Kangaroos ✓ Penguins ✓ Epic roads ✓ Beautiful beaches ✓ Amazing waterfalls ✓ Coastal hikes ✓ Chocolate factory ✓ Relaxing thermal springs ✓ Charming seaside towns ✓ …
I wasn’t joking when I said this was the ultimate Victoria Road Trip from Melbourne!
And you can even do all of this and more in as little as 3 days. Here’s how…
DAY 1: Phillip Island
Drive from Melbourne to Phillip Island
Drive time: 1hr45m.
Take the Monash Freeway (M1) from Melbourne, then take the Cranbourne exit onto the South Gippsland Highway (M420). Follow this route to the Bass Highway (A420), through Grantville and Bass, then onto the Phillip Island Road (B420) and over the San Remo bridge onto Phillip Island.
Morning: Visit Phillip Island Wildlife Park
Phillip Island Wildlife Park is a huge 60-acre nature park which is home to over 100 different species of Australian animals. Visitors can wander around the park and admire all of the different local species, including a large number of reptiles and birds.
But the best part of Phillip Island Wildlife Park has to be getting up close in personal with some of Australia’s most iconic animals, including the kangaroos and emus that wander freely in some areas of the park, and that you can even feed by hand.
Tickets: Adults $19, Children $9.
Address: 2115 Phillip Island Rd, Cowes VIC 3922, Australia
Opening Times: 10am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Afternoon: Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Wash your hands thoroughly after feeding the kangaroo’s and head just up the road to Phillip Island Chocolate Factory to stock up on some sweet treats for the rest of your 3 day Victoria Road Trip.
Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate is not only a working chocolate factory but also a celebration of all things chocolate, with a museum all about chocolate and the chocolate-making process, the worlds largest chocolate waterfall, real chocolate art, a make-your-own-chocolate machine and plenty more.
A must-visit for any chocoholic!
Tickets: Adults $14, Children $11 (including free samples)
Address: 930 Phillip Island Rd, Newhaven VIC 3925
Opening times: 10am to 5:30pm
Evening: Watch the Penguin Parade!
The main reason you’re going to want to make Phillip Island your first stop on your Victoria Road Trip from Melbourne is for the famous Penguin Parade.
As the sun sets each evening, you can watch a colony of hundreds of little penguins, the smallest penguin species in the world, waddle across the beach back to their homes along Phillip Island’s coast after a long day out fishing in the ocean.
Just be sure to check the timing of the parade as the penguins arrive at sunset each evening and this can change considerably throughout the year.
Tickets: Adults $26.60, Children $13.20
Hours: Sunset. Times change throughout the year.
Address: 1019 Ventnor Rd, Summerlands, Victoria 3922
Where to stay on Phillip Island?
During the summer months, embrace Victoria’s beautiful nature by sleeping by the beach in a luxury bell tent with Phillip Island Glamping. All you have to do is pick your location on the Island and the company will book a campsite and set up your bell tent complete with lots of little luxuries for your arrival after the penguin parade.
And if glamping isn’t for you, or it’s a little too chilly outside (the tents do come with heaters), check out the Mornington Peninsula accommodation guide here.
Only visiting Phillip Island or want to see what else there is to do? Check out:
DAY 2: Mornington Peninsula
Drive from Phillip Island to Mornington Peninsula
Drive time: 1hr45m.
Day: Arthurs Seat State Park
Arthur’s Seat is a mountainous state park with a 314-metre summit with amazing views across Port Phillip Bay, the Peninsula, and on a clear day, Melbourne. The Summit can be reached by road, foot or by using the popular Arthur’s Seat Eagle gondola ride.
Once at the top, there’s plenty to do to keep you occupied for the day, including walking one of the scenic trails through the bush, admiring the William Ricketts Sculptures at the Seawinds ornamental gardens, getting lost in the Enchanted Maze Garden and much more.
Afternoon/Evening: Peninsula Hot Springs
The highlight of Mornington Peninsula has to be the Peninsula Hot Springs; an award-winning natural hot springs and day spa destination close to the town of Rye.
The hot springs (or ‘Bath House’ area) is made up of a series of outdoor pools and private baths containing natural thermal mineral waters, set on a hillside so that the higher pools have stunning 360 views over the peninsula. The hot springs also have other features including a cave pool, reflexology walk and Turkish Hamam.
My advice would be to arrive at Peninsula Hot Springs 1-1.5 hours before sunset so that you can experience the fantastic views over the region from the upper pools, then watch the sunset over the Peninsula, and finally take in the springs at night all lit up – it’s a pretty special experience.
If you arrive at the springs early and want the full relaxation and wellness experience, you can also visit the additional ‘Spa Dreaming Centre’, a 16+ wellness sanctuary with thermal mineral pools, cold plunge pool, massaging bamboo showers, traditional sauna, Moroccan hamam, Zen Chi massage, infrared sauna, hanging tree pods and poolside lounges.
Tickets: Adults between $35-$55, Children between $25-35 (bathing only, offpeak/peak)
Hours: Bath House 7:00am to 10:00pm, Spa Dreaming 8:00am to 9:00pm daily
Address: 140 Springs Ln, Fingal VIC 3939
Where to stay on Mornington Peninsula?
Mornington Peninsula Retro Glamping
Just a 5 minute walk away from the coastal town of Rye in Mornington Peninsula, and a 10 minute drive from the Peninsula Hot Springs, you’ll find Kanasta Caravan Park.
As well as being home to a number of holiday cabins, the quaint self-contained holiday park is home to 10 unique ‘Retro Glampers’; beautifully refurbished retro glamping caravans which sleep between 2 and 4 people.
Each retro caravan has a name and is decorated in different styles, from the cosy pastel pinks and yellows of Peggy Sue to the more funky gold and black decor of Elizabeth. The glampers have comfy beds, kitchenettes, dining tables and a TV, with some also having a small decking area outside. Clean bathrooms and showers are located in communal cabins opposite the caravans.
During my Victoria Road Trip, we stayed in Elizabeth for the night (see photo above) and couldn’t recommend it more highly. The caravan was clean, spacious and beautifully decorated, and made for a cosy and romantic night in with a pizza and bottle of wine.
DAY 3: The Great Ocean Road
The beautiful coastal drive known as the Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular road trips from Melbourne and is either doable on its own in a day or over a few days (if you want to take things much slower), or even better as a part of this ultimate Victoria road trip.
Leave Mornington Peninsula nice and early this morning in order to make the most of your day exploring the Great Ocean Road. There’s going to be quite a lot of driving today, so if there’s a few of you, make sure to take turns behind the wheel every couple of hours.
Get the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff
Ferry time: 40 minutes.
In order to get from Mornington Peninsula to the Great Ocean Road, you’ll first need to drive to the south-western tip of the peninsula to a lovely little town called Sorrento where you can catch the car ferry over to Queenscliff. If you’re staying around Rye and the Hot Springs, the drive to Sorrento should only take you around 15 minutes.
The ferry leaves on the hour, every hour, from 7:00am to 6:00pm every day. Just make sure you arrive at Sorrento Pier around 15 minutes before. A one-way ferry crossing costs $67 for a car and its driver, with a small additional fee for each additional passenger ($13 per adult/$9 per child).
Once on the ferry, you can then leave your car on the lower deck and head upstairs to enjoy a coffee and the gorgeous views out across Port Phillip Bay. The ferry journey takes around 40 minutes in total.
Drive from Queenscliff to Torquay to start the Great Ocean Road
Drive time: 40 minutes.
The Great Ocean Road officially starts at the town of Torquay, around a 40 minute drive from Queenscliff once you disembark the ferry – although this stretch of road is still pretty nice too.
Once you’re past Torquay, you’re officially on Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, the most scenic part of your Victoria Road Trip. This is also where the itinerary becomes pretty flexible. There’s are a large number of pretty towns, gorgeous beaches, lookout points and attractions along the road, however, if you’re limited to a day you’ll have to be slightly more strategic about your stops.
Here are a few options for stops along the Great Ocean Road in a day:
…in order of where you’ll find them if starting the road at Torquay.
Bells Beach is one of the first beaches you’ll come across on the Great Ocean Road and is one of Australia’s most renowned surf beaches.
Stop at the top of the cliff to take in the stunning views down onto the beach and out across the Southern Ocean, then follow the steep staircase down the cliffside to enjoy the beautiful golden beach itself.
It’s probably best to leave the surfing to the pros here, however, if you’re visiting over the Easter weekend, you can watch many of the world’s best surfers compete in the Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition.
Memorial Arch, also known at the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, is one of the most popular stops and photo opportunities along the route.
The arch was built in honour of the 3,000 returned soldiers who worked on the road during World War I. They started construction on the Great Ocean Road in 1919 and completed its full 243 kilometres in 1932. The road itself was in fact built as a memorial for all those who lost their lives in the war, making it the longest war memorial in the world.
Lorne is a lovely seaside holiday town on the Great Ocean Road which is a good place to stop for lunch or a coffee and to stretch your legs during the last day of your Victoria road trip.
Or if you’re exploring the road over a couple of days then it’s a good location to base yourself overnight.
There are a number of good restaurants and cute little cafes overlooking the ocean, local shops spanning Mountjoy Parade, and a nice walk along from Lorne Beach down to the pier where you’ll find local fishermen enjoying the peaceful stretch of water.
Just a few minutes inland away from Lorne you’ll come across Erskine Falls, an impressive waterfall cascading 30 metres into Erskine River below.
The car park is located at the top of the falls, with a lookout over Erskine just a 5 minute walk away. For the more adventurous, you can follow the steep walkway down the side of the falls and through the trees, then clamber over the rocks to get a close-up view of the falls from below – just be aware that you might get a little wet from the mist coming off the bottom of the falls.
Want to see more waterfalls?
For waterfall chasers (with enough time), there are 9 other waterfalls within 10km of Lorne; including Henderson Falls, Phantom Falls, Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls, Sheoak Falls with Swallow Cave and the Cora Lynn Cascades.
Check out this great post for a more detailed guide to the best waterfalls on the Great Ocean Road and the walking trails you can take to find them.
Once again, not far from the town of Lorne, Teddy’s Lookout is a scenic spot with a man-made viewing platform boasting breath-taking panoramic coastal views of the waves breaking into the mouth of the Saint George River and the surrounding rainforest-covered gorge.
Teddy’s Lookout is one of the best lookout points along the Great Ocean Road, so if you haven’t got much time, make sure this is one of your stops!
Like Lorne, Apollo Bay is another pretty seaside village along the Great Ocean Road, with a peaceful beach and the Southern Ocean on one side and the natural beauty of the Otways on the other.
Apollo Bay is most well known for its local finishing industry, and therefore seafood is always on the menu at the local cafes and restaurants making it a good spot to stop for dinner. Plus if you visit in February you’ll be able to pop by the popular Apollo Bay Seafood Festival.
Other than the food, Apollo Bay is a cultural hub on the Great Ocean Road, with a Community Market each Saturday (selling fresh produce and crafts made by local artisans) and a Farmer’s Market on the 3rd Sunday of every month, plus a number of other festival and events throughout the year.
Probably the most famous of the things to see on the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles are a collection of rock stacks that rise up from the Southern Ocean just off of the magnificent coastline.
The iconic stacks were formed over millions of years, with the cliffs being eroded by the stormy ocean and though winds to form caves, which eventually turned into arches and finally into the stacks we see today when the roofs collapsed into the ocean.
The 12 Apostles are particularly beautiful at sunset as the bright oranges you see in the daylight fade into dark shadows. Time your day on the Great Ocean Road to cumulate here, and end your 3 day Victoria road trip watching the sunset over the 12 Apostles.
Drive from the Twelve Apostles to Melbourne
Drive time: 3 hours.
There is still a short stretch of the Great Ocean Road left after the Twelve Apostles, however, if you’re doing the road in just a day I’d recommend finishing here – you’re not missing too much.
Head back inland and start your drive back from the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. The journey back from the 12 Apostles to Melbournes takes roughly 3 hours.