All posts by Travel Victoria management team

Trademark registration scam from WOTRA – World Organization for Trademarks

Businesses in Australia who have registered a trademark are currently being hit by a scam that originates from a company that calls themselves WOTRA – World Organization for Trademarks.  Their website is located at wotra-register.com.

An example of one of their letters, which strongly resembles an invoice that requires payment, is shown below.

WOTRA - World Organization for Trademarks

Registering a trademark is not an instant process. The registration is done through the government agency IP Australia.  After lodging an application and paying the appropriate fees, it can take up to 3 months before the trademark can be formally examined and accepted.  If accepted, it will then be advertised in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks. There will then be a period of 2 months during which anyone can oppose the registration. If there are no objections after 2 months, IP Australia will then shortly register the trademark for you.

As registering a trademark is usually a very infrequent process people go through, and as trademarks are renewed every 10 years, a number of organisations have sprung up that attempt to take advantage of this and potentially defraud trademark owners of significant sums of money.

One common type of scam occurs when an organisation contacts you before your trademark renewal is sent out to you by IP Australia, offering to conduct the very simple renewal process at cost typically many times more than the cost of doing this yourself.  An example of this is PTMO – Patent & Trademark Organisation.

Another type scam, as perpetrated by WOTRA – World Organization for Trademarks, involves contacting owners of new trademarks during that 2 month period where people can object to your trademark, just before it is formally registered.

How this scam works is that trademark owners are posted a letter which has this sender listed on the envelope:

WOTRA
World Organization for Patents and Trademarks
Budapest 1005
Hungary

Inside this envelope is a single page letter with the heading “Important Notification Regarding Your Trademark“.  The letter looks very official, listing the trademark owner’s name and address, a colour picture (if applicable) of the actual trademark, the correct trademark number and the correct date that the application was lodged.

The letter strongly resembles an invoice, with a “balance due” and detailed payment instructions.  One could be forgiven for thinking this is a payment required for a trademark to be recognised world-wide, given that it is sent out by the very official sounding “World Organization for Trademarks”.

The particular sample here has an amount due of $2,719, with a note that if it is not paid by the due date, it will be regarded as being “late”, thus a $60 late fee applies, taking the amount due to an eye-watering grand total of $2,779.

In small print on the page is a sequence of very long sentences that includes this:

“…the publishing of the public registration of your trademark is the basis of our offer…we offer the registration of your trademark dates in our private database…the contract is irrevocable and legally binding for one year…this private registration hasn’t any connection with the publication of official registrations, and is not a registration by a government organisation…(this) is not an invoice but a solicitation without obligation to pay…”

So basically you are paying WOTRA – World Organization for Trademarks the very significant sum of $2,719 just to list your trademark’s registration date in their private database which has no benefit other than allowing people to see it on the website wotra-register.com.  Also worrying is the fact this so-called contract is only for one year, so if you do end up paying, you may end up being billed $2,719 every year.

While WOTRA do say the letter is not an invoice, it does strongly resemble one. There is a “balance due” section, a “due date” listed, and a section devoted to the penalties incurred if payment is late.

Two payment options are listed.  One is by cheque, which is to be sent to:

WOTRA Kft.
P.O. Box 221
9002 Gyor 2
Hungary

Or you can pay by bank transfer:

Beneficiary:  WOTRA Kft.
Bank name:    NHB Bank
IBAN:         HU55 1140 0040 0300 3292 4210 0013
BIC / SWIFT:  KULBHUHB
Bank address: 1118 Budapest

If you receive a letter from WOTRA, it is strongly advised that you do not pay the $2,719 they request, as they have nothing to do with your trademark registration.  Having a listing with WOTRA does not in any way mean your trademark is registered for world-wide use.

If you have received an unsolicited letter from WOTRA requesting payment, you are encouraged report it via the ACCC’s ScamWatch page.

For any general questions about trademarks in Australia, refer to IP Australiawww.ipaustralia.gov.au.

How to get to Wilsons Promontory from Melbourne

Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory is a peninsula at the southernmost tip of of Victoria that is surrounded by water on three sides and extends into Bass Strait.

The Wilsons Promontory National Park covers around 50,000 hectares of this peninsula, consisting of stunning granite mountain peaks, beautiful beaches, lakes, forests and gullies.  It is home to a large population of wildlife including kangaroos, emus, echidnas, wombats and birdlife.

Within the national park is the small town of Tidal River which has a visitor centre, general store and cafe.

In order to get to Wilsons Promontory, there are a number of transport options available.

By car

One of the best ways of getting to Wilsons Promontory is to drive, so you have the flexibility of stopping at a number of interesting spots along the way.

The driving distance from Melbourne’s CBD to the Wilsons Promontory town of Tidal River is just over 220 kilometres.

Follow the Monash Freeway (M1) away from the city.  In order to get to the South Gippsland Highway, you can either take the South Gippsland Freeway (M420) exit, the Clyde Road (C407) exit, the Cardinia Road exit or the Koo Wee Rup Road (C422) exit.  All of those roads will eventually meet the South Gippsland Highway (M420) where you will need to turn left.  Follow the highway past the turn-off for Lang Lang until you reach the exit labelled Korumburra, Leongatha and Wilsons Promontory.  You will need to take this exit to remain on the South Gippsland Highway (A440), otherwise you will find yourself on the Bass Highway heading towards Phillip Island and Wonthaggi.

Stay on the South Gippsland Highway as you pass through the towns of Korumburra, Leongatha and Meeniyan.  On the outskirts of Meeniyan, turn right onto Meeniyan-Promontory Road (C444) and follow this to Fish Creek where you will need to make a right turn in order to stay on the Meeniyan-Promontory Road (C444).  This road passes through Yanakie, which is located 6 kilometres from the entrance to Wilsons Promontory National Park.  Once inside the park, it is a further 25 minutes drive to Tidal River.

The entire journey normally takes around 2 hours and 50 minutes if driving non-stop, although it is recommended to take at least a short break due to the duration of the trip.

Driving directions from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory

By public transport

The first step is to catch a bus to Fish Creek.  There is a V/Line bus service which runs between Southern Cross Station in Melbourne and Yarram, stopping at Fish Creek in front of the Fish Creek Hotel and BP service station.  This bus service runs 7 days a week, with extra services on weekdays.  See the V/Line bus timetable to Yarram via Fish Creek.

Once in Fish Creek, a taxi will be required for the final 55 kilometres of the journey to Tidal River as there are no public bus services to Wilsons Promontory.  South Gippsland Regional Taxis are based in Leongatha and cover the area to Wilsons Promontory.  Book a taxi in advance, to ensure you have connecting transport from Fish Creek, by phoning (03) 5662 4242.

Join a tour

A hassle free way of getting to Wilsons Promontory and exploring its many natural attractions is by joining a guided tour that departs from Melbourne.

Bunyip Tours offer a full day excursion to Wilsons Promontory.  You are picked up from Melbourne early in the morning and return in the evening.  Your tour guide will take you on a number of activities which highlight the beauty of the area.  Enjoy bush walking, bird watching, wildlife spotting and even swimming if the weather and time permits.  See beautiful beaches, huge granite rock formations, eucalyptus forests and warm temperate rainforests.

Wilsons Promontory day tour from Melbourne

 

For those who want to see more of the area, Bunyip Tours also offer a 2 day Wilsons Promontory excursion which is combined with a day at Phillip Island.  See stunning surf beaches, the Koala Conservation Centre, The Nobbies and of course the famous nightly penguin parade.  Overnight accommodation on the island is provided, then the next morning you are driven to Wilsons Promontory to explore the highlights of the park on foot by joining the regular day tour.

2 day Wilsons Promontory & Phillip Island tour

Coming from Melbourne Airport?

If you are coming to Melbourne by air, see our guide to transport between Melbourne Airport and the city centre.  Once in Melbourne’s city centre, choose from the above options to get to Wilsons Promontory.

Queensland fraudster Amanda Stichbury fined yet again

Amanda Stichbury fined in court

Many people operating businesses in the travel and tourism industries will be familiar with the long-running false billing scams perpetrated by Amanda Jane Stichbury and her companies Accommodation Find Pty Ltd, Internet Find Pty Ltd, and Special Days Pty Ltd.

Many businesses were sent either invoices or renewal letters concerning advertising on her large network of websites.  Most advertisements were never ordered or authorised, so some businesses were tricked into paying the invoices that arrived, assuming it was an ongoing service.

Some of the websites that Amanda Stichbury set up had names that closely resembled names of official government tourism authorities, confusing and potentially deceiving many business owners.  This attracted significant attention from many tourism bodies across Australia who regularly published warnings about the sorts of invoices and renewal letters that Amanda Stichbury and her network of websites were regularly sending out.

In 2014, Amanda Stichbury was fined almost $20,000 for breaching Australian Consumer Law in regards to unsolicited invoices and requests for payments.  However, this didn’t deter her from continuing her existing business model which was recently described by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in Queensland as being “based almost entirely on deception” and “preying upon time-poor businesses“.

In January 2017, Amanda Stichbury was fined a further $50,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court after a lengthy investigation by the OFT.  A total of 166 charges were made, including:

  1. sending another person an invoice for unsolicited services
  2. making false and misleading representations

Businesses across Australia, not just those in the travel and tourism industry, were on the receiving end of unsolicited invoices requesting payment for advertising that was never ordered.  The dodgy invoices included wording which implied an existing business relationship, which was false.

While the full extent of Amanda Stichbury’s fraudulent operations may never be known, it is reasonable to conclude that incidents that were brought up in court proceedings were just the tip of the iceberg.  Most business owners who identified the invoices and renewals being sent to them as fraudulent simply threw them away and didn’t report it to the appropriate authorities.  Some who did pay wrongly assumed it was for a similarly named organisation they already advertised with and just kept paying.

Executive Director of the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, Brian Bauer, commented on the verdict and fine handed down against Amanda Stichbury by the  Southport Magistrates Court. He said that it:

  1. reflected the serious nature of Amanda Stichbury’s offending
  2. made a clear statement that the behaviour and conduct of Amanda Stichbury has no place in Queensland
  3. served as a warning to others who thought of adopting Amanda Stichbury’s deceptive business model

He also said that the OFT will “continue to vigorously pursue any unscrupulous traders” like Amanda Stichbury who intentionally mislead other businesses.

If you have received a fraudulent invoice from Amanda Stichbury, Accommodation Find Pty Ltd, Internet Find Pty Ltd or Special Days Pty Ltd, you can report it at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.

Amanda Stichbury “did not appear apologetic”

Despite being fined almost $20,000 and convicted for similar offences in 2014, the Southport Magistrates Court noted that “Ms Stichbury did not appear apologetic for her behaviour” during proceedings in January 2017.  Her lack of remorse contributed to the hefty penalty of $50,000 that was imposed upon her and her companies.

Since 2011, many organisations in the tourism and travel industry have received from their clients copies of fraudulent invoices sent to them by Amanda Stichbury’s network of websites.  The big breakthrough in public exposure came when AccomNews published a series of articles about Amanda’s activities a few years ago:

AccomNews is a leading industry-wide portal providing critical information to those in the accommodation industry and the publisher of the widely distributed monthly Resort News magazine.  Their articles received widespread exposure and resulted in many people coming forward who had also received unsolicited bills and renewal letters for advertising they never ordered.

The increasing number of reports being published on the internet about Amanda Stichbury’s fraudulent activities resulted in bad publicity for her business.  She contacted a number of the more higher profile publishers, demanding they remove their articles about her.  At least one organisation was also threatened with legal action on the basis that the information published about her and her business operations was not only misleading, but was also causing her loss of income.  Ironically, while this may have caused her income to reduce, it actually saved many businesses from losing money themselves once they realised the invoices and renewal letters were a scam.  In fact, the Office of Fair Trading made it very clear after its successful court action that Amanda Stichbury operated a business model that was “based almost entirely on deception“.

Some of the organisations that published information about Amanda Stichbury’s fraudulent activities include:

  1. The Queensland justice system in regards to her significant court fine and convictions in 2014
  2. Several articles by the respected AccomNews publication and Resort News
  3. A media report on Amanda’s activities broadcast on TV by the ABC during The Checkout show
  4. Repeated warnings over many years about Amanda Stichbury’s unsolicited invoices and advertising renewal requests by the government tourism organisations Visit Canberra, Tourism Victoria, Destination NSW and South Australian Tourism Commission
  5. An alert published by the Queensland Tourism Industry Council
  6. A warning from Hosted Accommodation Australia Ltd about bogus invoices originating from Special Days Pty Ltd
  7. The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) who informed its members to discard any request for payment from Amanda Stichbury’s companies and websites as they are “scam invoices”
  8. Copies of fraudulent invoices and renewal notices sent to accommodation providers that were forwarded to tourism organisations and media outlets over many years
  9. Social media postings by businesses who had received unsolicited invoices from Amanda Stichbury and her websites

Amanda Stichbury has attempted to get negative publicity about her business activities pushed down internet search engine results that referenced her name, company names, website names and phone numbers.  This was done by publishing large numbers of web pages with her name in the title or document body in order to dilute any negative page headings that came up.  The snippet below of a Google search for her name shows one negative result swamped by other pages created by Amanda Stichbury.

Search for Amanda Stichbury

In closing, the Queensland Office of Fair Trading warned all businesses to “be vigilant when paying invoices, ensuring the payments are for services that were legitimately provided“.  If this vigilance is exercised, then false billing scams won’t succeed.

Details of the companies prosecuted in court

  • Special Days Pty Ltd – ABN 37 086 159 211 / ACN 086 159 211
  • Accommodation Find Pty Ltd – ABN 18 086 159 195 / ACN 086 159 195
  • Internet Find Pty Ltd – ABN 68 162 430 159 / ACN 162 430 159

References

“Local fraudster all stitched up”
Queensland Office of Fair Trading
“…Ms Stichbury’s businesses, Accommodation Find Pty Ltd, Internet Find Pty Ltd, and Special Days Pty Ltd, sent unsolicited invoices to several businesses nation-wide requesting they pay for services that were never requested or authorised…Amanda Jane Stichbury pleaded guilty to a total of 166 counts, including sending another person an invoice for unsolicited services, and making false and misleading representations…Ms Stichbury was personally fined $10,000 and three corporations of which she was sole director were fined a total of $40,000…”
https://www.qld.gov.au/law/laws-regulated-industries-and-accountability/queensland-laws-and-regulations/fair-trading-services-programs-and-resources/fair-trading-latest-news/media-statements/local-fraudster-all-stitched-up/

“Queensland business owner fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to sending unsolicited invoices”
Smart Company
“…Stichbury was fined $10,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court earlier this month, and her three businesses were fined a total of $40,000…the success and prevalence of such scams are a symptom of a busy society…a successful scam like this can go uncovered for a long time…”
http://www.smartcompany.com.au/finance/fraud/82023-queensland-business-owner-fined-50000-pleading-guilty-sending-unsolicited-invoices/

Warning: trademark renewal from PTMO – Patent & Trademark Organisation

A number of trademark owners in Australia, particularly those in the high profile travel and tourism sector, have recently received an official looking letter from PTMO (Patent & Trademark Organisation) advising that their trademark is expiring and the steps that need to be taken to renew it.

Trademarks, or brands, are used to uniquely identify your goods and services from those supplied by others. IP Australia administers intellectual property relating to trademarks and patents in Australia.  The process of registering or renewing a trademark is either done directly with IP Australia or through an intermediary that you can pay extra to do the work for you, which is typically a legal firm.

The letters that are currently being sent out by PTMO are unsolicited requests to renew your trademark at a significant extra cost.  IP Australia charges $400 for a single class trademark renewal, while PTMO charge more than 3 times that amount – $1,395.

Upon receiving one of these trademark renewal notices, many people may assume this is the official process that must be undertaken to renew their trademark.  Trademark renewals occur every 10 years, so it is an extremely infrequent process.  After 10 years, recipients of those renewals from PTMO may have little recollection of the process they undertook 10 years ago.

Below is a copy of an invoice from PTMO – Patent & Trademark Organisation, with the personal details of the business that sent it to us blanked out to protect their privacy.

PTMO - Patent & Trademark Organisation

There are a number of distinguishing features of this renewal notice.

  1. The letter is sent from an address in Canberra, the capital of Australia, which some people may interpret as thus originating from a federal government organisation.
  2. The letter is written in American English, rather than Australian English, thus some words are not spelt correctly. This is not something you would expect from an Australian government organisation.
  3. A strong warning that “if not renewed, your trademark will expire“, thus implying a sense of urgency in dealing with this renewal letter.
  4. An easy way of commencing the renewal process – simply date and sign the letter, and return it in the pre-paid envelope enclosed.

In order make the expensive renewal process through this third party legal, there is small print buried on the letter which says:

  1. PTMO Limited is not associated with the official IP Australian office.
  2. PTMO Limited is an independent renewal processing company.
  3. This is is an optional offer.
  4. This is not an invoice or bill.
  5. You can also contact your legal representative to perform the renewal for you.

The trademark renewal notice has their phone number listed as (02) 6140 3414 and their address listed as:

Patent and Trademark Organisation
2 Endeavour House
Captain Cook Crescent
Griffith ACT 2603

On the return pre-paid envelope is this address:

PTMO Ltd
Renewals Department
Reply Paid 83277
Griffith ACT 2603

In the small print on the back of the renewal notice, their address is listed as:

PTMO Ltd
5 Secretary's Lane
PO Box 931
Gibraltar GX11 1AA
Gibraltar

IP Australia is aware of many types of unsolicited renewal offers sent to trademark owners.  See their dedicated page on unsolicited invoices.

If you have inadvertently signed up to allow PTMO to renew your trademark, thinking you were dealing with IP Australia, you are encouraged report it via the ACCC’s ScamWatch page.

Update for May 2017

If you don’t authorise PTMO (Patent & Trademark Organisation) to renew your trademark, you may receive a follow-up a letter a few months later from them with “reminder” in big letters at the top, and a further warning that “your trademark is about to expire”.  Refer to the example below:

Patent & Trademark Organisation Pty Ltd

Note that PTMO, who wants to be trusted with the very important task of renewing a trademark at a premium cost, are happy to send a letter out which features a spelling mistake – refer to the heading on the first column of the second table.

The urgency of this trademark expiry is curious, given that the reminder is sent out a year and a half before the actual expiry date.  In reality, they want you to renew your registration with them before IP Australia sends out an official renewal notice.

Anyone receiving this reminder notice will be surprised to see that the original renewal fee of $1,395 for one class has been reduced to $1,285.  However, the fee for additional classes has risen from $485 to $550 each.  Keep in mind that renewing your trademark online directly with IP Australia will cost just $400 for one class, which is $885 cheaper than letting PTMO do it for you.

Strangely, the renewal reminder from PTMO is sent from a completely different address than the original renewal.  The original trademark renewal offer was sent from Canberra, but this reminder letter comes from a Sydney address, with a Melbourne address listed on the reply-paid envelope which is really odd.  To further add to this tangled web, the Canberra phone number on the original renewal letter has been replaced by a Brisbane number of (07) 3067 8915 plus a Melbourne FAX number of (03) 9923 6363.  How confusing is that!

Patent and Trademark Organisation Pty Ltd
Level 17
9 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000

On the return pre-paid envelope is this address:

Trademark Service
Reply Paid 88875
Melbourne VIC 3000

This delivery address is also listed on the return pre-paid envelope:

585 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

So with the pricing on the reminder notice all over the place compared to the original letter from PTMO, and a confusing mix of Sydney and Melbourne addresses replacing the Canberra address, plus a contact phone number that has changed from Canberra to Brisbane, all this really doesn’t inspire any confidence in this organisation or its stability.

Our advice – treat any correspondence from Patent & Trademark Organisation Pty Ltd with caution and seek legal advice if you need help.  For any general questions about trademarks in Australia, IP Australia (see www.ipaustralia.gov.au) should be your first port of call, as PTMO is not Australia’s official intellectual property agency.

Staying overnight at Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport is Australia’s second busiest airport, transporting over 33 million passengers per year.  It is currently Victoria’s only international airport and is located at Tullamarine – 21 kilometres by road from Melbourne’s CBD.

A very convenient advantage of Melbourne Airport is that the international terminal (T2) and all of the domestic terminals (T1, T3 and T4) are located next to each other, so you can easily walk between them.

Do you depart on an early morning flight from Melbourne?  Do you fly into Melbourne late at night?  Or are you travelling a long distance to Melbourne Airport from regional Victoria or southern NSW and are after a good night sleep before your flight the next day?  Then staying overnight at Melbourne Airport may be just what you need.

Within the grounds of Melbourne Airport are 3 hotels which are within easy walking distance of the airport terminal buildings.  They are Parkroyal, Holiday Inn and Ibis Budget.  Staying at one of these hotels will ensure you are relaxed and make it to your flight on time, or provide a relaxing night’s sleep after disembarking from your flight.

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport – from $235

Parkroyal Melbourne Airport

Parkroyal is the perfect hotel to stay at if you want to be just a few steps from the airport terminal. It sits above the large multi-level short term car park and is directly linked to the terminal buildings via two pedestrian sky bridges.

  • 100 metres from the international terminal building
  • 276 guest rooms
  • Standard, superior, deluxe and family rooms
  • Restaurant – open daily for breakfast and dinner, weekdays for lunch
  • Cafe – open daily for coffee and light meals
  • Bar – open daily for drinks, bar meals and snacks
  • Room service food and refreshments
  • Fully equipped gymnasium
  • 12 metre indoor lap pool, heated spa, sauna and steam room
  • Business centre
  • Valet parking or self-parking at discount rates

Phone: (03) 8347 2000
Website: www.parkroyalhotels.com

BOOK NOW - Parkroyal

 

Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport – from $195Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport

This hotel was Melbourne Airport’s first on-site accommodation option, originally known as Travelodge Tullamarine when it first opened back in 1970.  Now called Holiday Inn, it is located just opposite the multi-level long term car park, and is between 300 to 500 metres walk from the airport buildings, depending on the specific terminal.

  • 4 star rated property
  • 207 guest rooms
  • Superior rooms, executive rooms and spacious luxury suites
  • Day use rooms (up to 6 hours) from $99 (book by phone only)
  • All rooms are soundproofed from airport noise
  • Restaurant – open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Bar – open daily for drinks and coffee
  • Room service food and refreshments
  • Kids stay and eat free (conditions apply)
  • Fitness centre with gymnasium
  • Outdoor pool
  • Business centre
  • Complimentary 24 hour shuttle service to the terminals
  • Park, Stay and Go packages available, providing free airport parking
  • Complimentary 24 hour shuttle service to the terminals

Phone: (03) 9933 5111
Website: www.holidayinnmelbourneairport.com.au

BOOK NOW - Holiday Inn

 

Ibis Budget Melbourne Airport – from $129Ibis Budget Melbourne Airport

Ibis Budget offers excellent value accommodation for those who simply want somewhere cosy to sleep at an affordable price.  It is located just across the road from a BP service station and McDonalds.  The airport buildings are between 300 and 700 metres walk away, depending on the specific terminal.

  • 73 guest rooms
  • Rooms have either a queen bed, or 2 single beds and an overhead bunk
  • Private ensuite (small)
  • All rooms are soundproofed
  • Complimentary all you can eat buffet breakfast served daily
  • 24 hour check-in either via front desk (limited hours) or self-serve kiosk
  • Private on-site outdoor parking

Phone: (03) 8336 1811
Website: www.accorhotels.com

BOOK NOW - Ibis Budget

 

Travel options from Adelaide to The Grampians

Grampians National Park
Grampians National Park

The Grampians is one of the most popular natural attractions in Victoria. Located between Adelaide and Melbourne, it consists of a vast national park that surrounds a series of rugged mountain ranges. Explore the many walking tracks including the Grampians Peak Trail, enjoy panoramic views from several lookouts, and visit beautiful lakes and waterfalls. You will be sure to encounter Australian wildlife, native wildflowers and discover ancient Aboriginal sites which are shrouded in mystery.

Right in the centre of the Grampians National Park is the tourist village of Halls Gap. This holiday town includes shops, restaurants and a large number of accommodation properties including caravan parks, apartments, chalets, cottages and motels.

In a direct straight line, the distance from Adelaide to Halls Gap is about 430 kilometres. There are several ways to get to The Grampians from Adelaide.

By car

The journey from Adelaide’s CBD to Halls Gap is around 500 kilometres.

Head south-east along the South Eastern Freeway (M1). This road becomes the Princes Highway (A1) after passing to the south of Murray Bridge and crossing the Murray River.  At Tailem Bend, which is almost 100 kilometres from Adelaide, continue driving straight and then this road becomes the Dukes Highway (A8). Follow the Dukes Highway for around 190 kilometres, passing through Keith and Bordertown, until reaching the state border between South Australia and Victoria. At this point advance your clocks by 30 minutes due to crossing a timezone.

Once into Victoria, the highway is called the Western Highway (A8). Follow the Western Highway through Kaniva, Nhill, Dimboola and Horsham.

The quickest way from Horsham is to follow the Western Highway (A8) for about 45 kilometres and turn right into Mt Drummond Road, left into Ledcourt Road, right into Greenhole Road, right into Fyans Creek Road and right into Grampians Road (C216) which then leads directly to Halls Gap.  While involving a number of turns through sealed local roads, it avoids crossing major mountain ranges into the national park.

Alternatively, for a more scenic route, turn right off the Western Highway about 15 kilometres out of Horsham onto Northern Grampians Road (C222).  From here, it will be a 57 kilometre to the centre of Halls Gap via Wartook and Zumsteins.  This road is also known as Mt Victoria Road once you get inside the Grampians National Park.  Before reaching Halls Gap, take a short detour to the famous MacKenzie Falls, Wartook Reservoir and the scenic Reed Lookout.

The entire journey will usually take around 5 hours and 15 minutes if you drive non-stop, however allow at least an extra 15 minutes if you choose the more scenic route via Wartook.  Given the length of this journey, it is recommended that you do not drive for more than 2 hours continuously without taking a break.

Driving directions from Adelaide to The Grampians

By public transport

Getting to Halls Gap from Adelaide using public transport requires the use of a train and a bus service.

Catch The Overland train from Adelaide’s railway station to Stawell in Victoria. This will take about 6 and a half hours.  Currently, this train only runs Monday and Friday, arriving at Stawell at 2:54pm. See the timetable for the Adelaide to Melbourne train.

From Stawell railway station to Halls Gap, there are two bus services.

The V/Line bus to Halls Gap operates Monday to Friday, however it departs from Stawell in the middle of the day, between 12:20 and 12:50, depending on the actual day.  Unless you are planning to stay overnight in Stawell (which you can, it’s a lovely town and there are a number of accommodation options in Stawell), then this bus service is not suitable.

In order to do the journey from Adelaide to Halls Gap in one day, you will need to catch Sandlant’s Halls Gap bus which departs weekdays at 7:15am and 3:55pm.  The only choice is to take the 3:55pm service, which means you will need to wait for an hour in Stawell after arriving by train.  Once on the bus, it will have you arriving in the Halls Gap town centre within about 20 minutes. See the timetable for the bus to Halls Gap.

By public transport and hire car

Having your own vehicle in the Grampians will make it a lot easier to get to the many attractions in the national park and surrounding areas, however the drive from Adelaide can be a long one.

Another option is to catch The Overland train from Adelaide to Horsham (see the timetable for the Adelaide to Melbourne train) and then hire a car in Horsham for the 55 to 70 minute drive to Halls Gap.

Car hire from Horsham

 

How to get to the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne

Great Ocean RoadThe Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic coastal drives. It covers around 240 kilometres between Torquay in the east and the outskirts of Warrnambool in the west.

The journey along the Great Ocean Road passes through several coastal holiday towns and showcases the natural beauty of this part of Victoria including rugged coastlines and rock formations, the famous 12 Apostles, beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, mountain scenery and native flora and fauna.

If you are in Melbourne, there are several ways to reach the start of the Great Ocean Road at Torquay.

By car

Torquay, which marks the official start of the Great Ocean Road, is around 100 kilometres from Melbourne by road.

Head west along the West Gate Freeway (M1), across the West Gate Bridge, and then this road becomes the Princes Freeway (M1) as it skirts around Werribee and the large city of Geelong.

Take the Anglesea Road (C134) exit off the freeway and follow this road for around 14 kilometres until you reach the Great Ocean Road (B100). Turn left if you want to head into Torquay (5 kilometres away) or turn right to skip Torquay and head along the rest of the Great Ocean Road towards Anglesea.

Driving a vehicle is one of the best ways to see the Great Ocean Road. You can stop at various towns you pass through, view the many lookouts on the side of the road, and take a few popular detours along the way, such as the Cape Otway Lighthouse, the Otway Fly tree top walk and a number of waterfalls.

It is quite common to break the journey along the Great Ocean Road into several days, so as to get the most out of this scenic driving adventure. You can stay overnight at popular locations including Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell.

Driving directions from Melbourne to the start of the Great Ocean Road

 

If you don’t have your own car, consider hiring a vehicle to get the most out of your Great Ocean Road visit.

Car hire - search for the best rates

 

By public transport

Getting to the Great Ocean Road by public transport involves a train journey followed by a bus trip.

Catch a V/Line train from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne to Geelong. This journey will take approximately one hour. See the train timetable to Geelong.

From Geelong Station, there are a number of bus services you can catch, depending on exactly where on the Great Ocean Road you want to travel to.  From Geelong to Torquay, it will take approximately 40 minutes.

  • McHarry’s No.50 bus – Geelong to Torquay and Jan Juc
  • McHarry’s No.51 bus – Geelong to Torquay and Jan Juc
  • McHarry’s Apollo Bay bus – Geelong to Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Wye River and Apollo Bay
  • V/Line Warrnambool bus – Geelong to Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Wye River, Apollo Bay, Lavers Hill, Port Campbell and Warrnambool.

Join a tour

A number of guided tours of the Great Ocean Road depart from Melbourne. Sit back and relax and you are driven to the start of the Great Ocean Road and then along this scenic iconic route, stopping off at a number of popular attractions along the way.

The entire trip from Melbourne and back, usually going as far as the  12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge or Port Campbell, can be covered over one long day.

As well as day tours to the Great Ocean Road, a number of organised activities are available, including surf lessons, sky diving, kayaking, snorkelling and scenic helicopter flights.

Great Ocean Road tours & activities

Coming from Melbourne Airport?

If you are coming to Melbourne by air, see our guide to transport between Melbourne Airport and the city centre.  Once in Melbourne’s city centre, choose from the above options to get to the Great Ocean Road.

How to get to The Grampians from Melbourne

Grampians National Park
The Pinnacle Lookout

The Grampians is one of Victoria’s most popular natural attractions. Located north-west of Melbourne, it encompasses a huge national park which surrounds a series of mountain ranges. Visitors can explore many walking tracks including the Grampians Peak Trail, enjoy panoramic views from lookouts, and visit several lakes and waterfalls. It is a great place to encounter Australian wildlife, native wildflowers and discover historic Aboriginal sites.

At the heart of The Grampians is the tourist village of Halls Gap. Visitors will find shopping facilities, restaurants and a large concentration of accommodation options including caravan parks, holiday units, cottages and motels.

The distance, in a direct straight line, from Melbourne to Halls Gap is about 230 kilometres. There are a number of ways to get to The Grampians from Melbourne.

By car

The journey from Melbourne’s CBD to Halls Gap is just over 250 kilometres.

Head west along the West Gate Freeway (M1), across the West Gate Bridge, and take the Western Ring Road (M80) exit which is about 6 kilometres after the bridge. After travelling on the Western Ring Road for 4 kilometres, take the Western Freeway (M8) exit. Keep following this freeway which will skirt around Bacchus Marsh and the city of Ballarat. The Western Freeway will become the Western Highway (A8), and the first town you will pass through the centre of will be Beaufort. Drive a further 44 kilometres until you reach the larger town of Ararat. Turn off the highway and onto Ararat – Halls Gap Road (C222), following this road to a T-junction just on the northern outskirts of Halls Gap. Turn left into Grampians Road (C216) and after a few short minutes, you will arrive within the centre of Halls Gap.

The entire journey will usually take around 2 hours and 45 minutes if you drive continuously. However it is recommended that you do not drive for more than 2 hours straight without taking a break.

Driving directions from Melbourne to The Grampians

By public transport

Getting to Halls Gap from Melbourne using public transport requires the use of both train and bus services, however there are a couple of main options. Which one you choose may depend on how the timetables fit in with your personal travel plans.

Option 1 – one train journey and two bus journeys

Catch a V/Line train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Ballarat Station. This will take about 90 minutes, however some peak express services will complete the journey in a quicker time.

Once in Ballarat, switch to a V/Line bus which goes to Ararat and Stawell. This section of the journey will take about 90 minutes.

From Stawell, catch the Halls Gap bus which will have you arrive in the Halls Gap town centre within about 35 minutes.

See the V/Line timetable which covers this entire travel option.

Option 2 – one train journey and one bus journey

Catch a V/Line train from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Ararat Station. This will take between 2 hours and 10 minutes and 2 hours and 30 minutes depending on the time of day. See the timetable for the train to Ararat.

Once you arrive in Ararat, catch the Warrnambool bus and get off 50 minutes later at Halls Gap.  See the timetable for the bus to Halls Gap.

Join a tour

Take the easy option when heading to The Grampians and join one of the several guided day tours that depart from Melbourne. You won’t have to worry about how to get there or finding your way around when you arrive.  You will also have an experienced guide that will be able to transport you directly to the many attractions of The Grampians, with some interesting stops along the way.

Day tours of The Grampians can include guided walks to waterfalls, lakes and scenic lookouts. Experience close encounters with native wildlife, discover a rich variety of plant life and learn about the history and Aboriginal culture of the area.

Small group Grampians day tour from Melbourne

 

Full day Grampians tour from Melbourne

Coming from Melbourne Airport?

If you are coming to Melbourne by air, see our guide to transport between Melbourne Airport and the city centre.  Once in Melbourne’s city centre, choose from the above options to get to The Grampians.

1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne

It has now been 60 years since the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne.

The Olympic Games are one of the world’s largest international sporting events, with thousands of athletes representing almost every nation on the planet competing against each other.

Australia has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. The most recent was Sydney in 2000, and the first was Melbourne in 1956.

Olympic Games – 22nd November to 8th December 1956Olympic Games

In 1949, Melbourne was successful in its bid to host the 1956 Olympic Games. It was a close contest, with Melbourne winning by just one vote from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This was to be the first time that the Olympics would be staged in the southern hemisphere, a fact that some felt may be an inconvenience to northern hemisphere athletes, as the Games would be taking place during their usual off-season.

Initially, there were some organisational worries due to problems obtaining financial funding and for a while it was looking as if Melbourne would not be ready by the scheduled start date. A couple of years before the Games were to be staged, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even considered moving them to Rome, which was to host the 1960 Olympics and which was progressing well with its preparations. However, Melbourne’s early problems were overcome and by early 1956 all was on track.

The Melbourne Olympics wasn’t without its share of political turmoil. Several countries decided to boycott the Games due to problems overseas. Shortly before the Games began, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. This saw the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland withdraw from the Games in protest. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon withdrew due to tensions between Egypt and Israel over the Suez Canal, and the People’s Republic of China also withdrew because the Republic of China (Taiwan) was being allowed to compete.

The Olympic flame was lit at Olympia on 2nd November 1956. It was carried to Athens, Darwin and Cairns, then down the east coast of Australia, arriving in Melbourne for the Opening Ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on 22nd November. The honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron fell to distance runner Ron Clarke, and the Games of the XVI Olympiad – as the Melbourne Olympics were known – had officially begun.

Of the 19 sports in which competition took place in the 1956 Olympics, 18 were held in Victoria. The equestrian events were staged in Stockholm, Sweden in June of 1956. This was because Australia’s strict quarantine regulations did not allow the entry of horses into the country. This was the first time that Olympic Games events had been held in more than one country.

More than 3300 athletes attended the 1956 Olympics, with 67 nations competing in Melbourne, while a further five countries competed only at the equestrian events in Stockholm. The Olympic Village, in which the athletes were housed in Melbourne, was located at Heidelberg West. Today, these buildings are used for public housing.

Events were held at various venues. The MCG was used as the main Olympic stadium and was the venue for the athletic events. It also hosted soccer and hockey finals, and demonstrations of Australian rules football and baseball. Other soccer events were held at Olympic Park, while the Olympic Pool hosted the swimming, diving and water polo competitions. Both of these venues are now part of the Melbourne and Olympic Park complex.

Festival Hall was the venue for gymnastics, boxing and wrestling events. Today, it continues to be an entertainment venue, hosting events from music concerts to boxing matches. Sailing events were conducted on Port Phillip, and rowing, canoeing and kayaking competitions took place on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat.

For the most part, the Games were conducted in a relaxed manner and became known as the “Friendly Games”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case in the men’s water polo semi final match between Hungary and the Soviet Union. It became know as the “Blood in the Water” match due to the violence that erupted between the two teams. The Hungarians won the match 4-0 and went on to win the gold medal.

The conclusion of the Olympic Games saw the Soviet Union at the top of the medal table with 37 gold, 29 silver, and 32 bronze medals. The United States finished second with a total of 74 medals, including 32 gold. Australia filled third place with 35 medals – 13 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze.

As continues to be the case today, Australia’s most successful sport was swimming, winning a total of 14 medals, including 8 gold. In the men’s events, Australia won five of the seven races, with Murray Rose winning two individual golds plus another in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

The women’s events saw Australia successful in three of the six races, with Dawn Fraser and Lorraine Crapp winning an individual gold and silver each, and another gold in the 4x100m relay. In both the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle events, Australians filled all three placings.

Australia also had considerable success in track events, gaining 12 medals including 4 gold. Betty Cuthbert won gold in the 100m and 200m, while Shirley Strickland took out the 80m hurdles. Both women were also part of the winning 4x100m relay team.

Other highlights of the Games included Vladimir Kuts from the Soviet Union winning both the 5,000m and 10,000m running events; American runner Bobby Joe Morrow equalling Betty Cuthbert’s success, taking out the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay; the Indian hockey team taking the gold for the sixth consecutive time; and Hungarian boxer Laszlo Papp winning his third gold in the light middleweight event.

The 1956 Melbourne Olympics concluded with the closing ceremony on 8th December. Following a suggestion by a Melbourne teenager by the name of John Wing, instead of marching at the closing ceremony with their nation’s team, athletes from different countries were allowed to mingle, as a show of world unity. This became a closing ceremony tradition that continues to this day.

For further information about the Olympic Games, see www.olympic.org.

2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

It has now been 10 years since the Commonwealth Games were held in Melbourne, so let’s reflect back on one of the city’s greatest sporting events.

The Commonwealth Games are an international multi-sport event for athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting mainly of countries who were part of the British Empire.

First held in 1930, the games have been hosted in Australia four times – Sydney in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982 and Melbourne in 2006. They will be held in Australia for a fifth time in 2018 at The Gold Coast in Queensland.

Commonwealth Games – 15th to 26th March 2006

Commonwealth Games sign
Signs announcing the Commonwealth Games lined many of the main roads into the city

Fifty years after staging the 1956 Olympics, Melbourne won the honour of hosting the 2006 Commonwealth Games. With Melbourne’s strong sporting culture, venues including the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, and Melbourne Park were already established. As with the 1956 Olympics, the MCG was again the main stadium and underwent a refurbishment for the 2006 Games.

The mascot for the XVIII Commonwealth Games was Karak, a red-tailed black cockatoo. It was his job to spread the word about the Melbourne Games all around Australia and, once the Games began, to help educate visitors about what Melbourne has to offer.

A Commonwealth Games tradition since 1958 has been the Queen’s Baton Relay. The relay for the 2006 Games commenced in England on 14 March 2005, a year and a day before the Games opened. The baton is a symbol of unity of the Commonwealth nations and contains a message to the athletes from Queen Elizabeth II, which is read at the Opening Ceremony. Originally, the baton only travelled between England and the country hosting the Games but since 1998 other Commonwealth nations have also been included in the relay. 2006 was the first time that the baton visited all 71 Commonwealth nations, travelling over 180,000 kilometres. The baton arrived in Australia on 24 January 2006 before being relayed around the country, visiting all states and territories. It arrived at the MCG for the opening ceremony on 15 March.

The opening ceremony was a spectacular event that took in not just the MCG main stadium but also featured a sound and light show along the Yarra River. There was also a collection of giant water creatures on the river, one representing each country of the Commonwealth. Back at the MCG, features included a flying tram, filled with performers, which landed in the centre of the arena. Victoria’s indigenous culture was also highlighted. The Commonwealth Games were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Each of the Commonwealth’s 71 nations was represented at the games. Athletes and officials were housed in a specially built village at Parkville, only a few kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD. The Games Village had the capacity for 6,000 residents, and since the completion of the games has become commercial housing.

Once the competition got underway, there were 16 sports contested. Swimming, diving and synchronised swimming were officially grouped together as “aquatics”, with different formats of cycling, shooting and gymnastics also regarded as a single sport. Four of the sports were also contested by elite athletes with a disability (EAD). These were athletics, powerlifting, swimming and table tennis, with the events being integrated into the general competition.

Events were conducted at ten venues around Melbourne. Some of these hosted more than one sport. The Melbourne Exhibition Centre hosted badminton, boxing and weightlifting events. The Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre was home to aquatics, squash and table tennis. The Multi-Purpose Venue at Melbourne Park staged basketball and netball finals and track cycling. The State Netball Hockey Centre staged netball preliminary matches and hockey. Preliminary basketball matches were played at four regional centres – Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon. Other sports contested were lawn bowls, held at Thornbury, and rugby 7s, staged at Telstra Dome (now Etihad Stadium).

Longer, outdoor events took place at various places around the city. Walking events were held around the Docklands precinct. Highlights of the marathon course – which started and finished at the MCG – included Beaconsfield Parade beside Port Phillip, Albert Park Lake, and the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was also the site for the cycling road race. The triathlon and cycling time trials were held along the St Kilda foreshore. The mountain bike competition took place at Lysterfield Park in Melbourne’s outer south-east, while shooting events were held in three locations – Port Melbourne, Lilydale and Bendigo.

The 2006 Games were a great success for the Australian team. After the eleven days of competition, they were at the head of the medal table with 84 gold, 69 silver and 68 bronze medals; a total of 221 – twice as many as England in second place. England’s total of 110 medals included 36 gold, while Canada, in third position, won 26 gold in their haul of 86 medals.

As is often the case, Australians performed extremely well in the pool, especially the women. There were 54 medals, including 19 gold, won by Australia’s swimmers. The best-performed swimmer was Libby Lenton, who collected a total of seven medals, including two freestyle and three relay golds. The most individual gold medals in the pool, however, were won by Leisel Jones, who made a clean sweep of the three breaststroke events and also won a relay gold. Three other female swimmers also took two individual gold medals each. The only Australian male swimmer to win gold was Matthew Cowdrey, who won two EAD freestyle events.

Other top Australian athletes were Nathan Deakes, who won both the 20 km and 50 km walks; Ryan Bayley with two golds and a team bronze in cycling events; Joshua Jefferis with a total of four gymnastics medals, including two gold; and Lalita Yauhleuskaya, who won two shooting events. In team events, Australia was successful in both men’s and women’s basketball and hockey.

Other outstanding performances of the Games were those of Canada’s Alexandra Orlando – who took five gold medals in rhythmic gymnastics and also helped her country win the team event – and Indian shooter Samaresh Jung, who won five gold, one silver and one bronze medal. He also set three world records and won the David Dixon Award for the most outstanding athlete of the Games.

In addition to the sporting events, another highlight of the games was Festival Melbourne 2006. Events such as music concerts, street performances, exhibitions, a circus and indigenous culture all featured in the twelve-day festival. Entertainment was free and held at venues such as the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Federation Square and the Alexandra Gardens.

The Games closed on the night of 26th March, following the completion of competition earlier that day. The closing ceremony saw performances by some of Australia’s top musical acts. An upside-down globe, depicting Australia as being on top of the world, was also a feature. For the first time, games volunteers were invited to be a part of the closing ceremony, in recognition of their efforts throughout the event. The official closing of the games was performed by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, after which there was a city-wide fireworks display.

Re-live the 2016 Melbourne Commonwealth Games at m2006.thecgf.com.

Commonwealth Games flags line many of Melbourne's streets, including Batman Avenue with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background
Commonwealth Games flags line many of Melbourne’s streets, including Batman Avenue with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background

 

Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road
Gardens around Melbourne feature colourful flowers in the Commonwealth Games theme, including the Marquis of Linlithgow monument on St Kilda Road

 

 Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours
Federation Square and the Melbourne Visitor Centre are decorated in Commonwealth Games theme colours

 

Water creatures representing nations of the Commonwealth are anchored to pontoons along the Yarra River with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background
Water creatures representing nations of the Commonwealth are anchored to pontoons along the Yarra River with the MCG (Commonwealth Games stadium) in the background

 

Work continues along the Yarra River which will extend the opening ceremony beyond the borders of the stadium with light and sound literally spilling out across the city
Work continues along the Yarra River which will extend the opening ceremony beyond the borders of the stadium with light and sound literally spilling out across the city

 

Closer view of the sea creatures set up along the Yarra River
Closer view of the sea creatures set up along the Yarra River

 

View north-west along the Yarra River and towards the city centre skyline with the sea creatures situated on the river
View north-west along the Yarra River and towards the city centre skyline with the sea creatures situated on the river

 

 Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country's national flag Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country's national flag
Work continues along the Yarra River near the Swan Street Bridge to hook up floating platforms in the shape and colours of each competing country’s national flag