Experience the wilderness of Australia's southern coastline with this journey through Gippsland. Walk on untouched beaches, go sailing on Australia's largest inland lake network, and meet wombats, penguins, kangaroos, koalas and emus as you go. This touring route is 880 kilometres and about 11.5 hours drive time. Allow 5 to 6 days.
Melbourne to Lakes Entrance
380km, 5 hours
Depart Melbourne, bound for Lakes Entrance, a four hour drive away. Stop off at Paynesville, park the car and ride the free pedestrian ferry to Raymond Island to see koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. Continue on to Lakes Entrance and walk across the bridge to Ninety Mile Beach to stretch your legs. Hire a boat or take a cruise on the region's lakes, famous for their natural beauty and amazing seafood.
Alternatively, add an overnight stop before Paynesville, with a detour to the historic village of Walhalla (a 2 hour, 20 minute drive from Melbourne). Stay and explore National Parks and bushwalking trails. Ride the historic Goldfields Railway and take a goldmines tour or a ghost tour.
Lakes Entrance to Wilsons Promontory
250km, 3 hours
Head south west from Lakes Entrance to Wilsons Promontory via Tarra Bulga National Park, or Port Albert - Victoria's first established port. Check out the heritage architecture and street art in Yarram, then stop in at Foster to pick up picnic and BBQ supplies.
Push on to Yanakie to check in to your holiday cabin or luxury accommodation, or continue on to the Wilderness Retreats at Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory National Park.
A variety of walks in the area cater to any fitness level. Pause to take the Prom Wildlife Walk and see kangaroos and emus. Wander the campground to see resident wombats, and down to the beach to see the beautiful rock formations which trace Tidal River's path to the ocean. Walk from Tidal River to Squeaky Beach and back (1 hour each direction), via Pillar Point, for stunning coastal views, and keep an eye out for whales June to August.
Take care when driving in the national park around sunset and always watch for wildlife. Help yourself to the free public BBQs in the national park.
Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island
110km, 1.5 hours
On the way out of the park look for the Prom Wildlife Walk, a short loop near the airstrip and a favourite for roo spotting.
Drop in at Waratah Hills Vineyard for a wine tasting and a souvenir bottle or two. Drive northwest to Phillip Island via Fish Creek and Meeniyan, or hug the coast road via Inverloch, and the Bunurong Coastal Drive where you can check out the dinosaur diggings. Stop for lunch at the Kilcunda General Store overlooking the ocean.
Arriving on Phillip Island, head to The Nobbies Centre to visit the Antarctic Journey exhibition. Stroll The Nobbies boardwalk for spectacular views of Phillip Island's rugged south coast and see resting little penguins, silver gulls and chicks spring to early summer. Spot migrating whales June to September. Nearby Seal Rocks is home to Australia's largest fur seal colony. Baby seals can be seen October to December. Head out on the water with Wild Ocean EcoBoat to get closer.
Stroll along the elevated boardwalks at Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Centre for more close encounters of the furry kind. Take a walk at Pyramid Rocks or Cape Woolamai for ocean views, and spot thousands of shearwaters returning to the nest at dusk between October and April. Spend time at the protected and calm main beach at Cowes, or take a surf lesson at Smiths Beach. At sunset, take the Ultimate Penguin Tour at the Penguin Parade, or visit the Penguins Plus viewing area.
Book a bed at resorts, apartments and lodges or self-cater with a holiday let.
Phillip Island to Melbourne
140km, 1.75 hours
Don't miss Pelican feeding time in San Remo at midday and pause for a great lunch from the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op. Return to Melbourne via the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, a dedicated landscaped native Australian gardens. Grab afternoon tea from the café on site before you hit the road.
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