Australia - Victoria and South Australia
Take a journey along Australia’s Great Ocean Road with ‘garden detours’ along the way, to the Western Districts and Limestone Coast. On the way, explore a spectacular selection of private gardens, historic towns and grand country homesteads, whilst enjoying some of Australia’s most iconic views and landscapes.

Take a journey along Australia’s Great Ocean Road with ‘garden detours’ along the way, to the Western Districts and Limestone Coast. On the way, explore a spectacular selection of private gardens, historic towns and grand country homesteads, whilst enjoying some of Australia’s most iconic views and landscapes.

Timed for the spring roses, the diversity of the gardens will astound you, ranging from cottage, herb and parterre gardens to rambling historic homestead gardens and Edna Walling-designed heritage landscapes as well as William Guilfoyle influences. Wonderful views abound, including the Otway Ranges and the Twelve Apostles, to the Grampians and Discovery Bay – and in the company of Julie Kinney, Margaret River’s Gourmet Gardener, you can also expect of good food, wine, hospitality and company.

*At the time of brochure printing (January 2015) most, but not all garden visits are confirmed. Private owners in particular; are reluctant to commit more than 2–3 months prior. Therefore, whilst we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.


  • Spectacular views of the rugged coastline and the Iconic Twelve Apostles along the ‘Great Ocean Road’
  • Meet 14 private garden owners as they showcase their gardens and narrate their story
  • Visit the historic homesteads and gardens of Narrapumelap and Yallum Park
  • Exclusive tour of Meningoort Homestead and lunch hosted by fifth generation owners, Beverley and Stewart McArthur, and view sites painted by the artist Eugene von Guerard
  • Indulge in food and wine of the Coonawarra wine region, located on the SA Limestone Coast


Fri 16 Oct / Melbourne CBD – Apollo Bay

Meet Julie and fellow travellers at the Ian Potter Centre-NGV Australia, Russell Court entrance at 13.00 (Russell Court is an extension of Russell Street at the rear of Federation Square).

This afternoon travel south-east to Apollo Bay along the ‘Great Ocean Road’, regarded as one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1. The road is the world’s largest war memorial.

Travel the winding road through forested areas, dairy farming countryside and temperate rainforest with stunning coastal views of beaches, rocky cliffs and escarpments (150km 2h).

Enjoy a stop at the picturesque seaside town of Lorne located on Louttit Bay, before continuing to Apollo Bay (50km 1h).

Dinner at an acclaimed local restaurant. (D)

Sat 17 Oct / Apollo Bay

Begin the morning with a visit to the colourful community market of Apollo Bay, located on the foreshore, prior to journeying into the hinterland of the Otway Ranges.

Visit the Otway Herb Farm, a cottage garden and nursery with magnificent views of the valley. Meander through the ornamental garden which comprises of rare and unusual plants collected from around the world, including a variety of culinary herbs from Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean as well as medicinal herbs, insect repellents and fragrant plants.

Continue to the ‘Otway Fly Treetop Walk’ for lunch and treetop walk. A one hour walk (approx. 2km) through cool temperate rainforest, which features a 600m long and 25m high steel structured treetop canopy walkway which takes you right into the treetops, providing a unique and close view of the flora and fauna.

Return to the hotel late afternoon. (B continental in room, L)

Sun 18 Oct / Apollo Bay – Warrnambool

Early start today, travel through the Great Otway National Park to Warrnambool.

Begin with a visit to the iconic Twelve Apostles (named in the 1950’s), the limestone stacks were originally called the ‘Sow and Piglets’, with Mutton Bird Island being the ‘sow’ and the other stacks her ‘piglets’. Today there are only eight pillars remaining and they are forever changing as the waves of the Southern Ocean constantly pound the cliffs.

Continue to Loch Ard Gorge named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878, approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne.

After a short stop at the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, continue to the historic Meningoort Homestead which has been in the McArthur family for 175 years.

Enjoy a lunch and tour hosted by the owners Beverley and Stewart McArthur. Begin with a champagne welcome and introduction to the garden from the verandah, looking down the spectacular drive to Mt Leura and Sugarloaf. After lunch, embark on an exclusive tour and talk about the history and interior of the homestead; walk through the extensive gardens and historic bluestone outbuildings, including working racing stables, coach stables, rabbiter’s cottage and shearing shed.

Meningoort Homestead and the surrounding area was a favourite location of the artist Eugene von Guerard. See sites that he painted.

Continue to Warrnambool, situated on what is known as the Shipwreck Coast, due to the large number of water vessels that ran aground in the 1800s and early 1900s from ferocious weather conditions and the rocky coastline. (B continental in room, L)

Mon 19 Oct / Warrnambool

Today, travel north of Warrnambool to Glenthompson at the foot of the majestic Grampians. Visit the private garden ‘Toora West’, an elegant understated garden, designed to incorporate the majestic backdrop of the open grazing land to the rugged rocky mountains.

A short stop at the booming little town of Dunkeld, situated at the foot of Mount Sturgeon, at the southern tip of the Grampians and the Great Dividing Range.

The second garden ‘Boortkoi’ is a heritage property on the banks of the Hopkins River. The garden was designed by Edna Walling in 1937 and features several distinct areas, including a rose garden, semi-circular stone retaining walls and a natural garden. (BL) 

Tue 20 Oct / Warrnambool

Travel to Mortlake situated at the foot of Mount Shadwell, known for its bluestone buildings, with several fine examples dating back to the 1850s.

Continue to the Stony Point Pastoral Station, one of the main homesteads located in Darlington.

Lunch at the historic homestead of ‘Narrapumelap’, followed by a tour of this impressive Neo-French Gothic Mansion (built in 1873) and wonderful restored gardens.

Dinner at a local restaurant. (BLD)

Wed 21 Oct / Warrnambool – Mt Gambier

Depart Warrnambool for the delightful colonial village of Port Fairy. Partake in a guided walk of the town with maritime and local historians, Martin and Angela Syme. Pass a number of houses and cottages, dating from 1843 (and probably earlier) to current day, and walk down the wide streets with several containing spectacular Norfolk Island Pines as avenue.

Following lunch (own expense) travel to the eastern end of Discovery Bay home to Victoria’s highest coastal cliffs and Cape Nelson lighthouse. Continue via Nelson and thru Discovery Bay coastal park to Mt Gambier (160km / 3h).

Dinner at our hotel. (BD)

Thu 22 Oct / Mt Gambier

Begin this morning with an orientation tour (coach and foot) of Mt Gambier by local guide.

Visit the cave gardens in the middle of town, the Umpherston sink hole, and drive around the Blue Lake which occupies one of the craters of the extinct volcano, after which the city has been named. Walk through the town past Centenary tower, old St Paul’s nun convent and Cobb and Co’s old stables.

Travel to Penola, known as the central location in the life of Mary MacKillop, (now Saint Mary MacKillop, who was canonised on 17 October 2010). Time at leisure for lunch and to self-explore the local sites, such as the Mary MacKillop Interpretive Centre or the State Heritage sites of Petticoat Lane and the original stone schoolhouse developed in the 1800s.

After lunch (own expense) visit two private gardens. ‘Trevelan’ situated in Monbulla, a beautiful garden approximately 1ha in size, with many traditional exotic plants and trees. Continue with ‘Stordalen Place’, a glorious garden with garden rooms full of roses and perennials and many welded sculptures created by the owner.

Tonight, dinner is at a local restaurant followed by the sound and light show at caves garden. (BD)

Fri 23 Oct / Mt Gambier

Today, begin the exploration of gardens and wineries of the famous Coonawarra wine region, situated on South Australia’s Limestone Coast.

First, visit the Camawald Cottage garden, a country garden with exquisite displays of heritage and species roses, spreading exotic trees, dappled shade and a tranquil lake.

Enjoy lunch and wine tasting at St Marys Vineyard. Walk around the extensive gardens, displaying a great blend of colour and texture in plants, wonderful sandstone walls and sculptural features.

After lunch, stop at the Coonawarra Centenary Sculpture Park to view the red gum and limestone sculpture known as the Terra Rossa Tree Wall along with three bronze busts. The first bust is of John Riddoch, the founder of Coonawarra; the second is of David Wynn the revitaliser of Coonawarra; and the third is Bill Redman, the sustainer of Coonawarra.

Return to the hotel via Yallum Park, said to be the best preserved Victorian House in Australia in its original condition. Enjoy a guided tour of the house showcasing the original William Morris wallpapers, stained glass windows, and Italian marble mantle pieces. (BL)

Sat 24 Oct / Mt Gambier

Following a morning at leisure in Mt Gambier, we are hosted by the local garden club and will visit three members’ gardens.

Enjoy a picnic lunch at Sherriffmuir garden, which is often the venue for local weddings.

After lunch, visit the remaining two gardens, McKees Garden and the Caroline Hills Winery

Return to the hotel and celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a farewell dinner.

(B, L picnic, D)

Sun 25 Oct / Depart Mt Gambier

Prior to departure this morning, delight in a tour of ‘The Barn’ gardens, 2ha of lush landscaped gardens and historic ornamental trees, which have been featured in the Australian Open Garden Scheme and in many magazines. Following this, we have just two more gardens to see with lunch in the final one, the tranquil Aberfoyle Garden. Enjoy a light lunch followed by a stroll around the 1ha gardens. A rose collectors dream as well as many varieties of shrubs and a vegetable garden, all staged around spacious lawns.

Depart for Mt Gambier airport arriving at approx. 15.30 for the afternoon flights on REX to Adelaide (arrives 18.20) or Melbourne (arrives 18.15).

Tour arrangements conclude at Adelaide / Melbourne airport. (BL)

  • Renaissance Tours Gardens of the Great Ocean Road, 2015 Download

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Per person, twin-share AUD 4,950

Single supplement* AUD 850

Deposit (per person)
AUD 500

Final payment due
01 September 2015

*Single travellers may request to share. Please advise at time of booking.

Tour code GD1502

Tour price includes
• Accommodation in 4-star hotels with private facilities and daily breakfast (B)
• Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with welcome and farewell meals
• Comprehensive sightseeing and garden visits including entrance fees as per itinerary
• Melbourne CBD pick up – Ian Potter Centre-NGV Australia, Russell Crt entrance at 13.00
• Flight Mt Gambier to Adelaide or Melbourne
• Air-conditioned, transportation throughout
• Gratuities for local guides and drivers
• Hotel porterage (1 piece per person)

Tour price does not include
• Transfers on arrival/departure at Melbourne Airport
• Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry etc.
• Travel insurance (recommended)
• Flights to/from Melbourne (please contact Renaissance Tours for any assistance)