From shipwrecked beaches and the Gippsland lakes, to mountains and small High Country towns, this five day JUCY road trip across regional Victoria has it all.
Brody, Alicia, and Jess planned to support small local businesses recovering from the Black Summer Bushfires on their road trip, all the while stopping off at some gorgeous and less-visited destinations in their freshly hired JUCY Compass.
- An abundance of salty and freshwater swim spots
- Getting the best of Victoria’s coast and High Country
- Lots of friendly and helpful locals
- Countless gorgeous spots to catch sunrise and sunset!
Day 1 – Melbourne to Paradise Beach
Time driving: 3hr
The adventure started at JUCY Melbourne in Tullamarine with an excited group of friends (Alicia, Jess and myself). The welcoming team at JUCY showed us around our new home for the next five days – the JUCY Compass was huge with tonnes of space!
Dining table for dinners and card games, kitchen in the back with a fridge and running water, rooftop tent, and a queen-sized bed within the van as well! We loaded our bags in and hit the road!
After a quick food stop, we headed onto our first destination – Paradise Beach. The $15 campsite at Paradise Beach was situated behind the sand dunes of 90 Mile Beach and you could hear the waves crashing on the sand. After playing a couple of card games and cold drinks, we called it a night. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.
Day 2 – Paradise Beach to Lakes Entrance
Time driving: 1hr 50m
Highlights: Trinculo shipwreck, Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place, Lakes Entrance, Sailors Grave Brewery
When your day kicks off with watching the sunrise over the shipwrecks in Gunaikurnai country, you’re bound to have a great one.
A short drive down the road brought us to the Trinculo shipwreck, where in 1879 on its route to Newcastle, NSW, strong winds blew it ashore leaving it stuck, and this is where it’s stayed for over a century.
We highly recommend this short walk only a few hundred metres from the car park to check out this rusty wreck before it disappears.
After soaking in the view all by ourselves, we headed back to the van to make a cup of coffee at another spot with sea views just up the road.
Unfortunately, there was a bit of rubbish around, so Alicia and I grabbed the first bag we could find and filled it. Looking after and respecting the land you’re on ensures these sites can be enjoyed by others and future generations.
After a cup of coffee, we set off to the local market, picking up some pieces from some local artists, before heading to Lakes Entrance.
Cruising down to Lakes Entrance was super relaxing with good friends and great tunes, and the Cruiser didn’t miss a beat. We stopped in to visit the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place. Unfortunately, it was closed, but that didn’t stop us learning about the sacred trees and in-depth history of the Traditional Owners as we walked around the surrounding gardens.
The Keeping Place is full of the knowledge of local Indigenous mythology, laws, social customs, and language.
45 minutes down the road from Bairnsdale we were at Lakes Entrance where we pulled up at the Northern Arm Tourist Park. The owner was incredibly nice, filling us in with what was happening in town, beautiful walks, and even a few secret sunrise spots. It’s an incredible little caravan park that looks out onto the lake and is walking distance from everything the town has to offer.
None of us had ever been to Lakes Entrance before, so we took the park owner’s word and decided to inspect the Sailors Grave Brewery event for a few cold beers and delicious fish tacos.
Day 3 – Lakes Entrance to Mount Hotham
Time driving: 3hr 25m
Highlights: Lakes Entrance, Stoney Creek Trestle Bridge, Buchan, Great Alpine Road, Mount Hotham, Danny’s Lookout
An early alarm got us up to explore the secret lookouts over Lakes Entrance. We drove through suburban streets to a dead end where we watched the sun illuminate the lakes. This stunning sunrise washed away any lingering tiredness from the early morning wake up.
We headed back to camp to freshen up before heading down to the esplanade for breakfast. We stumbled across Albert & Co and enjoyed the best breakfast we’d all had in a long time. We highly recommend trying the food and coffee here, if there are any tables free!
We walked back to our home on wheels, packed away all our stuff, and set our sights on Mount Hotham, with plans to stop at a couple swimming holes to escape the heat of the day.
Stony Creek Trestle Bridge was our first stop – an old 20 metre high, 247 metre long bridge and an example of the early engineering skills that utilised the materials and resources found in the area.
The huge bridge was closed down in 1987 after 60 years of use due to a bushfire. The Stony Creek Bridge was a great spot to stop and stretch the legs while marvelling at its size. Soon the temperature began to rise and we were itching to get to a body of water to cool off.
A few towns over in Buchan we stopped into the bakery for a bite to eat. Here we were told about a swimming hole not too far away on the Tambo River. With the heat starting to set in we thought it was the perfect time for a driving break. The water at the swimming hole was a great temperature and a perfect family-friendly stop as you make the climb towards Omeo and the High Country.
A windy drive climbing up the Great Alpine Road landed us on Mount Hotham.
It was about 5pm when we got to JB Plain and our free campsite for the night, sitting 1640 metres above sea level amongst an old cattleman’s hut and surrounded by snow gums. No matter what time of year, the Victorian Alps never cease to amaze me – the picturesque 360° views throughout the day and the sunsets and sunrises are to die for.
With blue skies and no clouds all day, we knew mother nature would be putting on a show for us that evening! So we left camp and drove the JUCY campervan up to Danny’s Lookout, just past Hotham Heights to take in the sunset. There were colours for days and Alicia had an amazing first alpine sunset – it was incredible.
Once darkness descended, we headed back to camp for a chilled night of cards on our living room table.
Day 4 – Mount Hotham to Bright
Time driving: 1 hour
Highlights: Bright, Ovens River, Ladies Bath Falls, Mount Buffalo Chalet, The Horn, Bright Brewery
Sunrise illuminated the mountain peaks around us and we took it all in from the comfort of our beds. We fried up egg and bacon wraps for breakfast in the campervan kitchen and headed on a scenic drive from JB Plain, down the mountain to end up in the bustling town Bright.
Through winter Bright is Mount Hotham’s closest major town. But through every other season, Bright is a booming place full of active, like minded individuals that are into hiking, mountain biking, exploring, and enjoying life. Bright is full of good eats and the perfect base camp to enjoy the surrounding sites like Mt Buffalo and the Buckland Valley.
Unfortunately, Jess had to work (always one unlucky one) so we found her a spot at the Bright co-working space on the main street and promised not to have too much fun in one of Victoria’s adventure capitals.
Alicia and I headed straight down to the Ovens River to enjoy the cooler location on its grassy banks. We found a camping spot at the NMRA Bright Holiday Park, right on Morses Creek which also flows into the Ovens River.
Once we had our campsite sorted, we jumped in the JUCY Compass for about 30 minutes to reach the base of Mount Buffalo. After changing into our bathers, we walked into the lush bush to chase the cool water at Ladies Bath Falls. It’s an easy short walk to the falls and as it was a stinking hot day, lots of other people had the same idea. But not to worry! You can find your own rock pool to bathe in if you’re determined enough.
A quick drive further up the hill and we arrived at the gorgeous Mount Buffalo Chalet. Situated on the top of the mountain and surrounded by sheer cliff lookouts it was built in 1910 and is the largest timber building in Australia.
The newest lookout has a ramp for wheelchair access and even a clear glass platform to stand on, making the views accessible to everyone. There are a tonne of walks you can do at Mount Buffalo if you’re after a hike with gorgeous views.
Our next stop was another lookout called The Horn. Driving here will make you feel like you’re on another planet, as thousands of burnt and dead trees from the Black Summer Bushfires, plus huge boulders, that fill the landscape.
The Horn is a must-see spot. It’s a 40 minute hike to the lookout where you see a complete 360° view of the Australian Victorian Alps, and can even spot mountains in NSW.
After taking it all in we began our descent down the mountain and back into Bright to pick up Jess.
She excitedly filled us in on her day and took us to an old mining dredge hole in Harrietville at the base of Mount Hotham. We agreed to backtrack as Jess assured us there was also an amazing berry farm along the way.
A quick pit-stop for a punnet of delicious blueberries and blackberries before we drove on to the deep dredge turned swimming hole.
On its banks was everything you could want for an afternoon outdoors – barbecues, a jetty, even a rope swing. Spending the afternoon here was a great way to unwind and chill out for the rest of the day.
Back at camp, it was our final night so we decided to spoil ourselves. Just 100 metres from our campsite was Bright Brewery, where we sampled their award-winning beers alongside a couple of wood fire pizzas to share. We cheersed to an epic trip together!
Day 5- Bright to Melbourne
Time driving: 3hr 20m
As the clouds began to roll in from the mountains surrounding Bright, we all slept in, listening to the rainfall, and appreciating being able to stay nice and dry in the campervan. As this was our final day we were all a little gutted our trip was coming to a close. But waking up to a misty gloomy day in the High Country is far better than waking up to one at home.
If we had more time we probably would’ve gone back up to see the waterfalls run off the sides of Mount Buffalo, but unfortunately we had to start making a move home.
We made one last batch of coffee in the van’s kitchen, before slowly making a move from our peaceful campsite and onto the main street of Bright for a final breaky at Wild Thyme Cafe.
With full stomachs we jumped back on the road to head home, but not before stopping at awesome vintage stores in Myrtleford. It was a sad moment handing the keys back to the JUCY team but it definitely sparked a fire in us to hire out another JUCY Compass and plan our next trip somewhere new in Australia.
- JUCY Compass
- Hiking shoes
- Hat and sunscreen
- Plenty of water
The roads are sealed and well-marked with towns dotted along the way