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With a few days to spare and a hire car, you can really get to see a lot. This 5 day suggested loop itinerary takes in the Great Ocean Road, Grampians and Ballarat.
The next day, continue driving along the Great Ocean Road, and soak in the incredible views. One of the best things about a self-drive road trip, is that you can stop whenever you like and take photos. That's good, you will take plenty! This stretch of road may only be 190kms in length, but there are numerous stunning places to stop off at, making it an interesting, full day’s drive. This is one of the most unforgettable stretches of road, where you can turn off to walk the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, and walk down the 86 Gibson Steps to see the 12 Apostles. Finish the day at Port Fairy and relax with a meal in Merrijig Inn, the oldest Inn in Victoria.
In the morning, start the journey by backtracking to Warrnambool, and then take the turn to Penshurst. There are about 90 kilometres to go to reach Dunkfield, which acts as the gateway to the Grampians. This mountain range is a popular destination for lovers of the outdoors, wildlife watchers and anyone interested in seeing historic Aboriginal rock art. Dunkfield has galleries and a museum dedicated to the history and landscape of the area and makes a good place to take a break for lunch.
After lunch, you might like to try a hike up to the top of Mount Sturgeon or Mount Abrupt, to enjoy some incredible views of the surrounding area. If not, take the scenic route along the Grampians Road to Halls Gap, which is another ideal place from where to explore the mountain ranges. Use this as a base to enjoy numerous activities in the immediate area and you can also expect to see all the classic Australian animals; kangaroos, koalas and even an emu or two!
Begin the day by visiting the Brambuk Culture Centre to learn more about Aboriginal art, history and culture. You can also go on a tour of rock art sites, and listen to how the stories the guides tell mix with the landscape itself. From then on, you’ll have a different perspective of the mountains and waterfalls and see MacKenzie Falls with new eyes.
Leave through Pomonal and carry on to Ararat, where the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre makes an intriguing stop. From there, take the highway to Ballarat. Once in Ballarat, pay homage to the gold-rush era in what is effectively a living memorial, with plenty of well-preserved buildings.
It is a good idea to spend the morning in Ballarat, where a self guided walking tour takes in the best of the architectural gems, and the parks, churches and statues can all be seen. The open-air gold-rush museum is another must-see whilst in town, especially with its amazing underground mine tour. Eventually, though, it's time to head back to Melbourne, but there are plenty of sightseeing stops along the way; visit Lerderderg Gorge State Park and the Brisbane Ranges National Park.
Of course, the beauty of hiring a car in Melbourne is that you can do exactly what you want, and when you want to do it. If you find you really like a place, stay a few days longer. And if you want to change your route on the go, you can. Book a hire car in Melbourne and create your own adventure!
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