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Victoria Where metropolitan Melbourne meets coastal beauty

By Sue Gough Henly

With the foodie, cultural and sports-loving city of Melbourne as its hub, experience Victoria’s diverse adventures all within just a few hours drive. Enjoy intimate encounters with Australian wildlife, one of the world’s great coastal drives, beautiful gardens and relaxing mineral springs, plus superb food, wine and coffee throughout the state.

Map of Victoria

Savour the world's most liveable city, Melbourne

Find out why The Economist  has named Melbourne the world’s most liveable city several times over. This easygoing metropolis is Australia’s cultural, shopping and foodie capital, and in 2017 hosted the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Come also for the sport (think The Australian Open, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cup horse race and the Boxing Day cricket Test) but make time to discover its hidden bars, local designers, tucked-away restaurants and cutting-edge cafés.

Experience one of the world’s great coastal drives

Starting an hour outside of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road spans Victoria’s epic, wave-crashing coastline all the way to the spectacular rocky outcrops of the 12 Apostles, and beyond to the South Australian border. Enjoy expansive views of the Southern Ocean, plus golden beaches, jagged cliffs, and temperate rainforests. See animals and birds in the wild, watch pro surfers in action, relax in pretty coastal towns, savour gourmet treats, and discover indigenous cultural sites. The Great Ocean Road is as much about a spectacular journey as it is the destination.

See Australian wildlife at Phillip Island

Watch the little penguins come home to their burrows in the sand and see fur seals and koalas in their natural habitats at Phillip Island, which has a host of wildlife experiences for the whole family. A 3.5-hour round trip from Melbourne, Phillip Island is a perfect short getaway where you can relax on unspoiled ocean beaches, visit historic farms and even get an adrenalin fix on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Visit the Dandenongs and the Yarra Valley wineries 

Just a one-hour drive from Melbourne, explore the forests and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges via car, on foot or by historic steam train and admire some of Australia’s finest cool-climate gardens. Visit Healesville Sanctuary, one of the best places in the country to interact with Australian wildlife in natural surroundings and continue to the Yarra Valley, Victoria’s finest cool-climate wine region. There you can embark on a hot-air balloon ride and a enjoy some of the best wineries in Victoria.

Experience the good life on the Mornington Peninsula

Undulating vineyards, farmland and ocean and bay beaches can all be found on the Mornington Peninsula, just a one-hour drive from Melbourne. Enjoy long lunches at winery restaurants, swim with dolphins and seals in Port Phillip Bay, peruse country markets, pick strawberries, visit a wildlife sanctuary, ride horses along beaches and across vineyards, visit cheesemakers and distillers, farm stands and olive groves, go bushwalking and take pictures of Victoria’s colourful bathing boxes. After your adventure, unwind in the steamy waters at Peninsula Hot Springs.

Immerse yourself in the history of Victoria’s gold rush towns

Discover the history and culture of the Goldfields region, about a 1.5-hour drive from Melbourne. Spend the day at the recreated gold-mining town of Sovereign Hill, which brings to life Australia’s splendid 1850s gold rush era. Meet costumed characters, pan for real gold, chat with skilled craftsmen, and visit a one-room school house. Admire the elaborate buildings of Ballarat and Bendigo which were built on the riches of the gold rush. Visit the Gold Museum, go underground to a real gold mine, and visit the Chinese Museum and Joss House Temple.

Relax in spa country

Invigorate body and mind in the natural mineral springs and historic villages of the Daylesford Macedon Ranges region, just an 80-minute drive northwest from Melbourne. Soak in mineral waters and find balance at spas and wellness retreats. Enjoy great food and wine in country pubs as well as fine-dining restaurants, such as The Lake House, a trailblazing farm-to-table restaurant and spa resort. Explore heritage gardens, buy farm-gate produce, and browse art galleries and boutiques in quaint country towns.

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