Guide to Australia


Your Tour, Travel & Vacation Guide to Adventures in Australia!




VICTORIA


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 the 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 ski resort.

 

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 from Melbourne.

 

The Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia

 

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 Ballarat 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.

 

Melbourne, Victoria in Australia

 

The Goulburn River starts its journey from the Murray River on the New South 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 South Australia and beyond is popular with divers, as they can explore many of the wrecks which foundered there.

 

The peninsula region of South Gippsland, south-east of 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 difficulties.

 

Melbourne skyline by the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia

 

Closer to 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 mountain wilderness.

 

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 walking tracks.

 

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 north of 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.