Great Victoria, Austrailia

Great Victoria
Metropolitan City
Article by: Jenny Brewer

Melbourne is the trendy metropolitan city of Australia. Known for its cafes, restaurants, stylish shopping and shows, it is an excellent location for a driving holiday with magnificent scenery and attractions all within an hours drive of the city centre.

Victoria’s capital promises to keep you fascinated from dawn to way past dusk. In the heart of the city, visit the lush Royal Botanic Gardens, popular for a quick lunch or stroll. Federation Square is a meeting place, which has become a well known landmark within the city, and Brunswick Street is known for its eclectic cafés, shops and atmosphere. You also can’t miss the extensive Melbourne Museum, which displays some of the best art, sculptures and technology this city has to offer.

How could you visit Melbourne without shopping?

The Queen Victoria Market will keep you captivated with its myriad of stalls and food halls. You can catch a tram or walk here from the centre of the city. There are also shopping spree tours, of course, which will take you to the best bargains.

For a touch of class, board a dinner and cabaret cruise on the Yarra River, or dress up for an opera or show at the Arts Centre Melbourne. The busy restaurants, clubs and shows bring the city to life at night.

Just ninety minute’s drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island offers a rare opportunity to see fairy penguins at play as you watch the ‘Penguin Parade’.

Sunsets are also exciting as guided tours are available to watch the penguins march. There is plenty of wildlife in this nature reserve. The fur seals will steal your heart at Seal Rocks, as will the cuddly koalas at the Koala Conservation Reserve. There is a fantastic walk along Philip Island’s headland that gives you breathtaking views plus a look at the Pinnacles, which are unique rock formations off the coast. Journeying on, the scenery keeps getting better with natural beauty such as Wilsons Promontory National Park at the most southern end of Australia, featuring long white beaches and incredible wildlife.

Under an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is perfect for a getaway to recharge the batteries and enjoy breathtaking scenery. There is so much to do in this beautiful region of Victoria, also known as one of the world great wine growing regions, and famous for its pinot noir and sparkling champagne. There are plenty of locals who also flock to this area to enjoy a weekend away.

The blue ranges, massive trees, rivers and valleys all combine to create an irresistible escape from the frantic city life. Set aside at least a minimum of two days here to take in the scenery and enjoy the countryside. There are pretty towns nestled in the rolling hills of the valley waiting to be explored, and so many fine foods and wines to sample. With incredible accommodation choices, the Yarra Valley is ideal for the driving holiday, with a vast choice of cosy bed and breakfasts, self-contained cottages through to five star hotels. You may not want to leave once you have settled in!

Follow the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road and you will arrive at one of the most sought after regions in Victoria, the Dandenong Ranges. Ideal for a weekend retreat, the majestic forests, amazing gardens and panoramic views of the Yarra Valley are the most distinct drawcards for tourists. Home of the Rhododendron, the gardens go on and on and will lead you to art galleries and cosy cafés.

Melbourne city skyline at twilight in Australia

There is even a local Puffing Billy, which will take you through old villages and through incredible scenery. There are kilometres of walking tracks also featuring the Thousand Steps and The Sherbrooke Forest.

Further down the range is the town of Healesville, which is known for its extensive Sanctuary wildlife park. It is home to a myriad of birdlife and boasts over 200 species of animals such as the platypus, Tasmanian devil, dingos, echidnas, koalas, emus and wombats. Healesville is also known for its yearly Grape Grazing Festival and Yarra Valley Tourist Railway.

Steavenson Falls is a magnificent attraction, known as one of the highest waterfalls in Victoria. Lady Talbot Drive is perfect for a picnic lunch surrounded by eucalyptus forest followed by a rainforest walk. The Cumberland Scenic Reserve features the tallest tree known in Victoria, known as ‘The Big Tree’, and the Cora Lynn Falls are also worth a visit. Warburton is one of the most attractive towns in the entire valley. It is also known as a health retreat and welcoming for all desiring a complete break from the pressures of life. With forests, rivers, wineries and plenty of activities and attractions, make sure this is on your list of places to see.

Sunset over The Twelve Apostles along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, near Port Campbell. Artistic vintage style processing.

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is popular for cycling or walking enthusiasts, and there is a shorter walk to Lala falls. The Mount Donna Buang Rainforest Gallery offers a fantastic treetop skywalk, which is a great way for all ages to see the beautiful rainforest. There is even a night tour to the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park. There are plenty of walks, which begin close to town and into the Mountain Ash forests. You will certainly leave here feeling fit and rejuvenated. For some it would be enough to enjoy the views of the sun setting accompanied with a glass of local wine, browsing the boutiques and enjoying a visit to the wildlife sanctuary. Others seeking outdoor adventure will love the treetop skywalk, cross country skiing at Lake Mountain or abundance of cycling and bushwalking tracks. For whoever is blessed to visit this abundant region, the outcome is still the same.

The Great Ocean Road would have to be one of the most scenic drives in Australia, with 300 kilometres of winding roads, which stretch from the headlands to beach views and rainforests. It is absolutely fantastic for a self-drive holiday as there are so many places to stop and admire the views. It is most famous for its Twelve Apostles. These giant limestone rocks have been formed over the years by the pelting waves and are best admired at sunset as the colours change before your eyes.

Young hiker stands above the Twelve Apostles along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, near Port Campbell.

If you love adventure and rugged scenery, there are plenty of exhilarating moments waiting for you further out from the city. The Grampians are three hours drive west of Melbourne and are especially stunning in spring when almost 1000 species of flower are blooming.

With so many sights and dynamic attractions, it is hard to know where to start. Depending on your tastes you can sit at a café admiring views of the city skyline and enjoy watching the world go by, or you can set off to explore the wonders of the surrounding areas. One thing is sure; Melbourne will capture your heart and call you back again and again.

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