For a small state, Vicco is crammed with some mighty fine road trips. From lunar landscapes, to endless coastal cruises, forest bathing, and the alpine, these are the seven best road trips in Victoria.
1. Extend The Classic Great Ocean Road Route Along The Coast to South Australia
Distance: Around 600km
Probably one of Australia’s most iconic road trips, the Great Ocean Road never gets old. This is definitely the Victorian road trip for you if you can’t get enough of the rugged coast. Starting from Melbourne, the route has endless stop-off points and views. But instead of doing the classic trip to Twelve Apostles and then returning to Melbourne, how about you take your time and go further?
Start the trip by stopping off at a cute coastal town to stay the night, I suggest Lorne or Apollo Bay. If you’ve got a board then it’s time to hit the waves! This is the best way to avoid the crowds and get the real Great Ocean Road experience.
Before hitting the (in)famous Twelve Apostles, take a break at the often by-passed, Great Otways National Park for some beautiful waterfalls and forests. For some free camping, stay in the Beauchamp Falls campground.
Post Apostles, don’t miss all the other incredible rock formations the Great Ocean Road has to offer, including The Razorback, Loch Arch Gorge, The Arch, and London Bridge. But don’t stop yourself there! All the way along the drive to South Australia there are some incredible coastlines and beaches to hit. Just make sure to stop in Warrnambool, as its the last major city you’ll see for a while.
Along the route, feel like a kid again and visit at the Giant Yumbuk Slide – is there a better way to enter a beach?! Don’t reckon.
Check out some less travelled areas such as Cape Bridgewater’s petrified forest, Discovery Bay Coastal Park (NOT a caravan park despite the name), and Lower Glenelg National Park, which is cosied right up next to the South Australian border.
For a change of scenery, the Princess Margaret Rose Cave is a stunning example of a limestone cave, and it’s definitely worth popping over the border to Mount Gambier to dive into the sinkholes. Check out the Little Blue Sinkhole, Ewens Ponds, and Kilsby’s sinkhole to give your trip an immersive finale.
Key stops: Melbourne – Ocean Grove – Torquay – Lorne – Apollo Bay – Great Otway National Park – Wreck Beach – Gibson Steps – Twelve Apostles – The Razorback – Loch Arch Gorge – The Arch – London Bridge – Bay of Martyrs – Mepunga – Warrnambool – Port Fairy – The Giant Yambuk Slide – Portland – Cape Bridgewater Petrified Forest – Discovery Bay Coastal Park – Lower Glenelg National Park – Princess Margaret Rose Cave – Mount Gambier
2. Road Trip Through Never-ending Gippsland (Victoria’s Coast The Other Way)
Distance: Over 1000km
If you’ve done the Great Ocean Road a few too many times, but aren’t over the coast, try the eastern side of Victoria and head towards Gippsland. If you have the time, start by making the long dip into Wilsons Promontory National Park, it’s definitely worth the drive and it’s an incredible gateway into Gippsland.
Before the Prom, check out Eagle’s Nest near Inverloch, this beach is perfect for surfing and snorkelling, with jungle-island vibes and rock pools. Once in the Prom, some highlights include Whisky Beach, the Mt Oberon hike, or even the three day Southern Circuit to reach the southernmost point of mainland Australia.
After the Prom, head to Tarra Bulga National Park for some serious Jurassic Park vibes. Although this road trip offers a lot of stunning coastal views, stay inland for a bit and head up to Avon-Mt Hedrick Scenic Reserve and check out the Channels walk for a sweet as dip in the river-churned red rock. This spot is pretty off-the-beaten-track, so I wouldn’t miss it if you like to avoid the crowds.
For another freshwater dip, head to the Blue Pools in Briagolong, which offers some great rock jumps, free camping, and a rope swing!
After visiting these treats, make your way down to Golden Beach (stopping via Sale if you need supplies), for some serious sand time and the beginning of your time at Ninety Mile Beach. From here, if you’ve got the time, take a side trip to Gippsland Lake Coastal Park and camp overnight, otherwise, start heading towards the Greater Lakes Entrance area. If you can, get a boat to take you out to the Lakes National Park for some stellar and secluded beaches, or take the ferry to Raymond Island for endless koala time.
The Snowy River is another key destination on the Gippsland road trip. Here you can leave the coast and head in from the north via Deddick Valley. Check out Little River Junction campground for a serene spot to stay!
Make your way back to the coast, to Gipsy Point and Mallacoota, via Croajingolong National Park. This area really makes you feel like you’re the only person on the planet. Some key walks in this greater area include the Thurra River Dunes Walk and the Genoa Peak hike – give your legs a stretch and check them out!
Key Stops: Melbourne – Eagle’s Nest – Wilson’s Promontory National Park- Tarra Bulga National Park – Avon Mt Hedrick Scenic Reserve – Blue Pool Briagolong – Sale – Giffard – (Drive via Shoreline Drive) – Golden Beach – (side trip up to Gippsland Lake Coastal Park) then back around – Hollands Landing – Paynesville (side trip to Raymond Island) to Metung – Lake Tyers Beach – Nowa Nowa – Snowy River National Park from Deddick Valley – Goongerah – Cann River – Thurra River Dunes Walk – Genoa Peak Hike – Gipsy Point – Mallacoota
3. Hike And Sight-see Through Gariwerd/Grampians National Park
Starting from Horsham, take a roadie through Gariwerd/the Grampians. Since this is a designated Gariwerd road trip, do it right and start it from the top. Most people coming from Melbourne will just head straight to Halls Gap, visit a couple of sights in the area and then head back to the city. While Halls Gap is an incredible little town and definitely worth the visit, driving from the top of Gariwerd, from Hollow Mountain, and heading down towards Dunkeld, really shows what it has to offer.
This road trip is ideal for (but not exclusively so) hiking or climbing enthusiasts. This Gariwerd road trip recommendation is more of a hike-and-drive guide. If you can, take your time, drive slowly, camp, and visit all the lookouts and hikes the road offers you.
Start with the Wudjub-Guyan/Hollow Mountain hike, which is probably the closest you’ll come to Utah while in Australia. From here, drive via the beautiful Roses Gap road, slowly heading to Halls Gap while stopping at the different waterfalls (especially Fish Falls) and lookouts there are to offer. If you can, check out Boroka Lookout at sunrise. From Halls Gaps, there are many different hikes and destinations to choose from that are close by, but some of our favourites include Mt Rosea, The Pinnacle, and the Venus Baths.
Once you’re done with Halls Gap, head down to Duwil/Mt William and climb the highest peak in Gariwerd – you can actually drive most of the way up, and then the summit is only 3.5km return. Hit Mad-Dadjug/Mt Abrupt, and then Wurgarri/Mt Sturgeon for some iconic peak walks.
Dunkeld is the perfect, relaxed town to end your Gariwerd road trip. Stay the night, check out the arboretum in the evening for a sunset view of Mad-Dadjug, and then have breakfast at the local Koopmans Cafe, which showcases artists in an industrial setting.
Key stops: Horsham – Hollow Mountain – Beehive Falls – Wartook – MacKenzie Falls – Boroka Lookout – Halls Gap – Fish Falls – Halls Gap (side trips depending on hike choice) – Duwil/Mt William- Mad-Dadjug/Mt Abrupt – Wurgarri/Mt Sturgeon – Dunkeld
4. Journey Through lunar landscapes – to Mildura And Beyond!
Distance: Over 1000km
If you’re looking for an out-there experience for Victoria, then the road trip from Melbourne to Mildura is the trip for you. Launching from Natimuk, head to Little Desert National Park, and stop off at the Pink Lake in Dimboola. Next, make your way up to its big brother, via Lake Hindmarsh (another, even bigger pink lake?!) to Big Desert Wilderness Park. This part of north-east Victoria is wild, cruise through and enjoy feeling like you’re on another planet.
From here, drive to Lake Tyrrell, which is a ‘popular’ spot for stargazing, photography and camping – and another pink lake! If you have a 4WD, you can drive to Lake Tyrrell via the Milmed Rock Track, which lets you drive through Big Desert Wilderness Park. When driving in Big Desert, remember that this area is very remote, so be prepared, and check-in with the ranger for road accessibility and conditions.
Read more: Outback Driving Survival Guide
From Lake Tyrrell, head up to Murray-Sunset National Park to see some of the finest sunsets Victoria has to offer. Stay here for as long as you like, and pretend you never have to return to a city again! From here, stay within the same colour-hue theme, hit Red Cliffs (the town with the 70m high red cliffs), before driving into Mildura.
Mildura is where SA, VIC and NSW borders meet, and it’s blessed with intact Aboriginal cultural landscapes and emus! It’s also located right on the Murray River, and offers an array of activities such as the paddle steamer, houseboat trips, waterskiing, or kayaking.
If you just want to chill, find a spot on the river banks where you can sit and enjoy the unique views. Mildura has a lot more to offer than you’d expect. It’s one of Australia’s regional art hubs, with some wineries nearby to help you along. Check out Trentham Estate Winery.
If you can stretch your road trip further, make your way over to NSW and check out the Perry Sandhills and then to Mungo National Park. This park has some pretty interesting sand features, and Aboriginal sites that are over 50,000 years old. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and it features the oldest Aboriginal remains ever found.
Key stops: Natimuk – Little Desert National Park – Dimboola (Pink Lake) to Lake Hindmarsh – Big Desert Wilderness Park – GrainCorps Lascelles Silo Art – Sea Lake Silo Art – Lake Tyrrell – Murray-Sunset National Park – Red Cliffs – Mildura – Perry Sandhills – Mungo National Park
5. Drive The Historic Goldfields Track Towards The River Town of Echuca
Echuca’s at the NSW border, but it isn’t actually too far of a drive from Melbourne. Along the route you’ll pass through some of Victoria’s iconic towns and relaxed country scenes while driving along the general direction of the historic mining route, the Goldfields Track.
From wineries to lookouts to silo art, there’s a lot to see, especially if you’re willing to take a bit of a zig-zag route to see what the Victorian country really has to offer.
Start from Woodend and explore the greater Mt Macedon area, which has some nice and easy hikes overlooking country plains. Then head to the beautiful Daylesford, which is a popular place for Melbourians to stay. Hepburn Springs is a highlight of the area, where you can soak and feel luxurious in mineral springs.
Following the Goldfields Track, driving via Maryborough, head to Castlemaine, where you can stop off at some lookouts as part of the Goldfields Track, including Lang’s Lookout and Shepherd’s Flat Lookout.
Heathcote is a beautiful town to stay the night, with an endless array of wineries. There are some worthwhile landscapes nearby, including the Pink Cliff Reserve, Viewing Rock Lookout and Mt Ida Lookout. After checking out the greater Heathcote area, stop in Bendigo. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s a picturesque town, and the museum is definitely worth checking out.
From Bendigo, head up to Echuca, stopping in Rochester for a wander and to see the silo art. Once in Echuca, rest up along the river or hire yourself a houseboat. If you’ve got the time, Barmah National Park isn’t far and is definitely worth visiting.
Key stops: Melbourne – Woodend – (via Black Forest Drive) Daylesford – Maryborough – Castlemaine – Langs Lookout -Shepard’s Flat Lookout – Heathcote – Bendigo – Rochester – Echuca – Barmah National Park
6. Adventure to Lake Eildon And Mount Buller
This route is like a ‘getting out to nature’ starter pack – forests, mountains, a lake, and camping. Start the scenic way and drive via Warburton, heading towards Taggerty. If you’re driving slowly, Taggerty is a wicked place to stop for a hike in the Cathedral Range State Park and the Farmyard is a free hike-in campground.
From there head to Lake Eildon for camping, cycling, and hiking activities galore. Although there are a range of places to base yourself (take your pick!), if you’re crunched for time, opt to stay in the beautiful Jerusalem Creek Campground and then head towards Jamieson. If you’re not on a time limit, then stay at multiple campsites in the Lake Eildon area, take in the scenery and do some hikes, such as the Blowhard Summit, which overlooks the lake.
To get to Mount Buller, make sure you go via Howqua (Sheepyard Flat is a free campground), Mansfield and Merrijig for some legendary mountain views while on the road. Either stop by one of these towns for a break, or head straight to Mount Buller and soak in as much mountain scenery as possible.
Do the Mt Stirling summit hike, or hike up to one of the alpine cabins such as Craig’s Hut. After Mount Buller, take a drive to the lesser-known Mount Samaria State Park (or extend the trip and follow the High Country road trip, heading up to Woolshed Falls), and hike the Mount Samaria summit loop. From Mount Samaria, head back via Barjarg and Maindample for some more country views, and take the iconic Maroondah Highway back.
Key stops: Warburton – Taggerty – Eildon – Jamieson- Howqua – Mansfield/Merrijig – Mount Buller – Mount Samaria State Park – Barjarg – Maindample – Maroondah Highway
7. Take a High Country Road Trip to Mount Buffalo And Alpine National Park
Getting out to Victoria’s High Country can be a bit of a mission since there isn’t a direct route from the city, but the journey is totally worth your while. The High Country road trip is epic in both summer and winter, but it depends what you’re after!
Start from Healesville and head past Toolangi for a good combination of country and forest scenery. One of the advantages of this route is that there are a lot of enchanting lookouts that you can easily drive to – the perfect place for a bit of stop, revive, survive on a road trip.
Check out the Mount Wombat Lookout and then, after a decent drive, go for a dip at Woolshed Falls. After Woolshed, drive on the beautiful alpine road towards Mount Buffalo National Park, making the most of all the drivable lookouts on the way, particularly, Murmungee Lookout and Mount Stanley Lookout.
Once in Mount Buffalo greater area or Bright, you have an endless supply of outdoor adventures awaiting. Summit Victoria’s highest peak, Mount Bogong or take a dip at Ladies’ Bath Falls. You can even get off the beaten track at Mt McLeod. If you have a 4WD, there are plenty of epic 4WD routes you can take in Mount Buffalo and Alpine National Park.
Continue taking in the alpine views, and head to Falls Creek and Mt Hotham. On the way, you could even mission it up to Johnston’s Hut or do the four-day Howman’s Gap Circuit. It’s the High Country, you can go anywhere as long as it’s up!
You can combine this road trip with number two on the list if you’re heading back to Melbourne. Go via Falls Creek and then head straight to Mallacoota to take the Gippsland route in reverse.
Key stops: Healesville – Toolangi and/or Kinglake – Mount Wombat Garden Range – Mount Wombat Lookout – Woolshed Falls – Murmungee Lookout – Mount Stanley lookout – Mount Buffalo National Park – Alpine National Park – Falls Creek – Hotham Heights
Feature photo by @explore_with_ab