Geelong & The Bellarine

Victoria’s second city is just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, yet feels a world away. Settle into a holding pattern on the feature-packed Geelong Waterfront to soak up a day or two of its full spirit – sailing, boating, dining, shopping, skating, fishing and sightseeing.

 

It’s event-central, brimming with green open spaces, picture-perfect vistas and vibrant eateries. If you have kids, fast-track to Eastern Beach with its kids’ swimming pool, quiet beach spots, shady lawns, boardwalk promenade and playground. The famous bollards walk and old-time carousel beckon nearby.

 

Amble a block uptown to the National Wool Museum, then on to the arts and cultural precinct. You can’t miss it: the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre’s stunning domed architecture signals your arrival.

 

More than a hundred National Trust buildings are ready to reveal their timeworn secrets. Coincide your visit with one of many festivals and events filling out the local calendar. Spend any spare hours at the glorious botanic gardens or a boutique winery.

 

In Geelong’s backyard, just 20 minutes drive away, is The Bellarine. It’s foodie heaven with a second helping of sandy beaches, boutique wineries, golf resorts and laid-back village lifestyles.

 

At Queenscliff, tuck into just-harvested seafood at a harbour-side table or live it up in a swanky ocean-view restaurant.

 

Stay on the road to explore the delights of the local taste trail, cellar doors and craft breweries. Hook-up with local tour operators for niche experiences or go solo and explore The Bellarine’s village vibe.

 

From waterfront to beachfront, from sophisticated city to charming villages, Geelong and The Bellarine is a gift that keeps on giving.

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Great Ocean Road

Where the freedom of the open road is yours for the taking. Tick-off many a bucket list experience as you tour the world-famous Great Ocean Road – snap a selfie with the Twelve Apostles, surf where the pros compete, find yourself in a mystical rainforest, spy a koala in the wild or trek an iconic walking trail.

 

Surf is the word and the way of life at Torquay. The Surf Coast and its magnetic surf breaks draw sun-worshipers, fun-lovers and surfie types scouring the coast in search of the perfect wave. The region’s top billing has long gone to the spectacular Twelve Apostles with plenty of applause reserved for the lesser-known and less crowded Loch Ard Gorge, Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs and London Bridge.

 

In the Great Otway National Park, waterfalls cascade, ancient trees stretch skyward and shady fern glades whisper with distant bird calls and scurrying marsupials. This is where the wild things are, and they’re getting back to their natural origins. Adventure buffs get their rush on world-class mountain bike tracks, quad bikes and zip lines, or aboard kayaks and canoes gliding pristine lakes and rivers.

 

Warrnambool is a lively regional hub and exalted holiday locale replete with shoreline family tourist parks, seasonal whale watching and nearby Tower Hill’s fascinating geological and indigenous heritage. The rich seafaring history of the 180km Shipwreck Coast unfolds on the streets of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and right across the region you’ll find charming seaside villages and beguiling rural hamlets.

 

This region harbours a plethora of contrasting experiences, natural wonder and living heritage ready for you to tap into.

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Grampians National Park & Surrounds

Take your Great Southern Touring Route adventure northward to a whole new level of excitement. The Grampians are central to an ancient landscape of towering rocky escarpments thrumming with cultural mystery and wild possibility.

 

This is one of Victoria’s most loved tourist destinations. It’s where young and old find their bliss in rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, mountain biking, road cycling, trekking and trail walking. Despite its popularity, you’ll always find an uncrowded slice of bushland amongst the hundreds of kilometres of trails traversing the national park. Explore waterfalls, wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife ready for you to glimpse and capture on camera. More than 200 bird species inhabit the region, sharing their habitats with emus, kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies and more.

 

This region wears its forty thousand years of Aboriginal heritage proudly. Some say you can feel it in the earth – that this is a sacred place. Follow your instincts to know more with the many cultural experiences on offer.

 

For as far as the eye can see, fertile plains and farmland surround the park. They’re populated with gorgeous rural townships and communities boasting a feast of galleries, restaurants and wineries. Food and wine festivals, markets and events enliven the calendar year-round. And a farmgate shop booming with fresh local produce is never far away.

 

All ages, all seasons, all reasons – the Grampians region is set for adventure in the great outdoors.

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Ballarat Goldfields

Ballarat packs a treasure-trove of destination experiences into one unforgettable package. It’s much more than a regional hub and Victoria’s largest inland city… it’s tourist bliss built on the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the gold rush era and literally on top of the world’s largest alluvial gold deposit.

 

Modern-day Ballarat is as dynamic and contemporary as they come with a flourishing arts culture centred on galleries, theatres and museums. An energetic heart of retailers, restaurant-owners, winemakers and hospitality folk drive its lively epicurean offering. Kids warm to Lake Wendouree’s loop-the-loop walks, the run-in-circles open space of the botanic gardens and the get-up-close opportunities at wildlife parks.

 

But they reserve their loudest applause for Sovereign Hill, Ballarat’s award-winning recreated gold rush town and outdoor museum where even a whole day may not be long enough to explore the period shops and board the mine tram to journey deep underground.

 

Be swept up in the spirit of the famous Eureka uprising where Australian democracy was birthed, and delve into the legacy of the gold rush brought to life in colonial streetscapes, museums, gallery exhibitions and broad, leafy avenues. Walk in the footsteps of thousands of 1850s prospectors who came seeking their fortunes in the lucrative Ballarat gold diggings, setting down the foundations for today’s energetic city.

 

Venture out of town and fossick through history-steeped villages and boutique cool climate wineries. The Ballarat region is a golden opportunity to unlock unforgettable tourism treasures.

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Daylesford & Macedon Ranges

Sidestep the highway and tour up into Victoria’s cool central highlands, where delightful Daylesford and its neighbours nestle as if they’ve always been here. Re-energise midst majestic forests, shady ferns, fertile farmland and curative mineral water springs.

 

You’re far from the madding crowd within a one-hour super-scenic drive of Melbourne. Here, the vibe is bohemian, artsy and intriguingly quirky. Tap straight into it with an amble along Daylesford’s streets, stopping to chat with local artisans, provedores and boutique store-owners. In and out of town, you’ll bump into friendly winemakers, chocolatiers and baristas.

 

The abundance of sparkling mineral water springs centred around Hepburn Springs has long lured visitors from afar, including early Europeans who’ve left their legacy in the rich culture. Leafy heritage gardens, grand old guesthouses and beautiful B&Bs dot the hillsides and ranges, many hosting day spas where you can indulge and pamper mind, body and soul.

 

Work on your wellbeing in the great outdoors – bike along an uncrowded mountain trail, stroll through a lush public garden or take in the vista from Mount Macedon’s summit.

 

Then why not stock-up on exquisite fresh produce, sample one of the many gourmet offerings or celebrate your visit to this fabulous region with a full-bodied, cool climate wine? Cheers!

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Werribee & Surrounds

Werribee’s surprise package of attractions billows with promise, all within 40 minutes drive of Melbourne. Wildlife encounters, neverending nightlife and a bounty of fun to keep the whole troop grinning. Why wouldn’t you go?

 

Hightail it to the Werribee Park Tourism Precinct for a lion’s share of the offering in a single handy zone. At Werribee Open Range Zoo, board a safari bus and tour a mixed species exhibit boasting some of the world’s most iconic grassland animals. When did you last see a half dozen giraffes galloping across the horizon or a herd of zebras chilling out at a waterhole? Hang around for zoo keeper meet-ups, kids time-out in the indoor play zone and a wealth of wildlife interpretation.

 

Stick your nose in at the blooming beautiful Victorian State Rose Garden on your way to delve into a bygone era at the grand old Werribee Park Mansion. Then clip-clop across to the National Equestrian Centre for a dressage show or a polo match.

 

Scramble the family and wing into aviation history at the RAAF Museum Point Cook, the birthplace of the Australian Flying Corps and the Royal Australian Airforce.

 

In town, a miscellany of brilliant cuisines breathes life into the restaurant strip. After dinner, nightlights sparkle until the wee hours with dancing, cocktails and live music.

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