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Reasons to Visit Victoria, Australia

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    When visitors plan a trip to Australia, they often opt to head to Sydney, the sunshine of Queensland, or even outback Australia. If you want an Australia tour, there is no shortage. But the southern state of Victoria has a lot to offer overseas and local tourists alike, and not everything happens in the city of Melbourne, Victoria’s capital.

    We have five great reasons why you should consider a visit to several parts of Victoria and discover just some of what this diverse state has to offer.

    Grampians National Park

    Located 260 kilometres northwest of the city of Melbourne is one of Australia’s most scenic and stunning national parks. The Grampians National Park covers an area of more than 167,000 hectares and encompasses rugged mountain ranges, spectacular waterfalls, and serene rainforests.

    Visitors will really be spoilt for choice regarding the vast number of walking trails you can follow to enjoy everything the region has and be at one with nature.

    There are even areas in the park where camping and fishing are allowed, along with regions for off-road driving to explore this vast wilderness further.

    If you’re a rock-climbing enthusiast, then you’ll love the mountains and jagged rock faces you’ll find in the Grampians.

    Stunning Coastlines

    The most famous stretch of road in all of Australia is the Great Ocean Road in south-western Victoria. The route follows the coastline, where you’ll discover some excellent sites, such as the 12 Apostles, a series of natural limestone towers just offshore from the beach.

    You’ll also pass famous Bells Beach, home to some of the world’s most prestigious surfing contests. Bells Beach was also featured at the end of the original Point Break movie, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.

    On the opposite side of the bay, you’ll discover even more stunning coastlines and picturesque beaches as you explore the Mornington Peninsula.

    Victorians Love Their Sport

    The population of Victoria – and Melbourne especially – love getting out and attending events of any kind, but their favourite events all happen to be sport-related, any number of sports:

    One of Australia’s most significant sporting events takes place every year in Melbourne on the first Tuesday of November, and that’s the running of the prestigious Melbourne Cup horse race. To be trackside and witness the Melbourne Cup horses vie for glory on race day is an event that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

    Even people who aren’t racing fans enjoy Melbourne Cup day because there is just so much going on.

    Immerse Yourself In Australia’s History At Ballarat

    Located about 90 minutes travel time by car west of Melbourne is the old town of Ballarat, home to roughly 100,000 people. A visit to this iconic Australian town can be like a journey back in time.

    Ballarat’s biggest claim to fame is gold, as it was home to one of the country’s biggest gold rushes back in the mid-1800s.

    The town is considered the birthplace of democracy in Australia following the infamous Eureka Stockade uprising in 1854.

    Tourists can check out several museums in Ballarat that showcase the gold rush era, along with visits to the old gold mining areas. You can even take a guided fossicking tour where you get to pan for gold yourself.

    You never know what you might find in Ballarat. Although the excitement of the gold rush days has long since diminished, there is still gold to be found in the area.

    Ski Victoria In Winter

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    Australia doesn’t get a lot of snow, except for the Snowy Mountain region along the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

    On the Victorian side, you have Mount Hotham, one of the favourite hotspots with local and international skiers alike.

    There are ski runs to suit complete beginners right through to expert skiers and snowboarders.

    This region of Victoria is stunning during the Australian winter months, with July being the prime month with the most snowfall.

    If you love a winter wonderland, then head to Victoria during the ski season and fully indulge your passion.

    More Reasons to Visit Victoria

    • Urbnsurf Melbourne will open a stone’s throw from the airport in suburban Tullamarine with Australia’s first surf park set to feature a vast lagoon providing a place for novices and experts alike to catch a wave all year round.
    • Melbourne Museum’s Vikings: Beyond the Legend — the largest exhibition of Viking artefacts to visit Australia with more than 500 pieces, from swords and ships, on loan from the Swedish History Museum — will be in place from March 23 to August 26
    • Nagambie’s Mitchelton Wines is the place to find Victoria’s newest boutique hotel. The designer Goulburn Valley digs, which opened in December a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, have 58 rooms enjoying tranquil vineyard or river views and the new Muse Restaurant.
    • Ballarat’s historic Peter Lalor Hotel has been transformed into a creative hub called The Pub With Two Names by husband-and-wife team Yuge and David Bromley from Bromley & Co with the address now a bar, restaurant, and gallery space.
    • Glamping has come to Victoria’s Goldfields with Balgownie Estate Bendigo placing 15 luxury safari-style tents around the winery’s picturesque grounds. Each canvas structure features modern conveniences, including an ensuite and private deck.
    • Point Leo Estate welcomed its first guests in October with the land, which sits on the Mornington Peninsula’s southern coast framing views across Western Port Bay to Phillip Island, home to a cellar door and informal eatery promising seasonal fare as well as a sculpture park filled with Australian and international pieces.
    • Localising — a tour company offering unscripted day trips — has a new two-day itinerary from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom and Phillip Island that’s perfect for travellers set on seeing the state’s wild coastline.
    • MoVida’s Hosier Lane kingdom grew with the opening of Bar Tini in December, and the venue, named after Spain’s version of the martini, is modelled after the Spanish neighbourhood bodegas that supply informal food and wine to locals.
    • Novotel Melbourne South Wharf will open in March beside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, while Novotel and ibis Little Lonsdale Street will see the two brands occupying one building in the CBD from late 2018.
    • Lorne will be home to Live Wire Park with this elevated adventure compound 800m from the Great Ocean Road boasting ropes courses for adults and kids, a treetop walkway suspended in the canopy, and a 500m “zip-line rollercoaster’’.
    • Ocean Grove Chalet is pencilled in for a spring 2018 unveiling, with those in the know claiming the 15-room hotel strolling distance from shops and cafes will be one of the most luxurious places to stay on the Victorian coast.
    • Peninsula Hot Springs will reveal seven new pools in 2018, an amphitheatre designed to host concerts and wellness activities, and a fire-and-ice experience that lets guests benefit from hot and cold therapies by moving between two large saunas and an ice cave.
    • The National Gallery of Victoria’s Winter Masterpieces is a Melbourne institution. This year, MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art is bringing works by Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh to the St Kilda Road gallery from June 9 to October 7.
    • Marnong Estate is a working cattle farm a 35-minute drive from Melbourne’s CDB that dates back to the 1840s, and when renovations wrap in April, guests will stay in elegant suites inside the historic homestead and dine at the restaurant open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Melbourne’s dining scene became even more dynamic in February when HWKR opened in A’Beckett Street’s EQ Tower with the food market, described as a modern take on traditional Asia eating, guaranteeing a rotating roster of tenants.

    Pop The Prosecco, Savour The Salami

    Once experienced, the King Valley, 280 kilometres north of Melbourne, lures repeat visits. It's the setting of vineyards, pretty hamlets and picturesque picnic spots. It's the hospitality of the Italian-immigrant dynasties who call it home. It's, of course, the Italian wine varietals produced – this is the Australian home of prosecco, after all. And then there's the food offered, always with nonna's recipes at heart.

    Go Wild For Koalas

    Spanning 243 kilometres along the Bass Strait and Southern Ocean coast, the Great Ocean Road beckons with dramatic views, brilliant surf and beaches, incredible hikes, and top-notch hospitality. And opening at the end of 2020, Wildlife Wonders in Apollo Bay is an outdoor attraction that will offer a unique, interactive way to experience the region's endemic animals, with pizzazz added by Brian Massey of The Hobbit (art director) and Lord of the Rings (grandmaster) movies fame.

    Take Pride In The South Side Of Town

    In recent times Melbourne's inner north has stolen the limelight. But seaside St Kilda is on the comeback, and soon, somnambulant Fitzroy Street reawakens as the cultural home of Melbourne's LGBTI community, with the Victorian Pride Centre opening in a destination piece of purpose-built design by St Kilda-based firms, Grant Amon and Brearley Architects.

    Go Way, Way South Of France

    Fond of France's character-filled villages? Crystal-clear babbling rivers? Sigh-inducing mountain vistas? Can't travel OS? Pas de probleme. Victoria's High Country, around 320 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, offers all that – even the boutique wineries and distilleries, artisan Fromage and gourmet cuisine you crave. Only here, you'll find it accompanied by the gorgeous Australian bush, and this being Victoria, way better coffee.

    Find A Foodie Eden In The East

    Melbourne is blessed with several wine regions within an hour of the city. You could day-trip, of course, but the bucolic Yarra Valley, east of the city, warrants time and ambling. Any time of year, it's worth taking the slow route (and a stay) along winding roads through rolling hills, where the grand cellar doors and restaurants of venerable names such as De Bortoli, Chandon and Chateau Yering sit enticingly close to more boutique offerings from Hoddles Creek and Innocent Bystander.

    Be Moved By The Mountains

    Melburnians love the Dandenong Ranges. You will too. An hour's drive east of the city, this low mountain range is covered in lush forests full of giant ferns, towering mountain ash, lyrebirds, and koalas. It's also home to grand botanic gardens, cute villages and farmer's markets, beautiful BnBs, quaint tea rooms and art galleries, antique and vintage shopping, as well as gourmet produce grown locally. And thankfully, it's still home to two beloved, kitschy icons: the Puffing Billy steam train, chugging the tracks for 100 years, and the Cuckoo German smorgasbord restaurant, that's been oom-pah-playing since 1958.

    Roam The Macedon Ranges

    From a distance, the range looks like an eagle, wings spread, head tipped. If you find yourself wandering in Mount Macedon, be it a lush heritage garden or bush trail, don't be surprised to see an eagle circling way above. You'll also find the best cellar door there at the Mount Towrong winery. For a restaurant, try Kuzu in Woodend; for pizza, Ida Red in Macedon; and for a market, it's the farmers' first Saturday of the month in Woodend.

    Rock On At Mount Buffalo

    You could spend a day or two exploring the attractions on the road up – waterfalls, bush tracks, majestic lookouts. Reach the plateau and the island in the sky is a sub-alpine marvel. Walk among bush and boulders; camp by the lake; see the spectacular cliffs of the Gorge, a launching point for hang-gliders and rock climbers. Recent news is that the heritage Chalet may also be making a comeback.

    Ride The Great Alpine Road

    Just over 300-kilometres, this scenery-rich trip cruises through alpine valleys climbs over the mountains (stop and gasp at Danny's Lookout just shy of Mount Hotham, where Victoria divides between the north-east and Gippsland) and runs over snow gum-studded ridges and plains and river valleys to eventually arrive in Bairnsdale.

    Find The Heart Of Geelong

    People pass straight on by, sights set on the Surf Coast and Great Ocean Road, but Geelong has woken from a "sleepy hollow" to be a lively, cultural and cafe-rich city. See the stunning Library and Heritage Centre, stroll the foreshore, ride the river trails and save space for Igni, one of Victoria's best restaurants.

    Rock Out In The Den Of Nargun

    The Den of Nargun – a child-stealing, rock creature – is of cultural significance to the Gurnaikurnai people, but it just feels remarkable to outsiders. It might be the dirt road into the den that can grind to a halt for a wayward herd of cows, the unusual rock formations that have you conjuring up your own Narguns or the cave surrounded by a billabong at the end of the walk where the creature is said to reside. See batalukculturaltrail.com.au

    Wine Down In The Strathbogie Ranges

    Closer than the Yarra and far sleepier, the Strathbogie Ranges – an hour north of Melbourne – offers historic vineyards such as Tahbilk, which started making wine in 1860 and Mitchelton Winery, which recently added a riverside hotel to its cellar door and chocolate. The small town of Seymour has Wine By Sam, the area's first "urban" winery, and nearby Nagambie has a massive lake with Nagambie Brewery (also owned by Mitchelton) overseeing the water fun. 

    Go Full Steam Ahead In Echuca

    With the gnarled roots of ancient red gums snaking through the pale walls of sand, the dramatic banks of the Murray River are best viewed from a wooden paddle steamer that leaves from the storied Echuca dock. Hire your own houseboat, stay atop the riverbanks at family motel Cadell on the Murray, or time your visit for the Riverboats Festival in February (COVID-permitting), where middle-aged rockers play to a similarly aged crowd as the sun goes down behind the eucalypts.

    Eat Your Way Around (F)East Gippsland

    Whether it is a sunset beer on the back deck of the waterside Metung Hotel, locally sourced breakfast at Northern Ground in Bairnsdale or dining on the titular seafood at Sardine in Paynesville, East Gippsland has plenty for a foodie road trip. Base yourself at The Riversleigh, a boutique stay comprised of two historic stately homes in Bairnsdale.

    Experience Mount Buller In Summer

    The village atmosphere, the peak-to-peak views and the fresh mountain air are all still up on Mount Buller, in the Victorian alps, once the snow recedes. In the warmer months, you shoot downhill on a bike instead of skis, run the trail to the Buller summit, or take a guided multi-day trek of the neighbouring mountain, Mount Stirling, with High Country Hiking. 

    Pass The Salt On The Great Ocean Road

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    One great thing about Victoria's famous ocean drive is the local produce and a burgeoning food scene. For something old, grab a pub classic and killer views at the Wye Beach Hotel; something new, try the latest outlet of Frank Camorra's MoVida in the seaside town of Lorne. Then you can borrow a board from the Lorne Surf Shop and head out into the blue. 

    Feast Your Eyes On The Bendigo Art Trail

    There's artistic gold to be found wandering the wide boulevards and back alleys of the Bendigo Art Trail. This self-guided walking tour takes you past laneway street art, sweeping murals and into artist's workshops like Bending Pottery. Then when you have worked up a thirst, switch to wandering between the gold rush town's craft breweries instead.

    Go With The Flow At Budj Bim

    World Heritage-listed Budj Bim is a humbling place. Here you can stand next to an intricate system of pools – made from the volcanic rock from the Tyrendarra lava flow – used to farm eels, or kooyang, built around the Egyptians erecting the Egyptians pyramids. Then walk around the crater of Budj Bim/Mt Eccles, in the footsteps of the Gunditjmara elders who favoured emu-feather shoes to disguise their tracks. See parks.vic.gov.au

    See The Rock Art Of The Grampians

    Come for one of the most significant concentrations of local fauna in the state, but stay to wander the various rock art galleries hidden amongst the rolling hills of the Grampians. Based in Halls Gap, you will have craft breweries, a wildlife park and great pub meals in a small town that can feel like it has more kangaroos than people some days. See visitgrampians.com.au

    Snap Supersized Street Art

    Street art aficionados, stretch your legs for supersized action: the trend for internationally renowned artists splashing vast murals across grain silos kicked off in the little-visited Wimmera Mallee region in central Victoria. The trail starts at Rupanyup and finishes 200 kilometres north at Patchewollock. Continue north, keeping Sunset Country on the left, to Mildura to stock up on Vermentino wine.

    Go Off-grid In Gippsland

    When The Secret River's filmmakers were looking for quiet waterways lined by bushland, they stopped at Lake Tyers. Near the mountain-bike nirvana of Nowa Nowa, it's only 200 kilometres east to Mallacoota, on the Melbourne-Sydney coastal route. Don't rush, make lunch dates at the Water Wheel Beach Tavern, and paddleboard to the Marlo pub.

    Be Tickled Pink By Lake Tyrrell

    Bright pink Lake Tyrrell is a genuine sleeper hit: pre-COVID, thousands of international travellers would gaze on its rosy visage – best at sunrise and dusk – yet the 120,000-year-old salt lake, inland from Swan Hill, remains relatively unknown to the rest of us. Visit the lake, then buy the salt flakes for the table.

    Victoria classifies regions of Australia as green, orange, red or extreme risk, based on the region's COVID-19 risk. Regardless of the zone you have been in, you cannot get a permit to enter Victoria if: you have COVID-19 or have any COVID-19 symptoms.

    If you reside in regional Victoria, you can travel within regional Victoria, excluding Mitchell Shire. Accommodation bookings are permitted for single households and intimate partners or bookings of single bubbles. ... You cannot have visitors to the home or to your accommodation booking.

    Melbourne is ranked as the world's 99th most expensive city out of the 209 cities surveyed for Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey. Though ranked below Sydney, it's more expensive than Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra.

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