Feb 25 Grand Australia and NZ Advice Requested

My wife and I are arriving a day ahead and were considering renting a car to travel with another couple who will be on the tour to either take a short day trip on the Great Ocean Road toward Anglesea or to the nearby wine country in the Yarra Valley. Have been reading about wildfires and don't know if either destination is affected. Are these practical options for a self-drive day trip? Or would it be preferable to book a commercial day tour to either of them through the hotel? Would appreciate any advice or better option for the first day of adjustment after a very long flight. Thanks.


  • There is AUS res on the forum all the time and she will answer your questions about the Wild Fires. I did the Great Ocean Road tour and loved it. The view are amazing. You will get lots of wine in New Zealand on tour and wine tastings.
  • IMO...after a long haul international flight and arriving at a new destination, I would suggest you leave your day trip to a local company. In that way you can really enjoy the experience and be ready for your awesome Australia/New Zealand adventure. At least that's what my husband and I are doing. We are on the next trip after yours. Have a great time!
  • There is plenty to do in the Melbourne area very near the hotel to be able to have a somewhat restful day on the Yarra River. We just returned. Given the fast pace of the next few days post arrival our recommendation is to take it easy.
  • I agree the drive might be a bit much the day after touch down and you might want to join a group. I figured I would be up early with the time diff and I was right took a nice long walk in gardens near hotel ate breakfast and got the bus for tour.

    The views are fantastic and it is one of the many highlights of the trip.

    I book Go West Tours. Only thing I regret was the helicopter trip it is only 10 min long and they never stop so you take picks on the fly and have no time to walk to over looks for you pics.

    I arrived on Sat and tour started on Monday and did tour on Sunday. If you arrive only one day ahead of tour that would mean doing this tour day of the welcome dinner. We did not get back till 8:30, so would not be able to make the dinner. Day of the dinner I went to museum and the Jail tour. Also, not to be missed is the immigration center and the Aboriginal art in museum.
  • edited February 2013
    Hi Ragnor,

    I guess I must be the AUS res who's on here all the time. As a born and bred Melbourne girl, here are my thoughts.

    Even if you have only flown across the Pacific, as distinct from the East Coast, too, my educated bet (I've taken that flight many times in the recent past) is that you will a little discombobulated. You've crossed a lot of time zones ... backwards! If you are arriving in Melbourne just one day ahead of your tour, you know, if think you should be kind to yourselves. Taking on a self-drive tour, on the wrong side of the road (for you!) to parts unknown ... even with all mod cons ... I think could be a challenge.

    There are day tours you could take instead. I just googled Yarra Valley half day tours and all sorts of enticing possibilities popped up. The Yarra Valley is very close to Melbourne & a half day tour would be a nice way to relax and see some beautiful countryside. Yarra Valley wines are unique. You will not find wines of the same quality and range in New Zealand. In New Zealand (the Marlbouough region) you will find the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world, though! (I've never seen a winery, anywhere in the world, that isn't situated in beautiful countryside ... & I've seen quite a few!) On the other hand, the Great Ocean Road, whilst being spectacular and unique, is quite a long day's tour. The best part of the drive is far beyond Anglesea ... that township is really just the gateway to the Road. If this is any help, this is what I posted in answer to another question last November:

    I just spoke to the Concierge at The Langham, your Melbourne hotel. I explained that I had some fellow Tauck travellers arriving soon and they were keen to do the Road. He suggested that you might like Tour with a Difference a little better than the Go West Tours, simply on the basis that the 2nd company specialises in the younger market. Let me explain that! We here in Australia would call their target group backpackers ... typically 20 somethings, students, often on working holidays ... as distinct from your average (if there is such a thing!) Tauck traveller. If your tastes run to roughing it, the 2nd company might work for you. If you prefer a little more comfort for quite a long day on the road, there and back, you might like to go for Tour With a Difference.

    If you decide to simply chill, there are lots of places within strolling distance of your hotel. The National Gallery of Victoria, with its 2 locations (International & Australian art) are close by. The Alexandra Gardens are right across the road from the NGV, International. Across the Yarra River from your hotel is the CBD. Across the footbridge you'll find the Immigration Museum, and a little further down is the Acquarium. Adjacent to the hotel you'll find a variety of small shops and eateries. The CBD has shops and department stores ... for any emergency ... I forgot to bring ... items. Or you may simply decide to stroll through a sister city to Boston or a city that makes San Franciscans think of home and enjoy the high Victorian architecture.

    And thank you very much for mentioning our continuing bush fires. They are unpredictible and can be deadly. They effect us greatly. Thanks for thinking of us. These beasts are contrary things, coming and going, waning only to flare again. Both areas you mention are vulnerable and have been effected variously this fire season. Today they are clear, but you never really know. If you do decide to tour, this is another reason to take an organised tour. Better safe than sorry, huh? We want you alive and kicking to enjoy the rest of your trip Down Under.

    I hope you find some of this useful.


    Jan ... who continues to travel the world but still proudly calls Australia, and Melbourne, home.
  • Great advice and some good suggestions all around. We'll regroup around more modest plans for day one as we adjust and recover from the journey. Thanks very much!
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