The Great Alpine Road: Australia's highest year-round accessible sealed road and winds past lofty mountains, valleys, forests, rivers, vineyards and farms. Recommended as an alternative to the Hume Highway on a drive between Melbourne and Sydney (it adds an additional day to the journey), the road passes through Australia's high country, which was the haunt of Australia's legendary cattlemen and bushrangers.
The scenery along the way is varied, and takes in historic goldmining villages, mountain lakes and the sheer cliffs, wildflowers and some of Victoria's highest peaks within the Alpine National Park. The journey is best taken outside of the snow season (June to October) to avoid both inclement weather and snow skiers going to and from the resorts.
Location: North eastern Victoria, from Wangaratta in the north-east to Bairnsdale in the heart of Gippsland
Length: 308 km
Suggested return journey: Hume Highway (inland) or Pacific Highway (coastal)
Features/attractions: Victoria's high country including the high plains and Alpine National Park
Minimum duration (one way): 5 hours (drive straight through)
What You Will See: when approaching from Albury-Wodonga, take either the Kiewa Valley Highway at Wodonga and proceed to Mt. Beauty, or the Ovens Highway at Wangaratta, travelling to Mt. Beauty via Bright. The latter road passes through the Ovens Valley wine region, the Milawa gourmet region, the historic goldmining towns of Chiltern, Yackandandah, Beechworth (Ned Kelly related gaol and courthouse), Bright (Mt. Buffalo) and Myrtleford (hops and tobacco growing). The view from Towonga Gap over the township of Mt. Beauty is spectacular.
Mt. Beauty from Towonga Gap
From Mt. Beauty, there is another choice of roads - one passes the Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme, Mt. Spion Kopje, Rocky Valley Reservoir and Falls Creek ski resort; the other road to the south takes in Harrietville, the Darga High Plains, Bogong National Park and the Mt. Hotham and Dinner Plain ski resorts. Both roads meet at Omeo, where Omeo Highway (Great Alpine Road) continues south to Bairnsdale.
From Bairnsdale, the shortest route to Melbourne is via Sale, Traralgon, Morwell, Moe, Warragul and Dandenong via Princes Highway (282 km/4 hours). The longer route is via South Gippsland Highway, which takes in Yarram, Foster (turn-off to Wilsons Promontory), Leongatha (turn-off to Wonthaggi and Phillip Island), Koo-we-rup, Cranbourne (turn-off to Mornington Peninsula) and Dandenong (365 km/5 hours).