Travel tips: Melbourne to Sydney by car, including Western Victoria
I suggest that you go to an Australian Geographic Store and purchase either their Australian map for adventurers and dreamers, or separate state maps for Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. These maps are terrific as they have so many interesting attractions marked on the maps and are a great help with planning. See www.australiangeographic.com.au for the location of their store in Melbourne.
You may also require normal road maps, but these are usually available from the car hire firm. Ask also for a refedex for Sydney, and if necessary Melbourne.
For accommodation you could use youth hostels and backpackers, see links for information, and most caravan parks have "on site vans" to rent. These are normally well located and are cheaper and cleaner than motels. If you intend to use these, you would need a camping guide.
For information on Melbourne and Victoria see
You could either visit Sovereign Hill as a day trip from Melbourne, or as first stop travelling by car on your way to the Great Ocean Road.
Having explored Melbourne, I suggest that you travel South West to the Great Ocean Road.
The first part of the Great Ocean Road itself is very near to the coast and you must stop regularly to view the scenery. After Apollo Bay the road goes inland for a bit and where it rejoins the coast near Princetown the land is so flat that you can be travelling right near the coast and not see it. You must stop at the various vantage points to see the incredible scenery. The Port Campbell National Park is the most spectacular part of the coast. The highlights are the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Muttonbird Island Near Port Campbell, but the whole coast is spectacular. As you follow the coast further West from Port Campbell you will come to Tower Hill between Warnambool and Port Fairy. Tower Hill is an extinct volcano which last erupted about 7000 years ago. It is a national park and is habitat for many Emus, Australias largest bird. There is also a great view from the crater rim. There is a muttonbird rookery on Griffiths Island near Port Fairy. A viewing platform is provided on the mainland and it is interesting to watch the birds returning to their burrows at dusk with food for their chicks. When the young are ready, around April-May, they start on their long migration across the South of the Pacific then up the West coast of America to spend the northern Summer in Alaska. They then return via Japan and the East coast of Australia to nest again on Griffiths Island.
Travelling further West, just after you cross into South Australia you come to Mt. Gambier which is noted for its volcanic crater lakes. The Blue Lake changes from dull grey to brilliant blue from around November to March each year due to increased amounts of calcium carbonate in the water.
You could turn off the Princes highway at Millicent and follow the small road along the coast until Kingston. From there on the Highway runs close to the Coorong National Park. You can turn off the road somewhere there and enter the park to see the salt lakes between the sand dunes and the mainland. The water in the lakes is very salty and is a pink colour. The salt crust on many of the dried out lakes is extremely white. It can be dangerous to walk on the salt crust as sometimes there is water under a relatively thin crust.
Having seen the Coorong you will have to decide whether you are ready to turn back towards the East, or whether you would like to continue on to visit Kangaroo Island. You can read about Kangaroo Island on www.visit-southaustralia.com.au and www.southaustralia.com :see usefullinks
If you decide to visit the island, check first on prices. I believe it is expensive to take a car across on the ferry. It may be better to take a guided adventure tour. There are quite a few offering and then you would get to do some snorkelling etc.
If you decide to turn eastwards from the Coorong you could travel towards Bordertown then Little Desert National Park and further to the Grampians National Park.
From the Grampians you could travel via Bendigo, (another historic gold mining town) to Echuca on the Murray River, then follow the Murray River valley to Wodonga near Albury. If you would like to visit Mt. Kosciusko National Park, you could continue from here to Thredbo. Thredbo Alpine Village will give you an idea of the Australian Winter sport areas. They are very different to Switzerland as there are eucalypt trees (snow gums) instead of fir trees, and the mountains are not so high. You will be there in Summer.
Mt. Kosciusko is Australias highest Mountain, (2228m) and in Summer you can drive almost to the top of it. There are many lakes in the area, most of which are a part of the hydro electric scheme. This remarkable scheme actually turns the waters of the Snowy River around so that they flow West through the mountains to join the waters of the Murray River, generating lots of electricity as they go.
From the Snowy Mountains you could travel North again to visit our capital city, Canberra. www.canberratourism.com.au Canberra is built around an artificial lake which is named after the architect who designed the city, Burley Griffin, and it has a few rather special buildings.
These include the dome shaped National Library, the New Parliament House and the Australian War Museum. There is a large fountain in the lake which is visible from some distance and the Carillon, which is built in the lake, is also interesting. There is a great view from the top of Mt.Ainslie looking over the Australian War Museum, down Anzac Avenue and across Lake Burley Griffin to Old Parliament House with the New Parliament House in the background. This is worth two trips, one in daylight and one at night.
From Canberra I suggest that you head towards Sydney. You will pass to the West of Lake George. This is an interesting lake which fluctuates in level. At one time the water level receded considerably and the fences were extended right out to the waters edge. If the lake is now full, you will see the fences disappearing into the lake. Leave the main road near Goulburn heading North to enter the Blue Mountains National Park from the West via Edith. You can enter the Jenolan Caves House from the West travelling on this road.
The Jenolan Caves are all beautiful limestone caves and tours are available through many of them. I can particularly recommend the Orient Cave and the River Cave. Dont miss the great lunch buffet at the Caves House. It is very good value for money. There is also an interesting view from above the tunnel entrance to the caves house area. If I remember correctly it is called the Devils Coach House and is accessed by the steps just inside the western side of the entrance tunnel. The caves house is run by the NSW Tourist Bureau and accommodation prices are reasonable.
After the Jenolan Caves you could travel on to Katoomba to see The Three Sisters and from there you would head East towards Sydney. This whole area will unfortunately be blackened by the severe bush fires of late December 2001 and January 2002.Sydney
Just a few suggestions. Take the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Park Zoo. There are beautiful views of the city and of the harbour from the zoo, and the nocturnal exhibit is really special. Many Australian animals and birds are night active and cannot normally be seen. Here the day has been changed by 12 hours so that the animals believe it is night, and you can observe them in infra red light. They even have the only New Zealand Kiwi that I have ever seen in captivity.
Take the ferry on to Manly and walk across to Manly Beach. In Sydney itself you have the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and it is worth while taking the elevator to the top of Australia Square, www.summitrestaurant.com.au or Sydney Tower, www.sydney-tower-restaurant.com.au
The Rocks Area is the oldest part of Sydney and is preserved as a tourist attraction.
Kings Cross is the night-club area. Walk through there at night but hold on to each other.
If you can get a small group together, it would be great to rent a boat for maybe two days on Broken Bay just North of Sydney. This encompasses Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Boats with accommodation are available, I believe also for people without a boat licence. It is a great experience.
Halvorsen Boats, Ku-ring-gai Chase N.P., Bobbin Head. Tel. 02 9457 9011
There are lots of other things to see and do in Sydney. Have fun!