Victoria is the smallest mainland state located at the southeastern tip of Australia. Melbourne, Victoria's capital and the southern gateway to the state, is the second largest city in Australia and has long been recognized as the country's cultural capital. Melbourne is a city of great charm, style and sophistication. But of course, there is more to Victoria than its beautiful capital. Victoria is a vibrant and green state of dramatic contrasts - beautiful coastlines, lush countryside and rugged mountains are all within easy reach from Melbourne. In fact, wherever you turn in Victoria, you will be surprised and amazed at its beauty and diversity. It is a distinctive part of Australia with many unique experiences to be enjoyed!
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, is located on the banks of the beautiful Yarra River where it meets Port Phillip Bay. People from over 140 nations call this friendly multicultural city home. A city of Victorian architecture, theatres, art galleries, leafy gardens, high fashion and fine food, Melbourne has undisputed style and elegance. The clang of electric trams adds charm to Melbourne, the only Australian capital to retain its tram network.
Melbourne has a character and personality of its own, and one most people will fall in love with! Take a tour around the city, enjoy great panoramic views from the Rialto Towers, or board a comfortable boat to take you on a wonderful journey down the Yarra River to see and learn about the city.
Wide, leafy, tree-lined streets and an abundance of parks and gardens give the city a feeling of spaciousness. Take a stroll through The Botanical Gardens, said to be the most beautiful in the world, or simply relax on the shady green banks of the Yarra. Enjoy excellent food and wine in one of countless restaurants and cafes along the riverside of Southgate, the streets and lanes of the city and its adjoining precincts like Fitzroy, St. Kilda, Carlton and stylish South Yarra. In the evening, why not take a ride in the famous Tramcar Restaurant and see Melbourne in the night lights while enjoying a sumptuous three-course dinner. Or go for a night out to enjoy anything from opera to jazz.
Melbourne is well known as the arts and culture centre of Australia. The Victorian Arts Centre on the banks of Yarra River is the premier performing arts venue and the focal point of Melbourne's social and cultural scene. Next door is the National Gallery of Victoria housing world class collections of Australian, Aboriginal, Asian, European and Pre-Columbian art. There are also over 100 independent art galleries in Melbourne for you to explore.
Melbournians are avid sports fans and Melbourne is host to world-famous sporting events such as the Melbourne Cup horserace, the Australian Open Tennis Championship and the Qantas Australia Grand Prix, to name a few.
There is something for everyone in Melbourne. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it! There is accommodation galore for every taste and budget, mostly located in the city center, so everything is within easy reach. Lying on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne is also a perfect gateway to the many different destinations and experiences Victoria has to offer. See the natural spectacle of the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, marvel at the majestic beauty of the Great Ocean Road, go back in history to the Gold Rush years in the Goldfields or relax and enjoy nature, and taste some locally produced wines in the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will love every piece of Victoria!
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Starting 100km southwest of Melbourne and leading to Adelaide, The Great Ocean Road snakes over 300km from Torquay to Warrnambool. Carved into the Cliffside as a memorial to those who served Australia during the First World War and acknowledged as one of the world's most spectacular coastal drives, The Great Ocean Road winds along the quiet bays, pounding surf beaches and green rainforests.
Torquay, Australia's Surf City - features a magnificent stretch of coastline recognized as having some of the world's best waves. Each year in April, Bells Beach hosts the Rip Curl Pro and Sun Smart Classic, the most prestigious world championship surfing events. Between Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay you will marvel at the contrast of the beautiful ocean beaches on one side and lush rainforest scenery of the Otway Ranges on the other.
Further along the Great Ocean Road is Port Campbell National Park, an area of awe-inspiring natural beauty and the home of such natural wonders as the Twelve Apostles - a row of magnificent stone pillars that stand like giant monoliths guarding an untamable coastline, the London Bridge - a rocky arch carved out by the sea, and the Bay of Islands. This stretch of the 'Shipwreck Coast' is the graveyard of many 19th century ships. Loch Ard Gorge was the scene of a particularly dramatic shipwreck where only 2 men survived. Relics from the Loch Ard can be seen at the Warrnambool's Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. May to September Warrnambool also plays host to the rare Southern Right Whales who calve in the waters off Logan Beach.
If you have time, hire a car, take it slowly and engage in all pleasures that the Great Ocean Road region has to offer. Alternatively, you may wish to join a one-day or an overnight coach tour of the region. Whichever way you choose to explore this masterpiece of nature, you are sure to experience a journey of beauty and discovery, and acquire memories which will last a lifetime!
One and a half hours from Melbourne, Phillip Island National Park is renowned for its stunning surf beaches, spectacular coastal scenery, magical secluded isles, world famous wetlands and amazing wildlife. But of course, the most famous attraction of the island is the nightly Penguin Parade. Every night at sunset you can view the Little Penguins waddle ashore to the safety of their burrows at Summerland Beach. This sight is amazing and continues to touch the hearts of visitors from around the world. At the nearby Koala Conservation Centre come face to face with the koalas in the treetops - an unforgettable experience, and see a multitude of brightly coloured birds flash past in the fragrant Australian bush. Around Seal Rocks see thousands of seals cavorting around the rocks and visit the Seal Rocks Sea Life Centre.
A variety of day tours for every taste and budget depart from Melbourne to the Phillip Island daily.
YARRA VALLEY AND THE DANDENONGS
Only 50km from Melbourne are the spectacular mountain ash forests of The Dandenong Ranges with a number of cultured gardens and small townships nestled amongst these towering giants. Mount Dandenong is the highest point of the ranges offering magnificent panoramic views from its summit. The Dandenong ranges are famous for the superb traditional gardens, which are particularly enticing during spring and autumn. Ferntree Gully National Park, at the foot of the ranges, houses a variety of native flowers and more than 20 species of native animals and birds, including platypuses, echidna, kookaburras, and cockatoos. The lush hillsides of the Yarra Valley boast some of Victoria's most famous wineries with a reputation for producing world-class wine. There are over 90 vineyards and many wineries scattered throughout the Yarra Valley, where you can sample some of the best Australian wines.
An hour northwest from Melbourne, Victorian Goldfields offer you a chance to step back in time and relive the history of the Gold Rush in the second half of the 19th Century. The city of Ballarat is the gateway to the Goldfields region, and is most famous for its reconstruction of a gold mining settlement at Sovereign Hill - an internationally acclaimed outdoor museum where life goes on as it in Ballarat in the first 10 years after the discovery of gold in 1851. Pan for real gold or go deep underground along mineshafts. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and see the streets bustling with people dressed in the costume of the period. Visit the site of the infamous rebellion at the Eureka Stockade Center where interactive displays bring history to life. In the evening, enjoy Blood on the Southern Cross - a memorable sound and light show about the events surrounding the rebellion. Another major town in the region is Bendigo, a city built on gold and renowned for its grand, classic-style architecture. Both Bendigo and Ballarat are perfectly located for trips to the many historic gold towns in the region.
One day and overnight tours to Sovereign Hill depart Melbourne daily.
Rising in peaks of 1000 metres the massive sandstone ranges of The Grampians encompass nearly a quarter of a million hectares from the western extremity of the Great Dividing Range. The Grampians National Park is Victoria's largest National Park comprising of dense forests, beautiful lakes, sparkling waterfalls, exciting wildlife, dramatic rock formations and unsurpassed mountain peaks. The region is filled with history and houses Victoria's largest koori rock art collection within the park. Over 1000 species of plants are found in the Grampians and in spring, the area is an extravaganza of colour as wildflowers bloom all over the landscape. The township of Halls Gap - the heart of the Grampians' - offers visitors the opportunity to step 500 years back in time by visiting the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where the rich Koori heritage of the region can be discovered. Halls Gap is easily accessible and is also the gateway to a number of wineries and sporting activities, including water sports on Lake Fyans.