Dandenong RangesYARRA VALLEY ANDDANDENONG RANGESLess than an hour from Melbourne the richlyfertile Yarra Valley is dotted with fruit orchardsand flower farms, peppered with vineyards andsheltered by the verdant Dandenong Ranges.Here the Puffing Billy steam train winds its waythrough fern glades and mountain ash treesfrom Belgrave to the lovely village of Emerald.The William Ricketts Sanctuary, a place ofbeauty and spirituality, has an amazingcollection of Aboriginal sculptures, and a shortdistance to the east, the Upper Yarra Valleyextends beyond Warburton in a wild tumble ofrocky mountain streams and nature at its mostbeautiful and unspoiled. Monreale Estate,Dandenong RangesIn the heart of the Dandenong Ranges, MonrealeEstate is just a short drive from the Yarra Valleyvineyards. Six cottages, set in rambling water-gardens surrounded by a galaxy of colourful flowers,are individually decorated with open wood fires andspa baths. Breakfast hampers can be delivered toyour cottage and the hosts Cheryl and Karl will behappy to advise you on the dining options available. 68Mornington PeninsulaMORNINGTON PENINSULATwo bays flank the Mornington Peninsula, as itpushes out into the mighty Southern Ocean.Fertile hills and lavender farms roll to the coast,with iridescent beaches and tranquil harbours.Less than an hour from Melbourne, its laid-backlifestyle has attracted many chefs and winemakers, creating an unexpected gastronomichaven. A retreat for artists, the 'Artists' Trail'combines the scenes that have inspired some ofthe country's best-known painters and withregular craft markets, especially at Red Hill, theregion has an unmistakeable creative buzz. Atthe tip, Sorrento is a historic gem acclaimed forfine buildings, excellent eateries and galleries.The nearby ferry at Portsea links you to theGreat Ocean Road so this is a great diversionfrom the main highway. Woodman Estate, MoorooducThis gracious Victorian Manor is set amid acres ofbush and rolling pastures and overlooks a lake.Choose from lakeside chalets or a room in the mainhouse, each classically designed and comfortable.The wonderful restaurant has been acclaimed byVictoria's "Age Good Food Guide" and is a greatexcuse to stay in for the evening. Dining is anythingbut conventional: guests are encouraged to walkthrough the gardens to the lake between courses. QUEENSCLIFFAt the head of Port Phillip Bay this town wasborn from humble beginnings as a sea pilots'station and military garrison, but has blossomedinto a bayside town of faded glamour repletewith Victorian-era buildings, fascinating galleriesand renowned restaurants. Heritage hotelstestify to flamboyant days gone by and simplecottages echo a more modest past amongst thefort, lighthouse and beaches. We suggest youtake the daily ferry from Portsea on the tip ofthe Mornington Peninsula to Queenscliff andspend a couple of nights before continuing on ajourney along the Great Ocean Road.Athelstane House, QueenscliffBuilt in 1860, Athelstane House is Queenscliff'soldest guesthouse: its charming historic exterior iscomplemented by spacious, comfy guestrooms. Ithas won numerous accolades for its fabulous cuisine(which we can highly recommend) and its extensivewine list. Relax on the lovely veranda or in thegardens that surround the house, or use theproperty as the perfect base as you are justmoments from the beach and the town centre.Woodman EstateYarra Valley
VICTORIA69Bells BeachTHE GREAT OCEAN ROADHugging the contours of Victoria's rugged coast,this famous road snakes from the surf-capital ofTorquay past cliffs, scenic lookouts, rainforests,wrecked ships, and laidback fishing villages onits way to Port Fairy. Between Angelsea andLorne the Otway Ranges' forests are riven withwaterfalls and bushwalks, with the Otway Flywalkway offering you a chance to explore theforest canopy. Drive along the coastline past thetiny hamlets of Wye River and Skenes Creek toApollo Bay, and briefly head inland to LaversHill, the highest point in the Otway Ranges,where Melba Gully has one of the mostimpressive rainforest walks. Princetown marksthe boundaries of the Otway and Port CampbellNational Parks, where the spectacular'Shipwreck Coast' (see page 70) starts.Picturesque Warrnambool, less than half anhour from Port Fairy, is a lovely maritime villagewhere each June southern right whales visit tocalve offshore. APOLLO BAYThis small fishing village was named after a localschooner and despite the town becoming aresting place for many shipwrecks it oddlyremains popular with fishermen. Set in thefoothills of the Otway Ranges there is aremarkable contrast between the craggycoastline and breathtaking forest wilderness. Awander will uncover some excellent cafés andrestaurants, but make sure you continue to'Mariners Lookout' for a stunning view backover the bay, its long sandy beach washed bydeep blue waters.tailor-made travelAll our travel arrangements are on a private,individual basis to offer you complete freedom ofchoice. The itineraries and accommodation optionsthroughout the brochure are designed to give you aflavour of what is possible and can be tailor-made tosuit your preferences. Prices vary according toselected accommodation and season. Please callour Australia specialists on 01869 276 345 todiscuss your individual requirements.Captain's at the Bay, Apollo BayThis welcoming, contemporary bed & breakfast iswithin a stroll of the superb restaurants of tranquilApollo Bay. Whether you are in the Terraces,Cottage or the Loft, the elegant décor is warm andinviting. A sumptuous Australian breakfast is servedin the guest lounge and the dining room is a greatplace to relax with a huge open fire and localmaritime history on display.The Great Ocean RoadCaptain's at the BayThe GreatOcean RoadOne of the world's most scenic driving routes willtake you from Melbourne along one of Australia'smost scenically dramatic coastlines, justly namedthe Great Ocean Road. Pass through friendly seasidetowns, famous surfing beaches, dense forest backedby the Otway Ranges and past incredible naturalsandstone formations carved by the elements.Day 1:Leave Melbourne and drive to ApolloBay. Perhaps stop in Geelong and take astroll along the bollard trail, where localartist Jan Mitchell has transformedhundreds of old timbers from the old pierinto striking Australian icons. Stop at BellsBeach near Torquay, one of Australia'stop surfing locations.Day 2:Drive to Port Fairy, take a short detourinland and walk along the unique OtwayFly Walkway high in the tree canopy.Continue along the coast and enjoy themagnificent views of the infamousShipwreck Coast.Day 3:Spend the day exploring the lovely villageof Port Fairy, perhaps returning to theTwelve Apostles at sunset.Day 4:Return to Melbourne today via the inlandPrinces Highway, or continue on toAdelaide.EXTENSIONSThere are many variations to this famous journey.One of our favourites is to drive down theMornington Peninsula and take the ferry fromPortsea to Queenscliff for a night or two beforecontinuing with your journey to Apollo Bay.Alternatively, you can return to Melbourne from PortFairy via the Great Southern Touring route (see page71) taking in the Grampians National Park and theheritage town of Ballarat.Port FairyChocolate Gannets, Apollo BaySet just outside Apollo Bay, these spacious self-contained villas offer spectacular sea views. Relax inyour ensuite double spa bath looking out to therolling ocean, sink into a rich leather sofa in front ofan open fire, or use it as a base to explore. Fromthe tasty breakfast hamper that greets each newday, all the home comforts you need are provided.