step on and step off the Great Ocean Walk between Apollo Bay and The Twelve Apostles. Build your own experience from two, three or four day itineraries or take on the whole eight day adventure including the incredible wildlife along the journey.
Port Campbell National Park (12 Apostles)
Port Campbell National Park includes areas from Princetown to Peterborough and its star attraction is the 12 Apostles. This extraordinary and iconic collection of wave-sculpted rock formations are world famous and a must see. There is also much more to explore. Loch Ard Gorge is the site of a famous 19th century shipwreck of the ‘Loch Ard’, the story of the Loch Ard is told in a sound and light show at Flagstaff Hill in Warrnambool.
Stay overnight at Southern Ocean Villas and also check out, London Bridge, The Arch and The Grotto. Watch a magnificent sunset over The Twelve Apostles and take some short walks such as the Port Campbell Discover Walk and learn why this hazardous coast became The Shipwreck Coast.
For more information go to Parks Victoria.
Grampians Peaks Trail
The Grampians Peaks Trail will provide an intimate and unforgettable walking experience of dramatic peaks, panoramic views and the majesty of an ancient and rugged landscape. Regardless of the itinerary selected, the trail provides walkers an experience rich in the Aboriginal culture of the Jadawadjali and Djab Wurrung peoples, who have lived in these ranges they call Gariwerd for thousands of years. Hikers will pass dramatic rocky peaks and outcrops, ravines, waterfalls, forests and lakes, a landscape home to unique native animals and abundant plant life. Interpretation signage along the trail will help hikers learn more about the area’s Aboriginal cultural heritage and provide information about the national park’s incredible environmental values.
Grampians National Park
Rising abruptly from the surrounding Western Plains, the Grampians (Gariwerd) is a series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges and forests full of wildlife. One of Victoria’s most popular holiday destinations the park is a great opportunity to camp, climb, walk and study nature. An amazing network of walking tracks throughout the park allow you to explore cascading waterfalls, brilliant spring wildflower displays. For panoramic views drive head to Reeds and Boroka Lookouts or for a great pic opportunity walk to the magnificent MacKenzie Falls. The area also has some Aboriginal rock art sites. Wildlife is everywhere and kangaroos and emus wander the surrounds of Halls Gap, be ready for a pic opportunity.
For more information go to Parks Victoria here.
Many waterfalls exist throughout the road trip however some beauties which are not to be missed include, Erskine and Beauchamp Falls in the Great Otway National Park, MacKenzie Falls in Grampians National Park and Trentham Falls a short drive from Daylesford.
If it’s a decent lookout you are after remember to stop along the way at Aireys Inlet Lighthouse on the Great Ocean Road. There are plenty of scenic lookout spots to stop and enjoy on the Great Ocean Road including Cape Otway Lighthouse. You will not be disappointed with vistas from Grampians National Park, enjoy Boroka and Reeds Lookout. You can also enjoy the view of Daylesford township from the Daylesford Botanic Gardens which sits atop Wombat Hill.
If it’s wildflowers you are seeking look no further than the Grampians region. During spring you will witness a burst of yellow from a showy parrot pea bush, delicate scented sun orchids bending in the wind and banksias in all their bold, spiky glory. Once described as the 'garden of Victoria', the region is home to more than one third of Victoria's flora.
Wander through diverse landscapes and see vivid wildflowers that change with the seasons, taking in everything from subalpine forest and woodlands to heathlands, swamps and riverine territory.
Towns and cities throughout the region will have their own spectacular garden displays. Be sure to visit the Geelong, Warrnambool and Daylesford Botanic gardens, a real feature of the City of Ballarat is it’s Ballarat Botanical Gardens, which is on the banks of lake Wendouree and a real feature of city life.