Melbourne/Victoria Itinerary

Old Jan 29th, 2004, 05:41 PM
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Melbourne/Victoria Itinerary

During my trip to Australia at the beginning of March, I will have 7 days/nights in the Melbourne/Victoria area. I know some of the sights that I want to see, but am having trouble finding a path that makes good sense. I am spending the first day and night in Melbourne, hotel is already booked. Expect to head on to next destination first thing on second day. But in what order?

Great Ocean Road-Queenscliff-Lorne-Port Fairy
Mt Eccles National Park
Grampians-Halls Gap
Ballarat-Sovereign Hill
Dandenong-Puffing Billy-Healesville Nature Sanctuary-winery-William Ricketts Sanctuary

There is a good flow to the GOR to Hamilton to Grampians to Ballarat. Any suggestions on how to break up the stays? I have three or four nights. Is Port Fairy too far for the second night? Maybe spend the third night there also, then fourth at Halls Gap?

Now, for the Dandenong Ranges, does it make sense to do this area first on our way out of Melbourne, spend a night (or two?), and then do GOR? Or do Dandenong at the end of the week? We will be flying out of Melbourne Airport on the morning of the 8th day, so would like to stay near the airport on the 7th night.

Also, is it worth the trip down to Phillip Island for the Little Penguins. Everything I read about it seems like a great thing to do, but then I look at the map and it looks like it is pretty far away from where I will be (or am I just overestimating how long of a drive it is from Dandenong?).

On a different subject, does anyone know if there is a "sightseeing pass" that allows you into many of the sights for one fee? I have used these on other trips and they have really paid off.

Thanks for your help!
gr8travels is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2004, 06:15 PM
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Hi Gr8travels,

Here is a website for Melbourne's Smartvisit Card:

The shortest period for which you can buy it is 2 days. It seems to me that it becomes a better value the more days one can use it. The price goes up relatively little for additional days, but of course one would be able to see way more if one had additional days. The list of places to which admission is included is truly impressive, but how many of those places would one realistically be able to see in 2 days?

Anyway, if you DO choose to purchase the Smartvisit Card, it will more or less force you to do the Dandenongs on your 2nd day. Once the Smartvisit Card is activated, it is only valid on consecutive days.

There's another reason why I think it would make sense to see the Dandenongs near the beginning of your trip. Melbourne's airport is to the northwest of the city, and the Dandenongs are to the east of the city.

When you come in from Ballarat, you'll be approaching from the northwest. You could drive straight to a hotel in the vicinity of the airport for your last night, and not even bother to drive into Melbourne.

If, however, you visited the Dandenongs on your last day, you would need to drive from Ballarat in the northwest, past Melbourne, to the east. Then you would drive around the Dandenongs. THEN you would have to double back on yourself and get from the eastern edge of the city (the Dandenongs) back to the northwest part of the city in order to spend a night at an airport hotel and catch your flight out the next day.

Double backing across Melbourne is not an insignificant affair, as it is a city of 3.5 million people.

All that sounds awfully complicated. I hope it makes sense.

The fairy penguins are cute, but they really are quite far from Melbourne. I personally don't think they are worth it. (Ducking and running in case someone disagrees with me and wants to stomp all over me for saying that.)

In terms of the Dandenongs, if you find you cannot fit in everything on your wish list, this is how I would rank the sites in terms of their uniqueness (i.e., they're only in Australia and cannot be duplicated elsewhere):

1. Native Australian animals at Healesville Sanctuary

2. William Ricketts Sanctuary

3. Puffing Billy

4. Wineries

Sorry, I cannot advise you on how best to divide your time amongst the GOR, Grampians, etc., and will leave it to others to do so.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2004, 07:00 PM
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Dear Gr8,

On our recent G.O.R trip, we left Melbourne lat morning, stopped in Geelong for lunch and stayed in Apollo Bay that night. Second night was in Port Fairy and the third day was spent at Mt. Eccles and driving through Hamilton.

I would guess that we never spent more than 4 hours in the car on any one day except for the Balmoral--Balarat-Melbourne drive which was a bit longer than we hoped, but mainly becaause we got lost.

Of course, it all depends on how fast you drive, what time you hit the road (we're late risers) and how long you want to stay at the attractions like the 12 Appostles. Apollo Bay to Port Fairy was a long day because the roads are pretty windy. Warnombol was a tempting stayover but we're glad we went the extra 20K to P.F. because it has so much more charachter.

From Melboure, are you planning to drive to Sorento (sp?) and taking the ferry over to Queenscliff or coming down the west side of the bay via Geelong? I strongly encourage the former.

Have fun!
scurry is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2004, 07:51 PM
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Gr8travels, Scurry has made an excellent suggestion, i.e., rather than travelling from Melbourne southwards along the western side of Port Phillip Bay, past Geelong, in order to reach the GOR, travel down the east side of Port Phillip Bay to Sorrento. Then drive onto the ferry and cross the gap to Queenscliff. From there you can join the GOR.

Here is a map of Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay, and the other places that have been mentioned:

This suggestion has an added advantage. I believe it would enable you to see the fairy penguins on Phillip Island. This is how you could do it:

1. Spend first day looking around the centre of Melbourne.

2. On the second morning, drive to the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, and visit Healesville and whatever else you want to see in the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs. In the late afternoon drive southwards towards Phillip Island. The "penguin parade" when the fairy penguins emerge from the ocean, cross the beach and come onto land for the night happens at sunset. The nuisance factor, if one is staying in Melbourne, is that one has to drive all the way back to Melbourne after the penguin parade. (By the way, just because it's called the penguin parade doesn't mean that the penguins choreograph their beach crossing like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would. The reality is that they cross the beach in batches, and the whole performance takes quite a while.) This makes for a late return to Melbourne. One gets back well after midnight if one sees the penguins, as we did, in December / January when the sun sets late.

BUT you'd be there in March, when sunset would be a fair bit earlier than it is in Dec/Jan AND you wouldn't have to return to Melbourne. You could stay somewhere around Phillip Island or even towards the south end of the Mornington Peninsula (somewhere like Dromana).

3. Third morning: Drive to the lookout point at Arthur's Seat near Dromana. One gets a great view of Port Phillip Bay from there.

Drive to Sorrento. Drive onto the ferry and cross over to Queenscliff. Drive along the Bellarine Highway to Geelong. From Geelong drive southwards to join the GOR, and then drive westwards along the GOR.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 01:31 AM
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gr8travels, being a Victorian, I was exhausted just reading how much you want to pack in.

Personally, I'd spend separate days doing the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs, especially if you want to enjoy it and then want to follow Judy_in_Calgary's sensible advice to go the penguins while you're out that side of town. If you do go there, best to stay on Phillip Island for the night - even going to the Mornington Peninsula after the parade would be a fairly long drive.

I'd skip Sovereign Hill - it's a bit like a bad movie - but perhaps only if you decide you'd like to spend more time at the national parks.

This is our local tourism website which has a route planner, which may be useful if you haven't already seen it:

I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I enjoy living here.
melmc is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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Just a quick suggestion. I too am planning a trip and will be spending time in Melbourne and wanted to see the penquins. From this board I got a line on a dinner cruise that sounds great! It visits a penquin colony.

Anyway, here is the website:

We can still see the Penquins, but not travel as far and not have as many people in the group.

Not traveling until October so if you decide to try this out, let us know how it goes.

Anyone else out there do this cruise?

Have a great time on your trip!
cincytraveler is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Oops! Should have checked the website more thoroughly. Penquin cruise runs from August to February so won't help you on your trip. Oh well, that's what you get from a newbie! Sorry!
cincytraveler is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 09:08 PM
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It is possible to see penguins without going to Philip Island. There is a tour which goes from Southgate to see penguins near St Kilda. I think the trip includes a BBQ dinner. Sorry I don't have more details, but if you try you may be able to find out more info.
Re the Dandenongs/Yarra Valley - do this separately. The Dandenongs are only about 45 minutes drive from the CBD so a wander through these hills could fill in an afternoon. Lots of eating places, gift shops etc and pretty scenery.
The trip to Healesville will take about 90 minutes from the CBD. You can easily fill in the whole day, visiting the wineries, Healesville Sanctuary etc. You could drive further along Maroondah Highway towards Marysville which will take you through incredible mountain ash forests.
Port Fairy for your second night on the Great Ocean Road sounds good, and then onto Halls Gap from there will work out well.
A good website for Australian travel is
marg is online now  
Old Feb 2nd, 2004, 07:51 AM
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Hi gr8travels,
Marg we took the trip you are trying to remember, here's a note from my trip report.

"Tonight we have booked to do the 'Penguin waters boat trip' from the river out to St Kilda to see the fairy penguins arriving at the beach head.
We had some kind of BBQ which was ok and drank plenty of wine before arriving at the point where the penguins would surface.
At first we didnt see any then as it got darker and darker they began arriving, it was a good alternative to the drive down to Philip island and I guess we saw what we wanted to see...penguins.
Here is the link to the report in full.


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