Melbourne’s idyllic back garden

If your tour of the Great Ocean Road ultimately returns you to Melbourne, then the next part of your journey takes you away again – into the leafy weekend playground that lies east of the city.

The Yarra Valley, just to the north-east, sees Melbourne’s river take a different form as the centerpiece of a fertile landscape where vineyards spread out and winemakers thrive.

To the south, the Dandenong Ranges throw up forested bluffs and hints of the wilderness – before the onward road drops you to the coast, and the seafood hotspot of San Remo.

This pretty town is another gateway – to wonderful Phillip Island, where wildlife encounters await: the playful residents of Seal Rocks; the isle’s famous Little Penguins.

Drive back over the bridge off the island and onto the Mornington Peninsula where a host of pretty little seaside villages, beautiful gardens, golf courses and refreshing hot springs await you.