|Orbost - Portland|
|The Great Coastal Tour|
Encompassing the entire Victorian coastline, this spectacular journey takes you from the forests, lakes and sandy beaches of East Gippsland to Melbourne, then along the famous Great Ocean Road to the South Australian border.
Once over the border, you’ll enter Victoria’s East Gippsland - the first main town here is the business centre of Orbost, where the Rainforest Centre provides a wonderful introduction to the area’s lush forests.
Located where the Gippsland Lakes meet Ninety Mile Beach, Lakes Entrance is a commercial fishing town and a boating paradise - join a lake cruise or hire anything from a yacht to a canoe. As the major tourism centre for the region, the city of Bairnsdale offers plenty of attractions: in addition to shopping for arts and crafts, dining and playing golf, you can travel to lakeside Paynesville, where boating, bushwalking and birdwatching are on offer. Bairnsdale is also the gateway to Victoria’s High Country and its unspoilt national parks.
Further west, Sale is the region’s administrative centre and the home of the excellent Gippsland Art Gallery. There are many historic buildings in the area, which are included on the local heritage drive, while the nearby village of Seaspray provides access to the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park and Ninety Mile Beach.
You’ll then enter the Latrobe Valley and the city of Traralgon. Although primarily an industrial area, this region is famous for its agriculture and produce - particularly the fine Gippsland cheeses. At Morwell, the acclaimed Latrobe Regional Gallery is worth a visit, and you can take an educational tour of a local power station. If you have time, a trip south from the Latrobe Valley to beautiful Wilsons Promontory National Park is highly recommended.
From Morwell, drive to Melbourne, from where you can continue to Geelong and link up with the second stage of this journey. Beyond Geelong, Torquay is the starting point of the 300 km-long Great Ocean Road. This is also the location of Bells Beach, where a major surfing competition is held each Easter, and the interesting Surfworld surfing museum.
Established in the 1860s, the fishing and resort town of Lorne is an attractive settlement dominated by the Otway Ranges, where hills and forests provide great bushwalking country. Swimming, surfing and fishing are all popular activities here, as they are at the old port town of Apollo Bay. From here, you’ll drive through the heavily forested Otway National Park, and there’s a very scenic detour to Cape Otway, which marks the western limit of Bass Strait.
Some of Australia’s most famous scenery then comes into view - the remarkable coastline of Port Campbell National Park, with its distinctive features such as the Twelve Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. It’s a good idea to base yourself at the town of Port Campbell for a day or so to explore this famed `Shipwreck Coast` and its many attractions.
The Great Ocean Road then joins up with Princes Highway near the city of Warrnambool, where you’ll find an attractive harbour and some good beaches. This is also the location of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, an excellent re-creation of an early Australian port. At picturesque Port Fairy there are over fifty National Trust buildings to admire, while the large shipping and lobster fishing centre of Portland offers great beaches and some enjoyable coastal walks. From here, you can travel on to the South Australian border and Mount Gambier.
Where to Stay
Time required: 4-5 days are recommended for each section of this drive.