Getting out on the Great Ocean Road and exploring was a highlight to our 2013 trip. Stopping in the small towns, enjoying the look out points and attractions was absolutely amazing. We say such incredible sights, met some great locals and saw such amazing things. It was a experience that we both found awe inspiring and would love to do it again.
I think that anyone visiting Melbourne should make this trip to see The Twelve Apostles and the other incredible coastal formations along the GOR. I am so thankful that my wife planned this out and had us go; I'll never forget our adventures.
Williamstown is situated at the mouth of the Yarra River where it enters Hobsons Bay and Port Phillip. Williamstown was Melbourne's first sea port.
We walked along the Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park which contains the old Fort Gellibrand military site dating from 1860 and the Timeball Tower which was used by ships for timekeeping and navigation.
We enjoyed watching pelicans swimming in the bay and had a look at the Titanic Theatre Restaurant which is shaped like the famous ship.
William Ricketts Sanctuary is a beautiful, peaceful and tranquill garden hidden in the Dandenongs. The Sanctuary was created by William Ricketts who was a sculpture and artist who carved the most beautiful sculptures out of wood and trees, Ricketts lived there until his death in 1993 and the sanctuary is now owned by Victorian Government.
Ricketts had a connection with Aboriginal spiritual world and most of his work reflects this. Not only are you walking though lush green forest but you are walking a story trail of the Native Australian Aboriginal.
The Sanctuary is almost like a small forest, trees are everywhere. I recommend that if you visit the sanctuary that you wear sensible footwear as the ground can sometimes get a little slippery if it is wet. There is a small cave area where you can watch a video and learn about Mr Ricketts himself and how he completed his work.
The Sanctuary is open all year around apart from Christmas day but it may shut if there are bad weather conditions.
Address: 1402-1404 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Mount Dandenong VIC 3767, Australia
An off-the-beaten-track tip within Melbourne itself - Lysterfield Park is to be found on the eastern periphery of the city.
It's a place of bush walks and mountain bike tracks, horse riding, picnics by the lake and lots of water activities, including boating and swimming from protected sandy beaches in the middle of the bush.
It's not a spectacular 'must see' but certainly worthwhile checking it out if int he Belgrave/Puffing Billy area. And it's a great place to spot kangaroos.
An hour's drive from Melbourne is the Yarra Valley, famed for its vineyards and superb wines. Day trips can be organised from the city to take you out to the many of the best vineyards and to give you a real taste (literally and metaphorically!) of the wine growing area and regional Victoria.
As well as the vineyards, there's TarraWarra Museum of Art (wonderful cafe and vineyard too!), the township of Healesville (famous for its animal sanctuary and state park).
(These pictures are there to also point out that Australia is not all about red dust and perpetual sunshine!).
(See also State of Victoria pages)
The Avenue of Honour is a part of the Maribyrnong River Trail and represents an era when values and beliefs were different to what they are today and, as such, makes for a fascinating historic record of times past. Old people such as myself will find the interpretive signs of much interest. The young will mostly pass on, disinterested by such a topic.
The avenue came about because of the Essendon League, a group of civic minded citizens who decided to plant a row of 12 cypress trees, part of their riverside beautification scheme, and name them after British Naval ships of WWI, nine of which were sunk in the Battle of Jutland.
The original plan to commemorate the locals who had fallen in battle became superflous when local council decided to have a Soldiers' Avenue in a different part of the city.
The original trees are no longer there though their stumps house the explanatory signs. Kauri trees, that last much longer, have replaced them.
This 4 km loop walk is certainly not "Off The Beaten Path" for Melbournians but is included here because very few tourists will have done it and that's a bit of a shame for a few reasons, not the least being because it's a nice thing to do and you can get exercise doing it. If you can find Raleigh Road Bridge or Chifley Drive you'll be in the right area of Maribyrnong.
If you're in the CBD take the 57 tram out of Elizabeth Street and alight at stop 41 and you're there.
All along this short walk there are interpretive signs with lots of interesting information, the most dramatic being a record of the flood levels over the years.
This is a yearly summer event at Werribee Zoo, near Melbourne. Every Sat and Sun evening from early Jan to early March. Includes wild life safari at the open zoo, African food and African music & dances. See details at their website
My travelling mate happened to be a devout Christian (though not a Catholic), so a visit to a cathedral was on the card. Anyway, we were in Fitzroy Gardens, so a visit to St.Patrick's Cathedral wasn't a task that was out of the way.
St.Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, is the cathedral church of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. It is known internationally as a leading example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture.
Plans for the cathedral started in 1847, the cathedral was consecrated in 1897 and finally completed in 1939. Since the Catholic community of Melbourne in the early days was almost entirely Irish, the Cathedral was dedicated to St.Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
The Cathedral is built on a traditional east-west axis, with the altar at the eastern end, symbolising belief in the resurrection of Christ. The plan is in the style of a Latin cross, consisting of a nave with side aisles, transepts with side aisles, a sanctuary with seven chapels, and sacristies. It is 103.6 metres long on its long axis, 56.4 metres wide across the transepts and 25.3 metres wide across the nave. The nave and transepts are 28.9 metres high. The central spire is 79.2 metres high and the flanking towers and spires are 61.9 metres high.
The view is both breathtaking from afar and from near-by. A wonderful piece of architecture.
When we took a visit to the Collingwood Community Centre we were amazed at the Mosaics and the Gardens and the real community spirit that we found in the middle of Melbourne.
Collingwood Community Centre is built at the bottom of a huge set of high rise apartments (units, flats) that are owned by the Ministry of Housing. The high rise apartments are rented out to families or singles.
We had a tour of some of the flats, had a meal prepared by the local College, with food from thier own community garden. The Mosaics are amazing. We also toured the local open space area and took in the local scenery. The Mosaics were all laid by members of the public housing estate.
An absolutely amazing place in the heart of the suburbs!
Hoddle Street, Collingwood
One of the off the beaten path things to do in Melbourne is to walk around the Universities and enjoy the sculptures.
This particular sculpture is by Inge King, who is a fairly well known sculptor in these parts. This was sculpted for Kaye Fox in memory of her parents, Earnest and Fannie Kaye Fox.
At the Yarra river side walk there are lots of nice warm sweet cafes , stylish restaurants , chic bars , unique shopping ( lots of brand name )along the river . The crown casino 's right at the corner of the river too .You will find it with spectacular views of the city ( esp. in the night ime ) The river precinct is melbourne's pulsating heart of entertainment and leisure.
This beautiful place is in Greater Melbourne but it is a long way from the centre. It's at Lang Warrin, 4 k from Frankston.
It is sometimes called the Elizabeth Murdoch (Rupert's mum) Sculpture Park because she was a major patron. Her big house (the garden is sometimes opened for charity) is just around the corner.
DON'T GO ON A MONDAY! We went there for lunch on a Monday and the inside gallery and coffee bar are closed. Mind you can still wander the grounds and see the beautiful stuff dotted around here and there.
If we had known the cafe was closed on a Monday we would have bought a picnic because there were very few people there, more or less just us, and there are many shady trees and delightful places to settle down and enjoy the peace.
It would be possible to get there by public transport, train and then bus, but it would be an epic of human endurance, so best to go when you have the use of a car.
A really lovely place.
Entrance to the inside gallery is by donation.
It may take a few dots to connect to get here really....I arrived, courtesy of my colleague...so there!
Not too far out of Melbourne, say 1 hour by driving, suddenly you run into open space. Not that there is a lack of in the first place but if you are craving open skies, open lands and an open soul, the Yarra Valley might just provide you with a little respite.
Home to the vineyards of Victoria, there are plenty here along with quaint B&Bs and Homesteads, swanky restaurants, smarmy eateries, orchard farms, dairy farms, cheese delicatessens, balloon rides and a good time....
Popped by a few spots.
Yarra Valley Dairy: Lovely cow and goat cheeses. Check out Cheese & Dill, House Cow and Hot Cow.
Kuranga Native Plants Nursery: Pop by for a little Aussie flora and tuck into some real Aussie Bushtucker food. Tantalise your taste buds with Wild Hibiscus, Macadamia, Native Plums, Native Pepper and much more at the Paperbark Cafe.
Yarra Glen Craft Market: Experience the sensation of country fair. Weave through stalls selling items you may never find elsewhere and taste homemade jams and lemonades.
And by the end of it...if you are all heated up, there is always the Yarra River to take a cool dip in!
Isle de Francaise....so named because early French explorers claimed the island for Napolean. Of course, the British would have none of that and very soon expelled the French but the name stuck. So don't expect chi chi French cafes and swanky boulevards here....though those wishing for a little French dust, Kylie (as in Minogue) may grant you glimpses of "Bleuciel" (Blue Sky), her private estate on the island....but currently up for sale.
The wind-swept island has only a permanent population of 80. Compared to touristy and noisy Philip Island just across the waters, it is as day and night. Two-thirds of the island is National Park, and is home to an ecosphere of Australian flora and fauna. There are plenty of wild koalas on the island...so productive they are, that some of the population have to be removed to maintain the island's fragile ecosystem.
Did a half-day tour with the effervescent Rod Johnston of French Island Eco Tours (there are 2 other tours available on the island) for A$40, including an organic lunch at the organic farm currently running out of the previous McLeod Prison. (He has a dog, Eddie, just as effervescent). He has plenty of tales and history of the island to amuse you with. The half-day tour includes a drive around the main island sights, among the rugged beauty are defunct Chicory Kilns (when growing chicory was a big industry decades ago), Perserverance Primary School (population of 4 students) with a drop over at the now defunct Prison for lunch, provided by the organic farm currently occupying the site.
There are no tours from the city to French Island. You need to take the Frankston Line train all the way to Stony Point and then hop on the Inter-Island Ferries for the 15 minutes journey across the waters. Tickets are A$10 1 way. You can bring along your own bicycles.
Rod also manages a Lodge on the island for folks wishing to stay over.