Melbourne to Adelaide 5 best day road trip
Drive from Melbourne to Adelaide through one of Australia’s most iconic coastline itineraries.
By Ellie Schneider
Surf at Bells Beach, hike among the 12 Apostles and sip wine in McLaren Vale on this five-day adventure through Australia’s stunning south-east coastline.
What to anticipate
Surf at world-famous Bells Beach.
Take in the splendor of the 12 Apostles.
Stay in quality lodgings at beach towns.
Time: 5 days
Distance: 728km (452mi) (452mi)
Nearest major city: Melbourne
DAY 1: MELBOURNE TO LORNE
Drive towards the picturesque port city of Geelong, 75km (47mi) south-west of Melbourne.
Stop for lunch at one of the numerous local cafés – King of the Castle and Box Office both offer good coffee – before stopping at the award-winning Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre.
Here, you may meet native emus and kangaroos, learn to toss a boomerang and marvel over traditional art skills, all while learning essential information of local culture.
The centre’s cultural education program will fill you with the beauty and wisdom of Aboriginal culture handed down through centuries.
Next, carry on to Torquay. Torquay is where the Great Ocean Road starts and is sometimes nicknamed the ‘Surf Capital of Australia’ because to its world-famous Bells Beach.
It is also the origin of prominent surf companies Rip Curl and Quicksilver. If you’re a first-time surfer, arrange a private session with the Torquay Surf Academy, which includes equipment and a personal instructor.
Afterwards have a lunch or house-made pie at the Torquay Larder.
The fantastic waves continue in Fairhaven and Eastern View — worth a visit for dedicated surfers – the way to the coastal tourist resort town of Lorne, a 50-minute drive from Torquay.
Once in Lorne, take a soak in the lake or keep your feet dry and spend a few hours perusing the galleries and stores along the main strip. Book well in advance for supper at fine dining restaurant Brae, which provides a set menu crafted from the best quality local ingredients.
There are also six deluxe guest suites on site.
DAY 2: LORNE AND THE 12 APOSTLES TO PORT FAIRY
Enjoy breakfast on the banks of the Erskine River at Swing Bridge Café before going out on the two-hour trip to view the 12 Apostles, a group of towering limestone pillars protruding out of the Southern Ocean.
Lot in the 12 Apostles car park and take the paved route to the view. A 15-minute walk from the 12 Apostles is Gibson’s Steps.
Descend the 86 steps, which are cut into the cliff face, to reach the beach, where you’ll be rewarded with a close-up view of the Apostles.
For another unique viewpoint of these geological wonders, join a spectacular helicopter trip that takes in the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge.
Continue along Shipwreck Coast, called for the high waves that sent at least 700 ships smashing on the cliffs.
Explore the seaside town of Warrnambool where, from May to October, southern right whales calve off Logan Beach. Nearby, pop into Worn Gundidj at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve for guided walking excursions from an Aboriginal viewpoint.
Your guide will bring you through a wildlife reserve within a dormant volcano where kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas, echidnas and hundreds of bird species graze freely. At the conclusion of the trip, try your hand at tossing a returning boomerang.
From here, it’s a 30-minute journey to Port Fairy, where you can meander around the fisherman’s pier and quaint whitewashed cottages before a relaxing night at the boutique hotel, Drift House.
DAY 3: PORT FAIRY TO COONAWARRA
Carry on down the path to the historic township of Portland, a one-hour journey from Port Fairy. Watch fishing boats dump their catch on the quay before taking the 10-minute trip to the beautiful Cape Nelson Lighthouse.
Here you may take a trip to dive into the marine history of the area. Drive around to Bridgewater Bay Café where you may stop and refresh before doing the 2.5km (1.6mi) Cape Bridgewater Seal Walk.
The observation platform at the end of the walk looks out over a colony of around 650 Australian fur seals. Book a cage snorkel dive to get up up and personal with these lively critters.
Back on the highway, travel 50 minutes past Nelson and through the South Australian border. Stop at Mount Gambier, which rests on an old extinct volcano and is rimmed by spectacular crater lakes.
Take the 3.6km (2.2mi) walk around Blue Lake, which turns cobalt blue from December to March. You may also spend a little of time visiting the magnificent Umpherston Sinkhole.
This unusual natural attraction was formerly a cave produced from the disintegration of the limestone; the sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber sank below.
It was developed into a magnificent garden by James Umpherston in 1886 and is open at all times to see. Check it out at dark to witness the area come alive as local possums go into the floodlit gardens to feed.
Hop back in the vehicle for the one hour trip north to Coonawarra, an area famous for its cabernet sauvignon.
Drop in to one of the 20 cellar doors, such as Wynns Coonawarra Estate or Balnaves, before checking into Punter’s Vineyard Retreat, which provides panoramic views over the vineyards.
DAY 4: COONAWARRA TO VICTOR HARBOR
Drive half an hour north from Coonawarra to explore the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caverns National Park, where 26 limestone caves store the fossilised remains of enormous marsupials.
Four of the caverns are exposed to the public through a self-guided tour. From here it’s a three-hour trip to the picturesque town of Strathalbyn, where more than 30 heritage-listed structures nestle on the banks of the Angas River.
The town is home to specialist antique stores and the picturesque Soldiers Memorial Gardens, a lovely setting for a picnic meal.
Jump back into the vehicle for the 40-minute trip south to Port Elliot. Swim at Horseshoe Bay or surf at Boomer Beach before landing in adjacent Victor Harbor.
The coastal resort is known for its horse-drawn tramway (which goes back to 1878) and connects Victor Harbor with Granite Island. Ride the tram over the causeway to Granite Island, which is home to a colony of tiny penguins.
If you’re visiting Victor Harbor between June and October, take The Big Duck boat cruise to witness the southern right whale breeding refuge of Encounter Bay. Stay the night in magnificent riverfront accomodation at The Bluff Resort Apartments overlooking Encounter Bay.
DAY 5: VICTOR HARBOR TO ADELAIDE
Travel through the undulating hills of Mount Compass to the McLaren Vale wine area, a 50-minute journey north from Port Elliot.
Visit galleries and drink wine at some of the 45 cellar doors, including Yangarra, d’Arenberg and Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard. McLaren Vale is also a mecca for foodies.
Sit down for lunch at Coriole Restaurant and let the chef offer you a variety of seasonal meals complimented by complementary wines.
From here, it’s a straightforward 45-minute journey to downtown Adelaide. Wander the cultural boulevard of North Terrace – home to the South Australian Museum and Adelaide Botanic Garden – then peruse the department shops in Rundle Mall.
Take the 35-minute tram excursion from Rundle Mall to Glenelg Beach for a beach promenade before going back into the centre for supper at any of the city’s top eateries.
Try Press Food & Wine, Peel St or Ruby Red Flamingo. Finish your tour with a peaceful night at the opulent five-star Mayfair Hotel.
Topic: Melbourne to Adelaide 5 best day road trip
I am arguably the most popular Australian writer of all time. I am from the town of Karrinyup in rural Western Australia. When I was young, I was fascinated by the unique landscape of Australia, and I decided to support himself by writing books about the Australian landscape.
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