Let's start with the elephant in the room: Hook Turns! For non-Victorians the thought of popping in to the far left lane of a four, five or six lane road to turn right - a hook-turn - can seem a little daunting. However, the truth is most Melbournians rarely make a hook turn themselves.
Hook turn intersections are restricted exclusively to South Melbourne and the Melbourne CBD, they are well signed and a quick YouTube search brings up handy real world examples of how to safely execute a hook turn.
VicRoads offer the following guide to hook turning.
Hook turns can be avoided completely by taking a more circuitous route (you can always choose to go left, left and left again) or for the adventurous they are fun to execute. Melbourne should have t-shirts for the successful completion of a hook turn; and they do, in black of course.
The Melbourne inner CBD trams are free, so another option is; if you can't beat them, join them. You can safely stash your hire car at the city fringe where parking is more available and cheaper and then ride trams in the inner CBD.
However, the city and the state both have much to explore and having your own set of wheels is a great convenience.
Discover Melbourne – A city of Neighbourhoods
Melbourne still retains a keen sense of identity and suburban tribalism. Each neighbourhood is keen to let you know why their football team, fashion, food and coffee is the best, while gently jabbing the neighbouring suburbs as being too try-hard or too hipster or plainly over rated. For the shopaholic, or foodie, or cultural aesthete, being able to flit between hotspots makes having your own car indispensible.
The hire car also provides a willing beast of burden to carry all the shopping! And as magnificent as the vibrant Melbourne scene is, it's nice to a have quick refuge from the ever changing weather when it inevitably closes in.
The websites onlyMelbourne and good old Tripadvisor will help customise your Melbourne itinerary. Whatever your interests and passions may be, Melbourne and Victoria hold the potential for mind blowing experiences. If you can make it to the MCG for a sporting event you will gain an insight into why Melbourne is regarded as the sports capital of Australia.
Bells Beach: The Great Ocean Road
Melbourne to Bells Beach is only a 1 hour 20 minutes drive to the South West. Google Maps puts the Port Campbell National Park, home to the Twelve Apostles at 2 hours 40 mins from Melbourne, a leisurely drive. However, unless you are on a really tight timeline, you can take this route at your own pace.
Just 2 hours from Melbourne is Lorne. Nestled in an area rich in waterfalls cascading through fern gullies and stunning beaches, Lorne has laid back coastal town vibe that artists and travellers alike find inspiring. Even if you go no further, you will have discovered a place that you will never forget. There are many more rewards for those who do press on all the way to Portland such as whale watching and tuna fishing.
The Gold Rush Towns of Bendigo & Ballarat
The Australian Gold Rush town of Bendigo is 154 km north-west of Melbourne. Ballarat is closer still at 114 km west north-west of Melbourne and home to major tourism attraction, Sovereign Hill, where the 1850's gold rush and Eureka Stockade are brought to life through heritage reenactments. Another option is to take in both heritage centres, then meander through wine country onto Albury/Wodonga, then onto Canberra.
Also coming in at less than 2 hours from Melbourne's CBD is Phillip Island. This south easterly drive presents a rapidly changing, eclectic blend of urban, suburban and coastal vistas as you follow the curvature of Western Port Bay. Just like so much of Melbourne and Victoria; the region caters to a wide variety of interests, from watching Fairy Penguins to motor sport to a genuine Australian surf culture; Phillip Island has a lot to offer and is an easy day trip from Melbourne.
Hire car advantages
Chances are you will collect your hire car from Tullamarine airport. Both pick up and drop off are a breeze and hire car queues are usually significantly shorter than the taxi rank line-ups. Tullamarine to Melbourne CBD is a pretty expensive taxi fare at peak traffic times, so chances are you will have recouped most of your first day's car hire cost from that one journey alone. Taxifare.com.au lists prices around $60 for this trip in a taxi.
How to find your perfect touring route
Just as the campaign says, "you will love every piece of Victoria". You will also fall in love with the Visit Victoria website. This site makes it so easy to find the best options that suit you and any travel companions, to make the most out of your Victorian experience. The suggested itineraries all come with distances and travel times, so you can get a feel for the pace that you will be touring.
Hire Car Tips
Melbourne has many toll roads so it is a good idea to register your hire car for tolls. Often hire companies have a day rate for tolls that covers everything.
Anyway, driving a hire car in Melbourne is easier than you think. Having a hire car to get around will take you to areas not regularly serviced by public transport, plus regional Victoria is worth exploring once you leave the city. Enjoy your next road trip there!