Explore Victoria’s high country on the Great Alpine Road

Head on up into Victoria's alps.

As the world's largest war memorial, Victoria's Great Ocean Road makes a lot of headlines as one of the most stunning stretches of asphalt in the world, and rightly so. There is, however, more to road tripping in Victoria, with its lesser known brother – the Great Alpine Road – being perhaps the most impressive circuit that an intrepid traveller could take in the entire state.

A striking mix of lush vegetation and craggy peaks, not to mention some truly fascinating stops along the way, makes the Great Alpine one of the premier journeys to take by car in Australia.

Victoria is a delight for fans of bold, expansive landscapes. Victoria is a delight for fans of bold, expansive landscapes.

The Great Alpine Road

At a little over 300 kilometres long, the Great Alpine Road is longer than the Great Ocean Road, and has a decidedly more diverse range of sights to see. It is consistently ranked as one of the most scenic drives in the world and, despite only being opened in 1998, has earned its place on any list of Australia's best road trips. 

While it's possible to drive the road in a single day, that doesn't allow anywhere near enough time to absorb everything that Victoria's high country has to offer. Instead, one of the most popular ways to travel the Great Alpine is to take three or more days and make overnight stops along the way. This will allow you and your travel buddies plenty of time to soak up the area and explore a few places that the regular tourists never see

It's a great journey to make with a group of friends, and with our rental cars seating up to 12 people, you can all travel together. Here's a rough guide of how you might want to tackle the trip. 

Day one: Melbourne to Bright

The closest big hub to the Great Alpine Road is Melbourne, (a wonderful city in its own right, but that's another article). Whether you're planning on spending a few days in the city or heading straight out into the Alps, the best way to start is by renting a car in Melbourne.

From Melbourne, make your way north to the garden town of Wangaratta, where the road begins. Wangaratta has a great selection of cafes to check into for a quick pit stop, and if you happen to be there in November when the jazz and blues festival is on, you may even want to stay overnight.

Heading out from Wangaratta, you'll find yourself on the northern leg of your road trip, travelling through the Milawa region. With stunning views, the foodies among you may want to stop in at one of the local creameries for some of Australia's best cheese. 

From there, it's a straight run through to the charming town of Bright, another cafe haven and a great place to pack in for the night before another full day. 

Day two: Bright to the Alps

This second leg of the journey is what you've come to see. As you continue to head south from Bright, you'll find yourself climbing into the Victorian Alps, with beautiful forests of alpine ash and snow gum trees. The road peaks at Mount Hotham, with an elevation of 1,861 metres, and which also provides a great half day of skiing, although make sure to hire a larger vehicle that can fit your equipment. If snow sports aren't your cup of tea, make the journey in summer and experience some truly smashing treks or even horse riding – an amazing experience on the mountains elevated plains. 

For remarkable views and breathtaking photo opportunities, head up to Danny's Lookout on Mount Feathertop (Victoria's second largest) and get the perfect pic to make your friends back home jealous. 

Day three: The Alps to Bairnsdale, and beyond

Once you're finished in the Alps, it's time to head back down to the gold mining town of Omeo. Positioned in a basin nestled between the high peaks on every side, Omeo provides some spectacular views of both the Alps and the well-maintained historic buildings. 

When you're finally ready to depart from Omeo, it's back onto the Great Alpine and into the last stretch of the journey. It's only a short trip to Bairnsdale, where the road ends, but the journey is as picturesque as the rest of the road, with the Gippsland lakes appearing on the horizon as you make your way to the end of your journey. Bairnsdale is another lovely town, and is considered the 'gateway' to Gippsland. From here, once you've filled up with some local grub, you can either head back to Melbourne along the coastline, or continue into the lake region to explore another part of this beautiful state. 

For more information about renting a car and travelling the Great Alpine Road, contact us today.

A photo posted by John (Richard) (@richjohn12) on

Apr 30, 2016 at 1:17pm PDT

About the Author

Chester is a foodie and loves to explore the great land of Australia. He is currently blogging for East Coast Car Rentals.

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