You don't have to go far from Melbourne to experience the best of Australia's coastal attractions. Less than 2 hours from Melbourne you can meet the world-famous Little Penguins, sip pinot gris overlooking Port Phillip Bay, swim with dolphins, visit the home of surf culture in Australia and learn to surf, and indulge in the freshest seafood, straight off a boat. This touring route is 445 km/277 miles and can be completed in 5 days - a round trip of less than 7 hours drive time.
Melbourne to Phillip Island
140 km/ 87 miles, 1 hour, 45 minutes
Depart Melbourne for 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 and gulls. Nearby Seal Rocks is home to Australia's largest fur seal colony. Head out on the water with Wild Ocean EcoBoat to get a bit closer. Stroll along elevated boardwalks at Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Centre for more close encounters of the furry kind. Walk the trails at Pyramid Rocks or Cape Woolamai for ocean views and birdwatching. Visit the protected main beach at Cowes, overlooking Western Port Bay, 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 Mornington Peninsula
135 km/84 miles, about 1 hour, 45 minutes
Take a walk on Cowes Beach, Phillip Island before breakfast at Mad Cowes Café, then depart for Rye on the Mornington Peninsula. Get out on the water with Peninsula Stand Up Paddleboarding, or hire a snorkel and mask from Extreme Watersports or Bayplay and view the weedy sea-dragons under Rye Pier. November to April join Polperro or Moonraker tours and swim with the dolphins of Port Phillip Bay. Enjoy a wine tasting and lunch at an award-winning winery restaurant or casual bistro. Check in at your luxury accommodation, independent holiday rental or bed and breakfast location at Main Ridge, Red Hill, Flinders, Sorrento or Mornington. Grab your bathers again and head to Peninsula Hot Springs for an afternoon soak or relaxing massage. Set off next day for a walk along the clifftops – part of over 100 kms of coastal trails known as the Mornington Peninsula Coastal Walk. And get set for an evening tour at Moonlit Sanctuary where you'll see Australia's nocturnal wildlife.
Mornington Peninsula to Geelong & the Bellarine Peninsula
26 km/ 16 miles, 1 hour, 15 minutes
Depart Mornington Peninsula on the Peninsula Searoad Ferry for Queenscliff across the bay, on the Bellarine Peninsula. Meander through the Bellarine Peninsula villages of Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads, or take in the views at Jack Rabbit Winery over lunch. Follow the Bellarine Taste Trail for fresh fruit and vegetables, olives, seafood and cheese. Stop in at Advance Mussel Supply and collect a bag of lovely mussels fished fresh out of the cool clean waters of Port Phillip Bay. Tee up a cruise to see the gannets and fur seals of Port Phillip Bay with South Bay Eco Adventures seals and stay overnight at Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff or Geelong.
Geelong & the Bellarine Peninsula to Torquay
40 km/25 miles, 45 minutes
Drive on to Torquay on the Surf Coast, birthplace of surfing in Australia. Discover the Australian National Surf Museum and visit nearby Bells Beach, home of the Rip Curl Pro surfing championship, to watch experienced surfers take on the mighty waves. Hit the waves yourself with a surf lesson from Go Ride A Wave. Shop at the flagship stores of Ripcurl and Quiksilver, both legendary surfwear brands that started here in Torquay.
Torquay to Melbourne
104 km/ 65 miles, 1 hours, 20 minutes
Return to Melbourne via the Surf Coast Highway and M1.