The State of Victoria, in the south-east of
Australia, offers an enormous range of attractions: you can dine out at
one of the many magnificent restaurants of
Melbourne, take a drive along
Great Ocean Road and view the rugged western coastline, play a round
of golf in the north of the State beside the mighty Murray River or look
over the magnificent snow-capped Great Dividing Range from a chalet at a
Victoria is a small state, so the ideal way to
tour is by road -magnificent beaches, the desert country in the north-west
and many of the state's national parks or reserves are all only a day trip
The capital of Victoria,
Melbourne, located on
Port Phillip Bay, is a vibrant city. It hosts many international events,
including the Australian Formula One Grand Prix and the country's biggest
horse race, the Melbourne Cup. There is the diverse beach culture of St
Kilda, and beautiful parkland along the Yarra River. The city also
features an exotic range of excellent restaurants, museums, the Crown
Casino, exciting nightlife and world-class sporting venues, plus parks and
gardens which can be explored by foot or bicycle. There is a great tramway
system for getting around town.
To the north-east of
Melbourne are the Yarra
Valley and the Dandenong Ranges, home to a number of Victoria's wineries.
This region is favoured by Melburnians for quiet retreats. The Dandenong
Ranges are full of lush, ferny forests, and a drive along the scenic road
to the top of Mount Dandenong offers magnificent mountain scenery. Once at
the top, there is a panoramic view of the city of
Melbourne and the
surrounding area, all the way out to Port Phillip Bay -which provides a
spectacular light show at night.
Melbourne and much of Central Victoria were built
from the profits of the gold rush that swept the area in the mid- to late
1800s, just as the state was beginning to take shape. The goldfields
region, bordered by Bendigo,
Ballarat and Maryborough, is an hour from
Melbourne. Bendigo and
are large towns, and have many
attractions, including the goldfields theme park, Sovereign Hill. The
small towns of Castlemaine and Maldon, with their wide streets and
restored historic buildings (which are now antique and cottage craft
shops), will also take you back in time.
The Goulburn River starts its journey from the
Murray River on the
Wales border and winds its way down through
the centre of the State to Lake Eildon, less than three hours' drive from
Melbourne. There is a large irrigation system running off the Goulburn
River throughout this region, and the area now supports a prosperous dairy
and fruit-growing industry. The waters of the Goulburn also feed into many
reservoirs -Lake Nagambie and Lake Eildon in particular are popular with
water sports enthusiasts and anglers.
Perched on the extreme western edge of the Great
Dividing Range to the west of
Melbourne is a series of blue peaks, known
as Gariwerd, which forms a striking outline on the horizon. This rugged
mass of sandstone pinnacles, part of the Grampians National Park, is very
popular with walkers, abseilers and climbers. During spring the whole
region is covered in a mosaic of colourful wildflowers; in winter, water
tumbles down over the rugged escarpments to waterways below. This region
is a haven for wildlife, and many birdwatchers frequent the area,
especially in spring.
Winding its way along the west Victorian
coastline, the Great Ocean Road -originally built to honour those who
served in World War I -offers some of the world's most spectacular coastal
scenery, including the famous natural sculptures known as the Twelve
Apostles and London Bridge. Sandy beaches nestle between towering cliffs
and dolphins and whales can sometimes be seen playing in the roaring seas
to the south. The Great Ocean Road leads to some of Victoria's best
surfing locations and most popular coastal holiday towns. Many ships have
met their end on the rugged western coastline, and the region is often
referred to as the 'Shipwreck Coast'. The whole coast from Port Phillip
Bay to the border of Victoria and
Australia and beyond is popular
with divers, as they can explore many of the wrecks which foundered there.
The peninsula region of South Gippsland,
Melbourne, also has plenty to offer visitors, including the
magnificent Wilsons Promontory National Park. This park is one of
Victoria's oldest, and features a great diversity of environments -lush
rainforests and coastal heathland, granite landscapes and pristine
beaches. The park has many walking tracks, of varying lengths and
Melbourne is the nature wonderland of
Phillip Island. It is here that you will find one of Victoria's greatest
international attractions, the Penguins on Parade. Every evening thousands
of penguins swim to the shores of this island to return to their burrows.
The island is also home to seals and koalas, and offers excellent surfing
and swimming -it is the perfect seaside holiday destination. It is
connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Gippsland is a rich dairy farming district and is
also rich in coal deposits, which have been mined since the 1800s. Coal
Creek, in Korumburra, is a theme park which outlines the history of
coalmining in Victoria. Tours of the large power stations in the heart of
Gippsland offer an insight into the State's energy system.
Further east, right next to the coast, lies the
magnificent lakes district, bordered by the Ninety Mile Beach. Here you
can sail in the protected waters of the lakes, or head out to the open sea
at Lakes Entrance. A major fishing region, Lakes Entrance is another ideal
holiday destination. Croajingolong National Park, in the far south-east of
the State, is an important coastal parkland. Cool freshwater streams
trickle down the mountains through temperate rainforests, then filter
through the sand dunes and merge with the sea. This region is popular with
campers, walkers and anglers.
The Great Dividing Range cuts through the centre
of Victoria and is often referred to as the High Country. Here towns
nestle in valleys between towering mountains. This is also where the
legends of the High Country were made -there are still cattle wandering
over the mountains, and cattlemen riding their horses across this vast
During the winter months, snow covers the peaks
and numerous resorts offer superb skiing, with plenty of ski lifts and
excellent accommodation and restaurants. Mount Buller and Mount Baw Baw
are only three hours' drive from
Melbourne; the larger peaks of Hotham,
Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo are further to the north-east.
Melburnians have a special weekend spa retreat
less than two hours' drive from town over the Macedon Ranges. The
delightful towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are rich in history,
and very picturesque, but it is the soothing mineral waters, along with
fine dining, excellent wineries and peaceful surroundings, that beckon
visitors to this region. Mount Macedon is also a popular weekend retreat,
offering stunning views and magnificent old gardens and parks with many
With its beginnings in the High Country to the
north-east of the State, the Murray River winds its way along the northern
border of Victoria. The Murray provides all sorts of holiday
opportunities. For a start, it is home to some of Victoria's best golf
courses. Paddle-steamers once transported goods along the river, and
though houseboats and ski-boats have now replaced these old vessels, some
fine, restored paddle-steamers are still in operation as cruise vessels
along the mighty Murray.
Once an inland port, the major town of Echuca lies
Melbourne on the shores of the Murray. It is one of Victoria's
more popular historic tourist towns. Here you can either stay in one of
the many hotels or camp along the banks of the river, surrounded by red
gum trees and waking to the calls of the Major Mitchell cockatoos.
Proving just how diverse Victoria is, the
north-west of the State features a desert oasis that is enormously rich in
wildlife and flora -numerous parks and reserves have been created to
protect the region's fragile environment. In this area the waters of the
Murray River flow out into small streams and creeks and form lakes in the
Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, creating a haven for bird life. The
Murray-Sunset Park is a different environment again, with undulating sand
hills covered in mallee scrub, and heathlands opening up to a series of
pink salt lakes.
A complex irrigation system around Swan Hill and
Mildura allows the far north-west to produce copious amounts of citrus
fruit as well as grapes for sultanas.
Scattered across the State, from the north-west
desert country through to the coastal peninsula areas, are the wine
regions of Victoria. This State has been producing fine wines since the
late 1800s, and today has more than 230 operating wineries. Popular
regions include the Yarra Valley, the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas,
the Macedon Ranges and Rutherglen.
At many of the smaller wineries you can talk to
the winemakers and sit out under a shady gum tree for a picnic on the
premises. The larger vineyards have restaurants, where the menu
complements the wines. All the major wine regions have a festival during
the year to celebrate their produce.
Victoria is a great holiday destination, and with
so many attractions, the most difficult decision for any traveller will be
choosing which way to go.