Welcome to Victoria
Victoria is a place of contrasts: from the arid bushland up near the Murray River to world-class surf beaches along the Great Ocean Road, to the ski fields of the High Country mountains and the lush rainforests of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges; it’s a state that caters for all tastes, a state that has thirty-six national parks covering more than 2.6 million hectares.
Originally part of New South Wales, Victoria was created in 1851 when colonial authorities decided that another settlement was needed to house NSW’s overflowing convict population. The 1850s gold rush heralded Victoria’s rapid growth and the state was swamped with fortune seekers sailing from Britain, Europe, America and China. Although many perished along the rocky coastline, those who did make it excavated twenty million ounces of gold – nearly one third of the world’s output at that time.
In a ten-year period, Victoria’s population swelled sevenfold to 540,000.
Today it is home to nearly a quarter of Australia’s twenty-two million people.
And by the time you’ve travelled around Victoria, you’ll feel like it is home too.
Vic General Info
: 227 620 sq km.
GMT plus 10 hours. Victoria operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST)
and has Daylight Savings from October to March (clocks go forward an hour).
It’s been said that if you don’t like the weather in Melbourne then just
wait five minutes because it’ll change. Summer temperatures average out at 28oC,
while in winter the average is 8oC. For an up-to-date forecast check out
Tel: 13 28 42 Web: www.visitvictoria.com
Safari Pete’s Vic ‘Don't miss’ list
Check out the stunning views of Melbourne and surrounds from Eureka Skydeck www.eurekaskydeck.com.au.
Take advantage of Melbourne being one of the few cities in the world where it is possible to enjoy a hot air balloon flight over a city centre, with Global ballooning. www.globalballooning.com.au
Enjoy Melbourne’s famous coffee/café culture, people watching and enjoying an all day breakfast in a popular inner city precinct such as Lygon St, Carlton or along St. Kilda’s foreshore.
Check out Melbourne’s (and arguably Australia’s) biggest hipster hotspots. The
suburbs of Fitzroy and Northcote are where Melbourne’s organic food loving, bike-riding, bespectacled trendy crowd feel at home. Brunswick St in Fitzroy and High St in Northcote feature some of Melbourne’s best cafes, bars, boutique stores, live music venues and granola filled organic markets.
Pass the night away discovering Melbourne’s many hidden and unique laneway bars. www.thatsmelbourne.com.au
If I told you Batman founded Melbourne then you’d probably think I was stupid. Was the leotard even invented back in 1835, I hear you ask. Forget Bruce Wayne, credit here goes to John Batman – the only native-born Aussie to found a state’s capital city.
Had the pastoralist had it all his own way then Melbourne
would’ve been called Batmania. Holy Lycra!
Batman could speak the local language and he brokered a deal with the traditional aboriginal owners. In exchange for 250 hectares of land,
Batman gave them a crate filled with tools, tomahawks and blankets. Thwack! Scandalous or savvy? You decide. One person who definitely had an opinion was colonial big cheese, Governor Burke.
He said Batman’s deal with the Kulin people was void, but instead of handing the land back to the Indigenous owners he claimed it for the British Crown.
So began an influx of migrants and, from the dirt of the Port Phillip Bay scrub, Melbourne rose like a colonial dream, its construction funded and fuelled by the gold rush. Today this bustling metropolis is the second largest city in Oz,
a place of leafy gardens and safe swimming beaches.
It’s filled with folk from 140 nations, has a thriving café culture and cool bar scene. There are more culinary delights than Batman has had fistfights.
Stylish, soulful and sports-mad, Melbourne has a little something for everyone.
Which way Cobber ?
V Line is one of the main operators of trains and buses in Victoria – visit
www.vline.com.au to see where they could take you. Metro www.metrotrains.com.au also has an extensive train network.
Melbourne’s extensive tram, train and bus runs on the ‘Myki’ ticketing system. A Myki is a reloadable card you can purchase at 7/11 convenience stores and major train stations and can be repeatedly topped up to keep you moving around town. Just ‘touch on’ when boarding, and ‘touch off’ when disembarking. See www.myki.com.au for more info.
Check out Melbourne’s central hotspots and its surrounding suburbs via the extensive tram network. Not only are trams cheap, they’re also a good way to meet locals. The City Circle tram is a free ride that loops around the city. It circumnavigates central Melbourne every ten minutes from 10am to 6pm
(10am – 9pm on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays) and runs along Flinders St, Harbour Esplanade, LaTrobe and Spring Streets. On all other trams, remember to ‘touch on’ and ‘touch off’ with your Myki card.
Be wary of ticket inspectors!
Don’t take a taxi to the airport, jump on the Skybus, a shuttle service departing from Southern Cross Station approximately every fifteen minutes (depending on the time of day). It takes twenty minutes to reach the airport and costs $17 one way. Check out www.skybus.com.au for timetables.
Where to crash in Melbourne
A Fantastic location in the midst of the café and shopping district, just a few minutes walk from Southbank. This hostel has its own bar The Joint, $5 meals Mondays to Fridays, free breakfast and 1 hour free internet on arrival. It’s only a short walk from Flinders St station. www.flindersbackpackers.com.au
Melbourne’s newest backpackers, Opposite Flinders Station, a fantastic location ! This place is modern, sparkling clean, has fantastic staff, top notch security and the best pillows in town! Great value for money and an awesome vibe, all right in the heart of Melbourne. www.unitedbackpackers.com.au
This social hostel in the CBD has a huge rooftop with BBQ's, beanbag cinema and a basement barwith pool, ping pong & heaps of events. Rooms range from 4-16 bed dorms and private double, twin and ensuite rooms.
Bright, white and multi-storied, this bustling hostel is the place to meet fellow travellers. Near tram route 112 (Clarendon St). The have an onsite bar with activities every night of the week! www.urbancentral.com.au
This comfortable hostel has its own workout space and rooftop courtyard. Let’s
exercise! Located on the corner of McKenzie and Russell Sts, opposite the Old
Melbourne Gaol, catch trams 24, 27, 30 or the City Circle tram. www.spacehotel.com.au
The price includes breakfast, half-hour internet access daily, free Wifi, pancakes on Sundays and a big English breakfast on Thursdays. www.friendlygroup.com.au
One of Melbourne’s newest hostels, this place has an energetic buzz. It has fantastic roof top views and is located in the city's centre, close to Federation Square, the Yarra River and Southern Cross Station. Facilities include compact kitchens and lounges, electronic door locks, flat screen TVs and a YHA Connect internet cafe with WiFi. www.yha.com.au
Situated just 200 metres from Melbourne’s transport hub, Southern Cross Station, guests enjoy free internet access plus other great freebies. www.kingstreetbackpackers.com.au
This five-storey hostel is located close to one of Melbourne’s most popular tourist attractions, the Queen Victoria Market. Features a state of the art cinema, rooftop sun deck and a girls only princess wing. www.nomadshostels.com
Just a three-minute walk from Southern Cross Station (on the corner of Flinders St), you’ll receive free pasta, rice & tea / coffee www.nomadshostels.com
Located within a 5- to 10-minute walk from Queen Victoria Market, on the left hand corner of Little Bourke and King Sts. Free luggage storage, tea and coffee, and clean bed linen on check in. www.melbourneconnection.com
A lively place with comedy/karaoke nights, Poker Tournaments and pool comps.
This hostel is near a tram line and opposite the Queen Victoria market.
Built in 1854, this historic pub offers a variety of dormitory style rooms as well as twins and doubles. The Hotel boasts two levels of bars serving a wide range of local and imported beers. www.exfordhotel.com.au
Set in a heritage building, this is a small and personal hostel located near the city centre. There’s a big garden, WiFi and Internet access, complimentary theme nights (wine and cheese nights, for example) and a BBQ area. www.homemansion.com.au
Just a stones throw to the Queen Vic Market, this hostel has cheap rates and a pub downstairs with joker poker, theme nights, cheap internet and live music on offer – and that’s not all! The Vic is famous for its weekend sessions, with droves of Irish ex-pats and backpackers dropping in to have a beer or 2 on the 2000 year old tree stump which they use as a bar! www.bevandmicks.com.au
Located on the North Melbourne corner of the massive Elizabeth St roundabout, the Turf Club Hotel is a funky pub catering to a backpacker crowd. The absolute drawcard however is the Turf Club's super sized beer garden. They also offer cheap and clean accommodation upstairs.
On the city fringe, this hostel has a fantastic rooftop lounge and BBQ with panoramic views of the city. Home of the weekly Safari Pete Travel Show, this hostel is uncluttered and you won’t feel like a chicken in a cage. Nearest tram route is 55 (Peel St). www.yha.com.au
Located just a two-minute walk away from Queen Victoria Market, this hostel is well placed and you can use their bikes for free. Catch trams 19, 57 or 59 from Elizabeth St and get off at Victoria St. www.bozobackpacker.com
Situated just opposite the South Melbourne Market, this hostel offers cheap
accommodation with live music and pool comps. www.dropbearinn.com.au
If you’re in need for a bit of romance or simply need a break from crowded dorm rooms, then these guys offer reasonably priced double rooms. They have off-street parking, Internet kiosks, Foxtel in all en-suite rooms and they also have backpacker accommodation. www.themiami.com.au
With free BBQs, pool comps, DVD nights, trivia nights and much more – there is always something happening at Bev and Mick’s! This is also one of the cheapest places to crash in town. www.bevandmicks.com.au
This centrally located hostel has a rooftop garden. From Southern Cross Station it is a 10-minute walk north up Spencer Street until you come to the Hotel Spencer Building. The entrance is on Rosslyn Street. www.spencerbackpackers.com.au
With stained glass windows and religious art everywhere, you could be forgiven if you thought you were staying in a church. Situated near Brunswick and Lygon Sts.
On tram route 96, opposite Melbourne Museum. www.nunnery.com.au
Being close to major hospitals, this hostel is ideal for nurses looking for work in Melbourne. They encourage long-term stays. Catch tram 70 and get off at stop 18. Walk past McDonalds on Highett St and turn left. The first street on the right is Bromham Place. www.centralaccommodation.net
This hostel is located in the groovy Windsor end of Chapel Street with loads of bars restaurants and cafes, only 5 minutes walk from St Kilda. Opposite is the Windsor train station and only 7 minutes by train into the city, they offer free breakfast a bottomless cup of coffee, 24 hour access, lockers, free linen, luggage and mail holding services. www.csbackpackers.com.au
Guest privileges include discounted beer and cheap main meals in the hotel bistro.
Catch tram 96 from Southern Cross Station, getting off at Fitzroy St. Walk to the end and cross over at the traffic lights. Turn left and walk for 200 metres. www.pintonpunt.com.au
This hostel has a recently opened bar that serves pizzas and foccacias from $6 with a glass of wine or beer. Relax in the leafy courtyard and keep warm with free-pie-and-chips nights in winter. Catch tram 6 from Swanston St and get off at corner of High and Chapel Sts. Turn right into Chapel St and a one-minute walk will get you to Green St. www.backofchapel.com
With its own bottleshop and two courtyards, this hostel is located near Chapel St. Catch tram 78 or 79 along Chapel St (from North Richmond) and get off at the Greville St intersection. Or else catch a Sandringham-bound train from Flinders St Station and get off at Prahran station. Greville St is right next to it. www.collegelawnhotel.com.au
This 135-year-old mansion is small and cosy and has an outdoor area covered by a sprawling fig tree. Free wireless Internet, weekly BBQs and free croquet. Take trams 3, 5, 6, 16 or 64 and get off at stop 26. Walk one block up Moubray St. Alternatively, catch a train along the Sandringham line; a five-minute walk up Greville St. www.lordslodge.com.au
Where to crash in StKilda
Hard to miss, the bright red façade of Base reflects the liveliness of this place. Considered one of the hippest places to stay in the area, it’s near Acland and Fitzroy Sts. There’s a girls only luxury sanctuary floor. It’s on tram routes 16 and 79. www.stayatbase.com
The pub incorporated into this hostel serves cheap meals on weeknights. On Wednesdays it’s Parma Clock. It has a rooftop garden and is a five-minute walk from the beach. From Southern Cross Station, catch tram 96 and get off at McDonalds in Acland Street, walking down Fawkner Street opposite McDonalds. They are on the corner of Fawkner/Barkly Sts. www.stkildabeachhouse.com
Melbourne’s No. 1 Backpackers. Winner of the Best Backpacker in Victoria at the Golden Backpack Award & Victorian Tourism Award 2010. Dorms & private motel style rooms with ensuites & TV’s. Free Wi-Fi or 1 hour internet & free breakfast daily, free use of guitars & daily activities with our Events Guru. Direct tram from city, Swanston St to the doorstep on Tram #3 or #67 and get off at stop 34. www.habitathq.com.au
Located conveniently near the tram stop and around the corner from all the action in St Kilda, this hostel is run by young local people and has a great vibe, roof top BBQs, pool table, table tennis and $3 beers. Near tram routes 16 and 96 (Carlisle St). www.coffeepalacebackpackers.com.au
This hostel has a traditional English pub downstairs where the famous Neighbours Trivia night is held every Monday (hosted by Safari Pete ). Free hot pancake breakfasts plus free wine and cheese nights, free bike hire and BBQ nights. Catch tram 16 from anywhere along Swanston St and get off at stop 132. www.ritzbackpackers.com
With regular Sunday night BBQs and free wine and cheese nights every Wednesday, you may be too full to play table tennis or darts. From Southern Cross Station on Spencer St, catch tram 96 and get off at the McDonalds stop. The hostel is just across from Barkly St, on the left. www.hometravellersmotel.com.au
This Hostel is centrally located in St Kilda, close to Fitzroy St and Acland St. Catch tram 16 or 79 to Fitzroy Street and get off just past the St Kilda Bowling Club. Cross the road and Grey Street is just on your left. John is waiting to welcome you!
Pete’s Primo Pastimes
From Darwin to dinosaurs, bugs to bygone machines (the world’s oldest computer is here), the (Carlton Gardens, Carlton) is well worth a visit. Step into the Virtual Room or catch a 3D show at IMAX. Open 10am-5pm daily.
The – MCG (Brunton Ave, East Melbourne) is one of Australia’s most historic sporting venues. The AFL Grand Final and cricket’s Boxing Day Test are played here. Tours of the ground are also available. www.mcg.org.au. Home to the Olympic Museum, Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame among others, including the Melbourne Cricket Club Museum – The National Sports Museum (inside the MCG) has on display the rich history of one of Australia’s oldest sporting clubs. www.nsm.org.au
Immerse yourself in the watery world of sharks and stingrays while standing in the centre of a 360° tank at the (Corner of King and Flinders Sts, City) Live feedings are held twice daily. Open 9.30am-6pm daily. www.melbourneaquamrium.com.au
Explore the wonders of cinema, television, computer games and digital art at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image - (Federation Square, Flinders St, City); a gallery for screen-based culture. Free entry; open 10am-6pm daily. www.acmi.net.au
Need to find your bearings? Experience a stunning 360° panorama of Melbourne and its surrounds from the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere - (Riverside Quay, Southbank, City) which is also the world’s tallest residential building. Brace yourself and enter The Edge, a glass cube which projects three metres out from the building and is almost 300 metres above the ground. What better way to cure that vertigo? www.eurekaskydeck.com.au
Since 1788, when white fellas first stepped ashore, more than nine million people have migrated to Australia. At the (400 Flinders St, City) you can check out some of the amazing stories behind these journeys. Open 10am-5pm daily. www.museumvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum
With more Australian art on permanent display than any other gallery in the world, the (NGV International) (180 St Kilda Rd and the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square, City) is the home of Australian art with superb collections of Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous art from the Colonial period to the present day. Free entry; open 10am-5pm Wednesday–Sunday (closed Monday). www.ngv.vic.gov.au
(Corner of La Trobe and Swanston Sts, City) is an impressive building and is Australia's oldest free public library. With over two million books and serials, thousands of pictures, maps, manuscripts and artifacts, your visa may have expired by the time you get out! Safari Pete’s favourite haunt is the domed reading room. Free entry; open Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm, Fri-Sun 10am-6pm. www.slv.vic.gov.au
Just 4km from the city at the (Elliott Avenue, Parkville) you can walk through tropical African rainforests, watch gigantic butterflies flutter by and hang out with over 300 animal species. Roar ‘n’ Snore is a twilight summer music program, part of which involves camping in the zoo and watching early morning feeds. Open 9am-5pm daily. www.zoo.org.au/melbourne.
- ACCA (111 Sturt St, City) is a cutting-edge gallery which commissions installations from the world’s leading artists. Its rusted exterior is as eye-catching as the work inside. Closed Monday. Free entry; open 10am-6pm, Tues-Fri; 11am-6pm Sat-Sun. www.accaonline.org.au
(Aughtie Drive, Albert Park) may be the venue of the Formula One championships, but the rest of the year this 225-hectare park is peaceful. There’s a picturesque lake, an eighteen-hole golf course, free BBQs, water activities and lots of walks, all just 3km from the CBD.
Visit the scene of Ned Kelly’s last stand at the (Russell St, City) – or at least his last act of standing up. Along with a host of other convicts, Kelly was hanged here. The gaol whisks you back to the social depravity of the 19th and early 20th centuries. You can do night tours or even sleep here. Open 9.30am-5pm daily; www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au
Learn about southeastern Australia’s Indigenous culture and history at the (295 King St, City) whilst viewing contemporary Aboriginal art. Entry is by gold-coin donation. www.koorieheritagetrust.com
Melbourne is renowned for its diverse and innovative food scene and its multi-cultural flavour will satisfy any palate. Head to , or Little Saigon as it’s also known, for cheap and tasty grub. Ha Long Bay (82 Victoria St) has banquets, soups and really tasty sugar cane prawns. Don a kaftan and venture to for and cuisine.
(643-645 Sydney Rd) is a primo place to go for a cheap snack. Indulge in a spinach and cheese triangle or a meat pizza. You can also buy Lebanese foodstuffs here as well. Trendy in St Kilda has a host of innovative cafés and cake galore. Do your bit for the community and visit (41 Blessington St), a not-for-profit vegetarian restaurant that funds community based projects and helps migrants settle in Australia. The best thing about this restaurant is that you only pay what you think the meal is worth. Perfect for near empty wallets.
Mamma mia, cobbers! Hand gestures, well dressed people and the flavour of Italy dominate in Carlton. (221 Lygon St) is one of the best value eateries on the strip serving heaped pasta portions for under $10. There are plenty of gelato shops in the area, as well as the cake heaven of (98 Faraday St) for dessert. If you’re feeling flush then pop on your finest and head to Toorak for a selection of upmarket cafes and restaurants. (489 Toorak Rd) is one of the cheaper options and has colourful cakes. For something cheaper, in Fitzroy has a big selection of eateries. Head to (376 Brunswick St) for $4 pizzas Monday and Thursday from 12-4pm and then from 7pm, and also on Sundays from 7pm. For an Asian flavour hot-foot it down to in the city and chomp on some yum cha.
(25 Tattersalls Ln, off Little Bourke St) is a place where you can get very full without spending much with generous servings of steamed or fried dumplings. The pumpkin fritters are a must! If dining by gigantic flames surging skywards is more your thing, then head down to the complex in Southbank. Pillars of fire shoot sporadically at night time beside eateries which range from takeaway pizza to five star restaurants. Safari Pete likes to chug along to the (Southbank Landing, Southbank Plaza) for pizza and a piece of cake.
For a full list of Melbourne’s restaurants, log onto www.yourrestaurants.com.au.
Melbourne has an array of fashionable bars scattered across the city. Many of these are tucked away in the city’s laneways and back alleys, and may be tricky to find without knowing their exact whereabouts. The quirky (21-25 Croft Alley) is a three-storey bar nestled down a series of alleyways. The first floor is decked out like a laboratory, the second a hospital-themed waiting area and the top floor a 1930s-styled gymnasium. Get down and give me twenty! The area in Fitzroy has a long string of funky bars and pubs.
Check out (317 Brunswick St), a great venue for free live music. Upstairs there are couches and a stage, and downstairs there’s a fireplace and a snug courtyard. Just over in Collingwood you’ll find the iconic (71 Johnston St) one of Melbourne’s best recognised rock venues where you’ll find an eclectic mix of local talent playing live and loud. Richmond also has a good rock pub scene with the live music Mecca that is the 57 Swan St) attracting some top quality acts from around the world. And the (corner of North and Clark Sts) which started out as one guy churning out homebrews in his backyard, is now an established microbrewery that produces excellent beers. It’s only open on Fridays.
in South Yarra is where the trendy and wannabe-trendy hang out. Also along Chapel St, although in Prahran, is(229 Chapel St), the place to go and shake your toosh; they have regular entertainment from international DJs.
is the home of the famous (Espy) Hotel (11 The Esplanade) which is one of Melbourne’s premier music venues. It has a front bar where you can watch bands for free; more established bands play in the Gershwin Room at the back of the premises, where a door charge applies.
Also in St Kilda, check out the (29 Fitzroy St), a unique boozer full of St Kilda characters and with a bandroom upstairs that hosts top-shelf local and international acts. There are also a number of bars at Crown Casino.(Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, Shop 14, Yarra Prom) is a cosy place for a pint and a Guinness pie. Like most other venues in Melbourne, there’s live music there too. In fact, Melbourne is the only city in Australia that has free music at a variety of venues seven nights a week. Crank it up!
Grab a copy of Friday’s Age newspaper – the EG section – for a list of gigs and
entertainment events happening in the city. Free street magazines such as Beat and Inpress also list live bands, clubs and comedy acts.
A place of sand-sculpted dinosaurs, ancient mazes and secluded beaches, it’s easy to see why the is a popular holiday destination for Melburnians. Curving around the eastern arm of Port Phillip Bay, the peninsula is studded with peaceful seaside towns. There are colourful beach huts at Rye, multi-million dollar mansions at and surf beaches at Western Port Bay.
is the gateway to the peninsula and the site of the annual sand sculpting championships. Sorrento is reputed to have Victoria’s best vanilla slice. If you’re in the mood for a swing, head to and play on a coastal golf course.
From a gentle paddle at to adrenaline-pumping surf in the wild swell off Gunnamatta Beach, the Mornington Peninsula is the place to come if you like getting wet. The basalt cliffs and historic lighthouse at make for a pleasant walk, and once you come away from the coast there is a vast hinterland of vineyards, orchards and narrow country roads to explore.
Safari Pete’s favourite places are and – in particular Cheviot Beach, the site of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt’s mysterious disappearance in 1967.
If you don’t have much time then you can go around the bay in a day. Drive or catch a bus from Melbourne to Queenscliff (via Geelong) and then catch the ferry across to Sorrento and make your way back to Melbourne.
For info on ticket pricing and timetables log onto www.searoad.com.au
What do you get if you mix petrol, penguins and pelicans? (Hint: it’s not a flame-grilled penguin burger or a singed pelican). Ninety minutes south of Melbourne lays the sprawling shores of Phillip Island. With over 100km of coastline, this is a place of contrasts, a place where nature lovers and leather-clad bikers gather to observe wildlife both on and off the race track.
For three months of the year the island plays host to various motorbike events – including the which is held every October. There are bike events in January and March as well. September is when the roll into town and the air fills with rubber. Indeed, rubber seems to be the theme around here, with the beaches often full of people in wetsuits catching waves. And if it’s not rubber then it’s blubber: Phillip Island’s fur seal colony is the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Forget March of the Penguins, I bet Morgan Freeman’s never been to the At dusk, several hundred little penguins (and in breeding season several thousand) waddle ashore and return to their nesting spots just off Summerland Beach. Boardwalks provide access and there’s tiered seating where you can watch them appear from the water à la David Hasselhof. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration – perhaps the Hoffmeister after a few stubbies. www.penguins.org.au
If you’re visiting the penguins then it may be worth purchasing a which gets you entry into the parade as well as the where you can walk in the treetops and come face to face with koalas. The pass also gives you access to which has historic buildings and a working farm where you can meet the farm animals. You can also walk and cycle around the island. www.penguins.org.au
If you prefer a more leisurely pace, then why not stay overnight at the , a new eco-friendly flash packers. There’s a bus stop right at the door, and it’s within walking distance to shops, beaches and many other attractions. You can enjoy a drink on the rooftop deck with ocean views. They have a special offer that includes one nights’ accommodation and a 3 Parks Pass for $65.50. *(Surcharge High and Special Events). They also give advice and bookings on tours and activities. www.theislandaccommodation.com.au
Great Ocean Road
The end of WW1 not only meant an end to bloodshed, but it also heralded the construction of one of Australia’s iconic landmarks. Built by returning soldiers in memory of their fallen comrades, the Great Ocean Road (GOR) has more hair-pins than a Milan fashion show. It slinks its way past sandstone cliffs, dramatic beaches, hidden shipwrecks, fishing villages and a host of limestone rock formations.
Just before the road begins, you’ll pass through where the HMAS Canberra, a decommissioned frigate, was scuttled. The Great Ocean Road actually starts in , the hub of Australia’s surf industry, and passes – home of the annual ASP Championship Tour, one of the most prestigious events on the surfing calendar. The tall volcanic cliffs and tidal rock pools at Airey’s Inlet are worth exploring and the lure of fish and chips on pier makes this trendy seaside town an appealing lunch stop.
Between Lorne and the road hugs the coastline before diverting inland. Apollo Bay is surrounded by green hills and is a picturesque place to spend the night. It’s also the gateway to the lush Great Otway National Park where the GOR heads inland. The is worth a visit for some fantastic views, tours run daily from 9am to 5pm www.lightstation.com 03 52379240
At the road hits the coast again to meet some ferocious waves. Limestone formations and plenty of shipwrecks are scattered along this section – also known as the . Loch Ard Gorge and the (formerly called the Sow and Piglets) are the major attractions, although the incessant ocean is eroding their fragile bases and they’re collapsing one by one (there were never actually twelve in the first place).
The GOR finishes up in . What makes a splash around here are the southern right whales, which come in very close to Logan’s Beach during winter to give birth. The sight of them teaching their little ones to swim is amazing (babies are born at around five to six metres in length). May-July is the best time to spot these gentle giants. Other activities include tandem skydiving
Rising like giant’s teeth out of mallee scrub are the impressive sandstone formations of the Grampians. Situated 260km northwest of Melbourne, visitors have been flocking here since the late 1880s. It is a land swathed in rugged bush, sprinkled with water catchments and gushing waterfalls. Oh, and there’s something you won’t find anywhere else in the world: Parrot-pea. This may sound like the trees are filled with incontinent macaws, but parrot peas are actually wildflowers. In spring the park is awash with purples, pinks and yellows. You’d be a bloomin’ idiot to not come here!
This is a place for outdoor folk – you can walk, cycle, canoe, climb, mountain bike, 4WD, hot-air balloon, horse ride and quad bike. The at is a great place to learn about Victoria’s indigenous history.
Pete loves a Party!
- here's some of the best places in Melbourne to mix it up
with the locals and other backpackers!
Big Willy's Boozy Bingo, Karaoke,
Thursday nights Ladies night and Sunday Roast
Fox Sports $5 pizzas til late, $10 fish & chips, burger & chips, $5 Carlton pints, free pool Wednesday nights and live DJ til late
$4 Pizzas, free WiFi, DJ’s and live music 7 days a week
Live music & DJ’s 7 days a week, courtyard, $4 pizzas www.bimbodeluxe.com.au
Traditional Irish Pub hospitality, Southbank , Melbourne
One to Three-day Loop:
Melbourne: Around the bay
You don’t need to travel far from Melbourne before you find yourself in the midst of beautiful countryside. This loop around can be done in a day or stretched out over a few.
From Melbourne head west around Port Phillip Bay. If you have time, is a pleasant detour. Just half an hour from the city, this is one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs and is home to a number of heritage buildings and historic ships.
Take the Princes Highway (M1) to and go straight though, following the Geelong–Portarlington Road around the bay. A left turn onto C123 at will take you to (a two-hour drive from Melbourne). In summer this cosy town transforms into a popular holiday destination. Spend an afternoon moseying around (www.scotchmanshill.com.au) whose cellar door is open daily from 10.30am-4.30pm. You can also have a wander around the gardens at the Stoneacres Farm. During the summer months the old flourmill is also a popular attraction. There are a couple of great bike tracks that lead around the foreshore to and .
From Portarlington take the C126 south to (around half an hour’s drive).This town is filled with historic grandeur and was often frequented by the Melbourne elite in the late 19th century. Visit the Maritime Museum and the Maritime Discovery Centre, or if you’re feeling more adventurous go for a dive or dangle a line and see if the fish are biting. If you’ve always wanted to go deep sea diving, the Dive Victoria Group run dives from Queenscliff and across the water in . Check out www.divevictoriagroup.com.au for more information.
Next stop is , the site of Victoria’s first official European settlement. To get there take the Searoad ferry from Queenscliff pier, which runs every hour on the hour from 7am to 6pm. If you’ve always dreamt of swimming with Flipper then Sorrento is a great place to do it, as the surrounding waters are home to many bottlenose dolphins and seals. Check out Polperro Dolphin Swims at www.polperro.com.au. There are also some great walking and biking tracks through the beautiful bayside bush here. Or, if you’d rather just chill out, take a casual wander down the picturesque main street, past 19th century limestone buildings, and try what is reputed to be Victoria’s best vanilla slice along the main street.
From Sorrento it’s an easy and pleasant one-and-a-half hour drive back to Melbourne, following the curvaceous coastline of the bay virtually all the way.