Melbourne has been voted seven times as the most liveable city in the world, and hence there is something that has got to be unique about this place. There are many parameters that this ranking is based on which is related to hard cold facts and statistics. But if you want your soul to soar to some of the most enchanting sights and views in the world, the state of Victoria, Australia and its capital city Melbourne is where you should be headed for.
The State of Victoria is the smallest among the five States on the Australia mainland so there are some captivating sights that you can take in, regardless of whether it is a quick enchanting day trip or an overnight trip 24-hour round journey.
Given here are some of the top tourist destinations in the State of Victoria, Australia.
The Great Ocean Road
If you have to choose the most iconic road trip in Australia, the Great Ocean Road should be your first choice. It is also the best day trip in Victoria. However, it is not a leisurely trip and needs some serious driving skills. It is all of 243 kilometres from the start at Torquay to Allansford near Warrnambool at the end and requires about three hours to cover. The breathtaking scenery all along the route makes for a once in a lifetime experience and worth every minute that you spend in the car. The view is fantastic from the vehicle as the road winds along the rugged Victorian coastline.
Along the route, you should stop at towering rock formations such as the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge and spot native Australian animals in the rainforests of the Great Otway National park. The Park stretches from Torquay to Princetown and the Otways hinterland towards Colac. Here you can get your fill of coastlines, rock platforms, and sandy beaches and to the North, tall forests, tranquil lakes and magnificent waterfalls. The Great Ocean Walk that stretches for almost 91kms passes through the National Park and the Marine National Park.
Which is a common destination for nature lovers, surfers and motorsports buffs? Philip Island, of course, which is a two-hour drive south-east of Melbourne! Surfers can take part in some of the premier breaks in Victoria, especially the massive waves off the spectacular Cape Woolamai. The fainthearted can test their skills over the gentler swell at Smith’s Beach and the YCW Beach. Motorsports lovers can get the thrill of driving a lap around the famous tracks that host Supercar and Motor GP races every year.
The best of Philip Island is reserved for nature and wildlife lovers. At the Penguin Parade, watch this small species of penguins waddle across the sand back to their burrows after long hard day fishing in the seas.
The Koala Conservation Centre is a must visit place too and offers a range of family-friendly activities to explore up-close, the native bush and Australian wildlife. You can walk the two tree-top boards for a superb close-up view of the koalas in their natural habitat. At the new visitor centre, you can get a first-hand view of the amazing lives of the koalas. On the easily accessible trails in the six hectares of Australian bushlands look out for rare species of colourful native birds, wallabies and echidnas.
You have by now read about the bush, the surf, the wildlife and long drives. But if the mountains come a-calling in Victoria, Australia, the Dandenong Ranges is the place for you. It is just a one-hour drive from Melbourne and in this short time, you will be pitched from bustling fast-paced city life to a serene and calm scenario of various mountainside villages, dense forests, magical falls and amazing viewpoints.
But that’s not all. Follow this list for a memorable experience in the Dandenong Ranges.
Puffing Billy Steam Railway – Puffing Billy is the favourite steam train of Australia and operates daily except Christmas Day. This century-old steam train still runs on its original track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the Dandenong Ranges.
Alfred Nicholas Gardens – Originally a part of the historic Burnham Beeches’ estate, the Gardens have a picturesque lake that is fed by two beautiful waterfalls, a quaint boathouse and the extraordinary Blackfish Pond.
The National Rhododendron Gardens – The gardens have brilliantly coloured blooms of rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils, cherries and azaleas. It is a delight for visitors throughout the year because of seasonal changes. When not in bloom, you can still enjoy the many sights of rich dark bark textures, foliage shapes, seed capsules and the beautiful fragrances as you stroll through the grounds.
It is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne to the tip of the Mornington Peninsula. But the enchanting experience is not limited to your destination only; you will feel it all the way. A string of beaches lines Port Philip Bay and you should schedule stops at Sorrento and Portsea – both quaint old-world villages – with gorgeous sandstone buildings stacked with boutiques, galleries and eateries.
Some of the country’s best ecotourism experiences can be had at the Mornington Peninsula. The Peninsula Hot Springs steams with natural geothermal waters. You can swim with wild dolphins off the Sorrento Pier every day between October and May. Or you can see the 200 odd animals at the 25-hectare Pearcedale Conservation Park. The highlight of this place is that apart from meeting plenty of native Australia animals during the day, you can visit the Moonlit Sanctuary which sparks to life at night. Take lantern-lit tours and see nocturnal creatures like possums, quolls, bettongs, gliders and night birds. It is nature’s beauty at its best.
The Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley is internationally famous for its line of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sparkling wines and is Australia’s oldest wine region dating back to 1838. Your options are many during a trip to Yarra Valley. Visit Dominique Portet Winery known for Fontaine Rose, a sparkling wine, or take a winery tour at De Bortoli tasting private wine and exotic cheese plates.
You should also take a bird’s eye view of the rolling hills and vineyards from up in the skies on a hot air balloon. The one hour flight starts at sunrise and ends with breakfast served with champagne at the Balgownie Estate. Apart from the wine, Yarra Valley is also celebrated for its fresh produce such as trout, freshwater salmon, caviar, handmade cheeses and preserves.
However, it is not only about food and wine. There is a Museum of Art that showcases Australia’s works from the mid-20th century onwards including the country’s most talented artists Fred Williams, Jeffery Smart and Author Boyd. These are some of the top tourist destinations in Victoria, Australia. And when you fly into the country, do spend some time in Melbourne proper and see the culturally rich and aesthetically beautiful sights of the city.