Welcome to Melbourne! Or Narrm, in the language of the Wurundjeri people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Melbourne is now located. Melbourne is the effortlessly hip, unofficial foodie capital of Australia. Here, you can wander some of the trendiest art galleries, marvel at museums and sip countless cups of some of the finest-brewed specialty coffee on the planet. It's recommended that you arrive a few extra days before your adventure starts if you want to experience all this city has to offer. Today, you’ll meet your group leader and fellow travellers bright and early for an 8 am welcome meeting. Then, hit the road and start your journey along the Great Southern Touring Route – AKA Australia’s finest road trip. Your first stop today is Hanging Rock Reserve, where you’ll embark on the famous Pinnacle Walk to the summit. This area was shaped by a volcanic eruption some six million years ago and is an important landmark for three First Nations groups – the Woi Wurrung (Wurundjeri), the Djaara and the Taungurung. Keep your eye out for local wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas on your walk before taking in the views from the summit. From here, you’ll drive to Daylesford for lunch and if your trip departs on a Sunday, you’ll have time to explore the Daylesford Sunday Market. Uniquely, only fresh produce sourced within a 50 km radius can be sold at this market. After some time in Daylesford, continue to the historic goldfield town of Ballarat where you’ll stay tonight. Perhaps visit Sovereign Hill or the Art Gallery of Ballarat, with the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
After breakfast this morning, you’ll say goodbye to Ballarat and head south toward Apollo Bay. You’ll get your first taste of the spectacular Great Ocean Road today as you hit the coastline in Anglesea and follow the scenic highway along to Apollo Bay. This is Eastern Maar country, and was recently returned to the Traditional Owners in Victoria's first native title in a decade. The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most famed coastal drives, as you wind by striking windswept cliffs with views across the Southern Ocean, you’ll quickly see why. Once you reach Apollo Bay, you’ll enjoy a special experience at Wildlife Wonders – a social enterprise operated by the Conservation Ecology Centre working to develop and deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways region. Apollo Bay is on the doorstep of the Otway National Park, an ecosystem of lush rainforests, ancient plant life, waterfalls and secluded beaches – to name just a few. Join Wildlife Wonders guided walk through the magical Otways bushland where you'll discover lush fern gullies, eucalypt woodlands and spectacular ocean vistas. Learn the secrets of the bush from your conservationist guide and spot local wildlife like koalas and wallabies and, if you’re lucky, a potoroo or bandicoot. Wildlife Wonders invest 100% of profits into vital research and conservation projects to save local threatened species. After this heart-warming visit, you’ll make your way to your accommodation and enjoy free time in this chilled-out beachside town this afternoon.
Today, you really find out why this stretch of road is known as Australia’s finest road trip. Travel from Apollo Bay all the way to Warrnambool, with plenty of scenic stops along the way. Enjoy the dramatic scenery The Great Ocean Road is so well known for – one moment you’ll be marvelling at dramatic cliffs and the surging oceans below and the next you’ll be surrounded by native bushland. There's plenty of lookouts and white powdery beach walks (if the weather permits) to break up the drive today. Plus, the piece de resistance of today’s adventures – some time to discover the rugged splendour of the 12 Apostles. Created by the constant erosion from ocean swells and swirling winds that began some 10-20 million years ago, the incredible rock stacks now rise majestically up to 45 m out of the ocean below. It’s a sight to behold and one you won’t forget any time soon. This evening, you’ll continue to Warrnambool where you might like to join your fellow travellers for dinner and discuss the inspiring sights you witnessed today.
Buckle up for another day on the great open road as we set our sights for our first stop in Budj Bim. This area is located within Gunditjmara Country and is full of culture and incredible volcanic landscapes. You’ll learn more about the history, bushland and wildlife of this area on a walking tour with a Gunditjmara cultural guide. Your guide will give you an overview of the Gunditjmara creation story and point out the extensive marine and birdlife on Tae Rak (Lake Condah). The lake is made up of 1,700 hectares of significant wetlands and stony rises right next to the historic lava flows of Budj Bim National Park. The Gunditjmara people have sustained life here for tens of thousands of years and created what is considered one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture ventures. You’ll gain incredible insight into the history of the Gunditjmara people and how these landscapes were shaped by ancient volcanic movements. After your guided walk, enjoy a grazing board at the Tae Rak Aquaculture Centre & Café for lunch. Try all-Australian ingredients like grilled kooyang (eel), grilled macadamia nuts, pickled vegetables, kangaroo, emu and other local bush foods. With a belly full of bush tucker, hit the road to Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park where you’ll have time to explore in the afternoon and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Be sure to fuel up at breakfast today because you’ve got a day full of exploring the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park ahead. You can expect to see majestic waterfalls, rugged sandstone ridges, mountain vistas and magnificent rock art sites on your walks today. Traditionally known as Gariwerd, this region is home to the largest number of rock art paintings and shelters in Southern Australia. Today’s walks will feature these sites and likely introduce you to local wildlife like kangaroos, wallabies, emus and native birds. To top it off, you’ll stop to enjoy a packed picnic lunch in a scenic spot today. With a number of walking trails to choose from, your leader will pick the best, considering weather and track conditions and group ability. This evening, kick your feet up and relax after a full day of walking. Perhaps, meet up with your group for a final dinner together and reflect on the highlights of your great southern adventure.
Enjoy a group breakfast with your fellow travellers before a short drive to Stawell. Here, you’ll visit Bunjil’s Cave, a significant cultural site in Australia and one of the most prominent rock-art sites in southern Victoria. In local First Nations culture, Bunjil was the main Dreaming Being of south-eastern Australia. It’s believed that he produced the natural features of the landscapes, from the rolling mountains to the peaceful open ranges. He also gave each tribe their country and created the laws, customs and rights. After time to explore this significant site and learn more about First Nations history, your leader will bid you farewell, and your group will board The Overland train from Stawell, unaccompanied for the stretch to Adelaide, or Tandanya in the language of The Kaurna people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Adelaide is now located. Operating for more than 130 years, this train is the pick for many travelling between Melbourne and Adelaide. You can expect relaxing views of wheat and sheep farms and snack on treats from the onboard café (although it's recommended that you grab some extra snacks in Stawell before your board). Have your cameras at the ready before you reach the Murray Bridge and you’ll then be treated to views of lush landscape as you descend through the Adelaide Hills into South Australia’s capital. Enjoy a free night before the next leg of your journey starts tomorrow.
Welcome to Adelaide! Or Tandanya in the language of The Kaurna people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Adelaide is now located. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and your gateway to the delights of Kangaroo Island. You'll have a welcome meeting at your hotel in Adelaide at 9 am where you’ll link up with your local leader and the other travellers joining you on this adventure. Find out what’s in store over the coming days, then board your transfer bound for Cape Jervis (approximately 2 hours), from where you’ll jump aboard a ferry and travel to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island (approximately 45 minutes). Be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins swimming alongside the ferry! From the ferry landing, it's a short walk to your hotel. Drop your luggage, then perhaps get to know your group over lunch on the island. In the afternoon, get your first taste of the island’s unique nature by joining your leader and heading out onto the Kangaroo Island Sculpture Trail, positioned in the dunes overlooking Hog’s Bay. Keep an eye out for wildlife! This evening you'll visit the Penneshaw Penguin Centre for an evening walk to search for the world’s smallest variety of penguins.
Australia’s third-largest island, Kangaroo Island is a veritable paradise for wildlife lovers. It’s not just kangaroos you can find here – wallabies, sea lions and echidnas are all locals too. Evidence suggests Aboriginal life existed on the island as far back as 16,000 years, but it was uninhabited by the time Europeans arrived in the early 19th century. The island is now home to 4000 people, and today will be spent diving into local culture and history. First up, head out onto Dudley Peninsula and get a real taste of Aussie culture when you pay a visit to a sheep farm to see how sheep are shorn and meet the owner’s super sweet kelpie dogs. Stop by the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in South Australia. If you’re feeling extra adventurous today, you’ll have the chance to climb the 500 steps to the top of Prospect Hill, the highest point on Kangaroo Island. Next up are visits to some local producers, such as a family-owned eucalyptus oil refinery and a honey farm, a third-generation family business and home to the only pure strain of Ligurian Bee in the world. Then head to the Kangaroo Island Gallery, a community Gallery specifically for the promotion, encouragement, and exposure of artists and craftspeople of Kangaroo Island. Time permitting there may be the option to also visit a local winery and try some of their wines. Finally, head to Kingscote, the largest town on the island, check into your hotel and put your feet up.
After breakfast, swing by Salt Lagoon to snap some pictures of this scenic spot, then continue towards Emu Bay Beach. If the group fancies, you’ll have the chance to pop into the lavender farm to try some delicious lavender scones. Spend some time stretched out on the white sand or paddling in the pristine, clear waters, then beach hop over to the secluded Stokes Bay, a gorgeous spot for a swim, and voted Australia's most beautiful beach in 2013. Early 2020 saw bushfires ravage Kangaroo Island, with the Stokes Bay region being particularly badly hit. The Stokes Bay Community Hall served as a centrepiece for the settlement since 1952 but was completely destroyed by the fires. Today the area is in recovery, and the National Trust is working with the local community to restore the hall, as well as natural habitats for wildlife. After an afternoon on the beach, return to Kingscote and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Start the day with a visit to Seal Bay. There are no actual seals here, but there are plenty of sea lions! The sea lion colony you see today has existed at Seal Bay for thousands of years. Join an up close and personal ranger-led wildlife experience which will allow you to observe the lives of these endearing creatures as you watch them swim, play and bask in the sun. Continue on to Little Sahara, named for its rippling sand dunes that resemble the North African desert. While here you may have the chance to hire a sandboard and ride your way down the dunes. Next up is something really special – head to Vivonne Bay, which is not only one of the most stunning beaches on Kangaroo Island but the whole of Australia. Venture into the Flinders Chase National Park and come face to face with the aptly named Remarkable Rocks, made up of naturally sculpted granite boulders. You’ll also check out the impressive Admirals Arch and take some time to explore the park before heading back to Kingscote.
Start the day by heading to American River (not actually a river, or American, but a little town on the northeast coast of the island), where you’ll find a schooner boat first built in 1803 called 'Independence'. Learn about the boat’s history and see how it’s being rebuilt, then take a scenic walk through coastal scrub towards the remains of an old fish cannery built at the end of the 19th century, keeping an eye out for the rare and striking glossy-black cockatoos along the way. Get ready to say goodbye to Kangaroo Island as you make the drive back to Penneshaw and catch the ferry back to the mainland. Dock in Cape Jervis and hop on our private transfer back to Adelaide (approximately 2 hours). You can expect to arrive back at our hotel in Adelaide at around 4.30 pm at which time the tour comes to an end.