Advice for MEL/GOR/+ part of March trip

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Sep 2nd, 2018, 06:55 AM
  #1
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Advice for MEL/GOR/+ part of March trip

Iíve pretty much settled on the first half of our trip in WA and now struggling a bit with part 2. I got some really good advice on my earlier thread and have decided to fly from Kangaroo Island to MEL (rather than driving from ADL). The flight arrives at 2:45pm (KI-ADL-MEL) on Day 12 of our trip. We depart MEL at 7:45am on Day 21.

At first I was planning this (Plan A): pick up car and drive to Torquay (or Geelong), stay overnight (too far for us to drive directly to Apollo Bay that late in the day). Then 2 nights in Apollo Bay, 2 nights in Grampians, 2 nights in Yarra Valley, 3 nights in Melbourne (giving up 2 full days of sightseeing in the city, which I think is about right for us).

But now Iím wondering if an alternative makes sense (Plan B), having us stay in Melbourne for 3 nights when we fly in on Day 12 (giving us 2 full days there), then picking up a car for the driving part and staying our last night at an airport hotel because of our early departure. This is partially motivated by wanting to spend 3 nights in Apollo Bay instead of two different places on GOR and if we leave Melbourne early in the morning we can easily make it in a leisurely way. But this also means giving up one night in Grampians or Yarra Valley,which means staying one night someplace, not a great idea (or maybe skipping one altogether). We donít really like to rush things, we will enjoy nice walks but canít do serious hiking and foremost enjoy absorbing the natural beauty of a place. I was thinking about Grampians because we didnít get to the Blue Mountains during our trip to Sydney and weíre not likely to go back. The scenery in the Yarra Valley also looks really lovely and would be a nice way to end the 3 week trip.

Looking for Fodoriteís great feedback again, thanks.
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Sep 2nd, 2018, 03:25 PM
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Re plan B, I'd have two nights at Apollo Bay and two nights at the Grampians. Driving distance between the two places is about 3.5 hours so you would have very little time to do some walks in the Grampians before moving on.
Personally I'd cut out the Yarra Valley and use that time to have more time in the other two locations. It's out of your way and would make more sense to return from the Grampians directly to the airport. Alternatively would you consider doing an organised day tour from the CBD to the Yarra Valley which may also give you the chance to visit some of the wineries and try their wines.
We can recommend the Parkroyal Hotel at the airport - five minutes walk across the pedestrian bridge into the airport. The other choice right at the airport is the Holiday Inn.
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Sep 7th, 2018, 11:21 PM
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tt7
 
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Apologies for the delay in responding.

In your previous thread, you asked if the GOR is linear - it most certainly is. You don't really want to waste time backtracking and there's no need to do so. From Tullamarine to Apollo Bay is about 200 kms/3 hours drive. From Tullamarine to Anglesea, where the GOR starts, is about 125 kms/1.5 hours, most of it (2/3+) freeway down to, and around, Geelong. From Anglesea to Lorne is about 30 kms/35 minutes and from there to Apollo Bay another 45 kms/1 hour. That stretch from Anglesea to Lorne and to Apollo Bay is, by and large, all along the ocean. At the time of year you're visiting (March 2019) sunset is around 7.45 pm, so if you arrive at 2.45, it's realistic to make it all the way down to Apollo Bay. If that seems like too much, I'd stay in Lorne.

From Apollo Bay to Port Campbell (passing the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge etc. etc) is about 100 kms/1.5 hours. Most of it is inland (nice countryside but not much ocean to see) until you get further along towards Port Campbell National Park and the Twelve Apostles etc., at which point you're back closer to the ocean. Along the way, a detour down to Cape Otway and the Lighthouse is well worthwhile.

I certainly wouldn't stay in Apollo Bay for three nights. There's no need and you'll be doing a lot of unnecessary backtracking. A night in Apollo Bay (or Lorne, if Apollo Bay seems too far) and then a night somewhere around Port Campbell would make a lot more sense. I can understand the desire not to rush but then you have limited time available to you.

As I commented in your earlier post, we were not exactly wowed by the Grampians and in particular by Halls Gap. I'd be much more inclined to head northeast from Port Campbell, to Ballarat and Daylesford/Hepburn Springs and spend a day or two there before heading back towards Melbourne.

The Yarra Valley is, unfortunately, on the opposite side of Melbourne from the GOR. However, a couple of days there and in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, with a visit to the Healesville Sanctuary, would be very pleasant. If you do that at the end of your trip, from the Yarra Valley back to Tullamarine, across the northern outskirts of Melbourne, is about 60 kms/1+ hour; staying at the airport for the last night would make sense. Alternatively, if you're heading to Melbourne from the west (Grampians/Ballarat/Daylesford direction) you'll more or less pass the airport so could just keep heading east, across the northern outskirts, to the Yarra Valley etc., before returning to Melbourne for the final few days. You don't need (or want) a car in Melbourne so I would drop the car in the city and get a taxi/Uber to the airport when it's time to leave.
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Sep 8th, 2018, 03:47 AM
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In your planning, don't forget you can fly to Avalon instead of Melbourne airport if flight times suit and you can find a direct flight.
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Sep 8th, 2018, 03:56 PM
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tt7
 
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
In your planning, don't forget you can fly to Avalon instead of Melbourne airport if flight times suit and you can find a direct flight.
Indeed, but....

JQ (Jetstar) has one flight a day ADL-AVV (also available as a Qantas codeshare) but it only operates 4 days/week and departs at 10.20 am. The OP is (I think) coming from Kangaroo Island so I had assumed that flying to AVV wasnít going to work - but itís a good idea to suggest it if the OP can make it work. The only other flights ADL-AVV are via Sydney, so theyíre not much use. Avalon to Apollo Bay is about 135 kms/2 1/4 hours, so some 65 kms/45 minutes closer than Tullamarine.
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Sep 8th, 2018, 06:56 PM
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The Grampians are a great place for walking .
I live on the edge of Yarra Valley and like going there but apart from the wineries which you could do in a day trip I would give the time there up for the Grampians and the night at the airport hotel .
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Sep 11th, 2018, 01:06 AM
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I live close to the Yarra Valley and feel similarly to northie. I like the YV, I work there regularly. But the focus is Healesville (mostly the Sanctuary) and wineries. The Dandenongs and some lovely drives in the area but other attractions are limited.

Personally, having driven the GOR multiple times, I'd probably not base myself in one spot. It is definitely linear, with key spots mostly at Cape Otway (rainforest, waterfalls, hiking) and at Port Campbell (the famous coastal cliffs and rock formations).
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Sep 12th, 2018, 11:18 AM
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Thank you all so much for the comments, they have helped me think things through. I did look at that great idea about flying into Avalon but as tt7 reported, we can't make it from KI on that daily flight.
I do think it will be less wearing on us to stay in Melbourne after the 2 flights from KI. So right now I've penciled it in as 3 nights in Melbourne (maybe one of the days will be a trip to Healdsville), 2 nights in Apollo Bay (leisurely drive there the first day, second day driving to Cape Otway and back), next day drive to Pt Fairy (would really appreciate accommodation recommendations for a night in the area), then to Grampians (will give us one full day there, not expecting much in Halls Gap but did find a place to stay that looks lovely and can eat in). Then there will be two days left, so drive to Ballarat and spend the night (again would appreciate accommodation recommendations), continue driving east/exploring as we make our way to the airport to spend the night.

Comments welcome and another logistical question about picking up the car. How difficult would it be to drive out of Melbourne? It would save time to pick up the car in Melbourne and then drop it off at the airport. There are certain cities around the world where I would never do that (Rome, Paris) but we have done it elsewhere with no problem (Darwin,Fukuoka). Thanks again.
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Sep 12th, 2018, 05:11 PM
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Driving out of Melbourne should not be difficult, but certainly easier if you avoid peak hour (generally 7:00-9:30 and 16:00-18:00). Depending on your route, the tollway has signs directing you but are unforgiving if you miss an exit so know where you're headed. For accommodation, you could try stayz.com, especially if you prefer smaller places. Halls Gap township is pleasant and modest but the area is stunning and offers some amazing walks. We have had very little rain in some areas of Australia (the impact on farmers is all over the media) so factor that into your expectations. I'm not sure how much southern Victoria has been impacted.
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Sep 12th, 2018, 05:23 PM
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Dreamon, Google maps is my best friend when driving my own car or a rental....but some cities are just crazy so it's helpful to hear about Melbourne. Would certainly start the trip after morning rush hour. Thanks.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 04:16 AM
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Don't worry - having driven in the US a lot (I'm from there), Melbourne's actually pretty easy for a city of 5 million. Most people live to the east, rather than the west side of the CBD Like has been said, rush hour is rush hour but if you get across the Westgate Bridge before 3pm, you've got no worries.

You've probably seen this in other threads but I didn't see it above, so I just wanted to say to make sure you leave some time to look around the inner city and nearest suburbs. It's actually a pretty unique city. On the face of it, it has similarities to both US and European cities, it also has a "hidden" side, running in narrow, quirky little laneways and arcades throughout the city. They're full of some of the best coffee shops around (people go home talking about the coffee), unusual little cafes, shops and galleries tucked into unusual places such as under stairwells. As well, they contain a pretty amazing amount of street art (Hosier Lane). Little Bourke Street is Chinatown, Victoria Street (requires a tram ride) is Little Vietnam, Lonsdale is the Greek Precinct, Lygon is Little Italy. Take a walk along the Southbank side along the river from the Casino to the bridge for a lot of busking. Ponyfish Island is a bar under the pedestrian bridge in the middle of the river. Queen Victoria Market is an old, large indoor/outdoor market with permanent and temporary stalls, food and produce but also souvenir stuff. The Melbourne Museum is pretty good but probably not as good as any in DC but the UNESCO listed Old Exhibition Centre is right next door.

By the way, all the trams, part of the largest tram system in the world, are free around the downtown (CBD) area.
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Sep 16th, 2018, 07:40 AM
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Thank you CC, having that list is very helpful. I'm now leaning towards add one extra day to Melbourne, then 3 on GOR, 2 in Grampians and stop at Ballarat on the way to the airport hotel the last night. Of course, comments welcome. With an extra day in Melbourne, we can always decide to do a day trip to the Sanctuary or Yarra Valley.
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