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Take a ‘Wayward Bus’ road-trip exploring the awesome coast route from Melbourne to Adelaide over 6 days.

It’s much more than the Great Ocean Road. 

The trip is part of a ‘slow-tours’ series, proposed to run in a 30-day circuit every month: Noosa – Sydney – Adelaide – Broken Hill – Noosa.  We’re planning to run a trial through February 2021, then take a break before stepping up to a continual service from Oct 2021.


15-20th of the month, with a trial in July 2021 (borders allowing!) then more runs from Oct 2021.


$480 per person 


  • YHA/pub accommodation – with a choice of single/double/twin private rooms (approx $90 per room night) – or beds in share rooms (approx $30-40 p.p. per night average).
  • Motel and boutique accommodation are possible to book, prices may vary according to seasonality and demand.  We can provide contacts.
  • Any activities and entry fees. 
  • Meals are not included – bakeries, cafes, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants are plentiful along the way and the YHAs have guest kitchens and dining/lounge areas.

Sights and visits

  • Corio Bay, Geelong Foreshore and Aboriginal Cultural Centre
  • Great Ocean Road: Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Otway Ranges, 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and Bay of Islands
  • Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Tower Hill Wildlife
  • Budj Bim First Nations World Heritage site
  • Portland, Bridgewater Bay and Cape Bridgewater
  • Nelson, Glenelg River, Port Mac Donnell, Cape Northumberland and Feast’s Car Museum
  • Mount Gambier’s Mount Schank, Blue Lake and Umpherstone Cave
  • Tantanoola Caves
  • Limestone Coast: Beachport, Robe and Kingston
  • Coorong Wilderness, Meningie and Lake Albert
  • Murray River ferry crossing, Lake Alexandrina, Port of Goolwa, Port Elliot, Victor Harbor and Granite Island
  • Fleurieu Peninsula and McLarenvale Vineyards


  • We provide travel in a touring mini-coach with driver-guide.
  • From 4 to 20 participants.
  • Visits to attractions and museums are optional, some are free, others are modest entry fees.
  • If on any day weather conditions are adverse we may substitute other touring and activities.

Coach and Driver-Guide

  • Our ‘Bandicoot’ mini-coach is a Mitsubishi Rosa refitted with reclining coach seats and extra legroom for extended touring.
  • An enclosed trailer securely carries the luggage.
  • Our driver is an experienced tour driver-guide and adventure leader.

Overnights x 5 (all accommodations named below we can drop-off and pick-up from):

  • 1 night Apollo Bay – YHA or the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse/Hotel for budget.  For motel, Comfort Inn, Best Western, Beachfront, Apollo Apts, Waterfront and Lighthouse Keepers.
  • 1 night Port Fairy – YHA for budget, Caledonian Inn for modest-priced motel rooms, then the cute 1840’s Merrijig Kitchen and 4-star Seacombe House Motel.  More exclusive boutique hotels include Oscar’s and Douglas.
  • 1 night Mount Gambier City Centre – between Federal Hotel, Macs Hotel, Mt Gambier Hotel and Jens Hotel, there are budget pub rooms and fancier ensuite rooms aplenty.  For grandeur, we suggest the Jens or nearby historic Colhurst House BnB. No need to think about regular motels this night.
  • 1 night Robe – Caledonian Hotel pub rooms or shared campground cabins for budget.  Guichen Bay Motel (choice of several more).  For luxury, we suggest Robe Marina Apartments.
  • 1 night Port Elliot / Victor Harbor – budget choices are the YHA and Royal Family Hotel.  For 4-star,  we can offer the 4-star resort-style McCracken Country Club (5km away).  We can also offer to overnight 7km away in Victor Harbor where The Anchorage Hotel is the heritage choice.

Joining in Melbourne or Geelong

Pick-up points:

  • Melbourne 0800: Courtney Street beside Bedford Street Reserve, close to the junction of Queensberry and Peel Streets.  This is one block north of Victoria Markets and convenient to Melbourne Metro YHA, City Edge Apartments North Melbourne and trams along Peel Street.
  • Geelong 0915: Geelong City Railway Station, city side, bus bays



Drop off point:

  • Franklin Street beside Central Bus Station, close to Adelaide City YHA, taxis and 5 minutes walk to Victoria Square.

The ‘Classic Coast’ 6 days Melbourne to Adelaide itinerary

In the 1990s and 2000s Wayward Bus plied this route thousands of times in 3 1/2  days for mostly international visitors. Despite the motto ‘Let the Others Rush’, it was on the quick side.  Still , many travellers returned to do it again, and plenty of people did it 3 times!

In 2020 with 6 days we can really do it justice. There are many short walks and two opportunities for 7km coast walks.

Day 1: Melbourne to Apollo Bay 

The Great Ocean Road dominates our first two days. Princes Freeway runs past Avalon Airport  to Geelong’s northern outskirts, home to Geelong Grammar School, the extensive port and industrial zone. Follow the Esplanade along Corio Bay to The Pier and city centre with its repurposed wool stores and impressive public buildings. Drive by Kardinia Park Stadium and over the Barwon River.

We’ll visit Warana Aboriginal Cultural Centre on Geelong’s southern outskirts. Stroll the wildlife enclosure, chat and coffee and browse their shop.

In 1804 some Wathaurong people befriended escaped convict William Buckley who lived with them for 32 years before the establishment of the Port Phillip colony. He became a negotiator between First Nations and Melbourne Founders but quit to Hobart when he discovered both sides were plotting to kill each other. His 1852 biography ‘The Life and Adventures of William Buckley’ is a compelling read.

From the surf-capital of Torquay we’re on the south coast and the Great Ocean Road leads on to Airey’s Inlet’s Split Point Lighthouse, a lunch break in Lorne, Kennett River for koalas and a possible visit to Carisbrook Falls, a short return hike.

Apollo Bay is a gorgeous beachside town. Arrive with spare time to explore and enjoy the remaining afternoon.

Apollo Bay Eco YHA has share and private rooms. For further options refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse:  William Buckley (1780-1856), escaped convict, adopted by Wathaurong people, came to be recognised as a Ngurungaeta (an elder).

Day 2: Apollo Bay to Port Fairy

The Great Ocean Road winds up into the mountains and rainforests of Otway Ranges. We have time to consider a detour to either Cape Otway Lighthouse, Melba Gully rainforest walk or Otway Fly. Returning to a dramatically changed coastline of precipitous cliffs, postcard rock stacks and out-of-reach beaches, the first stop is 12 Apostles and Gibsons Steps which we can combine into an hour. Loch Ard Gorge can be explored for another hour. Lunch stop is Port Campbell village.

The afternoon rolls on to London Bridge, Bay of Martyrs, Bay of Islands, Logans Beach for whales (winter months), historic regional City of Warrnambool and Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve volcanic crater and lakes.

The Girrai Wurrung people fought the encroaching pastoralists in the Frontier Wars. Perhaps the worst incident was the 1839 massacre of 35-40 men, women and children at Murdering Gully near Camperdown. Massacre Bay and the Bay of Martyrs are further sites, where oral tradition tells of Aboriginal men being driven off the cliffs.

At Port Fairy the Moyne River meets the sea. This place won the guernsey in 2012 for being the ‘world’s most livable town’!

Built in the mid-1800s, Port Fairy YHA has share rooms. For further options refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Sir John Eccles 1903-97 neurophysiologist

Day 3: Port Fairy to Mount Gambier

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape was proclaimed World Heritage status in 2019. For tens of thousands of years, First Nations people farmed Kooyang (short-finned eel) with a complex system of channels, weirs and dams. Learn about it on an optional guided Gunditjmara walk.

We pause by Portland Harbour, the only deep-sea port on the coast.

Stop for lunch at Bridgewater Bay Cafe. Options include the Seals by Sea adventure or spectacular Cape Bridgewater 7km walk. After lunch we have a short drive and walk to the Blowhole, Petrified Forest and clifftop lookouts, meeting up with the walkers.

The remaining drive passes Bridgewater Lakes, Mt Richmond volcanic cone, pine forests and Glenelg National Park.

Nelson is a sleepy holiday village at the mouth of the limestone-gorge-lined Glenelg River.

Cross the Glenelg River and state border to our overnight in the regional city of Mount Gambier. Local sights include Umpherston Cave sinkhole and the awesome Blue Lake in the range of volcanic craters that backdrop the city.

Choose traditional pub or ensuite rooms. In the city centre there are 4 traditional pubs and hotels ranging from the Federal up to the stylish Jens. Refer above to Overnights.

People to browse: Vida Goldstein (1869-1949) born in Portland, suffragette, speaker, political candidate, peace activist / Helena Rubinstein (1872-1965) emigrated from Poland and lived with her storekeeper uncle in nearby Coleraine where she first developed her cosmetics.

Day 4: Mount Gambier to Robe 

The Little Blue Lake and Mount Schank volcanic crater climb, and are on the way to and from our ‘detour’ to Port MacDonnell.

Port MacDonnell is one of SA’s ‘Southern Ports’. Options include Cape Northumberland for its craggy coastal landscape, the town’s library-housed regional museum and Feast’s Classic Car Collection and Memorabilia (featuring many 60’s Chryslers).

The afternoon has Tantanoola Cave and Beachport village with its jetty and coastal lookouts.

Further museums en-route include Millicent and Beachport, both National Trust run.

Arriving in Robe, the Obelisk walk is a must.

This is the ancestral lands of the Bunjandidj people. Already reduced by smallpox and other diseases that spread from the new colonies, they were squeezed out by settlers taking up the land for grazing. The deadliest years of the Frontier Wars in the region were the 1840s with massacres and poisonings in retaliation for sheep stealing,

Robe challenges the notions of a coastal resort – it’s a low-rise town with low-key style and lashes of historic character.

Choose pub, share cabin, motel rooms or something fancier. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Sir Robert Helpmann (1909-86) from Mount Gambier, ballet dancer, actor, icon of the arts.

Day 5: Robe to Port Elliot 

This is road-trip country, travelling a landscape of coastal heath, grazing, vineyards and pine-forest.

At Kingston the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse was an English meccano-set kit, erected 1872 on Margaret Brock Reef and relocated into town a century later. Tours can be arranged if we have numbers. We can’t leave without an encounter on the edge of town – with ‘Larry’, the Giant Lobster.

Walk on Australia’s longest beach and climb the Granites (if tide is not high).  It’s a long way up the Coorong Wilderness to Meningie for lunch beside Lake Albert. Stops may include lakes, dunes, views of rebuilt Cantara Homestead, and Jacks Point pelican rookery.

The Coorong coastal expanse and Lower Murray River are the lands of the Ngarrindjeri people. This country of river, lakes, islands, wetlands, dunes and ocean beach provided for them with abundance – but to the European settlers the mostly salty, sandy lands were not so attractive. With less pressure from the newcomers, the Ngarrindjeri were able to maintain their strength – and culture – more successfully than many other First Nations.

This is also the country of ‘Storm Boy’, the Colin Thiele novel and two-time cinema movie.

After lunch, a Murray River ferry crossing at Wellington, the Port of Milang on Lake Alexandrina, Currency Creek vineyards and the historic river port of Goolwa which linked by SA’s first railway to the sea port of Victor Harbor.

Port Elliot is smaller and quieter than neighbouring Victor Harbor – which is worth an evening visit (7km by local taxi) for the Granite Island Penguin Tours*.

The grand yesteryear YHA Port Elliot Beach House offers share and private rooms. For other accommodation options from budget to 4-star and heritage, refer to Overnights above.

Interesting people to browse: David Unaipon (1872-1967) the last Waruwaldi man of all-indigenous ancestry (a clan of the Ngarindjeri), preacher, author, inventor and perpetual-motion seeker / John Peggotty (1864-99) from Ireland, became the ‘Birdman of the Coorong’, an ostrich-mounted, jewellery-laden, pint-sized bushranger of the dunes.

Day 6: Port Elliot to Adelaide 

Walk the beach 7km to Victor Harbor or ride in our bus. A walk over the causeway and around Granite Island adds another 3km. We drive over the hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula on minor roads, visiting Nan Hai Pu Tuo Buddhist Temple with Giant Buddha looking out over the Gulf of St. Vincent.

Soon we are amongst the McLarenvale Vineyards and can visit the d’Arenberg Cube. Lunch could be McLarenvale or Port Noarlunga.

The remaining drive visits Brighton Beach and Glenelg before ending in Adelaide city.

The Adelaide Plains, between the sea and ranges, provided well for the Kaurna People.

The SA Museum includes the Aboriginal Cultures Centre.

Accommodation choices in Adelaide include YHA for share or private rooms, hotels in Glenelg Beach, Adelaide City and North Adelaide. If you like a treat, we recommend North Adelaide Heritage Apartments.

People to browse: Don Dunstan (1926-99) reformer State Premier: Aboriginal land rights, appointed Aboriginal Douglas Nicholls as Governor, the first female court judge, protected heritage buildings, decriminalised homosexuality, supported arts, fashion setter, later a restaurateur.


Bookings by email or phone to Arcadia Travel:

Booking arrangements for departures up to 31 Dec 2021:

  • To give time to arrange accommodations, bookings can be held for up to 7 days except that in the 14 days prior to departure a shorter amount of time will be apply
  • Deposit of $100 is required when confirming a booking (non-refundable)
  • Full payment due 14 days before start (then 50% refundable if customer cancels)
  • Advise your accommodation preference at time of booking and we will arrange or assist with contacts
  • If a trip is cancelled due to reasons beyond our control (such as Covid19 border closures), any payments made will be refunded in full.

Shorter trips are possible to book:

  • Apollo Bay to Adelaide 5 days $420

For other start/end possibilities, just ask for a rate.

Contact us or email go@arcadiatravel.com.au