Linking two major Australian cities, this touring route mixes prominent historical centres and prized natural surrounds with coastal hotspots and renowned wine regions. The drive begins in Melbourne and incorporates Kangaroo Island before reaching Adelaide.
- Relive the golden days at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat
- Explore ample treasure within Grampians National Park
- Be captivated at Naracoorte Caves National Park
- Enjoy amazing scenery and wildlife at Kangaroo Island
- Relax at beautiful Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot
There’s never a dull moment in Melbourne. This humming city captures the eyes of the world for its booming collection of annual events. From cultural classics such as the Melbourne International Film Festival (July to August) and the Melbourne Festival (October) to sporting favourites including the Australian Open tennis (January) and Spring Racing Carnival (September to November), there is always a crowd gathering.
Theatrical productions are a regular event – including world-famous musicals – and several iconic venues host musicians from across the globe.
If you’ve never been to an AFL match, you’re missing out. Experience Melburnians’ intense passion for their team by heading along to a game at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Outside of match times, tour the stadium and visit the onsite National Sports Museum.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Melbourne
Street : 265 Elizabeth Street, City : Coburg, PostCode : 3058
Street : 129 Ashley Street, City : Melbourne, PostCode : 3019
Street : 2 Robinsons Road, City : Frankston South, PostCode : 3199
Street : 370 Frankston-Dandenong Road, City : Dandenong South, PostCode : 3175
Melbourne to Ballarat
125km (1hr 15min)
Hit the road and take a slightly longer route to embrace the outer suburb of Werribee. It has several key attractions, including Werribee Open Range Zoo, which replicates an African safari; Werribee Mansion, a marvellous Italianate-style building; and the Victoria State Rose Garden, which displays 5000-plus roses.
From here, make your way towards Bacchus Marsh and join the Western Freeway for your journey to Ballarat.
One of Victoria’s largest regional centres, Ballarat is a vibrant city built on the wealth of the 1850s gold rush. Resplendent historical buildings instantly catch your gaze.
However, the best way to step back in time is at first-rate Sovereign Hill. Stroll around the various shops that make up this recreated gold-rush village, pan for gold, and take an underground mine tour among much more.
The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka should not be overlooked. At the heart of its story is the powerful Eureka Stockade event.
Or be enthralled at Kryal Castle, a medieval adventure park that is sure to captivate children to no end.
For the best Ballarat picnic spot, head straight for Lake Wendouree. It includes walking and cycling trails and is home to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. While at the gardens, view the various busts of Australian Prime Ministers.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Ballarat
Street : 108 Clayton Street, City : Ballarat, PostCode : 3350
Street : 56 Remembrance Drive, City : Ballarat, PostCode : 3350
Ballarat to the Grampians (Halls Gap)
145km (1hr 45min)
Nature and history shine on the next leg of the Capital to Capital touring route.
Call past Burrumbeet, on the shores of picturesque Lake Burrumbeet, before reaching Beaufort. This town’s many striking buildings provide a snapshot of its gold-rush days.
Press ahead and note a small detour to Mount Buangor State Park. Spot waterfalls and climb to Mount Buangor summit for sweeping views.
The former gold-mining city of Ararat has a strong Chinese flavour – learn more about its fascinating beginnings at the Gum San Chinese Heritage Museum. For an eerie experience, join an evening ghost tour of a former lunatic asylum.
From here, reach Halls Gap. This pretty village is at the heart of the Grampians region and makes a super base for exploring these wonderful surrounds.
Grampians National Park is a treasure chest: towering peaks, rugged cliffs, gushing waterfalls, colourful wildflowers, and ancient Aboriginal rock art all feature. Taking to a walking trail is essential. A relatively easy but rewarding stroll leads to MacKenzie Falls, one of the Grampians more popular features.
Brambuk – the National Park and Cultural Centre is located in Halls Gap and is the ideal starting point before you start exploring Grampians National Park. Not only can you access up-to-date information but this is a great place to learn about the area’s indigenous culture.
Keep little ones entertained at Halls Gap Zoo, which has a large collection of native and exotic animals and provides thrilling up-close encounters.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in The Grampians (Halls Gap)
Street : 2372 Grampians Road, City : Halls Gap, PostCode : 3381
The Grampians (Halls Gap) to Mount Gambier
225km (3hr 10min)
Cut through more of Grampians National Park before reaching Cavendish. Stop here to stroll along the Settlers Walk, a 2km riverside trail that details local history.
The next major point is Coleraine. Sweet tooths should take note of Glenelg Fine Confectionery, which crafts German-style chocolates.
Casterton is a vibrant town with a path you’d be barking mad not to venture along. The Kelpie Walking Trail is full of history and scenic views and incorporates various structures that celebrate its claim as the birthplace of the kelpie. Alternatively, enjoy a picnic at Ess Lagoon.
From here, cross the Victorian-South Australia border. The first major point you’ll come across is Mount Gambier.
The most prominent attraction in this lively city is Blue Lake. The volcanic lake mysteriously changes colour throughout the year and makes for a wonderful photo subject. Daily tours provide an up-close look at Blue Lake and reveal a series of entertaining stories.
Umpherston Sinkhole is another captivating natural attraction and makes a fine picnic spot. Keep the camera handy with a climb to the top of Centenary Tower for remarkable views. Or point the lens at a host of impressive historical structures scattered throughout the city.
In contrast, the Main Corner complex occupies space in a funky, modern building. It features the Riddoch Art Gallery, South Australia’s largest regional gallery.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Mount Gambier
Street : Bay Road, City : Mount Gambier, PostCode : 5290
105km (1hr 15min)
A diversion directly north is rewarding. Uncover the town of Penola and stop by fascinating attractions such as the Mary MacKillop Penola Centre and the Penola Fantasy Model Railway.
Press ahead to Naracoorte to view the only World Heritage site in South Australia. Naracoorte Caves National Park is a spectacular area with incredible caves and a huge collection of fossils. Also stop by the Wonambi Fossil Centre, which is within the park.
While at Naracoorte, visit the Sheep's Back Museum and unearth interesting yarns about Australia’s wool industry or admire the works inside the Naracoorte Art Gallery.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Naracoorte (diversion)
Street : 81 Park Terrace, City : Naracoorte, PostCode : 5271
Mount Gambier to Robe
130km (1hr 30min)
Travel along the Princes Highway and note a short detour to Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park. Wander around this cave and be absorbed by its magnificent features.
Just past here is Millicent. This town is home to the Millicent Museum, which covers several engrossing historical angles and has a great collection.
Split several lakes on the drive towards the coast and reach Robe. This time-honoured seaside town has several great beaches that invite myriad water-based leisure.
Be sure to view Cape Dombey Obelisk: breathtaking coastal views are afforded at this landmark.
Dozens of impressive historical structures are dotted throughout Robe. One of the more eye-catching examples is Customs House, which operates as a museum. The Old Gaol is an absorbing heritage find, too.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Robe
Street : 70 - 80 Esplanade, City : Robe, PostCode : 5276
Robe to Port Elliot
350km (4hr 15min)
Another magnetising coastal spot emerges along this next stretch – Kingston SE. At the town entrance is Larry the Lobster, a tribute to Kingston SE’s thriving fishing industry.
Climb Cape Jaffa Lighthouse for impressive views or access Coorong National Park, a wetland of international significance. The Coorong attracts abundant bird life and this narrow stretch of land will shadow you on the northbound journey.
Another entry point to the Coorong is at Meningie, a town spotted on the shores of Lake Albert.
The Murray River will soon introduce itself as you press ahead to Tailem Bend. This popular stopping point features Old Tailem Town, billed as the largest pioneer village in Australia.
Consider a short detour to Murray Bridge. Cruise along the Murray River or take the 5km Rail and River Walk.
Nearby Monarto Zoo provides another chance to experience an African adventure. It is Australia’s largest open-range zoo.
Exit the Princes Highway and head for Strathalbyn, a town lined with grand historical buildings.
A short detour to Goolwa tempts. Goolwa is spotted on Lake Alexandrina – at the mouth of the Murray River – and joining a paddle steamer or boat cruise is a must. Or hop aboard the Cockle Train and enjoy the scenic journey from Goolwa to Victor Harbor.
Departing Goolwa, you’ll pass the popular surf beach of Middleton before reaching neighbouring Port Elliot. This vibrant village brilliantly encapsulates the holiday vibe and is a lovely seaside spot.
Horseshoe Bay is an attractive strip of sand and attracts a throng of visitors. Cliff-top walks provide the best vantage points for soaking up the sparkling surrounds.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Port Elliot
Street : Port Elliot Road, City : Port Elliot, PostCode : 5212
Port Elliot to Kangaroo Island (Cape Jervis ferry terminal)
70km (0hr 55min)
The shortest of detours leads to one of South Australia’s most popular holiday towns, Victor Harbor.
This alluring seaside spot has a wealth of appeal: Norfolk Island pines dominate the town and the carnival-style amusements at The Causeway enhance the holiday atmosphere.
Take the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island and be delighted by the sight of little penguins on a guided tour, held each night at dusk.
The waters around Victor Harbor regularly attract whales. To learn more about these giants of the sea, visit the South Australian Whale Centre. Or head to the Bluff for panoramic views.
From Victor Harbor, wind your way along Range Road and reach Cape Jervis. The town is the departure point for ferries to Kangaroo Island. A daily ferry service reaches this iconic South Australian destination in 45 minutes.
Kangaroo Island provides a feast of natural wonders, including glorious beaches, quirky formations, and a stack of enthralling wildlife encounters. And, yes, kangaroos do roam around the island.
Flinders Chase National Park is an ideal starting point. It is home to a New Zealand fur seal colony as well as the much-photographed Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch creations.
View Australian sea lions with ease at Seal Bay Conservation Park, head underground to peer at the Kelly Hill Caves, or relax at glorious Vivonne Bay; it was once awarded the title of Australia’s best beach.
A thriving arts scene, delectable produce, and even wine ensure Kangaroo Island has incredibly diverse appeal.
Kangaroo Island (Cape Jervis ferry terminal) to Port Willunga
65km (0hr 50min)
Once you have taken the return ferry and reached Cape Jervis, follow Main South Road and pass through various small towns of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Normanville has an enticing swimming beach and neighbouring Yankalilla features an interesting museum.
Further along, stop at Myponga Reservoir for great views. The town of Myponga has a busy weekend market and liquid gold for craft beer lovers.
Aldinga Beach permits vehicles to drive on the sand and is close to the seaside village of Port Willunga. This is a wonderful spot to soak up the relaxing vibe.
Port Willunga has a glittering beach that’s well-suited to swimming, yet escapes much attention. The beach’s distinctive pylons are something of a reminder of the town’s days as a thriving grain port, as are other ruins sprinkled around the village.
Port Willunga is a fine base for exploring more of the riches tucked away within the Fleurieu Peninsula.
The prized McLaren Vale wine region is just 10km northeast of Port Willunga; a similar distance southeast is the town of Willunga. Each Saturday, the Willunga Farmers’ Market is a bustling affair.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Port Willunga
Street : 22 Tuitt Road, City : Aldinga, PostCode : 5173
Port Willunga to Adelaide
45km (0hr 45min)
Pass through Adelaide’s southern suburbs on your way to the heart of the South Australian capital.
A stop at the popular seaside suburb of Glenelg will reward. This crowd-pulling spot has a great vibe and is home to an enticing beach and various attractions. The Bay Discovery Centre has great historical finds and the Beachouse is packed with family-orientated amusements and rides.
From here, the Adelaide CBD is within easy reach and abundant visitor experiences are served up.
Like Melbourne, Adelaide has a liking for hosting a party. Santos Tour Down Under (January), Adelaide Fringe and Clipsal 500 (both February to March) and WOMADelaide (March) are among leading annual events that light up the city.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Adelaide
Street : Military Road, City : West Beach, PostCode : 5024
Street : 323 Sturt Road, City : Bedford Park, PostCode : 5042
Extend the journey: Adelaide to Hahndorf
25km (0hr 25min)
While in the South Australian capital, take a short trip to Hahndorf for a taste of Germany mixed with the enchantment of the Adelaide Hills.
This crowd-pulling town was founded in 1839 by Lutherans and stands as the oldest-surviving German settlement in Australia. Today, Hahndorf’s German flavour lives on: many buildings have a distinct European look and abundant eateries feature menu items straight from Deutschland.
The Pioneer Gardens honour Hahndorf’s beginnings, while the Hahndorf Academy includes a museum that details the town’s heritage. The Hahndorf Academy also has a gallery and drawings donated by acclaimed artist Sir Hans Heysen. Better still; visit The Cedars, the former home and studio of Heysen.
Another Hahndorf highlight is Beerenberg Farm where you can pick strawberries in season and purchase a bounty of tasty condiments. Or interact with a host of animals at the Hahndorf Farm Barn.
BIG4 Holiday Parks in Extend the journey: Hahndorf
Street : 145a Mt Barker Road, City : Hahndorf, PostCode : 5245