The Best Scenic Drives In and Around Melbourne

Whether you prefer the soothing sounds of the ocean or seeking refuge under rainforest canopies, Melbourne’s coastal location makes it easy to enjoy the best of both worlds. The best part about road-tripping in a rental car? You get to take it at your own pace and decide where you want to go. Whether you’re planning a one-day trip, or hunting down last minute accommodation, travelling is made easy in a Thrifty rental.

Great Ocean Road
A Jam-Packed Great Ocean Road Trip

Stretching for 243 km with a starting point in Torquay and finishing in Allansford, Victoria’s popular Great Ocean Road threads through 11 major towns with landscapes ranging from larger-than-life lakes and expansive plains to thick rainforests and dramatic mountains. Beginning your road trip in Melbourne? Make Torquay your first stop. Aside from being the official starting point for the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is known for its surf beaches, with the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition held annually at Bells Beach. Keen surfers can check out the Australian National Surfing Museum to discover more about the ‘gnarly’ sport or head out to the beach to catch a wave of your own - with lessons available and surfboards for hire, anyone can be a pro! Just remember to swim between the flags. 

As you travel towards the seaside settlement of Lorne, sweet tooths will be tempted to pop into the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery in Bellbrae. Step into a world of chocolatey goodness and get a behind-the-scenes look at sweets in the making. Once you’ve reached Lorne, a visit to Erskine Falls is a must. Feel the rush of the 30-metre cascading waterfall as you stand before it and take a deep breath as you let the relaxing sound of the free-flowing water take you to your happy place. From here, it’s another hour on the road to Apollo Bay before heading on over to the Great Ocean Road’s chief attraction.

After driving almost 200 km, you’ll be ready to welcome warm hospitality and a drink (or two) upon arrival at Apollo Bay. Luckily, the Great Ocean Road’s only gin distillery lives right here! Patrons can sip away at exotic gins, fruity-flavoured vodkas and even have a go at making a unique concoction with a gin blending masterclass. Visiting during lunch or dinnertime? The distillery also offers a tasty selection of pizzas and pub classics to share. Take a walk on the wild side of Apollo Bay with a visit to Wildlife Wonders. A fun and educational stop on your trip, the wildlife sanctuary offers guided tours where you’ll spot koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and more native Aussie animals. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, Wildlife Wonders may look familiar, as art director Brian Massey who worked on ‘The Hobbit’ designed the sanctuary - how impressive! Wander about nature’s playground here, within a landscape reminiscent of home. Finally, it’s time to make your way over to the Great Ocean Road’s crowning glory, the 12 Apostles. Park the rental car at one of the many lookouts and prepare to be amazed. Take in the epic views of the famed limestone cliffs and don’t leave before posing for a photo! While you’re here, check out the other stunning natural formations in the area, including the illusionary cave at The Grotto, the Loch Ard Gorge shipwreck site, and the Gibson Steps cliffs. Your Great Ocean Road trip ends shortly in the small town of Allansford, where the road officially ends. However, intrepid travellers can choose to journey onwards to towns such as Warrnambool, Port Fairy, and Portland.

Sovereign Hill
From Melbourne to the Grampians

A shorter trip yet just as beautiful, swap the coastline for forests and mining towns with a road trip from Melbourne to the Grampians National Park. Your first stop brings you just under two hours out of the city to the gold rush town of Ballarat. Famous to locals and tourists alike for the gold discovery in 1851, Ballarat plays an important role in Australia’s mining and migration history. Experience what life was like in the goldfields with a day out at Sovereign Hill. This attraction has been frozen in time to give visitors a look into life as a miner digging for gold in the 1800s. Hear the gunfire from the muskets during the daily redcoat soldiers display, wander with the outdoor museum, and shout ‘eureka!’ when you find gold after panning in the stream. After your time in Ballarat, continue an hour inland to arrive at the smaller town of Ararat. Similar to Ballarat with its gold mining history, Ararat is also known for its historic sites including J Ward and Aradale, Ararat’s old Gaol and ‘Lunatic Asylum’, respectively. Both important pieces of history, these sites are open to the public for historical day tours and ghostly night tours. 

After a further 40-minute drive inland, your road trip ends in Halls Gap - home to the Grampians National Park. The Pinnacle is just as it sounds - the peak (literally and symbolically) of the Grampians. From the 720-metre-high summit, you’ll get uninterrupted views of the region’s dramatic mountain ranges, forests as far as the eye can see and the dazzling Lake Bellfield. 

Whether you’re keen to camp or prefer glorious glamping, there’s plenty of accommodation no matter which options you choose to take, and all can agree that a scenic drive through Vic will be a trip to remember. Get ready to explore the best of ‘The Garden State’ in a Thrifty!

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