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St Leonards (Great Ocean Rd/Bellarine Peninsula)
A few miles further south from Portarlington around the bay is another low-key holiday resort, St Leonards. There's not a lot to it - a pub/hotel, a few shops (convenience store, fish & chip shop, pizza and the real estate), a caravan park and a number of holiday homes spread along the shoreline.
But there's a long stretch of safe if unspectacular beach, wonderful views across the bay to the Mornington Peninsula to the east and the distant skyline of the Melbourne. Hardly a major destination but a great location for a quiet family holiday or getaway.
- Family Travel
Portarlington (Great Ocean Rd/Bellarine Peninsula)
The west shore of Port Phillip Bay beyond Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula (like its opposite, the Mornington Peninsula) is a protected area of sandy beaches, nature reserves and small, low-key holiday destinations before hitting the open seas at Queenscliff.
Portarlington is one of the low-key developments - safe, sandy beaches, a few shops and cafes (one the best of the epynomous Aussie traditions, the meat pie, can be bought here. There's also The Bakehouse - wonderful bakery and cafe with the most enormous sandwiches and cakes around) and the ever present BBQ areas. It has a small harbour (fishing boats) ideal for those who enjoy the relaxed pleasure of fishing and the 19th century Portarlington Mill, a 19th century building open at weekends and managed by the National Trust.
This large rock is known as the 'Ayers rock' of the Wimmera. It is pronounced as "a-rap-i-leez' It is considered one of the best places for abseiling in Australia.
It is considered to be the country's premier abseiling venue because it has a sandstone rock face which rises 356 metres. The surface of the mountain is reliable and there are nearly 2000 routes of varying difficulty. Abseiling courses are run from the summit.
Lookout road will take you to a short track that will lead you to the summit of the monolith. You see the wide Australian open places, with lakes and wheat belts. Before you reach the top on lookout road, a side road will take you to the Bluff picnic area where there are more good views to be had.
Centenary road will take you to a picnic and camping area.
It is located near the town Natimuk, a small Wimmera town of some 500 people, located 324 km north-west of Melbourne and 25 km west of Horsham
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
- Mountain Climbing
Healesville Sanctuary (Yarra Valley/Dandenongs/Ran
Great place to see indigenous wild-life of Australia, especially if you haven't time to go looking! OK, so not quite the same to see Kangaroos in a pen rather than bounding across the vast open landscapes, but if you want an extreme close up and the possibility of a Joey coming right up to you, then you'll love it. Then there's the koalas - these critters are much harder to see in their natural environment and at least its not quite so tacky as some sanctuaries where you can 'cuddle with the koalas'. But there's also heaps of other animals around - emus, platypus, bird life, dingoes etc.
Combine a trip to the sanctuary with the Yarra Valley vineyards.
Open 365 days of the year. 9am - 5pm.
Kids (4-15) AUD$10.50
2 A, 2K AUD$52.50
2 A, 3K AUD$57.50
2 A, 4K AUD$62.50
2 A, 5K AUD$67.50
The Sanctuary is one of the most popular '1 hour or so' trips from Melbourne - 65 kms to the east of the city. Tours of the Sanctuary along with a Yarra Valley winery is a popular organised tour and is, if you are not driving, one of the easiest ways (if expensive) of getting there. Public transport is limited - train from Flinders St to Lilydale train station and connecting (infrequent) bus.
I've got a weak spot for Metung, a small village found at the tip of a narrow, sandy peninsula jutting into the Gippsland Lakes approximately three and a half hours east of Melbourne.
With water on both sides and the vastness of Lake Victoria to the west, the mouth of the Nicholson River (and Lakes Entrance) to the east and River Tambo to the immediate north, boating is very much the focus of the village - the yacht club and marina as well as a tiny beach.
1200 people live here, although with a number of small holiday units lining the main road and permanent homes hidden away in winding, hillside streets, it's hard to believe its as large as that! It's a bit more upmarket than nearby Lakes Entrance - a short main street containing half-a-dozen highly-regarded restaurants, a bakery, a general store and a couple of galleries (and the ever-present real estate agents) is about it.
If it's a quiet location with good food, a farmer's market on the first Saturday of each month, plenty of boats, potentially stunning sunsets that you want, Metung is perfect.
It's 20 minutes drive to Lakes Entrance, 10 minutes to the quiet but beautiful Nungurner, the historic Nyermilang Reserve and Park (stunning views) and if you want to go further afield, an hour (via Lakes Entrance) to Buchan Caves.
- Sailing and Boating
- National/State Park
VISIT HISTORIC BEECHWORTH
Full of history and beautiful buildings, this is Beechworth.
It was built in the early gold-rush days, and today is recognised as Australia’s finest historic gold-mining town.
Beechworth is beautiful in Autumn, when the Tree lined streets turn into gold, red & orange delights!
It has many fine buildings, galleries, antiques, pottery and old wares, a fantastic award winner Bakery, nice parks and gardens, and you can try your hand at gold panning too!
Beechworth has a blend of culture, as Chinese gold seekers came to the Ovens Goldfields, in the 1850s. The Beechworth Chinese Cultural Centre displays artifacts to do with the history of the Chinese people of the Ovens Goldfield district.
Located just east of Beechworth's commercial centre is Lake Sambell, a picturesque lake surrounded by BBQ and picnic areas, a Chinese garden with a couple of ponds, honouring the district's Chinese gold rush pioneers
Beechworth's location at the foot hills of the Victorian Alps means that it does get cold in Winter! Nearby are vineyards and some nice scenic drives through the countryside in the area.
Lookouts in the area worth visiting are the Murmungee Lookout (south of the small town of Stanley), the Mount Stanley summit (7 kilometres south-east of Stanley) and the Mount Pilot lookout, around 15 kilometres north of Beechworth on the road to Chiltern.
If you have a car, make the drive to here!
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria and the second largest city in Australia. Covering an area of 7,280 sq kms, it is home to 3.2 million people who are made up of the most cosmopolitan mix of ethnic groups and backgrounds of all the Australian cities.
Take the elevator to the top of The Rialto and check out the great view of Melbourne and surrounds. Chinatown is found on Little Bourke Street and has existed ever since Chinese prospectors joined the rush to the gold fields in the 1850's. While I find it small compared to many Chinatown’s I have seen overseas (i.e. San Francisco), it is the centre of the Chinese community in Melbourne.
The Shrine of Remembrance is a memorial to 18,000 Victorians who did not return from World War I. It was completed in 1934 and after the second World War, the forecourt with its flags and statuary was commissioned to commemorate the lives lost in that war as well. There is a Perpetual Flame that was first lit in 1954.
The Yarra is the river that runs right through the centre of the city and one of the best views is from The Princes Bridge. You can explore it by foot or by bike on one of the many walkways. Along the banks of the river are the Kings Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens.
ECHUCA PADDLESTEAMER'S and more......
I have lost count on how many times I have been to the heritage river town of Echuca, located on the Murray River.
This town is wonderful for waterskiing, swimming, or for a different type of holiday, where you can completely relax, is a houseboat holiday.
From the Aboriginal word meaning "meeting of the water", Echuca-Moama is one of Victoria's oldest river towns. At one time Echuca-Moama was the state's most substantial inland river port. Paddle steamers traded along the Murray and Darling Rivers almost as far as the Queensland border and brought their cargoes of wool to Echuca-Moama for transport to the Port of Melbourne.
We enjoy walking the restored wharf area, this is NOT FREE,
ADMISSION IS IN 2010....$12..........
and we also have taken several different Paddlesteamer cruises from here. Most of the cruises are for 1 hour. I don't know why, but I love it on a Paddlesteamer, slow & steady, passing gorgeous Red Gums lining the water's edge, Birdlife, watching the wheel turn, I love this experience!
There are three to choose from for your journey ....
P.S.PENVENSEY, In the film "All the Rivers run"
P.S. ALEXANDER ARBUTHNOT & P.S. ADELAIDE.
PRICES IN 2010 ARE ADULTS.......
$20 FOR CRUISE, OR FOR EVERYTHING $27.20
CHILDREN....$15.50 & $22
They depart Echuca Wharf daily at 10.15 am, 11.30 am, 1.15 pm & 2.30pm.
A 3.45 pm cruise is available on weekends, public and school holidays.
Subject to bookings.
Back at the wharf, there was a Horse-drawn carriage waiting for customers, and a visit to the Echuca Historical Museum will tell you all about the port’s history.
If you are Water- skiiers like we are, make sure you are there in February for the great "Southern 80" Water ski race.
There is much more than this to see and do at Echuca!
- Sailing and Boating
- Water Sports
- Skiing and Boarding
Lorne (Great Ocean Rd)
Approximately half way between Melbourne and the 12 Apostles, Lorne is the official beginning of the Great Ocean Rd (although much of the road before Lorne is spectacular). It's wide beach and the stunning Otway Angahook National Park behind it make it a popular holiday destination and stop-off point for the many who travel the GOR for day or overnight trips out of Melbourne. Consequently, there's plenty of choice for accommodation and eateries and, whilst not my personal favourite place on the GOR, it's a good location to base yourself to explore the area.
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Drive along the Great Ocean Road
This is probably one of the most scenic and photographed drives in the whole Australia. If you are ever in Melbourne, and you have a spare day or two, PLEASE consider doing this.
The Great Ocean Road is in the Port Campbell National Park and starts near Geelong and ends near Warrnambool. My sister Noelene used to live in Warrnambool, so we have done this drive several times, and each and every time marvelled at the beauty of it.
The Great Ocean Road is probably most famous for The Twelve Apostles. These are (or should I say were) 12 limestone shacks located off shore from the coast and able to be photographed from various vantage points. Unfortunately due to years of erosion, there are only 8 of the Twelve Apostles left standing.
We made Gibson's Steps the last stop. It's a long climb down to the beach but well worth the effort. We have more pics inthe travelogues, but it was a nice way to end the day. If we'd gone earlier in the day, it might have been crowded because you could see the parking stalls for the tour busses and signs in Chinese, but when we went it was fairly deserted. Great views, great exercise!
- Budget Travel
Hiking the Great Ocean Walk
Beautiful tracks with ocean views and koalas and forests. Take a backpack and do the lot from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell like the retired US Navy submarine captain we met last week. Or do some sections with overnight stays in specially created 'hike in only' campsites with tank water, a day shelter and drop dead gorgeous drop dunnies with forest views. Each tentsite is made private, by careful carving of the bush. Take all rubbish away with you. Or do day walks in sections for an hour or three. Some hills, some rivers, a lighthouse. Genuinely beautiful in mellow autumn weather.
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
The Dandenong Ranges is one of the main tourist areas in Victoria and is less than an hours drive from the city. The ranges cover more than 25,000 ha. of National Parks, Forest Reserves and hills with stunning views of the Cardinia Creek and Silvan dams, Port Philip and Westernport Bays, Great Dividing Range and of course the City of Melbourne. Spread over 40 hectares within the Dandenongs are the National Rhododendron Gardens which display 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 250,000 daffodils.
William Ricketts Sanctuary is a really unusual place to visit. Set in the Australian rainforest, you wander along a windy path through this amazing outdoor gallery of sculptures made of wood and clay. They either blend so much into the landscape that you hardly see they are there, or they strike out you. They are male and female, young and old, human and animal and creatures that are part man, part animal. Beards flow into the grain of wood and reaching hands become tree limbs. The influences are Australian aboriginal, European and Asian (William Ricketts spent time in India).
- Road Trip
The Great Dividing Range
The Great Dividing Range begins north east of Melbourne and travel east to the New South Wales border. To the east of Melbourne is Lake Eildon National Park and Mansfield. From here you can get to the ski slopes of Victoria. The main skiing areas include Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buffalo, Mt Hotham, and Falls Creek. Mt Buller is the largest skiing resort in Victoria, there are slopes there for all levels. Cross country skiing is also popular at Lake Mountain, Mt Donna Buang, Mt Stirling and Mt St Gwinear. The entire region offers plenty of outdoor activities which include canoeing and whitewater rafting, bushwalking, fishing and rock climbing.
- Road Trip
Macedon is a small town at the foot of the mountain and is made up of around 1250 people. At the top of the mountain is the Kurana Memorial, the Eastern Lookout, the Western Lookout, the Major Mitchell Lookout, and the Mt Macedon Memorial Cross. In 1836, Thomas Mitchell climbed the mountain. From the top, he could see Port Phillip and so decided to name the mountain after Philip of Macedon. From the top you can see Port Phillip Bay, the You Yangs and Mt Dandenong. There is a 21-metre Memorial Cross which has become a local landmark and can be seen from miles around. The original crucifix, gardens and access road were established by local resident William Cameron, as a tribute to those Australians who died in World War I (including his son). The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 damaged the cross and ruined the gardens. The latter have been re-established and the former replaced.
Around Mt Macedon, over 20km of walking track winds through pretty bush, bursting with wildlife.
- Road Trip
State of Victoria Travel Guide
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