7 Things we did in Victoria – Australia | To better understand our choices you must know that we like old architecture and nature. We try to avoid shopping malls and obvious tourist traps, with more or less success. Let’s get started …
Wilson’s Promontory NP
We spent a weekend camping at the Tidal River Camping Ground. This location did not disappoint. We were particularly looking for encounters with wildlife and we got plenty of those. Within just 3 days we did spot Wallabies, grey Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Wombats, Rosellas, Snakes, Emus and even one Koala. It was resting in the middle of the street and needed to be gently pushed towards the side. The traffic jam the koala caused, was the most entertaining one we ever had.
From Melbourne it took us 3 hours to reach the entrance of Wilson’s Prom, driving down mostly M1 and C444. From there we did drive another 30 minutes to the Tidal River Camping Ground. Hiking Tours we did: Tidal Overlook Circuit – probably everybody starts with this one, and Mount Oberon – a moderate trail of 2 hours.
For those Instagram suckers among you: the internet signal was great at Tidal River.
In case it fits into your plans: Since you are already a good 250 km southeast of Melbourne, Phillip Island would be an easy catch on the go. Most tourists drive to Phillip Island for the Penguin Parade.
Book a property in or near Wilsons Prom -> Booking.com
Great Ocean Road
Whoever claims that this is one of the most scenic roads on earth, is absolutely right. Particularly inspiring: the stretch between Princetown and Petersborough. We took our sweet time and worked off the Gibson Steps (a must!), the 11 Apostles, London Bridge (or what’s left of it), the Grotto (that’s just a snapworthy sinkhole at low tide), the Bay of Islands and Loch Ard Gorge – where we did not go for a dive into the underwater sanctuary. Instead we took all three easy-trails to discover the area.
Apart from the coast there is also a pretty nice National Park in the hinterland: Otways NP. Giant fern trees, beautiful waterfalls and if you are lucky, a koala in the wild will be waiting for you.
Our base camp alongside the Great Ocean Road was Lorne. Can be crowded the brochure said. But bloody British we are! Without knowing we did arrive in the offseason. All the cafes and restaurants were just open for us.
Book a property alongside the Great Ocean Road -> Booking.com
The Grampians National Park does not get as much attention as Australia’s big 5 (Blue Mountains NP, Uluru, Port Campbell (Great Ocean Road), Whitsunday Islands and Kakadu), simply because it’s not as spectacular. Still, for those tourists based in Melbourne this NP will do the job – at least in spring when vegetation is thick and the heat still bearable. It’s a 3 hours ride to Halls Gap via Ballarat. If you want to enter the National Park from the south via Dunkeld, it would take you maybe 10 minutes longer via Geelong.
What to expect: Kangaroos; so tame that you will be able to feed them a carrot or two (yey!).
Koalas; not easy to spot them. We were extremely lucky when parking our car randomly at the edge of C216. A Koala did nap on a eucalyptus branch, literally just 2 meters away from us.
Emus; plenty of them.
Cockatoos and Kookaburras; outnumbering the Emus with ease.
Waterfalls; head towards Mackenzies Falls, in our opinion the best choice.
Aboriginal Art; it is said that the Grampians hold 70% of Victoria’s Aboriginal Art. Not all sites are open to public. We recommend Gulgurn Manja (Flat Rock) and Ngamadjidj (Cave of Ghosts).
Nice Lookouts; the Grampians mountain ranges offer lots of easy and intermediate hiking trails. We did trailblaze from Halls Gap up to the Zumsteins, to Mackenzie Falls and back. Took us pretty much an entire day (approx. 25 km).
Book a property in or near Grampians NP -> Booking.com
Vintage Echuca was better than expected. Its position at the closest point of the Murray River to Melbourne must have contributed to its development as a river port city during the 19th century. We toured the Murray with one of those Echuca Paddlesteamers. Although very muddy, the otherwise beautiful river carves its way through a sun-burnt and contrasting landscape.
Other than that we enjoyed the local Holden Museum. It exhibits perfectly preserved cars from the 1950s and 1960s. That word ‘Holden’ seems to carry some kind of Australian pride for being made in Australia. The models produced until 2017 were similar to GM in the U.S., Opel in Germany and Vauxhall in Great Britain. So nothing special here.
Best part in Echuca: We stayed at “River Bend” – a remote campground slash RV park near one of those countless billabongs. One morning a freaking Platypus briefly waved at us before checking for some lunch on the river bed.
Book a property in or near Echuca -> Booking.com
Dandenong Ranges NP
This is the National Park closest to Melbourne. That’s why it’s crowded on weekends. Lots of birds call this cool tempered rainforest home, led by cockatoos, crimson rosellas, kookaburras and lyrebirds. Wombats and Koalas are also part of the show. The Park offers crystal clear streams, waterfalls and has a well maintained network of the hiking trails, with many picnic grounds for BBQ and such.
We tackled the Dandenongs by using public transport. With the Lilydale line we made it to Croydon @ AU$5 per person. From there, bus no. 688 brought us to Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road. That one cost another AU$5 per person.
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Halfway between Melbourne and Wilson’s Prom is Phillip Island – a place famous for two venues that could not be more different. (A) the Penguin Parade, and (B) the Grand Prix Circuit. We don’t know jacksh*t about that racing track. But the Penguin Parade was a great experience. At an average speed of just 1 km per hour lots and lots of tiny Fairy Penguins invade the beaches of Phillip Island Nature Park each night.
Book a property on Phillip Island -> Booking.com
Of course we spent time in Melbourne. A free City Circle Tram allowed us to travel throughout the inner city, hopping on and off as we wanted. These were our findings:
(1) St. Paul’s Cathedral; the inside of this holy house was indeed impressive to look at.
(2) Siglo Rooftop Bar; gave us a view of St. Patrick’s and Parliament House.
(3) Flinders Street Station; something old among all those new buildings.
(4) Sunken Library artwork in front of the State Library – formerly Museum of Victoria.
(5) Coop’s Shot Tower from 1889 inside the mall atrium of Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.
(6) St. Kilda Esplanade; an urbanized coastal strip south of the city center.
(7) ANZ Bank Museum; we are totally convinced that banks are heartless money grubbers. Still this cathedral-like building was impressive.
(8) Block Arcade; same thing here. We don’t care about shopping but the Block Arcade is a gorgeous heritage building, boasting stunning architecture.
(9) Book a property in or near Melbourne -> Booking.com
7 Things we did in Victoria Australia. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Visit our Travel Alphabet. If you are only interested in articles about Australian destinations, go here -> Australia’s All Stars