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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.

Car hire in Melbourne and Victoria

Car hireVictoria is a diverse state with a multitude of attractions in both Melbourne and the state’s regional areas. When it comes to getting around, public transport isn’t always able to take you everywhere, and it may not always be convenient.  So if you come to Victoria without your own vehicle, hiring a car is a good option to get the most out of your visit.


Arriving by air

Most people coming to Victoria by air will land at Melbourne Airport which is located around 20 kilometres north-west of the city. This is Victoria’s only international airport and a major hub for domestic flights.

The major international hire car companies of Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty all have booking desks inside the airport terminal buildings, along with Australia’s own Redspot.

Compare car hire at Melbourne Airport

 

Car hire depots are also located at several smaller regional airports in Victoria:


Arriving by boat

If you are coming to Melbourne by sea, you will dock at Station Pier in Port Melbourne. Most arrivals will be aboard the Spirit of Tasmania which is a passenger and car ferry that runs services to and from Tasmania on almost every day of the year and sometimes twice a day during peak season.

While there are no car hire depots located at Port Melbourne, cars can be hired from depots nearby which are easily reached either by taxi or public transport.

Car hire near Port Melbourne

 


Arriving by train

There are two interstate passenger train lines that enter Victoria and extend to Melbourne. The Overland service runs between Adelaide and Melbourne while the XPT runs between Sydney and Melbourne. All these trains terminate at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne.

Car hire depots for Avis, Budget and Europcar are located at Southern Cross Station, while depots for other car hire companies are located very close by, either walking distance or a short tram or taxi ride away.

Car hire near Southern Cross Station

 


Getting the best deal

Most people don’t have too much loyalty to car hire brands, so whoever offers the best deal which matches the renter’s requirements will usually get the deal.

To save individually comparing rates between all the major car hire companies in Melbourne and Victoria, simply use the comparison tool below. Using your specified pick-up location and hire dates, it will display car hire availability from all the major providers.

Compare all car hire in Victoria

 


Should you pick up a hire car from the airport or elsewhere?

For those arriving by air, obviously the most convenient option is to pick up your hire vehicle at the airport. Car hire check-in desks are located within the terminal building, and the car you book is waiting for you at one of the closest car parks, usually just a few steps away.

Airports are regarded by most car hire companies as premium locations, so you will end up paying extra for the convenience of picking up your vehicle there.  If you want to save a bit of money, compare the cost of picking up your hire vehicle at the airport with a location that is either convenient to where you are staying or easily accessible by public transport.  Particularly for long rental periods, the savings can be quite substantial, even when you factor in the cost of transport between the airport to the depot.


Will others be driving your hire vehicle?

It is important to consider whether people other than yourself will be driving the rental vehicle. This may be relevant if you are planning a trip away with your partner, family, friends or business associates.

Some hire car companies allow you to nominate additional drivers at no cost, while others will charge extra fees.

Hire car company Fees for additional drivers Exemptions from fees
Avis None
Budget None.
Europcar $5.75 for each additional driver, capped at $28.75 for the whole rental period.
Hertz $5.50 for each additional driver, capped at $27.50 for the whole rental period. Immediate family members, employers or employees.
Redspot $5.50 for each additional driver, capped at $33.00 for the whole rental period. If the rate level you have selected is the “top dog” all inclusive rate.
Thrifty $5.50 for each additional driver, capped at $27.50 for the whole rental period. Corporate club and auto club members hiring vehicles pay no additional driver fees.

What sort of insurance should you take?

All cars you hire are insured against accidents. They also include roadside assistance for use in emergencies.

If your vehicle is involved in an accident, you will need to pay an insurance excess fee, which can be several thousands of dollars depending on the type of vehicle and if it was a single vehicle accident.

As well as accidents, any damage you cause to the vehicle that requires repairs, such as windscreen or tyre replacement, will also need to be paid for.

Hire car companies usually offer add-ons whereby you can pay an extra daily charge to reduce or completely eliminate the cost you would normally occur in the case of an accident or vehicle damage. These add-ons can inflate the daily hire charge by up to 50%, so it is important to consider some economical options if you wish to avoid paying out large sums of money in the event of an accident or damage to the vehicle.

If you only have the vehicle for a day or two, the simplest and cheapest way may simply be to accept the hire car company’s offer of paying more to eliminate excess charges.

If you are hiring a vehicle for more than a couple of days, a cheaper option is to take out independent travel insurance.  Most general travel insurance plans include hire car excess charges, although you will need to verify they will cover the full amount as they usually set a limit. In fact, you may already have travel insurance arranged for your trip, so why not take advantage of all its features, including coverage for hire car excess fees.


How to pay for toll roads

In Melbourne there are several toll roads which you may use during your travels. Fortunately you shouldn’t have to worry about paying those tolls as vehicles hired through most hire car companies are registered with toll road operators.  This ensures you will be automatically billed for toll road usage.  This billing process will differ between hire care companies.

For Avis, Budget, Europcar and Thrifty, as well as incurring the actual cost of using a toll road, there is also a $3.30 daily service fee which is charged only on the days you use a toll road.

Redspot simply add a $1.43 fee to every toll charge you accumulate.  For a single trip in a day this is good value, but it can end up getting expensive if you make multiple toll road trips within a day. Note that when booking a vehicle, if you select the “top dog” all inclusive rate, then all toll road usage is covered an no additional cost.

Hertz operate quite differently and offer unlimited toll road usage with a fixed daily charge of $14.30 which applies to every day of rental period whether you use toll roads or not.  Alternatively, you can opt for an arrangement whereby you pay an upfront $16.50 administration fee and then you are automatically billed only for usage. This is recommended for longer term hiring or when you don’t expect to use toll roads every day.


Fuel options

When picking up the vehicle, it will have a full tank of fuel. Three options are usually available when returning the vehicle.

  1. Pay for a whole tank of fuel. This mean the hire car company assumes you will return the vehicle with an empty tank, so you will be charged for a full refueling, no matter how much is left. In reality, it is impossible to return a vehicle with not one drop of fuel left in it, so this can be an expensive option, particularly if you have a significant amount of fuel left in the vehicle, although usually the cost charged for a whole tank of petrol will be very competitive.
  2. Pay a “fill up” charge.  You can return the vehicle with any amount of fuel left in the tank, and you will only be charged to fill it up. While this may seem an attractive option, the cost per litre and fill up charge will be much more than what it would cost for you to buy fuel yourself.
  3. Return the vehicle with a full tank.  This is the cheapest option if you have the time, and if a petrol station is located not too far away from the car hire depot. That way you only pay for exactly the quantity of fuel you use.

Are you guaranteed to get the car you booked?

When looking at types of cars offered by the rental companies, they will tend to classify cars by their size, style, number of seats and luggage capacity by using terms such as “compact”, “intermediate”, “standard” or “full size”.  They usually provide an illustration of an example car that fits that size.

It is important to note the clause that says “or similar”. Car hire depots usually have various models within each category, so depending on availability, you can’t be guaranteed to get exactly the model advertised.  If you do have a specific preference for a model or a vehicle colour, make the hire car company aware of that at the time of booking and they may be able to arrange it when you pick it up.

There are some vehicle models which you can be guaranteed to get when booking, but these are usually if you hire prestige or sports vehicles.

How to get to Melbourne’s city centre from Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport
Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine Airport, is located 19 kilometres north-west of Melbourne‘s central business district.  Once your flight lands at the airport, there are a number of transport options for getting to the city centre.

By bus:

SkyBus
SkyBus

SkyBus operates a fleet of clean and comfortable airport buses which travel express from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station in the city centre.

The SkyBus service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Departures are every 10 minutes from 6am to midnight. Between midnight and 6am, departures are either every 15 or 20 minutes.

On average, the journey on SkyBus takes 20 minutes. During morning and afternoon peak times, the average journey time is 30 minutes due to the extra traffic.

Reservations are not required on SkyBus. Simply buy your tickets online or at the SkyBus ticket booth located at Melbourne Airport or Southern Cross Station. Tickets are valid for 3 months from the date of purchase. The Myki smart card cannot be used on SkyBus.

SkyBus also operates a fleet of mini buses which can transport ticket holders from Southern Cross Station to a number of hotels in the city, free of charge.

Star Bus
Star Bus

Alternatively, Star Bus operates a door to door service from Melbourne Airport to the city centre and its immediately surrounding inner suburbs from 6am to 6pm, 7 days a week. Unlike SkyBus, you won’t need to change buses if you need to be dropped off somewhere specific.

By train:

There is currently no direct train or tram line between Melbourne Airport at the city centre. As such, SkyBus is the quickest and easiest way to travel between the airport and city by public transport.

If you really do want to use the train, catch the Craigieburn line train from Melbourne and get off at Broadmeadows station. Transfer to bus number 901 which is a SmartBus service that operates frequently between Broadmeadows Station and Melbourne Airport. Allow least one hour for this entire journey, keeping in mind that there are no train or bus services between Melbourne and Broadmeadows from just after midnight to about 5am during weekdays.

By taxi:

Designated taxi ranks are located at Melbourne Airport, on the ground floor in front of each terminal. The taxi fare from the airport to Melbourne’s city centre is approximately $60.

You can pre-book a taxi to pick you up from the airport. The driver will park in the short term car park and will meet you at the baggage carousel, where you will be then escorted to the waiting taxi.

By chauffeur:

Travel in style between Melbourne AiAirport chauffeurrport and the city, with the option of being dropped off directly at your city hotel.

Let Royale Limousines take the hassle out of getting to and from Melbourne Airport in one of their chauffeur driven standard or luxury vehicles.

Once you experience a chauffeur service, you’ll never want to drive yourself to the airport again!

Airport chauffeur - standard car

 

Airport chauffeur - luxury car

By hire car:

Six major car rental companies operate at Melbourne Airport. Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Redspot have information desks at the domestic terminals with car pick-ups available from their offices located in the short term car park at the front of the airport.

Melbourne Airport is located 20 kilometres by road from the heart of Melbourne.

The most direct route, which avoids toll roads, will take 25 minutes if there are minimal traffic delays. Travel via the Tullamarine Freeway (M2), exit at Bulla Road (metro route 37) which then becomes Mt Alexander Road and Flemington Road as it heads into the city centre.

Alternatively, take the Tullamarine Freeway (M2) and travel along the western section of the CityLink toll road. This will take less than 20 minutes assuming there is no significant congestion. Hire car companies have procedures in place whereby you can be automatically billed for using the vehicle on any toll roads.

Map of driving routes from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne CBD
Map of driving routes from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne CBD

By air:

Heli-Express
Heli-Express

Heli-Express offers a helicopter service from Melbourne Airport to the city.

Passengers are greeted at Melbourne Airport and are chauffeur-driven for 2 minutes to the nearby heliport where they board a luxury twin-engine Agusta helicopter. The flight time is just 4 minutes, with passengers being dropped off at a Yarra River heliport. Complimentary refreshments are served in the passenger lounge, where connecting transport can be arranged.

The helicopter service operates during daylight hours with between 2 and 6 passengers per flight.

How to get to Phillip Island from Melbourne

Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island
Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island

Phillip Island is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. It is well-known for its famous penguin parade, large fur seal colony,  native wildlife, exciting racing at the island’s Grand Prix circuit, its scenic coastline, quaint fishing villages, beautiful beaches, outdoor dining, and so much more.

The island’s reasonably close proximity to Melbourne makes it a popular choice for visitors, be it a day trip or longer stay.

As the crow flies, Phillip Island is only 75 kilometres from Melbourne.  There are a number of ways to get there.

By car

Phillip Island map
Driving from Melbourne to Phillip Island

Phillip Island is linked to the Victorian mainland by a bridge at San Remo. The distance to drive from the heart of Melbourne to the bridge is just over 120 kilometres.

Head south-east along the Monash Freeway (M1), taking either the South Gippsland Freeway (M420), Clyde Road (C407) or Koo Wee Rup Road (C422) exit.  Follow the M420 and B420 signs as you travel along the South Gippsland Highway, Bass Highway and Phillip Island Road.

The journey time is usually around 90 minutes.

Note that there is no car ferry to Phillip Island, so if you wish to bring your vehicle onto the island, you must use the bridge at San Remo.

Driving directions from Melbourne to Phillip Island

By bus

A number of V/Line bus services run between Southern Cross Station in Melbourne and several towns on Phillip Island including Newhaven, Cape Woolamai, Surf Beach, Sunderland Bay and Cowes.  The journey from Melbourne requires a change of bus at Koo Wee Rup and takes around 2 hours to get to the bridge and a further 20 to 25 minutes to Cowes.

Refer to the V/Line timetable for Melbourne to Cowes.

By train and bus

Another option is to catch a suburban train service to Dandenong. From there, catch a V/Line bus that travels direct to Phillip Island. The train journey to Dandenong takes between 40 to 50 minutes, depending from which station in Melbourne’s city centre is used. The bus journey from Dandenong to the Phillip Island bridge takes around one hour and 45 minutes, and a further 20 to 25 minutes to Cowes.

Refer to timetable for Melbourne to Cowes which also includes details of the train service to Dandenong.

By train and ferry

Passenger ferry service from Stony Point to Cowes
Passenger ferry service from Stony Point to Cowes

For something a little different, you can catch a suburban train from Melbourne to Frankston (1 hour), then switch onto a diesel service which runs from Frankston to Stony Point (35 minutes).

From Stony Point Jetty, board the Inter Island Ferries passenger catamaran which docks at the Cowes Jetty.  The boat trip takes around 45 minutes, usually with a stop at French Island.

By car and ferry

Driving from Melbourne to Stony Point
Driving from Melbourne to Stony Point

If you have a vehicle but don’t want to drive all the way around the eastern side of Western Port to the Phillip Island bridge at San Remo, you can instead drive to Stony Point and catch a passenger ferry from there.

Head south-east along the Monash Freeway (M1), take the South Gippsland Freeway (M420) exit and continue along that road which becomes the Western Port Highway (M780/A780) and ends up at Hastings.  Alternatively, take the EastLink (M3) exit off the Monash Freeway, then the Peninsula Link (M11) exit and follow that freeway to the Frankston-Flinders Road (C777) exit which takes you to Hastings.

Once in Hastings, follow the Frankston-Flinders Road (C777) to Bittern where there is a turn-off to Stony Point Road (C786) which ends up at the Stony Point railway station and jetty.

There is a public car park in the vicinity of the railway station and jetty. Alternatively, secure parking is available for a nominal daily fee at the Stony Point Caravan Park.

From Stony Point Jetty, board the Inter Island Ferries passenger catamaran which docks at the Cowes Jetty.  The boat trip takes around 45 minutes, usually with a stop at French Island.

By air

Phillip Island Helicopters
Phillip Island Helicopters

Did you know that Phillip Island has its own airfield?  So you can get to the island by air!

Fronting Phillip Island Road at Newhaven are Phillip Island Helicopters who not only conduct scenic flights, but also offer charter services.  In just 30 minutes, you can be flown from suitable landing locations in Melbourne, such as Essendon Airport or Moorabbin Airport, directly to Phillip Island. Avoid the traffic and save time! See  www.phillipislandhelicopters.com.au for further details.

Join a tour

Take the hassle out of getting to Phillip Island and finding your way around by joining one of the many guided day tours that departs from Melbourne.

Day tours include a range of activities such as a visit to the famous Penguin Parade and eco-tours that explore the island’s diverse flora and fauna. Tours may also include visits to Churchill Island, the Koala Conservation Centre, The Nobbies and the island’s beautiful coastline and beaches.

Phillip Island tours 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 Phillip Island.