Despite being the smallest mainland state in Australia, Victoria certainly makes up for its size with its wealth of things to see, do and explore. With so many choices at your fingertips, it is hard to narrow down why Victoria is the place to be. Here are our top ten reasons why you will love living here…
1. Culture and cafés in the city
Often heralded as the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia, the city of Melbourne celebrates diversity and creativity. For a true cultural and culinary experience, start off your day with a caffeine boost from one of many hipster cafes who serve smooth single-origin coffee. Treat yourself to a delicious brunch such as ‘smashed avo’ on sourdough toast. After, explore vibrant laneways filled with attractive street art, dotted throughout the city (check out Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane). Head to the trendy suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood to browse around a range of funky independent shops.
Often heralded as the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia, the city of Melbourne celebrates diversity and creativity.
Afterwards, take your pick from one of Melbourne’s fascinating museums; from famous art pieces at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), to a showcase of history, science and nature at Melbourne Museum.
By night, Melbourne thrives from its gourmet food scene and hip cocktail bars. Wine and dine in excellent restaurants on Flinders Lane such as Supernormal or Cumulus Inc. To round off a perfect ‘Melbs’ experience, choose from a huge variety of live shows including theatre, comedy or music.
2. The ‘Great Ocean Road’ trip
The Great Ocean Road is aptly named with its breath-taking views, beautiful surf beaches and striking coastal rock formations. The idyllic drive spans across 243 kilometres, hugging the shoreline of the Southern Ocean, and winding around the verdant Great Otway National Park set behind it. Begin your journey at Torquay, a pretty seaside town and the birthplace of surf brands Quicksilver and Rip Curl. Torquay is famed for its powerful surf beaches: the nearby Bells Beach is home to Rip Curl’s renowned Pro Surfing Competition.
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Along the coast, small charming towns such as Aires Inlet and Anglesea are popular retreats for Melburnians with holiday homes looking to escape the city. The largest town along the Great Ocean Road is Lorne, which has a fabulous foodie scene and magnificent scenery. Take a quick stop at Kennett River to spot wild koalas hanging on tall trees by the road side, and buy a bag of seeds to feed the friendly flock of colourful King Parrots.
As a break away from the coast, be sure to step into the wonderfully diverse Great Otway National Park: see impressive waterfalls deep in the rainforest, or take a walk in the treetops at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. Apollo Bay is the next coastal town along the road; with its calmer waters, it is a perfect place to stay over a long weekend or over the Christmas holidays. The drive then changes to the spectacular Shipwreck Coast, where the iconic Twelve Apostles stand up tall against the fierce crashing waves (although there are only nine now!).
Other dramatic rock formations line the coast including London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge. Finish your trip at Port Campbell and pretty fishing village, Port Fairy. The Great Ocean Road is a certainly an area that you will want to return to again and again.
3. Wine tasting in the Yarra Valley
One of Australia’s leading wine regions is the Yarra Valley, a beautiful verdant landscape with rolling green hills. Many of the wineries have cellar doors which welcome tastings (mostly free), so you can sample the region’s fabulous cool-climate wines, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Pair your wine with a delicious lunch, with options ranging from a locally produced cheese board to a tasting menu at a ‘hatted restaurant’ (similar to Michelin stars, chef hats are used in Australia as a mark of culinary excellence).
If travelling with children, there are family friendly wineries with gardens overlooking lush vineyards. A stop at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is a treasure trove of sweet treats for the children (and adults) to enjoy. Fancy a break from wining and dining? Make a visit to nearby Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, home to native Australian animals.
4. Penguins at Phillip Island
Just 90 minutes away from Melbourne, Phillip Island offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The island is a haven for wildlife, where you can see koalas, fur seals, migrating whales, and the largest colony of Little Penguins (or ‘Fairy Penguins’) in the world.
A visit to Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade is an unforgettable experience and well worth the ticket price. As soon as the sun sets, witness hundreds of tiny penguins emerge from the water (after a day out fishing), cautiously waddle across the beach, and climb up sand dunes to safely return home to their burrows.
5. Marvellous Mornington Peninsula
Marvellous Mornington Peninsula; close to Melbourne with beaches, hot springs, vista points, wineries and walks! This enchanting region is a relaxed place to live, as well as a fantastic holiday spot.
For an idyllic few days along the coast, start off by swimming at sheltered family friendly beaches such as Mills Beach or Mt Martha. Drive up to Arthurs Seat or ride the ‘Eagle’ (gondola ride) for gorgeous views across Port Phillip Bay. For lunch, head to Johnny Ripe Bakery, or choose from gourmet lunches and wine tastings in the Red Hill wine region such as Foxeys Hangout or Montalto.
Wind down and chill with a luxurious dip in the extremely popular Peninsula Hot Springs.
Near the tip of the peninsula, wander around swanky Sorrento and glitzy Portsea, and catch a wave on the big surfs. With nearly 100 walking tracks around the peninsula, there are plenty of places to admire the impressive natural landscapes, such as Point Nepean or Cape Schnack. Finally, wind down and chill with a luxurious dip in the extremely popular Peninsula Hot Springs.
6. Wilderness in Wilson’s Prom
Wilson’s Promontory National Park feels a million miles away from the bright lights of the city.
This wild granite peninsula is the southernmost point in mainland Australia, and is a nature lover’s dream.
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This beautiful, expansive park takes in both stunning coastlines and thick bushland. With such diversity, the park is home to an awesome array of Australian animals: see if you can spot wombats, kangaroos, emus or echidnas wandering about!
A few other highlights include a hike up to Mount Oberon’s impressive summit lookout point, a visit to Squeaky Beach (aptly named for its white quartz sand that squeaks beneath your feet), and a stroll through luscious rainforest gullies.
7. History in the Goldfields
Victoria was largely developed in the 1850s and 60s during the booming gold rush. The rural Goldfields region is full of historic gold-mining towns and cities. Small country towns such as Castlemaine and Maldon have grand state heritage listed buildings and beautifully preserved Victorian gardens.
The major urban centres of the Goldfields region are Ballarat and Bendigo, the third and fourth most populous cities in the state (behind Melbourne and coastal Geelong). Despite being thriving cities in the modern age, they have maintained much of their gold rush architecture and charm.
In Ballarat, a visit to open air museum Sovereign Hill makes for a fun day out. The museum interestingly recreates life in the 19th century with a huge mock gold mining town. You can pan for gold, see gold being smelted in the live shows, and watch actors recreate scenes of town life.
8. Holiday in the High Country
The High Country in North-East Victoria is a fantastic area to stay and explore at any time of year. The region is home to the stunning Alpine National Park, old towns full of Ned Kelly history, and a superb food and wine scene. The picturesque town of Bright, nestled within the alpine region, is a great base to discover the surrounding area.
It is particularly worth visiting in autumn where the colours of the trees turn to spectacular golden browns and rich reds. Bright offers a huge range of outdoor activities including bushwalking and horse riding, as well as fab family-friendly cycling routes which take you past beautiful rivers, forests and mountains. If gazing up at the snow-capped mountains conjures up images of skiing on the Alps, then you are closer than you think…
9. Skiing on the slopes
In winter, Victoria’s climate is considerably cooler than other states in Australia (averaging between 6-15 degrees). Just a three-hour drive away from Melbourne lies the Alpine National Park with popular ski resorts Mt Buller, and a bit further, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham.
The Alpine National Park is a perfect place to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’, a popular Aussie tradition!
Forget about the surf and sand, and lose yourself in a thrilling snow-filled playground, where you can ski, snowboard, snow tube or toboggan. It’s a perfect place to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’, a popular Aussie tradition!
10. Hiking at the Grampians
Outstanding natural beauty matched with excellent hiking trails makes a trip to the Grampians National Park well worth doing. The mesmerising landscape is a rich tapestry of rugged sandstone mountains, deep valleys, vibrant wildflowers and cascading waterfalls. Many of the great bushwalks and hikes will take you to lookout points offering stunning panoramic views.
Spend some time at ‘Brambuck – the National Park and Cultural Centre’ to learn more about local Indigenous culture, and visit Aboriginal rock art sites. If travelling from Melbourne, consider spending a couple of nights camping (or glamping!) under the sparkling stars.