The Great Ocean Road along Victoria’s coast not only offers spectacular coastal scenery, but also ancient rain forests, lush parks and an abundance of wildlife. Over three magnificent days, see koalas in their natural habitat at You Yangs Regional Park; walk across the grassland of Serendip Sanctuary in search of mobs of wild kangaroos; and see some of Australia's best rain-forest scenery at Great Otway National Park.
Listen as your expert wildlife guide points out native wildlife, such as echidnas in Port Campbell National Park. Walk along the beach and feel the waves of the mighty Southern Ocean; drive to the top of an extinct volcano; and take in the amazing coastal scenery of the Great Ocean Road including the dramatic rock sculptures of the famous Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.
Enjoy transport by comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and spend most of the day on a number of easy, flat- terrain bush walks, allowing you to immerse yourself in Australia’s unique nature.
See the Itinerary section below for details on each day’s activitiesDay 1: Melbourne - You Yangs Regional Park - Serendip Sanctuary - Little River (L)
After hotel pickup, travel approximately 45 minutes west of Melbourne to the bushland of You Yangs Regional Park, home to a large population of wild koalas. Walk through the gum trees in search of koalas, wallabies, kangaroos and birds in their natural habitats. Your naturalist guide will teach you about the vegetation and the history of the area, and, where possible, introduce you to known, named koalas that are part of a research project.
Stop for a picnic lunch under a gum tree and enjoy gourmet sandwiches, fruit, cake and a cup of ‘Billy tea',
Continue with a 10-minute drive to Serendip Sanctuary, and arrive to the sounds of squawking cockatoos and chattering honeyeaters. Walk quietly through the gum trees and across grasslands in search of wild mobs of eastern grey kangaroos. With your guide’ s help, you might be lucky enough to spot the kangaroos before they see you, and watch completely natural kangaroo social behavior!
Enjoy the magnificent sight of the group hopping about, quickly and powerfully, yet silent as ghosts. Be on the look out for emus and take a short walk to the nearby billabong (small lake), home to a large population of waterbirds.
Continue to a small outback town, Little River, for your overnight stay in a boutique accommodation . Enjoy dinner at a local pub (own expense), a classic Australian outback-style gathering place.
Overnight: 4.5-star boutique accommodation in Little River
Day 2: Great Ocean Road -- Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge (B,L,D)
After breakfast, travel south on the Great Ocean Road and see some of the world's most spectacular coastal scenery. Stop for a short walk near a lighthouse and take in the views from a lookout high above Lorne . Stop for lunch at a café in the charming seaside town of Apollo Bay.
Continue deep into the magnificent forests of Great Otway National Park, featuring rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, windswept heathlands and fern gullies. Take a stroll through an ancient rain forest with your guide, who’ll explain the formation of these mighty forests and point out the calls of birds in the treetops.
Travel alongside a river on an old bush track, past wetlands and lakes, before arriving at Port Campbell National Park. Be on the lookout for echidnas, wallabies, lizards and colorful birds that make their home in the coastal heathlands.
Off the shore of the park, spend some time at the famous Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone rock stacks, and nearby Loch Ard Gorge, an area where you can witness the incredible process of erosion -- both sites are particularly beautiful in the late afternoon light.
At night, head to a farm lodge near Loch Ard Gorge, where you’ll have a home-cooked roast dinner and spend the night. As you settle in, enjoy old-fashioned Australian hospitality and admire views of the Great Ocean Road. The farm is home to eastern grey kangaroos that often appear on the lawns in the early morning.
Overnight: 4.5-star farm lodge near Loch Ard Gorge
Day 3: Great Ocean Road -- Melbourne (B,L)
Sit down to a hot breakfast, then take one last look at the coast in the dramatic morning light before returning to Melbourne across the vast grasslands of the Western Plains. Created by intense volcanic activity over the past 2 million years, the 7, 000 volcanoes of the Western Plains are now extinct, but the resultant savannah is home to a rich wool-producing area.
Take a drive to the top of an extinct volcano and admire spectacular views of hundreds of volcanic lakes scattered across the plains. Later, pass Lake Corangamite, the largest lake in Victoria, often filled with prolific birdlife. Return to Melbourne in the late afternoon.