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Adventure Tours Australia

t1300 654 604, whttp://www.adventuretours.com.au. This South Australia–based safari-tour operator does runs along the west coast from Perth to Darwin, Darwin to Melbourne and has Tasmania “stitched up”. It also does a three-day one-way tour from Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians departing three times a week ($395).

Autopia Tours

t03/9419 8878 or t1800 000 507, whttp://www.autopiatours.com.au. Long-established outfit running popular day-trips by minibus along the Great Ocean Road ($125), to Phillip Island ($135) and the Grampians ($120), plus a combined tour to the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians (3 days; $395), including dorm accommodation and most meals. It also offers one-way tours between Melbourne and Sydney via Wilsons Prom, Snowy Mountains and Canberra (3 days; $395); prices include meals and accommodation.

Bunyip Bushwalking Tours

t03/9650 9680, whttp://www.bunyiptours.com. Nature-focused tours with – as the name implies – lots of bushwalking, mainly to Wilson’s Promontory National Park (1–3 days; $110–195). For the longer trips you need to be reasonably fit and able to carry a pack with your own tent and supplies. The one- and two-day tours can be combined with the Phillip Island Penguin Parade on the way back to Melbourne. A three-day tour of the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians costs $340, and a one-day sunset tour is $120, including lunch. Very small groups.

Echidna Walkabout

t03/9646 8249, whttp://www.echidnawalkabout.com.au. Long-running upmarket ecotour operator, with very small groups and enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable guides, focusing on native wildlife. The Savannah Walkabout day-tour ($180) goes to Serendip Sanctuary and the You Yangs, southwest of Melbourne, while longer trips head along the Great Ocean Road and to remoter parts of East Gippsland, and include bushwalks; accommodation is in B&Bs or very comfortable camps ($1450).

Eco Platypus Tours

t1800 819 091, whttp://www.ecoplatypustours.com. One very long day-trip along the Great Ocean Road, going as far as Loch Ard Gorge and staying at the Twelve Apostles for the sunset. The return trip is along the faster inland route via Colac ($100, but cheaper if more than 3 people book at the same time).

Go West

t1300 736 551, whttp://www.gowest.com.au. This family-run tour company offers day-trips, primarily aimed at the backpacker market, on a 21-seater minibus travelling the Great Ocean Road ($120) and to Phillip Island ($125); tours are very good value, entertaining and informative.

Groovy Grape

t1800 661 177, whttp://www.groovygrape.com.au. One-way tour specialist offering regular trips between Melbourne and Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians (3 days; $355). In Adelaide you can join its day-tour to the Barossa Valley ($79) and its one-way tour to Alice Springs (7 days; $895). Max twenty people.

Melbourne’s Best Tours

t1300 130 550, whttp://www.melbournetours.com.au. More conventional half-day and full-day tours in a small (21-seater) luxury coach to various destinations including Mornington Peninsula wineries ($361), Ballarat and Sovereign Hill ($367).

Oz Experience

t1300 300 028, whttp://www.ozexperience.com. One-way trips from Melbourne to either Adelaide or Sydney, with an emphasis on hands-on activities such as surfing, hiking, mountain biking.

Phillip Island Penguin Tours

t03/9629 5888, whttp://www.penguinislandtour.com.au. As the name suggests, it focuses solely on day-trips to see penguins (from $99) and does it well with good minibuses equipped with DVD players.

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