Being Australia's second smallest state doesn't stop Victoria from packing a real punch. When it comes to natural attractions and a diverse range of things to do, Victoria offers intimate wildlife encounters, one of the world's great coastal drives, beautiful gardens and relaxing mineral springs, plus superb food and wine throughout the state.
The foodie, cultural and sports-loving city of Melbourne is the hub of Victoria and the second largest city in Australia. This bustling metropolis flaunts trendy bars and clubs, a chic café scene, a selection of art galleries and museums, and also plays host to many high-profile annual sporting events.
All routes radiate from Melbourne and Victoria's diverse adventures are all within just a few hours drive. Speaking of drives, one of the world's most spectacular coastal routes, the scenic Great Ocean Road, starts just an hour outside of Melbourne. Spanning Victoria's epic wave-crashing coastline all the way to the spectacular rocky outcrops of the Twelve Apostles and beyond to the South Australian border, the stunning drive offers beautiful scenery and dramatic views around every bend.
Wildlife experiences await all the family at Phillip Island, a 31/2 hour round trip from Melbourne. It's here that you can watch the famous Penguin Parade, where hundreds of fairy penguins waddle home each night to their nesting places in the sand, as well as see fur seals and koalas in their natural habitats.
Greater Melbourne is bordered on two sides by vineyards, the Yarra Valley to the north east and Mornington Peninsula to the south, both about an hour's drive away. In the Yarra Valley meet the winemakers and sample wines at the cellar door of some of the state's best known and award-winning wineries. The Morning Peninsula also has numerous wineries and has long been a favourite destination for lazy beachside holidays.
Just 21/2 hours north of Melbourne is Echuca, from where old-fashioned paddle steamers set sail and cruise down the Murray River. Other highlights of the Garden State include the Dandenong Ranges with its lush fern glades, towering forests and eclectic villages and a fun way of seeing this beautiful scenery is aboard the historic and popular Puffing Billy steam train! There's also Healesville, a regional food and wine hub; the historic town of Port Fairy; Sovereign Hill, a recreated 1850s gold mining town; and Grampians National Park, which provides a diverse array of wildlife, picturesque walking tracks and breathtaking vistas.