Victoria

Hiking near Point Hicks Lighthouse, Croajingolong National Park, Tourism Victoria

Capital City: Melbourne

 

Victoria is possibly Australia’s most diverse state. In a half-hour drive from Melbourne you could be taking in mist-laden mountain ranges and fern gullies. In an hour you could be lying on a sandy beach in a sheltered bay, or surfing in the rugged Southern Ocean. In around four hours you could be standing on the edge of the immense desert that stretches away into Australia’s interior. In a country full of mind-numbing distances, nothing seems far away in Victoria.

More than five million people live in Victoria, with over four million in Melbourne. The city was only founded in 1835, as a kind of afterthought to Sydney and Hobart, but by the 1850s Victoria was off to a racing start. A deluge of people from all corners of the world fanned out across the state in response to the madness that was gold. It brought prosperity to Victoria and it also brought the certain wildness treasured in the state’s history – uprisings like the Eureka Rebellion and bushrangers like Ned Kelly.

Two centuries later, Victoria has also recognised the richness of its natural landscape. To the west of Melbourne, beyond Geelong, a tract of cool-temperate rainforest unravels on its way to the vivid green Cape Otway, where a lighthouse stands on the clifftop.The Great Ocean Road winds past here, en route to the state’s iconic limestone stacks, the Twelve Apostles.

On the other side of Melbourne, the land falls away into a series of peninsulas, islands and isthmuses. One leads to Wilsons Promontory, an untouched landscape of forested hills, tea-brown rivers and beaches strewn with enormous rust-red boulders.

The amber-hued Yarra Valley produces some of the country’s finest cool-climate wines, and from here the landscape begins its gradual climb up into the High Country, which becomes a vista of snowfields in winter.

Perhaps Victoria’s most cherished place is the Grampians, an offshoot of the Great Dividing Range. With a quarter of the state’s flora and 80 per cent of its Aboriginal rock art, the Grampians is a living gallery and a superb place for bushwalking and camping.

Some more things to do while you're in Victoria

  • Healesville Sanctuary
    Healesville Sanctuary

    Highly respected for its wildlife conservation work, Healesville Sanctuary is home to some incredibly cute Australian animals.

  • Queenscliff Hotel
    Queenscliff Hotel

    Experience the lavish elegance of the late-Victorian era at this timeless hotel.

  • Royal Exhibition Building

    Melbourne’s most significant historic building is a stunning reminder of the city’s rich history.

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Fishing spots

Have fishing rod, will travel … it’s a philosophy that will serve you well in Victoria. What this state lacks in size, it makes up for with sensational fishing spots. The Gippsland Lakes are literally swimming with black bream, while the Great Ocean Road and Alpine Waters are veritable angling treasure troves.


Eco-friendly activities

Looking for a destination where you can watch a waddle of tiny penguins take over a beach, go on a snowshoe tour through Alpine landscapes or sample wonderful organic wine? Victoria’s eco-friendly activities could keep you busy for weeks: there’s something in this diverse state to suit every green-minded traveller.


Golf courses

Victoria welcomes golfers with open arms, with a plethora of golf courses and the famed Melbourne sandbelt. Relive memories of the great Masters driving down Huntingdale’s fairways, try to avoid the more than 80 bunkers scattered throughout Moonah Links (the true home of Australian golf) or simply enjoy the challenges of RACV Healesville’s short course. There is something for every golfer, no matter your handicap.


Restaurants & cafes

No matter what your budget or preference, you’re guaranteed a good feed in Victoria. Vibrant capital Melbourne is famed for its fine dining, cheerful multicultural eateries and unequalled cafe culture. The lovely Yarra Valley is strewn with wineries and gourmet food outlets, and you’re never far from tasty pub fare.


Breweries

Currently riding high on a wave of craft-beer production, Victoria rivals Western Australia and New South Wales for the greatest number of individual craft breweries. Its leading light is Richmond’s Mountain Goat Brewery, a much-loved alternative to long-time beer-making monolith, Carlton & United Breweries. Popular brew-pub Bell’s Hotel and Brewery is another local favourite.

Campsites

Is Victoria the best place to camp in Australia? For one of the smaller states in the country, it certainly punches above its weight with the best alpine camping (including free and dog-friendly camping in the Howqua Hills), coastal camping along the Great Ocean Road and campsites among rocks that are too big to wear on your finger at Grampians National Park. 

Best for budgets: Johanna Beach camping area in Great Otway National Park is a free, no-bookings, dog-friendly campground with access to one of the best surf beaches in the state. 

Best for families: BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park on the Great Ocean Road has its own playground and an ocean playground at its front door.

Best for getting away from it all: You can only access Roaring Meg camping area in Wilsons Promontory National Park after a long hike to what is the southernmost point of mainland Australia. 

Best for warming up this winter: Murray-Sunset National Park, in the remote north-west of the state, is sunny by name and nature. Lake Crosbie camping area is the main campground in the park.

Want to find out more about camping in Victoria? Check out these blog posts: 


Caravan parks

Who hasn’t dreamt of hitting the highway and seeing what the horizon brings? From spectacular coastal routes and mountain ranges, to the historic Goldfields region, Victoria makes for exciting caravanning. While travelling distances are short compared to other mainland states, you’ll still enjoy spending time in the state’s many quality caravan parks.


Hotels, motels & B&Bs

Victoria’s accommodation options are as plentiful as they are eclectic. After a luxury escape? Choose from countryside spa villas, glamorous inner-city classics or converted period mansions. Mid-range more your style? How does a cute boutique hotel or vineyard guesthouse sound? On a budget? Take your pick from B&Bs, motels and self-contained cottages.


Eco-friendly places to stay

As Victoria’s ecotourism industry grows, so too does its range of eco-friendly lodgings. In the state’s east, you’ll find anything from architect-designed studio retreats to safari-style tents. Solar-powered guesthouses, cottages and mudbrick flats dot the coast, while the Grampians are home to award-winning eco lodges and rustic bush cabins.


Rest areas

The rest areas that line the Great Ocean Road might be some of the prettiest Victoria has to offer, but there’s more to these stops than just a great lookout. From shade to showers, these rest areas provide drivers with a welcome chance to stretch their legs, and sometimes even a place to stay for the night. And if there happen to be great views, all the better!

Events

What better way to get to know a place than by attending a local festival or sporting event? There’s always something happening in Melbourne: cultural, food and music festivals abound, as do international sports tournaments. Further afield, you’ll find surfing championships, wine festivals … even the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph in Ouyen!

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