As well as driving along the Great Ocean Road through Lorne, Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell, you can hike along the newly connected and signed Great Ocean Track. I spent five days hiking in mid-February 2006 (ie the height of summer) walking from Apollo Bay to Cape Otway Lighthouse. You can go further to Aire River and beyond.
The hiking is not difficult and there are often great views of the ocean and walks along quiet beaches. There are really good, natural camping areas at Elliot River, Blanket Bay and Parker River. Minimal cost- a few dollars. Provided: natural bush camping sites- levelled ground and bush between you and the next site. Drop toilets- the new ones have windows at eye level and skylights. There is a tap at Blanket Bay for water and a tank with tap at Elliot River, but no water at Parker Hill site. At Elliot River there is a new three sided, roofed shelter with a pine table and benches.
We saw koalas, an Eastern brown snake, red bellied black snakes and many birds. No flies or mosquitoes. At Blanket Bay, we slept on the beach instead of in our tents.
It was really beautiful and bound to become hugely popular.
We decided to take an adventurous trip back to Melbourne on our way back to Lakes Entrance...and ended up in this town, Walhalla...population #20. It was a town full of character with the a train which travelled between there and Traralgon.
We then grabbed lunch at a small cafe, and did many of the treks around the gold mining tacks and rivers...
Completely off the beaten track...and a definite fun experience for a 1/2 day...
For some of the most spectacular views of Victoria, I would recommend taking a drive out to The Grampians, western Victoria's largest mountain ranges. 177,000 acres of mountains, valleys, and very very old rocks.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to take some of the hiking trails, to the wonderful outlooks and MacKenzie Falls. Although Sarah and I did not have as much time as we would have liked, I have started a Grampians page, so feel free to click on the link below.
If you are adventurous enough to head to the mountains in the middle of winter, then Mount Dandenong provides quick access and nice views. It is just 30 minutes out of Melbourne, but the feel of the area is like a European mountain town. Small shops, pubs and tourist attractions make this worthy of a weekend adventure.
Even at some of the restaurants, they have a Christmas in July menu!
For more information on Mount Dandenong, check out the page below!
If you are headed out to the Wine Country northwest of Melbourne, then the first town you are going to run into is Sunbury. It is in Hume City Council, with plenty of history. This is where "The Ashes", which apparently is a prestigious cricket trophy got its inception.
The most endearing part of this city however is the little courtyard of churches in the middle of "downtown". A small park separates three churches, and makes for a nice stroll down this little piece of Australia past.
in the 1850s the gold fields of victoria drew many seeking their fortune. many returned broke and disillusioned. the gold fields were tough places.
today you can visit Ballarat about 1.5 hours from melbourne and visit Soverign Hill, a replica village of the gold rush days. a great day for the family and reasonably priced.
all tourist service providers have details.
happy fossicking.....theres gold in them hills.
The beautiful Apollo Bay marks the start of the Great Ocean road. There is a small town (cannot remember its name) here where you can get a stop over and some food before you head into the Great Ocean Road.
Although Victoria state is far south below the Equator, it receives a lot of rainfall and therefore there are lush and thick rainforest which you can observe when you are travelling along the Great Ocean Road. There are some simple walking trails available for short walks.
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria state and you must spend at least a few days here to explore the various tourist attractions including the Flinder's Street Train Station, Queen Victoria Market, Captain Cook's Cottage, Fitzroy Park, Melbourne Park Tennis Centre, tram rides, Yarra River, delicious food etc.
The Great Grape Road winery touring route of Central Victoria is another great reason to get off the beaten track - it starts at Ballarat and takes in about 36 different wineries (some of which, besides being in the Ballarat wine zone, fit into 2 of the other regions already mentioned, The Grampians and the Pyrenees). Maps can be obtained from Visitor Information Centres in the area, for example Ballarat.
An ideal way to go off the beaten track in a pleasant manner in Victoria is to take a winery trail - over the past few years, the winery regions have been expanding quite rapidly and are now very numerous.
For example around Melbourne there is the Yarra Valley (would have to be the most famous), the Mornington Peninsula around Melbourne's bay, Geelong, only around 75 kms away, also at the coast, Sunbury, the Macedon Ranges (made famous by the book Picnic at Hanging Rock).
In Western Victoria, my region, there are the Wineries around Ballarat (taking in part of the Great Grape road trail), the wineries of the Pyrenees near Avoca, wineries of The Grampians (most newer wineries but 2 of these were established as early as the 1840s, making them very old indeed by Australian standards).
There is also a wine region near Hamilton to the west of Ballarat.
In Central Victoria there are the wine regions of Bendigo and surrounds, the Goulburn Valley, and Strathbogie Ranges.
In Northern Victoria there are the winery regions of the Murray Valley (Mildura) and Swan Hill, which are very extensive indeed (thanks to the irrigation of the 1000+ km Murray River) and very famous too.
In North East Victoria there is Rutherglen and Beechworth, wineries in the Alpine Valleys, and also Glenrowan (former Ned Kelly bushranger territory).
And in the South East of Victoria, there are also wineries in Gippsland now.
So if wineries are your thing, you won't run out of them!
On the map below, the numbers represent:
9 (far west) - Hamilton. 8 = The Grampians. 7 = The Pyrenees. 6 = Ballarat, & part of the Great Grape Road. 5 = Macedon. 4 = Sunbury
3 = Geelong. 2 = Mornington Peninsula. 1 = The Yarra Valley
I don't think many overseas tourists are aware of "The Prom", as Victorians call it. This park encompasses the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. It has 130 kms of coastline and many hiking trails that will take from a few hours to a few days. You will pass through forests and fern gullies en route to spectacular coastal views. There is also a sandy beach and camping facilties.
It is located 170kms southeast of Melbourne via the South Gippsland Highway.
If you happen to find yourself in Ballarat, and if you enjoy gardens, I recommend a visit to these Botanical Gardens. This 40 hectare garden is situated on the shores of the manmade Lake Wendouree, which attracts a variety of birdlife. There is also a warm greenhouse with colourful flowers on display....a great place to escape the rain!
Ballarat is located about an hour and a half drive west of Melbourne.
You can see more photos of the gardens in a travelogue.
The Great Ocean Road runs more or less from the Victorian coastal town of Lorne to Port Campbell. For about 18 Km however between Lavers Hill and Port Campbell there are two stretches of unsealed sections, now bypassed, known as the "Old" Great Ocean Road. This world famout tourist road was constructed in the early 1930s as a Government sponsored employment program during the Great Depression years.
Once past Lavers Hill, about 10 Km towards Port Campbell there is a 5 Km section off the Cape Otway Road. While a 13 Km stretch starting at the west end of the Gellibrand River bridge takes one to the hamlet of Princetown. This route takes one through quiet farmland and past lakes. Plenty of intrepid ducks here to be found. Princetown makes a good rest stop since it has a general store / post office / cafe all in one. the total distance from Lavers Hill to Port Campbell is about 50 Km. Good bicycling country here.
We followed another tiny sign and took a walk through the forest to see these falls. Along the way we saw a koala up in the tree. Pics of the koala are in the travelogue, but as you can see, the falls themselves provided a viusual treat as well. Lookign at this, try and smell the sweet smell of mist-wettened forest.
Panoramic city views are breathtaking from this ideal location on the famous South bank Promenade....more
308-310 High Street, Princes Highway M1, Belmont, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Good for: Couples
Had a wonderful 5 day stay in this Hotel, conveniently located close to Sovereign Hill. The staff...more