Image:  Kangaroo
William West  /  AFP
Discover the picturesque southwest coastline of Australia, as you drive along the scenic Great Ocean Road, and overnight it in Apollo Bay, Port Fairy, Cavendish, and Ballarat.
updated 6/20/2008 11:32:18 AM ET 2008-06-20T15:32:18

The Real Deal: Four nights' accommodations, car rental with unlimited mileage, and tickets to see a sound and light show, from $824 per person—including taxes.

When: Depart daily, except Thursdays, through Mar. 31, 2009.

The fine print: Included are two breakfasts, a buffet-style dinner, hotel taxes, and a performance of the "Blood on the Southern Cross" sound-and-light show. A five-day Hertz compact (group C) car rental with unlimited mileage; a kit with maps, directions, and coupons for roadside stores; and access to the Goway Sydney toll-free Australia-wide assistance line in case of emergencies are also included. Mandatory vehicle insurance starts from an extra $21 a day. (Click here for more information.) Car upgrades start from $2 per day, depending on vehicle. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $554. Airfare is not included. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Goway, 800/387-8850, goway.com.

Why it's a deal: The cost of this package breaks down to about $206 a day, and it includes hotel accommodations, a five-day car rental with unlimited mileage, and a sound-and-light show. Aside from benefiting from free detailed maps, you will save time and money by not having to make separate arrangements for hotels and transportation. Plus, all of Goway's self-drive itineraries are tested by the company's staff to prevent any unpleasant surprises and ensure a smooth trip.

Trip details: The package includes a four-night stay divided between four hotels along the road and a five-day car rental.

The journey begins in Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria and Australia's second-largest city. Pick your rental car up at the airport or at a Hertz location downtown, then drive about 2.5 hours through Geelong and Torquay to Apollo Bay. The quiet fishing village is slowly turning into a popular vacation destination, thanks to its crescent-shaped beach, rolling hills, and prime location at the gateway to the Otway National Park rain forest. Stay overnight at Chris's Beacon Point Villas, a hotel and gourmet restaurant that overlooks Bass Strait from its location high up in the Otway Mountains above the Great Ocean Road.

From Apollo Bay, drive another 2.5 hours to Port Fairy. You'll pass through Otway National Parkbefore continuing along the coast until you reach Port Campbell National Park, most famous for the Twelve Apostles, ancient stacks of rock created by the sea over the course of some 20 million years. You'll spend the night at Hearns Cottage Suites (now part of the Victoria Hotel) in Port Fairy, a coastal historic town about 45 minutes from the park.

Leave Port Fairy and continue on for another 2.5 hours to Cavendish, a town settled in 1853. Stop along the way at Grampians National Park, a rugged landscape of rocky hills and hidden valleys popular for its spectacular views, rock climbing, and diverse plant and animal life. The area is also home to Stawell, also settled during the gold rush of 1853, and some of the country's leading winemakers, including Great Western and Seppelt. You'll also get a chance to learn about the aboriginal heritage of the Grampians region, which goes back some 5,000 years. You'll stay the night at Glenisla Homestead, a historic property adjacent to Grampians National Park.

The final stretch of the trip before you return to Melbourne is a two-hour drive from Cavendish to Ballarat, a historic gold-mining town settled in 1838. One look at the town's lavish buildings and you'll note that the effects of the gold rush are present to this day. Plus, there is Sovereign Hill, a re-creation of an 1860s gold-mining town.

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On the last evening of your trip, you'll enjoy a sound-and-light recreation of the Eureka Rebellion known as the "Blood of the Southern Cross." You'll stay overnight at Oscar's Hotel, a 13-room art deco-style boutique property.

From Ballarat, you'll spend about 1.5 hours driving back to Melbourne, where you'll drop off the car and board your homebound flight.

Not ready to head back just yet? Goway gives you the option to extend your stay in Melbourne from $132 per room per night at the 250-room Hotel Ibis and from $146 per room per night at the 275-room Travelodge Southbank Melbourne Hotel. The cost to extend the car rental starts from $61 per day.

For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official tourism sites for Australia, Victoria, and the Great Ocean Road before you go.

Getting there: According to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest Melbourne-bound round-trip fares we found for departures in mid-August start from $1,209 from L.A. (multiple carriers), $1,420 from Miami (multiple carriers), $1,471 from New York (Qantas), and $1,764 from Houston (multiple carriers).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

Photos: Awesome Australia

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  1. The sacred monolith of Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is located in Central Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is a World Heritage site. (Torsten Blackwood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Be careful going down the road in Western Australia. There could be camels, wombats or kangaroos trying to cross. (Nick Rains / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A kangaroo stands next to a rare waterhole as sheep gather and look for food on a station near White Cliffs in the state of New South Wales. (William West / AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tourists look at spectacular cathedral termite mounds in the Litchfield National Park near Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. Often visible along the Northern Territory, also know as the "Top End" highways, they are amongst the largest mounds built by termites anywhere in the world and are reminiscent of mediaeval cathedrals. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A koala rests on a branch at Sydney Wildlife World, which features Australian flora and fauna set amongst natural habitats and ecosystems. Koalas feed almost exclusively on tough, toxic eucalyptus leaves, which they can digest because they have the longest gut for their size of any mammal. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Located near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, the East MacDonnell Ranges Aerial are part of the remains of mountains that once went as high as the Himalayas. The East MacDonnell's are more varied and less crowded than the more popular West McDonnell Range. (Brian Geach / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Visitors stand on a cantilever at the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk tourist attraction that overlooks rainforest and coastline in the center in the Illawarra region, south of Sydney, in Australia's New South Wales. The Illawarra region gets its special character from the way the escarpment meets the sea. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Pinnacles, ancient limestone formations, rise out of the sand in Nambung National Park. There are thousands of pillars in this Western Australian area, which offer photographers images at sunrise and sunset. (Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. The Three Sisters jut out of the Blue Mountains near Katoomba, New South Wales. The character of the rock formation changes as the sunlight brings out magnificent color.
    According to Aboriginal legend, there were three sisters in the Katoomba tribe who were in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy with this law and used force to capture the sisters, which caused a battle.
    A witchdoctor turned the sisters into stone to protect them from harm, but he was killed before he could reverse the spell. And so the sisters remained in the rock formation. (Lincoln Fowler / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. The large leaves of the Canna x generalis flowering plant from the Cannaceae family display their unusual coloring in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens were founded on their current site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 and is the oldest scientific institution in Australia, playing a major role in the acclimatization of plants from other regions. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A droving team heads off from camp during the Great Australian Cattle Drive preview on May 7, 2009, in Oodnadatta, Australia. The Great Australian Cattle Drive takes place July 30-Aug. 29, 2010, and offers the general public the chance to experience an Australian adventure. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Many residents of opal mining town Coober Pedy, Australia, live underground in dugout homes. The Underground Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the town's must-see sites and includes rock carvings in the walls, a high-roof ballroom-style design and stained glass windows. (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A young indigenous performer during the Yeperenye Federation Festival on Sept. 9, 2001, in Alice Springs, Central Australia. The Yeperenye Festival involves traditional elders with thousands of dancers, artists, singers, musicians and spectators, who gather at Blatherskite Park on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people. It was one of the largest cultural gatherings of indigenous and non-indigenous people since colonization. (Matt Turner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Mount Borradaile in the Northern Territory was inhabited for up to 50,000 years by aboriginal tribes, and it's cave walls feature some of the best examples of aboriginal art. The drawings show a huge range of dates and events. The mount and the surrounding Arnhem Land draw tourists from all over who want to see real Australian history. (James Fisher / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The wetlands of the Yellow Water area of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territories are a mecca for wildlife and flora. The flora in the park is among the richest in northern Australia with more than 2,000 plant species recorded. The park is also considered to be one of the most weed-free national parks in the world. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rex the crocodile swims in a tank at Sydney Wildlife World on March 29, 2010. Rex, a saltwater crocodile, was caught in the Northern Territory and moved to his current habitat in December last year. (Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Cows have the right of way on Norfolk Island, east of the Australian mainland, where motorists also take the time to wave to each driver they pass. (Lawrence Bartlett / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a combination of a shrine, museum and archive, which commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who died in war. (Geoff Lung / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A giant statue of famed Australian outlaw Ned Kelly at Glenrowan, the location of his final stand, about 110 miles northeast of Melbourne. Long dismissed as tourist kitsch, Australia's "Big Things" -- giant models of everything from koalas to pineapples -- are now being heritage-listed and recognized as works of folk art. (William West / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The Ghan railway, which runs from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north, offers travelers the chance to see great Australian landscapes through the country's Red Center. (Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Vineyards are shown in the internationally renowned Margaret River wine region in the south-west corner of Western Australia, situated between the two coastal capes of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A rock climber heads up a dolerite stack known as Totem Pole in Tasmania's Cape Hauy. (Nick Hancock / Tourism Australia) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Beach-goers soak in the sun on the Gold Coast in Queensland. The Gold Coast is a favorite tourist area that features some of the world's finest beaches and lively nightlife. (Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. American Kelly Slater performs a cutback during an aerial expression session on day one of Surfsho at Bondi Beach on March 12, 2010, in Sydney, Australia. (Cameron Spencer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off of Australia's coast offers one of the world's best places to snorkel. The reef is one of the richest, most diverse ecosystems and extends from the tip of Cape York in Queensland and goes south almost to Bundaberg. And it takes up an area larger than Victoria and Tasmania combined. (Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. These massive porites corals at the Great Barrier Reef are hundreds of years old. The corals are like trees in that each year a new band is laid down in their skeletons that record their environmental histories. (Jurgen Freund / Freund Factory) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Fish of all colors swim in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's northeastern coast. In January of 2009, Australia announced a crackdown on pollution of the Great Barrier Reef as the World Heritage-listed site comes under increasing threat from toxic chemicals and climate change. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Crimson clouds provide a beautiful backdrop during a match between Australia and England at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales, with a population in excess of 7million people, is shown in this photo taken on May 26, 2009. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Sydney Opera House is easily one of Australia's most recognizable landmarks. The buiilding, on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbor, is a multi-venue performing arts center and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Greg Wood / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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