For a bespoke experiential Australian holiday call +61 2 9571 6677


Australia in Summer


Australia in Summer

Image Credit - South Australian Tourism Commission

Summer in Australia – December to February is a spectacular time to visit Australia. Boasting glorious blue skies and sunny days with warm evenings and a whole host of activities and festivals come to life throughout the southern parts of the country. Our aqua waters glisten and our white sandy beaches put on a show like no other. National parks are in bloom, our native wildlife is basking in the warm sunshine, vineyards are alive with musicians’ songs drifting out among the vines. Sydney harbour is alive with superyachts and fireworks ready for another New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

To make the most of our summer months, some of our state governments literally overrule nature, turning their clocks forward an hour to give their states more summertime daylight hours to enjoy the perfect conditions and summer vibes!

Be mindful when visiting Australia in the warmer months, that summer also marks the start of the wet season in northern parts of Australia, bringing high humidity, heavy rains, and cyclones (November to April). Parts of the Northern Territory (including Kakadu), far north Queensland and northern Western Australia will be inaccessible and most tourism operators including accommodation in these regions close over this season. However, no need to worry, as the southern parts of Australia are just as spectacular and have literally thousands of unique experiences and luxury accommodation to uncover over this period. We have highlighted some summer bucket list experiences below.

New Year's Eve Opera Gala Concert at Sydney Opera House
Location: Sydney, New South Wales

Image Credit - Mike King

Kick up your heels and don your finest apparel as you take your seat at the renowned opera gala performance at the iconic Sydney Opera House. As part of the platinum package, you’ll enjoy a pre-performance dinner and midnight party to create a night you’ll remember for years to come!

Overlooking the spectacular harbour, you’ll be mesmerised by both the 9pm fireworks display during interval, then the midnight fireworks extravaganza – with drinks, live entertainment, and of course prime viewing on the Opera House’s Northern Foyer balcony.

Image credit - Mike King

Indulge at Capella Lodge on the World Heritage-Listed Lord Howe Island 
Location: Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Image Credit - Baillie Lodges

Soaring high above the coral-fringed Lord Howe Island is truly an incredible sight to behold as you prepare to be wowed at the award-winning Capella Lodge. Its casual barefoot luxury feel, coupled with exceptional service, sensational views of the turquoise waters with Mt Gower dominating the horizon and world-class gastronomical menu, make it a bucket-list experience not to be missed!

With only 400 visitors to the island at one time, guests will enjoy the uncrowded beaches and scenic vistas. Fill your days with massages at the spa, scenic hikes, crystal-clear reef snorkelling, kayaking, golf, or getting to know the friendly colourful fish at Ned’s beach. Marvel at the resident turtles as you float alongside them in the shallow corals. Jump aboard a fishing expedition or island cruise and survey the Admiralty Islands or uncover the lagoons’ very own shipwreck. You will never be short of things to do in this little piece of paradise.

Image Credit - Baillie Lodges

Scenic Rim multi-day walks
Location: Queensland 

Photo Credit - Spicers

Making Lonely Planet’s top 10 destinations list is Queensland’s Scenic Rim. Surrounded by idyllic National Parks, lush rainforests and spectacular mountain ranges with exceptional lookouts located in the hinterland of South-East Queensland – only 1 hour from Brisbane. Choose from Spicers 2 to 6 day hikes where no two days are the same, boasting breath-taking scenery, diverse walking terrain, unique luxury eco accommodation and superb food and wine.

Experience mother nature in all her glory, as our well-informed local guide escorts you through this dramatic, world-heritage listed region. Enjoy the company of our native animals along the way and hear tales of the early inhabitants passed through the generations. No heavy packs are carried as your luggage is transferred to your next unique, memorable, luxury retreat each evening, where a hot shower and gourmet food awaits you – complete with cracking fires and iconic bush views under star-lit skies.

Image Credit - Spicers Retreats

Birdwatchers' Paradise
Location: The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 

Image Credit - Australian Coastal Safaris

A birdwatcher’s delight, the incredibly diverse Eyre Peninsula is home to 270 species of birds! Encompassing multiple habitats, you’ll traverse coastal dune shrublands, mallee woodlands, sandflats, wetlands, saltmarsh and clifftops within National and Conservation Parks with abundant opportunity to observe many fascinating bird species. Pied and Sooty Oyster Catchers or even the endangered Hooded Plover. In the Mallee you’ll look for the fabulously coloured Australian Ringneck Parrots, brilliant Golden Whistlers and much more, you may just be lucky enough to witness the rare sighting of the endangered Southern Emu-wren. Keen bird watchers will keep an eye to the sky for birds of Prey including Osprey, Sea-eagles and Falcons.

Tailor-make your own birding itinerary taking in all the magnificent sites the region has to offer, spending your evenings in your very own beach-front accommodation with a private chef, gazing over the blue horizon to Boston Island off Port Lincoln.

Image Credit - Tourism Australia

Combine a little music with your wine!
Location: The Hunter Valley, New South Wales 

During the summer months the Hunter Valley vineyards come alive with concerts, festivals, and live music. From Aussie rock to international headlines, sunset jazz or the magic of a starlit symphony on your picnic blanket with a glass of Hunter Valley red!

The region is also home to two luxurious Spicers Retreats to indulge your senses. Featuring award-winning dining and elegantly appointed suites nestled into the natural bushland or private vineyards with signature experiences including a sensational sunrise hot air ballooning over the picturesque Hunter region.

Image Credits - Spicers Retreats

Phillip Island Penguin Parade
Location: Phillip Island Victoria

Image Credit - Phillip Island Nature Park

Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world with over 40,000 penguins. Only 90-minutes from Melbourne you can experience the magic of these adorable little seabirds as they waddle their way from a hard-day’s fishing in the ocean to their burrows in the sand dunes. Dating back to the 1920’s, just after sunset some 700 to 5,000 penguins make their way to the dunes every night, our private guides provide delighted visitors an unforgettable evening on Summerland Beach. Summer is the perfect time to witness the phenomenon with peak breeding season leading to increased numbers making the pilgrimage.

Image Credit - Phillip Island Nature Park

Tasmanian Hidden Gems!
Location: Tasmania

Image Credit - Tourism Australia

Immerse yourself in the sweet perfume and vibrant purple blooms of the world’s largest privately-owned lavender farm. Spanning over 260 acres with approximately 650,000 lavender plants in rows stretching 200 km in total. In December the farm is in full bloom through to early February.

Wander among a fragrant sea of colour as you take in the striking purple landscape straight out of a story book. Learn about the farms harvesting and the wonderful products that are created from the lavender. Finish your day with a delicious lunch in the ambient surroundings with the striking Mt Arthur in the distance.

Combine this fragrant experience with a few nights at Saffire Freycinet, one of the world’s finest Luxury Lodges. Overlooking the alluring Freycinet Peninsula your beautifully appointed suites ooze luxury with all the trimmings, boasting one of Tasmania’s most exclusive restaurants and array of complementary experiences including Wineglass Bay and the infamous oyster shucking dining experience in Freycinet Oyster Farm.

Historical River Outback Experience
Location: The Murray River - South Australia

Immerse yourself in a unique, opulent, and private retreat on Australia’s longest River. The Frames is a 6-star, award-winning accommodation built for discerning travellers on the peaceful banks of The Murray River. A truly Australian iconic river, teeming with native wildlife and towering river red gums with beautiful desert landscapes and flourishing wetlands to explore in this uniquely Australian outback region.

Take in an Australian sunset on a beautifully restored Gondola with champagne and nibbles or experience an Aboriginal cultural Welcome to Country ceremony. Visit a historic shearing station turned brewery, jump aboard a wetland & wildlife cruise or delight in a Riverland bird watching tour. For the foodies, many local wineries, distilleries and coffee plantations are close by where you can indulge in a gastronomic journey or take in a star-lit glamping experience and dine among the gums in this diverse, red-earthed playground.

Image Credits - The Frames

Ready to tick some experiences off your bucket list? 
Reach out to our team for more information on any of the featured experiences.

We’ve been operating since 2001 as an DMC (destination management company) helping luxury travel agents from around the globe craft unique, luxury and experiential itineraries for their discerning clients.
Our team has an intimate understanding of Australia and we are constantly travelling throughout the country to improve our knowledge of what’s on offer. We hand-pick our suppliers – we test out the guides, the accommodation and the experiences so you can be assured that when we put something in an itinerary there is a good reason for it.
Our creativity. In conjunction with our hand-picked suppliers we aim to create the
un-Googleable! ‘Never-had-before, never-to-be-repeated-again’ experiences.
We know the intricacies of each region and how best to reveal what makes them special. We draw on a big pool of relationships to create unique experiences.
Our network of contacts around the country is second to none and means we are uniquely well-informed to design an experience of Australia that goes to the heart of the country.
Come to us for extraordinary itineraries.
Our mantra:
‘Anybody can book accommodation, where we add value is by layering in the magic’.

Written by Kristi Gomm

Australia in Spring


Bronte Beach
Image Credit - Tourism Australia

Australia in Spring

Spring – September, October and November, is a spectacular time to visit Australia. The southern states are blanketed in vivid purple jacaranda blooms, temperatures are mild with sunny days and cooler evenings. Our deep blue seas are warming up with the promise of summer just around the corner. Milder conditions make way for a whole host of wildlife spotting, outdoor events and unforgettable experiences.

Be mindful that November marks the beginning of the ‘wet season’ in our northern states Queensland, Northern Territory, and the northern parts of Western Australia. Adding a new and enchanting dimension to our rainforests and bringing tropical showers to our waterfalls and flood plains – so plan your experiences accordingly.

For those who have clients coming to Australia in Spring 2023, we have put together 10 bucket list highlights and suggested itineraries to make their Australian experience truly unforgettable.

River Drift Snorkel Adventure in the World's Oldest Rainforest
Location: Daintree National Park, Queensland

Drifting in the daintree
Image Credit - Back Country Bliss

Immerse yourself in the rainforest like never before! This unique, hands-on experience is like no other. Experience the serenity and the beauty of this World Heritage Listed Rainforest as you drift effortlessly down the crystal-clear Mossman River beneath a canopy of green. Don a snorkel and search for turtles, fish, water dragon and the elusive platypus. Our local guides will show you many interesting species of the region on a short rainforest walk during your adventure. 

Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge
Image credit - Back Country Bliss

Charter a Yacht in the Spectacular Whitsundays 
Location: The Whitsundays, Queensland

Yacht Charter
Image Credit - Tourism Australia

Escape reality and create unforgettable memories in the pristine, turquoise waters of The Whitsundays. With over 74 islands to explore – most of them remote and uninhabited, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself n Australia’s beach culture. Boasting endless stretches of uncrowded white sandy beaches, coral cays brimming with colourful fish, crystal-clear tropical waters and vibrant night life for those who want to call into Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach – there really is something for everyone.

The Whitsunday Islands
Image Credit - Tourism and Events Queensland

Cows & Canapés in the Outback
Location: South-west of Darwin, Northern Territory 

Finniss River Lodge

Wild-bush charm meets contemporary elegance and sophistication at Australia’s newest experiential lodge, only 90 minutes’ drive or a 20-minute charter flight from Darwin. An all-inclusive high-end lodge set on a 50,000-acre working cattle station on the edge of a vast wetland in the Northern Territory. With a maximum of 12 guests your stay can be as adventurous or relaxed as you choose.

This stunning wilderness area showcases Australia at its best! Teeming with birdlife, lizards, dingo’s, crocodiles and of course the cattle – guests are treated to brilliant sunsets, airboat adventures, buggy tours, safari’s, station experiences and of course their Cows & Canapés truly unique experience. Sip sundowners and take a selfie with these curious and friendly cattle as you indulge in canapés and tales of outback life. A visit in September or October will avoid the ‘wet season’ and guests might be lucky enough to spot some baby calves! Equally as invigorating are the airboats adventures that take flight along the flood plains in the wetter months.

Canapes with Cows
Image Credit - Finniss River Lodge

Southern Ocean Lodge - Reopening!
Location: Kangaroo Island 
Dates: 6 December 2023

Southern Ocean Lodge
Image Credit - Southern Ocean Lodge

After the devastating bushfires in 2020 the multi-award-winning Southern Ocean Lodge is well underway to reopen its doors December 6th, 2023. Perched high on the cliff top with 360-degree views you’ll be mesmerised by the breath-taking views of this wildly diverse landscape.

Surrounded by pristine conservation sanctuaries and national parks, Kangaroo Island is a premium destination for nature-lovers. Take a trip out to Seal Bay Conservation Park and wander among the dunes of Seal Bay, getting up close and personal with Australia’s 3rd largest sea lion colony. Finish the evening with a Southern Ocean Lodge signature experience enjoying sundowners with a twilight expedition to witness the kangaroos and wallabies grazing in the setting sun.

Kangaroo Island

Taronga Zoo - Private Tours
Location: Sydney, New South Wales 

Wildlife Retreat
Image Credit - Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat

Taronga Zoo’s private tours are back with a whole new and interactive Australian enclosure due for final completion mid-May 2023. A must-see day out for any visitor to Australia. Meander your way through the newly designed board walk taking in the kangaroo, wallabies, emu, dingoes and more as you ascend into the treetops among the Koala’s lazing dreamily in the Eucalyptus trees. Visit the state-of-the-art and interactive nocturnal house and experience close encounters with a number of animals on your private tour, complete with the infamous view of Sydney Harbour as your backdrop.

Finish your visit with an overnight stay at the award-winning Wildlife Retreat nestled in its own private animal sanctuary within the Zoo’s enclosure. Be wowed by more intimate experiences including feeding the resident giraffe, with their incredibly long purple tongues.

Taronga Zoo

Bucket List Dining Experience in the Rainforest
Location: The Treehouse Restaurant, The Daintree Rainforest, Queensland

The Treehouse Restaurant
Image Credit - Silky Oaks Lodge - The Treehouse Restaurant

Perched high in a leafy rainforest canopy overlooking the majestic Mossman River is a tropical paradise like no other. The incredible floor to ceiling open-aired layout of The Treehouse Restaurant creates an unforgettable dining experience complete with the soft flowing sounds of the river tumbling below.

Tantalise your taste buds with spectacular creations from renowned chef Mark Godbeer. A contemporary Australian menu inspired by an abundance of fresh produce sourced from the resort’s kitchen garden and the surrounding local region.

As the evening draws to a close and the warm candlelight radiates from the tables, extend your rainforest dining experience with a stay at Silky Oaks Lodge in their prestigious Daintree Pavilion. High-end luxury showcasing the rainforest from every vista.

Silky Oaks Lodge
Image Credit - Silky Oaks Lodge

Authentic Aboriginal Deep Country Experience
Location: Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Sand Art
Image Credit - Localing tours

Far removed from the traditional ‘tourist’ experience, this transforming cultural experience will see you enjoy a bushfood inspired morning tea on the renowned surf coast along the Great Ocean Road as you get to know our local Aboriginal artist. Hear his tales from the earth and sea as he explains some of the typical ways story and dreaming are represented through symbols in different aboriginal art traditions. Work alongside him to create an authentic aboriginal landscape artwork in the sand.

After a scenic drive and some lunch in the infamous town of Torquay, you will be transported to private, local Aboriginal lands and be treated to a traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ smoke ceremony from the elders of this region. Learn how to throw boomerangs and traditional spears as you listen to the harmonious sounds of the didgeridoo and enjoy a rare dance performance from locals.

Great Ocean Road

Bay of Fires 4-Day Walk
Location: Bay of Fires - Tasmania, Australia

Bay of Fires
Image Credit - Tasmanian Walking Company
One for the nature and walking enthusiasts. This multi-day spectacular coastal walk covers some of the most stunning and remote stretches of coastline in the world, located along the northeastern tip of Tasmania. The Bay of Fires is famed for its white sandy beaches, vibrant red lichen covered boulders, diverse woodlands and tranquil waterways.

An off-grid easy beach walking experience, rich in culture and stories from the traditional owners and first nations people of the region. Enjoy wild swimming and kayaking opportunities along the way whilst your evenings are spent in various high-end accommodation including the award-winning Bay of Fires Lodge with rejuvenating spa and renowned panoramic bathtub experience. Foot spas, gourmet meals, canapés and delicious local wines are all part of the experience. Departures October to May. This great walk is also available in a 3-day, pack free option for those short on time.

Sculpture by the Sea
Location: Sydney, New South Wales 
Dates: 20 October - 6 November 2023

Sculpture by the Sea - Bondi
Image Credit - Sculpture by the Sea - Destination NSW

Witness over 100 sculptures from artists all over the world as you traverse the sandstone cliffs on this iconic, sundrenched, 2km coastal walk in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. Marvel at the unique sculptures that dot the horizon on this spectacular seascape canvas from September through to October. Celebrating its 25th year, Sculpture by the Sea is the world’s largest, free-to-the-public outdoor exhibition with $100,000 in prize money on offer. 

Sculpture by the Sea
Image Credit - Charlotte Curd

Get Back to Nature Experience
Location: Southern Highlands, NSW

Bendooley Estate
Image Credit - Bendooley Estate

The Southern Highlands are surrounded by national parks with plenty of spectacular hiking trails winding through rainforests and ancient eucalyptus forests, with a multitude of activities to entertain. From thundering waterfalls to picturesque historic towns, antique stores and flourishing gardens, wineries and museums. Our local guide can curate the perfect private tour to suit your interests in this diverse and magical region.

Spend a morning paddling the scenic Shoalhaven River in your custom-built double canoe rig. Indulge your taste buds with wild native canapés and a local award-winning cold-climate wine as you glide through the pristine waters and rugged gorge abundant with birds and wildlife. Enjoy a long lunch at an authentic local winery, take a guided forest walk with local indigenous first nations people in the footsteps of their Ancestors and see Australia through a different lens. Discover many fantastic waterfalls and panoramic views in the surrounding national parks and foodies will enjoy a foraging experience for wild mushrooms and truffles in season.

Southern Highlands

Ready to tick some experiences off your bucket list? 
Reach out to our team for more information on any of the featured experiences.

We’ve been operating since 2001 as an DMC (destination management company) helping luxury travel agents from around the globe craft unique, luxury and experiential itineraries for their discerning clients.
Our team has an intimate understanding of Australia and we are constantly travelling throughout the country to improve our knowledge of what’s on offer. We hand-pick our suppliers – we test out the guides, the accommodation and the experiences so you can be assured that when we put something in an itinerary there is a good reason for it.
Our creativity. In conjunction with our hand-picked suppliers we aim to create the
un-Googleable! ‘Never-had-before, never-to-be-repeated-again’ experiences.
We know the intricacies of each region and how best to reveal what makes them special. We draw on a big pool of relationships to create unique experiences.
Our network of contacts around the country is second to none and means we are uniquely well-informed to design an experience of Australia that goes to the heart of the country.
Come to us for extraordinary itineraries.
Our mantra:
‘Anybody can book accommodation, where we add value is by layering in the magic’.

Written by Kristi Gomm

Australia’s Best Guides – Stuart Dobson – Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most spectacular coastal journeys and a mecca for Melbourne locals on the weekends and summer holidays. There is a lot more to it than just the usual tourist sites and Stuart Dobson is one of the best guides in Australia to reveal its secrets.

Please explain a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I am the co-founder and lead guide for Acacia Luxury Private Tours. We deliver luxury bespoke tours in Melbourne and the wonderfully diverse regions surrounding the city. My personal specialty is escorting visitors on one of the world’s most spectacular coastal journeys – Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

I was born and raised on a dairy farm a veritable stone’s throw from the majestic limestone stacks that make up the Twelve Apostles, the scenic highlight of the Great Ocean Road and perhaps Australia’s most recognisable coastal landscape. Having this coast as my playground afforded me knowledge of secluded vantage points, the best wildlife spotting, and even locations for after-dark glow worm viewing. This local knowledge has proven to be indispensable as I strive to ensure visitors have a more intimate and connected experience with the ever-popular Great Ocean Road.

What got you started with guiding and what do you find most interesting about it?
My professional background is far removed from the tourism industry. Prior to launching Acacia Luxury Private Tours I enjoyed a career spanning two decades as a medical scientist and executive with an American medical devices company. While I enjoyed great fulfilment in the role, I had a yearning to escape the rat race and to become the steward of my own destiny. A midlife crisis perhaps? Probably not but there was certainly a sense of relief escaping the quarterly corporate business cycle.

Becoming a guide seemed like the perfect fit. My love of my Melbourne and Victoria is undisputed and I have always maintained a finger on the pulse by regularly dining, attending cultural events, and exploring the regions. I had become that person who visitors would reach out to for the latest advice when in town.

I relish the meaningful connections you form with guests and the privilege it is to play a role in their life celebrations and formation of lifelong memories. I also enjoy the relationships that we forge with various suppliers from restauranteurs and winemakers to local farmers and producers. As a small business owner you gain great visibility of the tangible economic benefits that tourism can brings to small towns and communities.

How do you bring the Great Ocean Road to life on your tours?
While the Great Ocean Road is renowned for rugged coastal scenery, perhaps it is less well understood that it offers the most extraordinary nature and wildlife experiences which is a focus of my tours. On our day trip we routinely encounter wild kangaroos, wallabies and koalas. A deeper exploration of the region offers the opportunity to see the elusive platypus in its natural habitat. The area is also a birdwatching paradise with reliable spotting of emus, parrots and water birds.

My tours also focus on the stories behind the region, from the tales of tragedy and heroism affiliated with the coast’s shipwreck history, to my own personal experiences growing up on a dairy farm.

Why do you think it’s important that people learn about the Great Ocean Road?
For many the Great Ocean Road is just the perfect location for a selfie and they overlook the region’s rich history.

Pivotal to the history of the settlement of Australia are the stories of tribulation faced by early free settlers who arrived by clippers sailing the treacherous Southern Ocean. The section of the coast from Cape Otway to Port Fairy is known as the Shipwreck Coast for good reason with an estimate of over 700 known wrecks, most of which remain undiscovered.

There is also the remarkable story of the construction of the road in perilous conditions by returned servicemen of World War One in honour of their fallen mates. Indeed, the 243-kilometre Great Ocean Road is designated a permanent war memorial, the largest in the world.

If people wanted to find out more about the Great Ocean Road are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend?
For a geological account of the Great Ocean Road I highly recommend “Written in Stone: Reading the Rocks of the Great Ocean Road” by Philomena Manifold. Her work combines research, writing, sketches and photographs to tell the 135 million-year story of the rocks of the Great Ocean Road.

For visitors to the Great Ocean Road I also recommend stopping by the newly constructed Great Ocean Road Heritage Centre in Lorne to explore the permanent exhibition “The Great Ocean Road Story: Building Australia’s Most Famous Road”.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered by the questions already posed?
Wherever possible we recommend spending two days to explore the Great Ocean Road with an overnight stay in the charming coastal hamlet of Port Campbell. I encourage my guests to rise early for a sunrise viewing of the Twelve Apostles and surrounding national park. At this time of day you often have these popular locations to yourself which completely transforms the experience. It feels almost spiritual.

What’s your favourite Australian animal and why?
The Little Penguin. We are blessed to have a 32,000 strong colony of Little Penguins on Phillip Island just 90 minutes south-east of Melbourne. Each evening at dusk visitors can witness their antics as hundreds or even thousands cross the beach and head to their nests. I never fail to succumb to their charm.

What place is Australia’s best-kept secret?
Wilsons Promontory is a coastal reserve located south-east of Melbourne at the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. Think pristine white sand beaches decorated with rounded granite boulders, abundant wildlife, and a labyrinth of spectacular walking trails without the crowds all just three hours from Melbourne.

What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why?
I am drawn to the rugged wilderness of the Kimberley Coast in the remote northwest of Australia. I can’t imagine a more beautiful landscape in which to appreciate the absolute vastness of this continent.

Finally, how can people follow you on social media?
You can follow us at @acaciatoursau on Facebook and Instagram.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road

How to visit the Great Ocean Road

We are often asked about the Great Ocean Road – 243 kms of rocky coastline, west of Melbourne and considered one of Australia’s greatest road-trip destinations.  It boasts awe-inspiring coastal views, deserted white sandy beaches, beautiful rainforest scenery and beautiful national parks that are home to koalas, kangaroos and other wildlife.

Beach, Gibson Steps, Vic

The most scenic portion begins in Torquay, a town well known as a surfing hot-spot and ends in the whale-watching town of Warrnambool; in between are several picturesque coastal towns, a number of gourmet restaurants and a couple of boutique accommodation options. One of the most popular stops along the way is the world-famous 12 Apostles, magnificent natural rock structures that are more than 20 million years old, which rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean.

Great Ocean Road
Image: Tourism Australia

So, how best to experience all of this…

Many travellers opt for a longer stay in one of Melbourne’s excellent hotels and just zoot out to explore the Great Ocean Road on a day trip. However, be aware that a full day road trip is up to 12 hours with as much as 9 hours spent in the vehicle.  Along the way there will be great views of coastal cliffs, long sandy beaches, rural landscapes, the 12 Apostles and other ocean carved ‘architecture’.   There will be a stop for lunch and perhaps a walk in the rainforest & fern gullies of the Otway National Park and usually the option of a helicopter scenic flight.

Great Ocean Road
Image: Tourism Australia

Ultimate Great Ocean Road tour

Budget permitting our Ultimate Great Ocean Road tour showcases the iconic coastline by luxury touring vehicle before a 75 minute scenic, private helicopter flight back to Melbourne.  The day includes a gourmet lunch of local produce and fresh seafood served within sight of sandy beaches.  As you travel, our passionate local guide shares insight into Australia’s surfing culture, stories of the shipwrecks that line this coast and, with luck, will point out kangaroos or koalas.

Great Ocean Road
Image: Tourism Australia

The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk

The active traveller may prefer The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk: Operating between September and May and graded moderate, this 3 night / 4 day eco-lodge based walk is a great way to experience the coast and see Australian wildlife as the trail is alive with native flora and fauna including fur seals, wallabies and koalas.  Learn about the land through the eyes of the first Australians and the British convicts transported here on ships over 200 years ago. The coast is littered with shipwrecks from this time, and the tales of survival and loss are part of the fabric of the Great Ocean Walk.

Image: Tourism Australia

Self-drive The Great Ocean Road – 2 to 10 nights

For the independent traveller a self-drive discovery of the Great Ocean Road is a great option: However don’t rush!  Whilst the Great Ocean Road spans a relatively small distance if you whizz along it you will probably be disappointed.  There are three itineraries we recommend and they range from 2 to 5 nights but certainly a journey of even 10 days would be time well spent.

When travelling independently it is important to go slowly, allowing time to chat to the locals, make discoveries and explore.   Allow time for walks, poking about weekend markets, visiting points of interest and taking up local tours such as kayaking on Lake Elizabeth in search of Platypus.

Some of our favourite hotels in this area are:

  • Oscar’s Waterfront Boutique Hotel – a charming small hotel, an exceptional bed & breakfast
  • Drift House – modern conversion of a heritage building in the pretty town of Port Fairy
  • Great Ocean Ecolodge – a small guest house operated by the Conservation Ecology Centre
  • Royal Mail at Dunkeld – an award winning restaurant with lovely accommodation attached
  • Meringa Springs – a small, luxury lodge offering stunning views of the Grampians
  • Big Blue Backyard – three delightful guest rooms on the Mornington Peninsula

Tailor-made Great Ocean Road

But the best way to do the Great Ocean Road: If budget and time permit then a multi-day road trip hosted by an expert passionate guide in a comfortable vehicle with tailor-made activities, from Aboriginal experiences to whales at Warrnambool, can be designed to be pure Alquemie!


Click here to find out more about Australian travel with Alquemie