Driving from Melbourne to Adelaide you’ll pass through the wine regions of the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Coonawarra, Penola, Adelaide Hills and Barossa as well as some charming local villages offering gourmet local produce.
The Mornington Peninsula is just a short drive from Melbourne. In addition to breathtaking coastal scenery, the inland hills and rich, fertile coastal plains produce an abundance of grapes at more than 170 vineyards, with many of the wineries opening their cellar doors for tastings. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the specialties of the region and there’s no shortage of restaurants and cafés offering outstanding food, the local produce being exceptional and also available direct at the farm gates and roadside stalls. Fertile soils ensure top quality berries, apples and vegetables as well as specialty cheeses, lavender, olives and other delights.
You’ll overnight at Woodman Estate, a 1890s country property with extensive grounds and a place well known for its gourmet restaurant.
Today’s journey will take you across Port Philip Bay from Sorrento to Queenscliff by ferry. We would recommend lunch at Athelstane House in Queenscliff, source of fresh local sourced food and some of the regions fantastic cool climate wines. Geelong and the Bellaraine Peninsula, the largest grape-growing region in Victoria in the 1800s, has undergone a renaissance in the last couple of decades as winemakers rediscovered its rich soils and a climate that is halfway between France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy. You’ll have time to visit the cellar doors of many of the wineries including Jindalee, Otway, Scotchmans Hill and Bellarine estates.
Geelong is also the eastern gateway to the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most famous coastal drives. Rugged Cliffs, delightful seaside towns, abundant wildlife, thick forests and dramatic scenery, all part of this 'journey of a lifetime'. From Geelong the road hugs the coast and passes through cosmopolitan Lorne, an ideal stop for a coffee in one of its many cafes, en route to Apollo Bay.
We recommend you stay at Chris’s at Beacon Point, set in the Otway Ranges above the Great Ocean Road and a mecca for gourmet travellers. The restaurant has fabulous food, a great selection of local wines and simple but comfortable individual apartments with spectacular views of the ocean.
Continue your journey west from Apollo Bay through the Otway Ranges to the Twelve Apostles, ancient limestone stacks that rise from the ocean. Erosion has created spectacular shapes in the nearby cliffs, the best known examples being Loch Ard Gorge, the Arch, the Blowhole and London Bridge. Boardwalks lead to lookout spots, or alternatively regular helicopter flights circle the coast for wonderful birds’ eye views.
Discover more about maritime history when you arrive in Port Fairy, a busy fishing port and one of the state’s earliest settled coastal villages. Take the time to explore the town’s streets and over 50 nineteenth-century buildings classified by the National Trust. Port Fairy also has some of the best restaurants in regional Victoria, including the Merrijig Inn.
Spend the night at Oscars Boutique Hotel, located on the waterfront overlooking the marina of yachts and local fishing boats.
Continue west, passing through the Henty wine region. Named after the first family to settle in Victoria in the early 1800s, it covers a large area of extending from the Hopkins River across to the South Australian border and is home to about a dozen wineries and many more vineyards. It is one of the coolest of Australia's mainland wine growing regions and produces varieties such as riesling, pinot noir and chardonnay.
Pass into South Australia and explore the Limestone Coast which is home to six of Australia's leading wine regions, a combination of boutique labels and some of the world's biggest brands such as Coonawarra, Padthaway, Mount Benson and Wrattonbully. The jewel in the crown, Coonawarra, is particularly famous for its cabernet sauvignon and the terra rossa soil from which the vines flourish. Cellar dooring is a great way to sample these world class wines. Each cellar door contains its own captivating stories, stunning architecture, and irresistible flavours.
You’ll overnight at one of the Merlot and Verdelho Townhouses, modern and spacious accommodation located in the heart of the Coonawarra Region in Penola. Compete with outside terraces and BBQ’s this is an ideal spot to enjoy local wine and produce in your own home, or alternatively, dine in one of the many local restaurants.
In 1845 a hock from Echunga became the first Australian wine to be exported overseas (Queen Victoria is said to have been among those who were the first to sip the vintage from the emerging colonial wine industry).
There are now more than 33 cellar doors in the region, many well known such as Shaw and Smith, Nepenthe and Lane vineyards where the cool climate sauvignon blancs are delicious. Handorf was first settled in 1839 with the arrival of Prussian Lutherian families and the German influences are still highly apparent today. Mount Lofty provides stunning views across Adelaide, especially at sunset when the city switches on its lights.
Stay at Mount Lofty House, a beautifully restored country house hotel set in rose gardens and a sweeping lawns overlooking countryside. Furnished with original artworks and antiques, Mount Lofty is just 15 kms from Adelaide.
The Barossa is Australia's most famous wine region, renowned for its bold reds. You'll find some of the world's oldest shiraz vines here and the region is home to some of Australia's most famous brands including Penfolds, Henschke, Torbreck, Yalumba, Jacob's Creek, St Hallett and Peter Lehmann. But there's more to the Barossa than reds, including Eden Valley riesling and other white varietals. There are always emerging brands to discover and more than 60 cellar doors open everyday. Many of the wineries offer personalised guided tours and interactive experiences which our consultants can arrange for you.
Regional cuisine strongly reflects a blend of old and new and is a feature of the many good local cafés and restaurants.
You’ll spend 2 nights at The Louise, a luxury vineyard retreat set on a gentle hill with sweeping vistas across the Barossa Valley. The restaurant 'Appelation', one of the best in South Australia, offers a daily changing menu focusing on locally sourced seasonal produce. Appellation’s extensive wine list presents the best of the Barossa, Australia and iconic wines of the world.
Includes 8 days all inclusive full-size car hire, 7 nights accommodation including breakfast throughout, apart from Adelaide Hills which is room only.