Goway Travel's Five-Day "Shipwreck Coast Explorer" Package With Rental Car and Charming Hotels, Just $824

Travelers in Australia owe it to themselves to drive Victoria's Great Ocean Road, one of the world's most magnificent scenic routes. A breathtaking stretch of astonishing seascapes, landscapes and seaside towns, the road unfolds spectacular surf beaches, sophisticated resorts and quiet fishing villages. It's a trip back in nature and time, leading to colossal rock sculptures on the southern coast and whitewashed cottages of seafaring towns like Port Fairy.

It's easy to do from cosmopolitan Melbourne in Goway Travel's comfortable, well planned self-drive along the Great Southern Touring Routelinking Victoria's key destinations of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians and Ballarat "“ all just three hours' drive from each other.

Each journey along the Great Southern Touring Route naturally begins and ends in Melbourne – the arts, restaurant and sports capital of Australia. Here, you can enjoy the latest exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria, stroll through the Queen Victoria Market (the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere) and dine on authentic Aboriginal fare at Tjanabi in Federation Square, the architectural center of town.

Shipwreck Coast Explorer
Equipped with a mid-size Hertz rental car and a co-pilot kit (stocked with a detailed itinerary, daypack, and discount coupons for the road), head south on the Great Southern Touring Route towards Apollo Bay, with a full day ahead for a leisurely exploration of all the sights along the Route beginning in Werribee Park. Meander through the 1870's Mansion and Victoria State Rose Garden before discovering the Open Range Zoo, where exotic animals roam freely on 225 hectares of grasslands.

After a visit to Geelong's historic waterfront, explore Torquay (Tor-KEY) and beyond, home to some of the nation's best surf beaches including Bells Beach, where the Rip Curl Pro is held every March. Have lunch in Lorne, a beautiful seaside town with a Mediterranean feel, before arriving inApollo Bay on the edge of the Otway National Park. This afternoon enjoy bushwalking, kayaking or learning how to surf before turning in for the night in a deluxe studio at Chris's Beacon Point Villas, set high in the Otway Ranges overlooking the Bass Strait and the Great Ocean Road.

After a complimentary breakfast, journey west along the dramatic Great Ocean Road "“ also known as the Shipwreck Coast "“ for views of the Twelve Apostles (limestone formations rising from the ocean) and other landmarks including Loch Ard Gorge, the Arch and the London Bridge, all accessible from the road. As the name suggests, more than 160 ships have met their fate along the rugged coastline, such as Marie Gabrielle (1869) and the Fiji (1891), whose anchors remain embedded at Wreck Beach. Whale watch near Warrambool, the Shipwreck Coast's only city, before spending the night in a queen suite at Hearns Cottage Suites in Port Fairy, a busy fishing port home to over 50 classified National Trust nineteenth-century buildings.

On day three head north from Port Fairy to the Grampians mountain range "“ famous for some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia. En route visit Tower Hill Reserve, a haven for wildlife, a fascinating ecological site and a showcase for local indigenous culture in the crater of a dormant volcano. Once in the Grampians National Park, ascend to the top of majestic MacKenzie Waterfalls for lookouts over the impressive mountain ranges, and explore native bushland full of regional flora and fauna. More adventurous types can rock climb or abseil amongst the largest collection of Aboriginal rock art in Victoria. Overnight in Cavendish's Glenisla Homestead, a traditional style homestead built from colorful Grampians sandstone, where guests are welcome to lend a hand on the superfine wool farm of 5000 Merino sheep.

With bellies full from an Australian farm-style breakfast, the return east to Melbourne is an historical adventure via Ballarat. Built with the wealth of the gold rush, much of the opulence of the era is still on display in the city's grand public buildings, hotels and historic streetscapes. Ballarat was the site of the world's largest deposit of alluvial gold and is showcased in Sovereign Hill "“ a re-creation of life in the 1850's where panning for gold or riding a horse-drawn carriage in a town of over 200 volunteers dressed in period costumes is the norm. Perhaps the strongest draw to the area is the evening "Blood on the Southern Cross" light and sound show depicting the Eureka Rebellion of miners against government forces. Spend the night in a studio at the modern Oscars Hotel Ballarat after the evening's performance before the morning's short drive back to Melbourne.

Per person prices for Goway Travel's five-day "Shipwreck Coast Explorer" package start at US$824 per person (based on double occupancy) through March 31, 2009 and includes four nights accommodation, a co-pilot pack (detailed itinerary, backpack, discount coupons), five day mid-size automatic Hertz car rental, and a dinner and "Blood on the Southern Cross" show.