How to plan an unforgettable road trip across regional Victoria 

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How to plan an unforgettable road trip across regional Victoria 

Great Ocean Road. Credit: Ash Hughes Photography

Your guide to preparing for the ultimate regional Victorian road trip to make the most of mountain ranges, coastal retreats and quaint villages we’re blessed with.

Have a couple of months free to hit the open road across regional Victoria? You’re truly living the dream, so why not make the most of it.

While a lot of travellers opt to take on Australia as a whole when it comes to a road trip, regional Victoria has a lot of epic destinations to uncover, spanning much of Australia’s geographical and biological diversity.

From world-class wineries to natural springs, lush mountain ranges to stunning coastlines, and famous roads to national parks, regional Victoria is bursting with beauty and wonder just waiting to be discovered.

Keep up with the latest Victorian travel destinations, news and tips here

With an endless amount of scenery to take your breath away, a lure of a road trip is undeniable. You get to navigate the open road, you can travel at your own pace, and you decide exactly when you stop and what you see. Essentially you get utter freedom.

Sounds perfect right? It’s a wonder more people aren’t taking advantage of van life to travel at their own pace. Whether you’re after a trip away with your best mates, a romantic holiday or a solo adventure, there are plenty of unique experiences to be had.

If you’re ready to take a lap across regional Vic, make sure you get the most out of your experience with our guide to planning an unforgettable road trip.

Firstly, you’re going to need a van

If you’re planning on heading out on a road trip across our beautiful Garden State, a safe mode of transport is going to be your number one priority.

You’ll need to consider what type of vehicle is going to be best for your dream holiday, as the car you decide on will depend entirely on how and where you plan to travel. If you plan on sticking to major highways and sealed roads and staying at Airbnbs and self-contained accommodation, then your Toyota Corolla might just do the job. But if you’re serious about hitting the open road, you might need to look at buying (or renting) a new or used camping rig.

There are a few options as to what kind of camping rig you go for. There are 4WDs with roof tents for the adventurous; a small but well-organised van; a campervan for those looking for a little more space and equipment; or the motorhome, packed with all the utilities for those who want comfort.

Your mode is something that will be entirely up to you. We’re rather fond of the famed campervan when it comes to road tripping around the state. Embracing that #vanlife in recent years, innovative campervan owners have been busy converting, modifying and purpose-building vans that are far from what you’d expect from a two-berth on-road vehicle, giving travellers a unique way to holiday around the state.

If you are planning on buying a new or secondhand van (or whichever vehicle you’ve opted for), it’s worthwhile looking into your different finance options before you start, which might help you save some extra cash for your epic regional Victorian road trip in the long run.

If you’re not looking to buy, there are even pretty rad platforms like Camplify, which works a bit like Airbnb, connecting holidaymakers with thousands of unique neighbourhood vans that are available to hire for their next outdoor adventure. Depending on the length of your trip, this could also be costly, so it’s well worth weighing up your options.

What you’re going to need

You’ve got your van, but you’re going to need more than a backpack when it comes to packing.

For trips across regional Victoria, whether it’s a week-long road trip or a three-month trek, there’s plenty to think about.

Clothes are of course on the list, but it’s completely up to you as to how much clothing you bring with you. We recommend thinking about where you might be stopping and if you’ll have access to laundry to help you decide on that one.

For any road trip, a checklist is always worth devoting some time to. Here are some of the basics you might be looking to add to that packing list of yours.

  • Esky
  • Snacks, food and drinks
  • Mattress
  • Bedding (depending on your rig, this might be a comfy doona or sleeping bag)
  • Pillow (the ultimate creature comfort)
  • Extra blankets (it’s Victoria after all)
  • Tent and the necessities to set it up if you don’t intend to always sleep in the van
  • Camping stove
  • Gas for said stove
  • Cooking utensils, pots and pans
  • Heavy duty torches
  • Phone charger
  • Camping chairs and table
  • Towel
  • Garbage bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Van essentials (oil, pre-mixed coolant, socket set, jumper cables, tow straps etc.)
  • Fuel
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Speaker
  • Duct tape
  • First aid kit
  • Bug repellent
  • Roadside assistance (worth signing up for)

Of course, there’s plenty more you can add to this list depending on the type of trip you intend to take, plus all the extra creature comforts you’ll want to bring along on your unforgettable road trip. We’re talking board games, camera, fairy lights (solar powered or battery), inflatable rafts and a hammock. Also, we highly recommend you download your music before you go because there are plenty of places with little or no reception. The same goes for maps and directions.

Outline a budget for the trip

Just like any overseas venture or annual holiday, your road trip is going to cost money on a day-to-day basis.

While no one can guide you on a budget, as your trip is going to be personal and suited to you, there are a few things to consider to help you work it out including deciding how long you’ll be travelling, the type of accommodation (pre-booking is crucial here), eating out vs cooking yourself, and the approximate fuel costs of the trip. Plus, you’ll also need to consider any activities (Spas, Wildlife Parks, Wine tastings etc.) you’ll be doing along the way too which we also recommend booking in advance.

Plan out where you want to go

Before you take off on your trip, you want to know where you’re going.

With lots of driving involved in a road trip across regional Victoria, you don’t want to leave a place only to find out you missed seeing something great. You also don’t want to spend a whole day driving somewhere just to be disappointed.

So, before you take off on your trip, you will want to know where you going. Think about which regions you want to see and plan a few local stops along the way. We love looking for places that have a little bit of flair and character to their name, as well as unique experiences and incredible food on offer.

The beautiful thing about regional Victoria is that it is incredibly diverse. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get you started, here are some of our favourite regional spots:

Spa Country: Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are regional Victoria’s go-to destinations for rest and relaxation. Known for their natural mineral springs and historic countryside delight, these towns boast beautiful mountain scenery, forests, gardens, decadent meals, indulgent spa treatments, and lakes, alongside promoting a lifestyle of physical and spiritual wellness.

The Great Ocean Road: Hailed one of the bucket list places to visit in the region and sprawling out for 243km around Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is one of nature’s most marvellous creations and a place you have to set out to visit at least once in your life, and included in that is the famed Twelve Apostles. Beginning in Torquay and continuing to Port Fairy, there are plenty of little gems to discover along the way.

Geelong & Bellarine: Located just an hour from Melbourne, Geelong and The Bellarine is becoming a thriving region of saltwater indulgences, historic streetscapes, charming coastal villages, enterprising local artisans, captivating views, world-class food and wine and cultural experiences for all.

Echuca & Moama: Central to the Murray River are twin towns Echuca and Moama; the perfect destination for a romantic trip, family getaway, or even a bush adventure. Surrounded by iconic red gum forests and charming country towns, the towns are abundant with historic stories waiting to be uncovered. From a history dating back to 1865, Echuca and Moama are rich with sights, smells, tastes, accommodation, and activities.

Grampians: Soaring high above the west Victorian plains, the Grampians (Gariwerd) are a series of rugged, sandstone mountain ranges rich with forestry, wildlife, waterfalls, and adventure. A serenity awaiting your escape, the national park is the ultimate venue for camping, rock climbing, scenic drives, bushwalks, and nature study.

Gippsland: There’s a lot to love about Gippsland. With pristine beaches, lakes, mountains and winter snow, forests, lush vineyards and gourmet villages, Gippsland is a microcosm of nearly every natural wonder the world has to offer. The air is fresher, water cleaner, the grass greener, trees taller… so it’s no surprise that the food is pure, unadulterated dreamery as well.

Goldfields (Bendigo): Previously only known as the hub of Victoria’s gold rush, the regional city of Bendigo has carved itself a strong reputation in recent years as being a centre for award-winning food, buzzing bars, vibrant art galleries, grand architecture and natural treasures, so much so it’s just been recognised as Victoria’s Top Tourism Town for 2022. Ballarat is also a must-visit.

High Country: Victoria’s High Country provides a stunning collection of national parks, mountain ranges, snow resorts, lakes, rivers, wineries, historic towns and bush legends in the northeast of Victoria. From rich wine-growing areas and locally produced cheeses and small goods renowned in Rutherglen, Wangaratta and Milawa; to beautiful holiday towns along the Ovens River, including Bright and Myrtleford, which offer an idyllic setting, the High Country is worthy of exploring for a few weeks all on its own.

Think about where to sleep

There’s a lot to love about regional Victoria, including all the options available to travellers. Indeed you will have no difficulty finding places to sleep, especially when it comes to camping. After all, camping is ingrained into the Aussie culture. From camping sites and rest sites to renowned holiday parks, here are some things you should be looking out for:

Holiday Parks and Serviced Campsites

For the creature-comfort seekers out there, you can experience camping luxury in the comfortable surrounds of a holiday park or at a serviced campground, complete with flush toilets, barbecues and hot showers.

Some roadtrippers like to use holiday parks once a week or once a month to recharge, take a hot shower and do the laundry, while others prefer to take advantage of all the facilities on offer for the entirety of the trip. This is totally up to you and will probably come down to budget, so spend some time deciding what’s right for you.

BIG4 Holiday Parks, Top Tourist Parks, Discovery Holiday Parks and Family Parks of Australia are among the biggest van park groups and are well worth looking into.

National Park Campsites 

Across Victoria, camping is permitted in 25 of the state’s 35 national parks, giving road trippers the chance to immerse themselves in all their natural beauty.

There are different types of camping available in parks, reserves and forests throughout Victoria, some with laundries, cabins, flats or lodges. You’ll find every option in Victoria’s backyard. Some of the more popular National Park campsites include the likes of Alpine National Park, Grampians National Park, Lower Glenelg National Park and Kinglake National Park, among many others.

Fees and permits to camp in Victoria’s national parks vary, and you’ll need to make sure it’s van friendly. You’ll need to book ahead at the most popular national parks, especially during busy holiday periods. To book a campsite and find one that’s right for you, visit Parks Victoria.

Free camping 

Parking your van in Victoria’s countryside is always fun, but it’s even better when campsites are free. If you’re looking to save some coin while also uncovering the hidden gems across the region, free campsites are worth looking into. Keep in mind, that free campsites are where you’ll just find the basics like fireplaces, non-flush toilets and a water supply.

We’ve compiled a list of seven of our favourite free camping spots across regional Vic here, but there are also plenty of specialised guides available online to help you find the best free spot.

Decide on the perfect time to go

Unless you’re bound by work commitments, you can leave on your epic regional Victorian road trip whenever you like!

With our low geographical location on the map, our summer is at its best between December to February. With Blue skies and 30-degree days, it certainly has a mighty appeal but when it comes to road trips and holidays, it helps to avoid peak season as much as possible.

March is a great starting point, where the weather is still nice, but things have calmed down from the Summer holiday rush, while the same goes for the spring (September to November) when the weather begins warming up and people don’t tend to holiday much ahead of the busy Christmas period.

Last tips for your regional Victorian road trip

  • Share the driving. With so much to see, you’re going to get tired along the way as you travel from destination to destination. Having someone to share the load will make the world of difference to your unforgettable trip.
  • Take it slow. You’ll likely get lost or take a wrong turn at some point. Take it easy and just go with the flow. This trip should be all about unwinding and exploring. Save the stress for when you get back.
  • Invest in a good GPS. Yes, these babies still exist and you’ll be grateful for it when your map app drops out.
  • The golden rule of every camping trip in Australia: always leave your itinerary with someone.

Now that you know what you need to do, it’s time to get serious about hitting the road and exploring all that our beautiful state (and country) has to offer.

In partnership with Savvy.