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Christian Baines Senior Content Editor 1 year ago

Re-Imagine Your Australia Vacation in Victoria

  • Enjoy a chic but chilled Melbourne city break

When you think of images that define Australia, it's time to move the majestic Twelve Apostles guarding the Great Ocean Road, the little penguins of Phillip Island, and the colourful laneways of Melbourne’s CBD up the list! The story of Victoria is one that shapes Australia, from its former capital, Melbourne, to the Eureka Stockade, to the myths created by bushrangers, to the chic galleries, theatres, restaurants, and sports-loving crowds that define Melbourne today. While there’s lots to see across Australia, there are plenty of reasons to focus your trip on Victoria.

Melbourne: The World’s Most Liveable City and More

Melbourne is a city of contradictions, and its locals wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re perfectly happy taking in an eyeful at a chic gallery opening or catching the latest Broadway hit at a historic theatre with rooftop cocktails after dark. But they’ll just as eagerly tuck into a pie (watch it, they’re hot) at the footy, hit the beach, or turn up to brunch in a relaxed t-shirt and shorts on a hot summer day. It’s all about good living in Melbourne, in all its forms, a fact recognized by many ‘World’s Most Liveable Cities’ lists over the years. Hit up world-class free galleries like the National Gallery of Victoria, the Ian Potter Centre, and most famously, the street art-covered laneways of Melbourne itself. Immerse yourself in history at the remarkable Shrine of Remembrance, or the Melbourne Museum, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, with its fantastic gallery devoted to Victoria’s First Nations. But don’t spend all your time in the CBD or galleries! Take a guided Melbourne tour out to the beach suburb of Brighton, historic St Kilda, home to Luna Park and the Palais Theatre, or funky Fitzroy, Melbourne’s Bohemian quarter.

Koalas on Phillip Island, Victoria

Waddle Your Way to Phillip Island and Aussie Wildlife

The Little Penguin Parade is one of Victoria’s most unlikely and delightful encounters with nature. Each evening just after sundown, hundreds of tiny penguins make their way in from the frigid waters and begin the long trek back to their burrows in the Nobbies on Phillip Island, much to the delight of onlookers. It’s a fantastic Melbourne day trip, but it’s not the only one nature lovers can make. An Aussie wildlife safari takes you to see wild koalas and kangaroos in their natural habitat, with your skilled guide helping you to get the best sightings. Numerous wildlife reserves around Victoria have also done their best to give Australia’s native animals an environment as natural as possible while inviting visitors to see and learn about them.

The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Guardians of the Great Ocean Road

We really can’t overstate just how wild the waters and winds of the Southern Ocean can be, but don’t take our word for it. Follow the Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles and see the evidence for yourself. Each one of these sandstone stacks was once part of the eroded mainland. What remains is a fantastic view of the Apostles standing guard over the cliffs. A little distance away, Loch Ard Gorge is a beautiful secluded spot with a tragic history. With a bit of extra time, you can even visit London Arch, an awesome natural sandstone arch that rises above the ocean. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name, it used to be London Bridge, and yes, it used to be connected to the mainland not so long ago, a reminder that the Great Ocean Road is as dynamic as it is gorgeous.

Shop fronts in historic gold rush town of Sovereign Hill

Gold Rush Country and the Men Who Made It Their Fortune

One thing that strikes many visitors to Melbourne is the grandeur of its streets and public buildings. It’s no surprise though when you consider Melbourne was once the richest city on the planet for one very simple reason… gold! In 1851, the discovery of gold near Ballarat sparked Victoria’s chapter in Australia’s gold rush, with 6,000 new diggers arriving every week in search of a fortune. The story of this period is in many ways the story of Melbourne, which grew exponentially with immigration, particularly Chinese immigrants. To this day, Melbourne has the oldest western Chinatown in the world. It’s often not an easy story, as racism and attacks on Chinese diggers were common, but it’s a fascinating one. The sudden influx of wealth also set the stage for banditry and corruption, from bushrangers to judges in the pocket of suddenly wealthy ex-convicts. The story of Victoria’s gold rush is long, complex, and impossible to summarize all in one trip, but a visit to Ballarat and Sovereign Hill, together with the Melbourne Gaol and the Museum of Chinese Australian History will give you a good introduction.

Glass or white wine overlooking vineyards at sunset, Yarra Valley

Taste the Best of Victoria

Part of Melbourne’s devotion to good living is a devotion to good food. To that end, Mornington Peninsula is famous for its fresh produce, cheeses, sweets, and much more. Of course, it’s not easy to find the best boutique offerings on your own. That’s where a tasting tour comes in. Not only is it a delicious day out, but the Mornington Peninsula is another spectacular part of Victoria and a great drive from Melbourne. In the other direction lies Victoria’s prime wine country, the Yarra Valley. Particularly noted for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Yarra holds its own against the big players from neighbouring South Australia, producing some of the most sought-after vintages in the country. Don’t worry if you’re not a big wine fan. The Yarra offers plenty of other tasty treats to enjoy in an idyllic rural Aussie setting. 

The Melbourne skyline at dusk. Bridge and skyscrapers reflecting in the river

As Australia’s smallest mainland state, Victoria is also one of the easiest to explore in a limited time. Book a return flight to Melbourne for an unforgettable city break with superb day trips, or embark on a longer trip that gives you time to follow the Great Ocean Road, or even hit the remote Silo Art Trail where art and agriculture collide. Whichever you choose, beauty, history, and good living all await discovery in Victoria.

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24 Feb 2023, 12:37 a.m.

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