A guide to Victoria’s most iconic road trip

Visit Victoria and the travel experts at RAA are sharing the best road trip stops in Victoria.

There’s never been a better time for an unforgettable road trip, with the Great Southern Touring Route spanning many of regional Victoria’s most incredible experiences. Departing on this 876-kilometre looped adventure, you’ll traverse pristine coastal landscapes, summit mountains, dine at award-winning wineries and much, much more. Dive into this comprehensive guide to discover why the Great Southern Touring Route is considered one of Australia’s top self-guided journeys.


Setting your sights on Geelong, the bayside city has come on leaps and bounds by adopting its own cosmopolitan heartbeat that distinguishes it apart from Melbourne. While Victoria’s second-largest city gets slightly busier every year, it still hasn’t lost any of its easy going atmosphere.

Grab a specialist brew from Fuel Coffee + Food and soak up the historic waterfront before taking a short stroll to Little Malop Street for a bite to eat. This charming European-style strip offers plenty of choices, but The Arborist’s Modern Australian cuisine is bound to impress.

Further along the Bellarine Peninsula, the fertile hills surrounding Clifton Springs, Drysdale and Ocean Grove attract roadtrippers who are keen to visit an award-winning cellar door for lunch. Enjoy a fine glass of wine alongside a heavenly sea view at the Jack Rabbit Vineyard, while the Oakdene Vineyards on the opposite side of the peninsula also deserve a pitstop.


Leaving behind the Bellarine for the Surf Coast, Torquay is a standout community featuring the world-renowned Bells Beach. Hosting the leading surfers from around the globe for the Rip Curl Pro since 1962, this sandy stretch has long been cemented in the sport’s folklore for its big swells and stunning scenery. Before hitting the water, enjoy stellar views up and down the rugged coastline from the clifftop lookout spots.

A short drive away via Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, Lorne is the first town on the doorstep of the Great Otway National Park that will undoubtedly capture your attention. As the coastal landscapes become increasingly overrun by lush rainforest, head into the hills to roam a myriad of scenic hikes and towering waterfalls.

The 30-metre tall Erskine Falls will coat you with refreshing mist as whitewater plunges into the gully below, although adventuring spirits will also enjoy the nearby Phantom Falls, reached via a 90-minute hike through dense rainforest. There’s even a thrilling zipline experience amongst the canopies with Otway Fly Treetop Adventures.

If you’re looking for a quality place to eat, MoVida Lorne brings Mediterranean flavours to Victoria’s coastline, offering a delightful waterfront companion to the long-standing Melbourne restaurant.


Hugging the steep hillsides as you cruise down the coast, set aside some time to hang out at Apollo Bay Beach before trekking up to Marriners Lookout for unmatched Southern Ocean views. This part of the world is also celebrated for its seafood, so don’t miss your chance to drop into Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant for a delicious dish with a scenic backdrop.

The next stop on this wonderful journey is Cape Otway and its headline destination, the Cape Otway Lightstation. Climb to the top of Australia’s oldest operating lighthouse to catch the panoramas, then take a well-earned break at the nearby Lightkeepers Cafe for freshly baked scones and handmade jams. Just an hour’s drive up the coast, via a serpentining stretch of the Great Ocean Road, the unmistakable 12 Apostles punctuate this windswept coastline.

Formed over millions of years, these soaring limestone spires are ideally admired at sunrise or sunset when the light is especially soft. Once you’ve snapped enough photos, stop nearby at Loch Ard Gorge for one of Victoria’s best-kept beachfront secrets. Then it’s onwards to Warrnambool for some much-needed geothermal pampering at the Deep Blue Hotel & Hot Springs.


The last stop on this tour of Victoria’s remarkable coast is Port Fairy, which features an eclectic arts, culture and dining scene. Pop into Blarney Books and Art where you’ll likely find something fascinating hidden in the motley new and second-hand goods. For a special feed served in Victoria’s oldest inn, head to Merrijig Inn for an ever-evolving menu using ingredients gathered from either the garden or local farmlands.

The scenery changes dramatically as you shift north away from the ocean and into the Southern Grampians. Edging closer to Dunkeld, there’s a worthy detour to Hamilton where you can explore local art galleries and wander the William Guilfoyle-designed Hamilton Botanic Gardens.

Located 30 kilometres away, Dunkeld is another regional centre that loves its food and culture. You can sip down a barista-made coffee inside a reinvigorated mechanic’s workshop at Koopmans Dunkeld or pay a visit to the acclaimed Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel for high-end cuisine that celebrates the Grampians’ fresh flavours. If the timing makes sense, don’t skip sunset overlooking the Dunkeld Arboretum.

Deep within the Grampians National Park, Halls Gap reveals why this region is so beloved by nature-lovers. Hike up to The Pinnacle to receive rewarding vistas across the surrounding mountaintops, while the challenging Boronia Peak Walk showcases marvellous views down the Fyans Valley. The immense MacKenzie Falls is also a must for outdoor enthusiasts, rising to 35 metres and flowing all year round.


Heading eastbound on the final leg of this monumental road trip, you’ll soon arrive upon the historic towns of Stawell and Great Western. This region is bursting with First Nations history, with significant rock art paintings like Bunjil’s Shelter offering invaluable insight into Australia’s ancient past. You’ll also come across Best’s Wines, one of the longest-running wineries in the country, which has been passed down through five generations.

With Ballarat needing a multi-day stay of its own, you won’t have any problem creating a jam-packed sightseeing itinerary. Home to Australia’s gold rush during the 1850s, Sovereign Hill’s living museum depicts Ballarat a decade after riches were first discovered. Try panning for gold or explore the mines deep underground.

Elsewhere, the Ballarat Wildlife Park showcases free-roaming kangaroos and koalas, alongside a large enclosure for two Sumatran tigers named Maneki and Satu. If you still have a thirst for outstanding art and culture, the Art Gallery of Ballarat presents stirring exhibitions from esteemed local and international artists.

Before making tracks for home, Daylesford is the last must-visit destination on the Great Southern Touring Route. Culminating this legendary journey in style, spend a while recuperating at one of the town’s mineral spring bathhouses. For a luxe affair, choose The Spa at Lake House or the Daylesford Massage Spa.


Once you’ve finished the Great Southern Touring Route, drive onwards to the Mornington Peninsula to explore Victoria’s other, equally beautiful, coastline.

Set out on an adventure and discover one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives. Drive along cliff tops, past surf beaches and through lush rainforest. Stop to see the famous Twelve Apostles, the incredible limestone stacks that rise out of the ocean. Feel the sand between your toes while strolling along empty beaches. Scale the peaks of the Grampians National Park. There’s so much to discover! Plan your self drive holiday with the travel experts at RAA travel.

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Israeli air strikes hit Gaza as fighting enters second week

Israel bombed what it said were underground tunnels used by Hamas, and Palestinian militants fired rocket barrages at Israeli cities as fighting spilled into a second week on Monday amid mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

After a night of heavy Israeli air strikes on areas across the Islamist Hamas-run enclave, Israel’s military said Gaza militants had fired about 60 rockets towards Israeli cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the two previous nights.

A Palestinian sponge factory in northern Gaza was hit in a morning air strike and firefighters battled to quell the blaze, which sent plumes of smoke into the air. One Palestinian was killed in an air strike later in the morning, medics said.

After rockets were fired from Gaza at the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, Israeli jets bombed what the military said were 15 km of underground tunnels used by Hamas. It also struck nine residences belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders, it said.

With the sounds of Israeli bombardment continuing throughout the morning, Gaza residents rushed to bakeries and drugstores to stock up on bread and other essentials.

“My children couldn’t sleep all night even after the wave of intensive bombing stopped,” said Umm Naeem, 50, a mother of five, as she shopped for bread in Gaza City. “What is happening to us is too much, but Jerusalem deserves all the sacrifices.”

West Gaza resident Mad Abed Rabbo, 39, expressed “horror and fear” at the intensity of the onslaught.

“There have never been strikes of this magnitude,” he said.

Gaza resident Mani Qazaat said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should realise we’re civilians, not fighters”.

“I felt like I was dying,” he said.

Gaza health officials put the death toll since the hostilities flared at 198, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities say.

Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli air strikes hammered the Gaza Strip Monday after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.


World concern had already deepened after an Israeli air strike in Gaza that destroyed several homes on Sunday and which Palestinian health officials said killed 42 people, including 10 children, and persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

“All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, injecting more urgency into Washington’s calls for calm after speaking with Egypt’s foreign minister.

At a UN Security Council meeting on Sunday, the United States said it had made clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it was ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s campaign in Gaza was continuing at “full force”, and that deterrence had to be achieved to prevent future conflict with Hamas.

“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” Mr Netanyahu said in a televised address after his security Cabinet met on Sunday.

International calls for mediation

US President Joe Biden said his administration was working with all parties towards achieving a sustained calm.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that the United Nations was “actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire” and urged them “to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed”.

UN envoys have helped to mediate past truces between Israel and Hamas.

Washington, a strong ally of Israel, has been isolated at the United Nations over its objection to a public statement by the Security Council on the violence because it worries it could harm behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Jordan’s King Abdullah said his kingdom was involved in intensive diplomacy to halt the bloodshed, but gave no details.

Palestinian Al Deyri family's children after their home was demolished by Israeli army's airstrikes in Gaza City, Gaza.

Israeli air strikes have hammered the Gaza Strip after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.


The Israeli military said Hamas, a group regarded by Israel, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist movement, and other armed factions have fired about 3,150 rockets from Gaza over the past week.

Israel’s missile defence system intercepted around 90 per cent of the rockets, and around 460 landed in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas said its attacks were in retaliation for Israel’s “ongoing aggression against civilians”, including the air strike in Gaza City on Sunday that destroyed a number of homes.

The Israeli military said civilian casualties were unintentional and that its jets attacked a tunnel system used by militants, which collapsed, bringing the homes down. Hamas called it “pre-meditated killing”.

A rocket fired from Gaza flies towards Israel, in Gaza City, 17 May 2021.

Israeli air strikes have hammered the Gaza Strip after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.


On US network CBS’ Face the Nation programme, Mr Netanyahu defended another Israeli air strike a day earlier that destroyed a 12-storey building where the Associated Press and the Al Jazeera TV network had offices.

He said the structure also housed the militant group’s intelligence office, making it a legitimate target.

Israel had given advance warning to occupants to leave. The Associated Press has condemned the strike and called on Israel to present evidence that Hamas was in the building.

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Victorian Budget 2021/22 includes vital funds to support people and pets impacted by family violence

Pets will no longer be silent victims of family violence, with the Victorian Government’s announcement today that $1.3 million in funding is included in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to support victim survivors and their pets.

RSPCA Victoria welcomes the announcement of $1.3 million allocated in the Budget to help people fleeing family violence keep their pets safe by linking refuge and accommodation services with vets, animal shelters and boarding facilities, and to provide financial assistance to help victims access basic pet care items such as kennels and cat baskets.

RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, says the increased funding recognises the strong link between family violence and animal cruelty, along with the need to support people fleeing violence to keep and care for their pets.

“Pets bring great companionship and comfort – they truly are part of the family and essential that we treat them as such when managing family violence situations,” says Dr Walker.

“Numerous studies show that in households experiencing domestic and family violence, where there is a pet present, there is also a high probability of animal abuse. Not only are animals in these households at risk of experiencing abuse, but we also know that many victims of family violence will delay or avoid leaving unsafe situations for fear of leaving their pets behind.

“Fearing for the welfare of pets or being separated from them when fleeing family violence situations can be an incredibly traumatic experience. For victims, knowing that their animals are safe is one less stressor for them to deal with when seeking refuge for themselves or their children.

“This funding will help bridge the gap between animal and human support services, giving victims of family violence an avenue to both protect themselves and their pets from abuse and by leaving their situation knowing their pet will be well cared for.”

In the 2019-20 financial year, RSPCA Victoria provided emergency boarding for 148 animals, including those belonging to people affected by family violence.

As a result of the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding to support people and pets in family violence situations, RSPCA Victoria looks forward to working more closely with refuge, support and accommodation organisations to provide support to pets and people impacted by family violence.

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Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton says they will settle Dani Laidley case

Victoria’s top cop says police will settle a case brought by former North Melbourne AFL coach, Dani Laidley, for what was “inappropriate conduct” by officers.

The former AFL player and coach, who was outed in public as transgender after vulnerable photos of her in custody were allegedly leaked, is suing Victoria Police.

The images of Ms Laidley wearing make-up and a long blonde wig while being questioned by police were splashed across the tabloid press in May last year.

Last week Ms Laidley, 54, lodged action in Victoria’s Supreme Court, claiming the force is liable for the alleged actions of three police officers who are accused of sharing sensitive photos of her which quickly made their way into the public realm.

Speaking on 774 Melbourne radio on Thursday morning, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said the matter would be resolved quickly.

“We have done the wrong thing,” he said.

When asked if that meant an apology and a payout, he replied “pretty much”, adding that the police did not want to cause more hurt or trauma.

Laywer Rob Stary, who is representing Ms Laidley, said she changed her name after undergoing a gender transition.

Eleven police officers have faced disciplinary hearings and have been personally ordered to pay Ms Laidley compensation between $500 and $3,000.

Three officers are facing criminal charges over the leak and at least six officers have been placed on 12-month good behaviour bonds.

In the writ lodged in the Supreme Court, Ms Laidley is seeking unspecified damages for the injuries caused by being publicly ridiculed.

One detective is accused of publishing the first photograph of Ms Laidley to a WhatsApp chat group and sending it to other officers, allegedly saying Ms Laidley was “dressing like a tranny” and calling her a “full-blown tranny”.

Another police officer, who is a senior constable, allegedly published the second photograph to the same WhatsApp group.

Ms Laidley’s lawyers argue the commentary exposed her to “humiliation and ridicule”, and implied that dressing or identifying as a woman “was deserving of disparagement and ridicule”.

It’s claimed while she was in custody, she was under the care of Victoria Police and that the organisation breached its duty of care to her.

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Victoria weighs up quarantine village similar to NT’s Howard Springs facility

Flexibility and adaptability will be the key for the proposed Victorian quarantine village, the architect of the Northern Territory’s model says.

Premier Daniel Andrews is considering establishing a version of the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

James Dorrat, is the technical director at Aecome, which designed the Manigurr-ma gas plant workers’ village in Howard Springs outside Darwin in 2012.

James Dorrat says the village could be used after the COVID-19 threat subsides.(

Supplied: Aecom


“It is motel-style accommodation and so keeps people distant,” he said.

“It can be used long-term as a recreation or tourist part, a camp facility for educational institutions, or for gradual integration into the local surrounding community.

“Our brief was specific at the time, but we also designed the flexibility and adaptability into it.

Looking ahead

Mr Dorrat said a similar design would not take long to produce, but offsite manufacturing and installing underground infrastructure would be time consuming.

“It’s not a case of just plonking things on the ground and hoping for the best,” he said.

“After this pandemic, the village could be used for things like bushfires, or other accommodation to provide a life for the village.”

Howard Springs’ $400 million village features self-contained “suburbs” with courtyards, parks and breezeways.

It also has a pub, a fully equipped sports centre with gym, pitches, courts, swimming pools and a jogging track.

The award-winning 67-hectare Manigurr-ma Village, 20km east-southeast of Darwin, was completed by Laing O’Rourke in 18 months in August 2013.

It was used to house some 3,500 workers who were building the $34 billion Inpex-Total Ichthys LNG onshore facility on Darwin Harbour.

The village was vacated in 2019 and was handed over to the NT government just before the pandemic hit.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Brett Sutton at a COVID-19 press conference.
Daniel Andrews, seen here with Brett Sutton, is weighing up a quarantine facility for Melbourne.(

ABC News


Mr Andrews said he was weighing up a facility near Melbourne’s airports.

“People would be in the same location but would not be sharing the same spaces, so they’re not under the same roofline,” he said.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said something akin to the Howard Springs village would be “fantastic”.

“An open-air setting with a real distance between rooms is … what we’d all love to see,” he said.

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More than $200,000 raised at 2021 Stars of the Border Dance for Cancer | The Border Mail

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Former North Albury footballer Mark Hilton has won the judges’ choice award in the Stars of the Border Dance for Cancer fundraiser event on Friday night, which raised more than $200,000. In total, the 12 Border personalities competing in the charity event and their dance teacher partners raised $238,000 to be put towards cancer prevention and patient treatment. Border Star and Corowa-Rutherglen A grade netball coach Georgie Bruce said it was an “outstanding amount” considering the financial strain many members of the community were under due to the pandemic. “We know that everyone did it really tough,” she said. “There were lots of people out of work and financially strained, but the generosity that I, as an individual, have experienced and the support that I’ve experienced, was overwhelming. “It just reiterates in your mind that we’re so lucky in this country.” IN OTHER NEWS: Ms Bruce said it was an amazing event that everybody, including many volunteers, worked hard to pull off. “It’s a fantastic production event that’s put on and it takes an enormous effort,” she said. “They’re just amazing people. “We’ll look back at this and think that was the best thing we ever did and for a great cause.” Ms Bruce said the intense training schedules and learning a new skill had been challenging for some stars, but she was glad that after weeks of late night rehearsals the effort had paid off. “You think ‘oh my god, this is so hard to do this’,” she said. “But this is nothing in the grand scheme of things when you reflect on what a cancer patient must be going through.” Karen Crook won the people’s choice award with her partner Glen Strauss and the largest fundraising award went to Bart Furst, partnered by Elly Bligh. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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Fighting resumes in southern Afghanistan after a three-day ceasefire for Eid

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces resumed Sunday in the restive southern province of Helmand, officials said, ending a three-day ceasefire agreed by the warring sides to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Violence has soared as the United States military presses ahead with a plan to withdraw all of its troops by September, bringing an end to a 20-year military operation in Afghanistan.

“The fighting started early today and is still ongoing,” Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, told AFP as a three-day temporary truce ended late on Saturday.

He said Taliban fighters attacked security checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, and some other districts.

An Afghan army spokesman in the south confirmed fighting had resumed, and the Helmand governor’s office said that 21 Taliban fighters had been killed so far.

“They (Afghan forces) started the operation… do not put the blame on us,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

The US has vowed to end America’s longest war but missed a 1 May deadline to pull out, as agreed with the Taliban last year in return for security guarantees and a promise to launch talks with the Afghan government.

President Joe Biden pushed back the date to 11 September – exactly two decades on from the terrorist attacks in the United States which led the US to invade Afghanistan and oust the Taliban.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed and millions have since been displaced by the conflict, which has seen a resurgent Taliban take hold of large swathes of the country.

The three-day truce initiated by the Taliban and swiftly agreed to by the Afghan government had largely held during the Eid holidays that ended on Saturday.

The calm was, however, broken on Friday by a blast at a mosque on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, which killed 12 people including the imam leading Friday prayers.

The Taliban denied it was behind the attack, which has been claimed by IS, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist groups.

The truce was only the fourth agreed pause in fighting in the two-decades-long conflict.

The warring sides launched unprecedented peace talks in September in Qatar, but they have stalled in recent months.

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Inside Victoria’s Thomas Embling Hospital

Victoria’s hospital for the most acute mental health patients, including those too sick to be found guilty of serious crimes, will undergo a $350 million upgrade as part of Thursday’s state budget.

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QR crackdown for Victorian businesses

A CRACKDOWN on QR codes is coming for Victoria.

Businesses will face new on-the-spot fines of $1652 for non-compliance with the statewide system.

A recent business blitz in the state for April found 37 per cent of those businesses — 165 businesses overall — were found to not be using the system correctly.

Fines can increase to $9913 for repeated breaches, while blatant or wilful non-compliance could see businesses prosecuted.

Acting Police and Emergency Services Minister Danny Pearson said the recent active case in the Victorian community showed the importance of adhering to the rules.

“As we’ve seen this week, it’s essential every Victorian checks in when visiting a business, to help contact tracers quickly find those who could be at risk of coronavirus exposure,” he said.

“This new on-the-spot $1652 fine sends a clear message that we will not tolerate any business ignoring its responsibility to help Victoria stay safe and stay open.”

But state Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said businesses needed to be given proper information and tools.

“Victoria introduced a bureaucratic nightmare, sometimes almost requiring your life history before you could sign in,” he said.

“Then that changed, and not even the departments running the system seemed to know what was going on, the conflicting information caused widespread confusion, which goes a long way to explaining why so many people just walk past the check-in spots.

“And to ask small businesses to turn away customers, or alienate them by coming the ‘government heavy’, is asking too much.”


Blinded by the light: Moama Lights launches

Echuca FNC jumps on board the FightMND campaign

Changes to parking spots in Echuca

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Lockhart Ambulance Station to get refurbished under RAIR program | The Border Mail

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RIVERINA paramedics will soon be surrounded by a fresh workspace with a refurbishment project planned for the Lockhart Ambulance Station. The NSW Government’s $232 million Rural Ambulance Infrastructure Reconfiguration program will see the small town’s station upgraded with alterations and additions to staff amenities, plant room improvements, and an internal and external upgrade such as new carpets and repainting. IN OTHER NEWS: Health Minister Brad Hazzard said work is expected to commence later this year following a competitive tender process. “Our paramedics need the best possible workplace to provide emergency medical care, and the infrastructure improvements will make a real difference to their working environment,” he said. The refurbishment follows previous investments of more than half a billion dollars in the Wagga region, including a new ambulance station in Wagga, $50 million for the Tumut Hospital Redevelopment, the $250 million Griffith Hospital redevelopment, $431 million for the Wagga Health Service Redevelopment and $30 million for a new multistorey car park project at Wagga Base Hospital. The RAIR program is the single largest investment in regional NSW Ambulance’s 126-year history, with 24 new or upgraded ambulance stations already delivered or under construction as part of the $132 million Stage One program. A further $100 million worth of ambulance assets are set to be delivered across regional and rural NSW under Stage Two.


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