My Melbourne Itinerary

genie47

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This trip was done on the last week of Oct. The first week of Nov is all booked out in accommodations thanks to the Melbourne Cup. Big holiday for them.

First things first. The flight.

Don't take Jetstar. Not cheap and not environmentally friendly since the stopover is at Darwin before you take a connecting flight with Valuair.

Go to Melbourne direct with either SIA or Emirates. Both flights start at night in SG. Arrive in the morning in Melbourne. The flight is 7hrs. I believe SIA will arrive earlier. So your trip and accommodations should start a day later. This means if your flight is on Sat night, your 1st day accommodations should start on Sun.

Firstly, booking accommodations. Two options. www.wotif.com or www.hotels.com If you prefer self-contained units, either www.stayz.com.au or www.roamfree.com.au

The first day should have the accommodations in Melbourne. Since you will be landing early, ask for early check in. Choose the hotels in the CBD. Trust me. It is worth it. If not I recommend the Eastern Town House. It is next to Richmond so there is shopping for the lady but even the Aussies tell me SG has better shopping.

Next, book the car. Best you go to www.priceline.com.sg to go with Hertz. They got 10% discount. This is only the basic. This does not cover the zero excess which I recommend you to take. My Aurion costs AUD361 for 6 days but the zero excess cover is AUD31 per day. I opted for their full tank charge od AUD74, meaning I paid for the full tank they pumped into the car and I don't need to fill her up before returning. So the total became AUD658. I don't recommend taking a smaller car. You go there to relax and since there is driving, the car factors a lot. For fuel budget 150-200AUD. Since the full tank charge is taken, you need around AUD126.

FYI, if you don't take the zero excess, there is the AUD500 one. I think this cost AUD26 a day. Anything happen, pay AUD500. If you don't take any of this insurance, it is AUD5000 if anything happens to the car or even a single vehicle mishap that only involves your car like ramming a kangaroo. I know some travel insurance takes care of it but they need police report to make the claim. Troublesome. But take this zero excess. If anything happen, make sure got police report then claim from travel insurance.

Here is the thing. Book the car for the second day onwards. First day while in Melbourne you will be pretty much going around by public transport. Highly recommended. Buy the single day ticket. Don't trust the free Melbourne tourist bus and tram. It is quite limited. Just take the CBD zone ticket and travel on any bus and any tram for the day. Usually sold at their 7-11.

OK airport transfer. Take the Skybus at www.skybus.com.au Buy the ticket online and print it out. Do this because you don't need to queue to buy the ticket at the airport. The bus will bring you to Southern Cross Station. Once it arrives, go to the kiosk and tell them which hotel you are going and the minibus will bring you there. No need to pay a single cent more. Provided the hotel is in their list. Go to the website to check. Eastern Town House is served by Skybus so you know what to do.

Chances are you will either take the SIA or Emirates direct flight. In this case, you will arrive early and check in early. So what to see? If you have taken the weekend flight, go to Queen Victoria Market. Like our holiday pasar malam but more organized and got more stuff. In the late morning to early afternoon, go to the Melbourne Gaol to see their hero Ned Kelly's cell and where he is hanged. Then go to the police station next door to kenna charged and put into the slammer. Very good experience if you got kids. Show them going to prison isn't a good thing. My poor girl came out crying. Hehehehe....

Towards evening, go to Fitzroy Gardens to see Cook's Cottage. Must pay to go in and see. No need, just take picture outside. Walk the gardens and then at night take tram to Flinders Station to see the happenings at night.

Day two. Drive to Philllip Is.
Collect car from Hertz. Check Google Maps. They'll point out where it is. Take the car and pick up family at the hotel. Start early. Now whatever it is don't take the Citilink pass. That is their ERP of sorts. The Citilink is a toll highway. You will not encounter toll roads at all if you know how. If you got GPS, set the GPS to avoid toll roads. Chances are you will be advised to drive straight down Exhibition St and into Toorak Rd. Follow Toorak Rd until you turn right at a flyover into the highway towards PI.

So the real circuit starts from Day 2 which I term Day 1.

This is the course.

Day 1 To Phillip Island.

Reach San Remo by 11am, eat and watch pelicans fed at 12noon.
Leave and check in to the accommodations. Leave for Koala Sanctuary. Spend some time here walking the board walks.
Late afternoon, go to Nobbies. Take the board walk and see the sea birds nest their young and kill other competing family's young chicks.
Evening go to penguins center by 6.30pm. Eat there. It is cheaper than the Nobbies.
Drive in near dark back to accommodations. Make sure GPS got night mode. Found it helpful.

Day 2 Drive to Sorrento for ferry to Queenscliff and to Lorne.
Leave accommodations early and stop by at Cape Woolamai. It is a surfing beach. Quite awesome for pictures. Those Aussies from VIC must be tough. The water is cold and they are out surfing.
Go to Churchil Island. See the old houses and it's unique history. Milk a cow, let the kids play with young animals.
Leave and have lunch at San Remo. Just in case you didn't make it for the pelican feeding the day before, you can do it today if you want.
Leave for Sorrento. Board car ferry for Queenscliff. Carry on to Lorne. Check in at Lorne accommodations. I highly recommend the Allenvale. If you got time, stop by the Split Point Lighthouse along the way and snap some pictures. You can't miss this lighthouse as you are coming along the Great Ocean Road. Characteristically white with a red top. You can't admire much as you drive but your passengers can admire all those beach houses on the hillsides on the right of the road along the way. Whether you want to stop at the designated lookouts, it is up to you but too many stops and your entourage will suffer fatigue. Once at Lorne and there is still sun, go to Teddy's Lookout which is at Lorne itself.

Day 3 Drive to Otways and then Warrnambool.
Leave early. Around 9 and drive to Skenes Creek. Along the way stop at Mt Defiance Lookout and Cape Patton's Lookout to take pictures. Make the right at Skenes Creek and into the Otways. You will appreciate why you must have a powerful car. Winding and uphill. But the Otways are beautiful. Mark out Hopetoun Falls. You will travel on the Beech Forrest Tourist road. Ancient forest with ferns and strange ancient plants. There is a dirt road that will bring you to Hopetoun Falls. Spend some time here to admire the falls. Then go to see the Redwoods. I actually missed the Redwoods but it should be very near to Hopetoun Falls
Back track to the Beech Forrest Road to Lavers Hill. Have lunch at Lavers Hill. I recommend the Lavers Hill Roadhouse but if there are kids I recommend the Lavers Hill Motel and Bistro which has alpacas grazing outside.

Then blaze away to the 12 Apostles. First you will reach Gibsons Steps. Stop and go down to the Gibsons Steps. Highly recommended. Wear sandals. Chances are tide is high and you can still wade around. Don't get swept to sea. Then go to 12 Apostles. The kids will not want to walk. There is a lot of walking. You just work your way through from here to the Loch Ard Gorge, then to London Arch, then to the Grotto and then Bay of Martyrs and then Bay of Islands. All very rugged landscapes. You can skip anyone. Just be warned. After a while if you got kids they will suffer from sightseeing fatigue. Then all the way to Warrnambool. I recommend either Atwood (got free Wifi) and City Heart Motel. Dinner? I suggest Kermond's Burgers. Ask for anything with the lot and feel those arteries craving for air. This day will be very packed. I suggest you not miss the Otways especially the waterfall. You can skip London Arch or Bay of Islands since you need to walk even more.

Day 4.
Leave Warrnambool early after brekkie at McD's, head west towards Tower Hill. Take the tourist road to get to the lookouts that are on the side of the "crater" of Tower Hill. If you look into the map you will know why it is geologically interesting. Then head north towards the Grampians.
Now Mount William is optional. The walk is on a sealed road from the carpark but it is 1.8km uphill. With my kids took an hour up and 45min down to the carpark.
Else head straight for Halls Gap. Check in to your accomodation. I recommend the Kookaburra Motor Lodge. The backyard is great. Kangaroos in the evening. In fact kangaroos everywhere in the evening. Most likely you will reach by lunch or just before lunch if you skipped Mount William. If you did not skip Mount William, you will reach Halls Gap by 2pm.

Here is the one day circuit for the Grampians if you skipped Mount William.
From Halls Gap, get to Mount Victory Rd. Go straight to Boroka Lookout and snap pictures. Leave and then head to Reeds Lookout. Snap pictures of Reeds Lookout and then go out to walk towards the Balconies. 1hr return.
I suggest you skip McKenzies Falls if you have visited Hopetoun Falls. Go straight to Zumsteins. Walk around there and read the history of the place. There are wild kangaroos. Observe them quietly. You can stay until dusk and then drive back very carefully. Restaurants close at 8pm at Halls Gap. There is only one that opens until late.

Day 5. To Ballarat.
Head out towards Stawell for breakfast at the McD's. Then from there head towards Ararat. Along the way you will come to Great Western. Look out for that brown sign for Best's Vineyard. Go in there. Make sure you are there not too early. They open for cellar sales at 10am. So around 9.55 will be good. Look around the vineyard and snap the picts. They will open for cellar sales and take your pick on what is on offer.

Drive onwards to Ararat and to One Tree Hill scenic lookout. You can see the whole town from there. Drive off and head towards Ballarat. Spend time at the Eureka Stockade. Learn more about the uprising. I won't say much about Sovereign Hill but if you want to give it a try, I suggest booking the family package at their website and stay at the Sovereign Hill Lodge. Night should end with the show Blood on the Southern Cross.

Day 6 Going home.
Breakfast at one of the cafes at Sturt Street. Take pictures of the old buildings.
Head out again but this time to the Ballarat Wildlife Park. Spend the whole day here for all I care. The kids deserve their time with the animals. I think family needs AUD69.
Lunch at the McD's or some place that doesn't blow the budget. Then head straight for airport to dump the car there and fly back. Flight is in the evening. Reach SG at 12mn.

FYI we did enquire about such an itinerary with a tour driver bring us around. Meals and accommodations inclusive is AUD4300. A self drive is cheaper but more headache on your planning in a place you know nothing about. Learn from Trip Advisor and Virtual Tourist.

The self-drive cost us SGD3000 including accommodations and food, car rental and petrol, park entry fees. The flight is around 2250 (2A2C) so the trip cost us around 5250. I'll get some pictures up.
 
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genie47

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Tourist traps

OK if you want me to name tourist traps. The 12 Apostles is one. I know what you are thinking. The reason why it gets mention is due to the time you arrive. I arrived in the afternoon and the thing that makes this experience a tourist trap is the Chinese shutter infantry. They invade by the busloads and cram up every place making it difficult for you to take that shot of these limestone stacks. They move their way in to take pictures and it can be quite trying.

So if any of you think of going there and then driving to the 12 Apostles, I suggest modifying the itinerary to setup accommodations in Port Campbell itself. I know it is more expensive but this will allow you to visit the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge etc in the morning when the Chinese shutter infantry are not present.

What I mean is take your own sweet time from Lorne. Working slowly through the Otways to see the falls and other stuff and then bypass the 12 Apostles and check in to accommodations in Port Campbell. Have dinner, sleep AND then early next morning, drive to Gibson Steps to start the Port Campbell tour early in the morning. The tide should also be low in the morning allowing you to walk on the beach of Gibson Steps. Then go to 12 Apostles and so on.

It will also be cooler. For some strange reason, the cool weather of Allenvale became scorching heat in the afternoon at the 12 Apostles.

The 2nd tourist trap I would also have to mention is the Penguins. Yep the Penguins. I don't blame the poor birds but again, like the 12 Apostles, it is the presence of the Chinese shutter infantry. To get away from them, go for Penguins Plus. It is a separate viewing platform. More expensive but gets you away from them. You are not allowed to take pictures of the penguins but this does not stop the Chinese shutter infantry. They whip out the iPhones and try to take pictures or videos of the birds in these near dark conditions.

The 3rd tourist trap I like to mention is Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum. Sovereign Hill is way way expensive to see people dressed in period costume and pan for gold that isn't there anymore. Even HK Disneyland is cheaper on all counts. I mean it is nice to have a dusty gold mining town with horse drawn carriage which you have to PAY to ride after paying for tickets to the admission to the place. The place has been running for 20yrs. Their marketing department must be really evil to have drawn the crowds there. Wish Tang Dynasty Village have this same evil marketing team to prevent it's closure in our local context. :s13:

The Gold Museum is well full of gold, about the uses of gold both industrial and also through the ages. Not something you cannot get from Wikipedia or even the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Hence why I suggest going to the Eureka Stockade. At least there is real history there. Then again the show, Blood on the Southern Cross is really good but to get tickets you need buy tickets to Sovereign Hill. Wow! Now you see the real evil this marketing department is! Ingenious!
 
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genie47

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Allenvale's website. The place is worth it if you want wild animals just flying up to your deck chairs and will not fly away even when you are 30cm from them face to face.

www.allenvale.com.au

I stayed at the Gables. Each unit got a fireplace. Can be romantic but better know how to start a fire. The owners provide firewood and solid fuel to start. Damn malu if you don't know how to start a fire and you gf is standing there expecting a warm cottage.
 

genie47

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GPS and child restraints.

GPS coordinates for places like Hopetoun Falls, Redwoods etc.

www.exploroz.com

Just search for with keywords and punch the coordinates into your GPS.

For starters, I believe most of you have Nokia phones and the better phones come with Nokia Maps or Ovi Maps. You can download the Nokia Maps with a 30 day license for SGD18. No kidding! Ovi Maps I think there is a 7 day free trial! Even better! Just pair it with a cheap Bluetooth GPSr if your phone does not have one. Better yet. Borrow a real GPS unit from a friend. Make sure it has Australian map loaded.

It is important that you download the maps so that your phone will not tap to the GPRS in Australia and load you with an astronomical fee from your service provider.

Bookmark the accommodations and sights before you fly to Australia.

You are good to go!

OK why all this hassle? Why not rent the GPS unit from Hertz or any car rental company? You save while you can. The rental costs is very expensive. AUD5 a day. Some as high as AUD10 a day. Total can be as high as AUD70 for the whole trip. A road trip requires planning and this is what you have to do.

Next is child restraints. There are new rulings in Australia. All children under 7 must be in child restraints. No ifs, no buts. I went in Oct and the new rules are not enforced yet. So my eldest daughter who is 6 used the seatbelt w/o a restraint. The youngest used a booster.

It pays to bring your own booster along. The rental for the booster by Hertz or any car rental company kills you. This is why you take the flight with Emirates or SIA. You check in this big duffel that contains your child restraints. NO JOKE! Each person is entitled 20kg and that includes your children. So a family of 4 can bring in 100kg of check-in luggage. Take advantage of this! Bring along your child restraints if you can.

It is either this or put off a road trip in Australia until the kids are over 7 years old.
 
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genie47

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Here is the 3.5L V6 Aurion that brought us around. Here it is parked at the Kaloha Resort and Caravan Park on Phillip Island. Basically it is a Camry with a 3.5L V6 engine, 6 curtain airbags. Plenty of space for a family of 4.
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Wild wallaby at Koala Conservation Centre
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Yak at Churchill Island
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Pelicans at San Remo. Their large eyes make them look like manniquins!
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Visitors to our cottage, the Gables at Allenvale.
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The Gables at Allenvale
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genie47

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On the way to Hopetoun Falls.
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Gravel road going to Hopetoun Falls
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Hopetoun Falls
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Alpacas at Lavers Hill
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genie47

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Gibson Steps at the Port Campbell Marine Park. Most of the Chinese shutter infantry buses will not stop here.
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The Twelve Apostles. In front is the collapsed one. The misty look of the photo is due to the seaspray that mists the area as the waves pound the sandstone stacks and cliffs.
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London Arch. Middle section is the collapsed section which you see is empty. Last time it is called London Bridge. Since it collapsed, they call it London Arch.
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Atwood Motor Inn at Warrnambool. Dark navy blue Mitsubishi in the middle is a 3.5L Lancer look-alike Mitsubishi 380.
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genie47

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Scenic lookout point next to Tower Hill Reserve. The area you are looking at is the "crater" of the volcano.
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Charging up along Dunkeld Rd to Grampians Rd. The Grampians in sight!
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Turn to go up Mount William or the other name is Moutn Duwil
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Torturing young daughters on force march up Mount William
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The top of Mount William
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Red Cedar Cabin at the Lake Fyans Holiday Park. Actually it is a caravan park with powered sites as well.
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The backyard of the Kookaburra Motor Lodge. Teeming with kangaroos.
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genie47

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Best's Wine's Vineyard at Great Western. One of the oldest. Planted in 1866.
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Vineyard at Best's
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Self-guided cellar tour. Marked and numbered locations found on a minimap that is given to visitors
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Cellar sales. Bought 2X 2008 Late Harvest Muscat and 2X 2004 Cabernet Franc. Cost? AUD10 and AUD15 respectively
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genie47

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On the way to Ararat and Ballarat, stopped by the Red Kangaroo Roadhouse to eat this steak sandwich with the lot
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Patrick the wombat at the Ballarat Wildlife Park
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Free ranging kangaroos at the park
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The Eureka Stockade monument at Ballarat
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One last chiong to QV Market before going to airport to fly home
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kokchu

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Why nobody post in this thread? This is an awesome thread! Definitely will use this as a reference.
 

genie47

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On other note. If going to Hopetoun Falls too siong, stay another day at Allenvale. I know it will be even more expensive but I think the owner have special package deals.

Nearby Allenvale itself are some trekking trails. At that time of the year (Oct) very cooling and I recommend taking these trails. There are no man eating wildlife. A friend took my suggestion to go there and during a hike, got to see Koala's up on the trees.

The nearest waterfall here is Erskine Falls. Check it up on Google Maps. Within hiking distance or if preferred driven there.

My travel map while there.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U...2171704992823337251.0004759465ec00f9c0efc&z=9

The nearest falls you can walk to from Allenvale is Phantom Falls and Sheoak Falls.

Basically, Allenvale is in the Angahook-Lorne State Park. There are lots of things to explore. See this detailed map from Exploroz.

http://www.exploroz.com/Places/66271/VIC/Angahook-Lorne_State_Park.aspx
 
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funnyclown

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Hi

Thanks for sharing your itinerary.

Am in a dilemma of whether to do the

1) The great southern touring route (Great Ocean Route); OR
2) the southeast touring route (yarra, dadenong, phillip & mornington)


Am planning to go in 1st week of June, thus would actually like to include mt buller; lake mountains OR mt baw baw too. Do you have any reviews on these 3 ski resorts, only worry is that there may not be any activities yet since is only early winter.:look:

How many days do you think I'll need if planning to do both route 1 & 2? and +-3 days in Mel city.

Travelling with 2A & 2C (ages 10,12) ~ not into tree top walk or national parks thou.

Thanks in advance for any valuable advice :)
 

genie47

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The ski resorts are not that great. They need artificial snow and the best time to go is Aug-Sep.

You are missing a lot if you don't go for the national parks. Quite unlike anything.
 

funnyclown

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Please advise if this route is do-able during June:

Day 1&2 - Melbourne City
Day 3 - Collect car, drive to Dandenong for lunch, continue to Cattle Farm then Philip Island, Penguin Parade (stay 1N)
Day 4 - Check out of Philip Island - Mornington Peninsula (stay 1N)
Day 5 - Morning Peninsula - Lorne or Apollo Bay (stay 1N)
Day 6 - Lorne/Apollo Bay - Port Cambell (stay 1N)
Day 7 - Port Cambell - Geelong or Melbourne (anything interesting in Geelong? Not sure if I should stay at Geelong or direct to Melbourne)

MTIA :)
 

genie47

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SInce you decided not to go to the Grampians, this is doable.

Melbourne itself is great for 2 nights. Port Campbell to Melbourne is preferred for the last day. Take the highway back. Day 5 I suggest Apollo Bay but will mean longer driving from MP. Yes stay in Port Campbell to avoid the Chinese Shutter Infantry going to the 12 Apostles later in the afternoon. Go in the morning. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. If you can go as far as Bay of Islands. See those really isolated limestone stacks that have become islands.

Since Parks are not in your itinerary, Lorne will be quite boring. Lorne is nearer to a lot of doable walking trails. Especially to Erskine Falls. Most of these waterfall places have their facilities upgraded so there are boardwalks reaching to them. Only 1-2km from the carpark. Nothing unsafe and very NParks in quality.

Tell you the truth, VIC has so many things, tourists have gone back 6-7X and still discover new stuff. Victoria. The Place to Be!
 
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funnyclown

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Really appreciate your advise :)

Thanks for the suggestion of staying at Apollo bay instead of Lorne. We're really not into Nparks or trails, more to food & "little" shopping, weather, breathtaking views, as well as R&R.

Did you go to the Amaze N Things and Ascombe Maze? Any idea which one is better?

May I ask what is at Nobbies Centre?

Is 1N in MP enough?

Hmm..if stay at Apollo bay means a long drive from MP (approx an hour more from Lorne) guess is more worth for us ya?

Thot of make a trip to Soverign Hill from Port Campbell, do you think is worth staying overnite (although i read that you're not too keen on SH huh). The 1N stop is mainly to break the journey to Melbourne instead of driving all the way.
Do you have any suggestion other than SH?

Many thanks :)
 
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