Best Places to visit in Victoria – The Garden State

Best Places to visit in Victoria – The Garden State

Map of Victoria Australia

Victoria

Victoria is the smallest mainland state; not much bigger than Tasmania, but it does have the second biggest population on the continent with most of the people living in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay. This includes Melbourne; the 2nd largest city in the country and also the state capital. Home to many aboriginal groups like Boonwurrung and Yorta Yorta and more than 30 languages, this state’s rich culture dates back thousands of years. It’s also the wettest mainland state with warm weather throughout the year, even in the winter. I would suggest visiting in the summer when it’s hot enough to swim, so here are the best places to visit in Victoria.

Phillip Island

Phillip Island

After getting off the 22-hour flight at Melbourne Airport, you will first need to get your spine adjusted. Once you’ve sorted that, it’s time to get a hire car. Taxis can be quite expensive and you will need a ride to get around. Booking a hire car in advance is recommended, because I’ve seen how busy it can get at airports and we got stuck once, so please check here.

Accommodation will be in abundance, so you can pick and choose where you would like to stay. It all just depends on your budget and you can either stay in the city and take a nap after your flight or find a place on the island and make the two-hour drive straight away while napping behind the wheel. You enter the 40 sq mi island over a 2,100 ft concrete bridge and will find that they have cottages, holiday homes, hotels, B&Bs and much more, so please check here.

Penguin Parade

Around 3.5 million tourists visit the island each year and most of them are going there for the Penguin Parade. It’s one of the few places you can see that specific penguin, the Little Penguin, wich come ashore each day around sunset to go to their burrows. So it doesn’t really matter when you go, you’ll get to see them any time of the year. These little fellas only grow to around 13 inches high, so it’s easy to sneak one in your handbag. Just don’t let Bruce, the mean boxing kangaroo, catch you; he also moonlights there as a bouncer. He’s everywhere.

Penguin Parade Phillip Island

To enjoy one of Australia’s most popular attractions, it will cost you around £20 or $26.60 and around £10 or $13.20 for children between the ages of 4-15 years. Little ones can enjoy the experience for free as you get to sit in the main viewing area on Summerland Beach. It has elevated seating for you to view these little cuties returning home after a day’s fishing. If you want to get up close and personal, you can even spring for the underground package, which will enable you to see them from an underground window in their natural habitat. VIP packages are also available, where you get to sit down around a table and have dinner and a chat with them. They only serve fish though. More packages are available, so please click here for full prices and details or you can book a day trip here.

Wildlife Coast Cruises

Seal watching Phillip Island

This two-hour seal watching cruise will cost around £70 or $85 per adult and £50 or $60 per child between 4-15 years and will take you so close to the Australian fur seals, that you will be able to smell them. Trust me, they stink. I’ve done a cruise like that in the past and not even my wife’s cooking comes close to this, but it’s all worth it to see the biggest colony, consisting of over 5,000, in the country.

On your way, you’ll get to enjoy a complimentary brew, while the tour guide delivers educational commentary about your beautiful surroundings. Cruising along the scenic coastline, you will end up mere metres from these nosy seals, which will come up to the boat to get a better look at you. You should be able to charge them for that privilege. And don’t forget to keep your eyes open, because you are bound to see some dolphins and a variety of seabirds along the way.

Wilson Prom Full Day Cruise

Refuge Cove Australia

I know this is not really something to do on Phillip Island, but it’s not too far away. This company offers a full day cruise, departing from the Port Welshpool Jetty and only around two hours away from one of the most beautiful natural areas in the entire world. For £200 or $260 per adult and around £140 or $182 per child between the ages of 4-15, this nine-hour cruise will take you along the rugged coastlines and between the untouched, surrounding islands. You will get to go for a dip in the picturesque Refuge Cove with its turquoise waters and get a chance to explore the remote cove ashore.

Skull Rock Australia

Their itinerary includes the following:

  • Departing from Port Welshpool Jetty.
  • Morning and afternoon tea.
  • Lunch.
  • Toilet break. Probably no 1 and 2 from all the stuff they’ve been feeding you.
  • Dipping at Refuge Cove. It’s not that kind of cove. You need to keep your swim trunks on at all times.
  • Wildlife viewing all around you as you cruise.
  • Prom lighthouse. Make sure your camera is fully charged.
  • Cruise past Skull Rock. It’s 60m high and 130m wide and magnificent.
  • Stopover at Kanowna Island to visit the seal colony.
  • Potpourri smelling for 3 hours to get rid of the seal poop stink in your nose.
  • Drop off at the jetty again.

For seal and all other cruises, please click here for full details.

Maru Koala and Animal Park

Maru Koala and Animal Park

We’re in Australia, so we need to do the things that you can only do in Australia and the country is well-known for its animals and in particular their kangaroos and koalas. Also strictly speaking not really on Phillip Island, this attraction is only 17min away, so we can easily make the drive. At this park you can feed and stroke the koalas and kangaroos, walk with dingoes and even hold a giant python. Remember to bring extra underwear in case the python is a hugger or if the dingo licks its teeth in your direction. After lunch at their bistro, you can enjoy a game of mini golf before getting back to the animals.

They currently have quite a variety of animals, many of those that you won’t get to see in any other country, which include Tasmanian devils, kookaburras, wombats, crocs (obviously), wallabies, kangaroos, snakes, koalas, emus, lizards, dingoes, parrots, tawny frogmouths and more.

The mini golf course offers 18 holes of super fun. Navigate your way through the different Australian landscapes, from the bush and beach to the red soil of The Outback while encountering life-size pirate figures, including Captain Jack Sparrow.

Maru Koala Animal Park

The price to enjoy this park is really not much. If you take the park and mini golf pass, you’ll get discount and would only need to pay £25 or $30 per adult and £13 or $16 per child for a full day of fun. Personal animal encounters are extra and start at around £25 or $30 to hold a snake and go up to £48 or $55 where you will get a more in-depth experience and learn about the animals while cuddling a dingo or two. For full details and prices, please click here.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road

151 mi with scenes like the picture above; you are welcome. This is a major tourist attraction and widely considered the best road trip route in Australia. This Australian National Heritage listed road stretches between Allansford and Torquay, all along the south-eastern coast of Victoria. Built by returning World War I soldiers and dedicated to the soldiers that died during the war, it’s the world’s largest war memorial. Consisting of just two lanes, one going and one coming, it has a changing speed limit between 50km/h to 100km/h, so be sure to keep to it. The road passes steep cliffs and it would be a shame if you were to end up on the bottom. But it is a good place to kick your mother-in-law out the door while your better half is sleeping.

The 12 Apostles in Australia
12 Apostles in Australia

One of the most iconic stops on the route is The Twelve Apostles; a collection of limestone stacks in the Port Campbell National Park, just off the coast. One of these stacks had already collapsed a few years ago due to the continued erosion from the waves, so you would need to hurry up and visit if you still want to see them before it’s too late. The Twelve Apostles Viewpoint is the perfect place to do that.

Loch Ard Gorge

Not too far away is the Loch Ard Gorge; another popular attraction in the Port Campbell National Park and named after a ship that ran aground a 140 years ago. Unfortunately, all but two people aboard had died and if you go at night, some of their ghosts will try to drag you back into the see.

London Arch

London Arch Great Ocean Route

Still in the park and another result of sea erosion, is a natural arch just off the shore. It used to look like the London Bridge and on the 15th of January 1990, the middle section collapsed and two tourists were trapped on the outside section. They were unharmed until they were rescued, but I bet that they shot off like bats out of hell the second the rumbling had started. You can still see the skid marks from their trainers today and Usain Bolt would have been proud.

The Grotto Victoria

A little further and just outside the park, you’ll come across The Grotto. Not the one in Hugh Hefner’s back garden, so don’t expect to see any naked girls. You can reach the sinkhole geological formation by climbing down some wooden steps to reach the bottom and take all the photos that you want. And the best part is that it’s all free.

There is plenty more to do and see and the official Victoria website has a full itinerary available for you to follow if you want to. So less work for you to research. Please click here for it.

Victoria Peninsula Hot Springs

Peninsula Hot Springs

Since going to Western Australia and making our way across until we reached Victoria, we had hiked, driven, flown, cruised, visited parks and farms and even went underground in The Outback, but now it’s time to relax in a little slice of heaven. Just a 90min drive from Melbourne Airport, Utopia is waiting for you, but if you had gone to Phillip Island first, you can either drive all the way back around, or you can swim across the canal and do a short walk. Once you’ve reached the springs, just toss your clothes and make for the nearest pool.

Sit back and relax

After that initial swim and you feel half human again, you can check in. Currently it’s just a day spa and they refer anyone that wants to stay longer to nearby accommodation, but they are planning to build luxury accommodation. They are already planning to open 10 glamping tents in 2020, so please keep on checking here for updates and full prices for the entire spa. Little ones can enter for free, children between the ages of 3-4 will have to pay £8 or $10, older children up to the age of 15 will need to pay £20 or $25 and as always us adults are getting the short straw and if you are 16 and older you would need to pay £28 or $35 for a full day of relaxation. You can also hire towels, robes and lockers, so you really don’t have to worry about anything.

Peninsula Hot Springs Victoria

Now here’s the problem; this is luxury and relaxation of the highest order. If you are not careful, they will pamper you into a comatose state and you will become a drooling vegetable and would never want to leave. Situated within the rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula, this secluded spot offers 360-degree views of the magnificent landscape around. With over 20 bathing experiences, these mineral-enriched waters are between 37-43 degrees Celsius and apparently have healing powers. I’m not saying that you will be able to grow back a limb, but it can ease the pain in your back, relief your arthritis and other muscular issues and will definitely relief you of all of your stress…… unless your mother-in-law is sitting right next to you. But a few beers while relaxing might help with that. Just don’t pee in the water.

Much more to do
Peninsula Hot Springs

Once your body is back up to neutral, you can go for a walk and explore the grounds, or you can go for a massage. It looks like just the outside pools are included in your initial cover charge and everything else is extra, so please look at their website for full details. Some of their pools, baths and experiences include the following:

  1. Thermal mineral pools.
  2. Reflexology walk.
  3. New Bath House Amphitheatre that includes 7 geothermal pools.
  4. Family and baby pools.
  5. Foot and hand pools. Sneaky, because if you bent over for 30min soaking your hands, you would need a massage to straighten your spine again.
  6. Saunas and wellness centre.
  7. Hydrojet pool.
  8. Aquatherapy pool.
  9. Hilltop pool with 360-degree views of the stunning region.
  10. Fire and Ice area. I think this is where they freeze your nuts off first and then roast you alive to get your body back up to normal. Supposedly it’s good for your blood circulation.

Once you are hungry, you can go for a snack or sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner and you can even bring your own food to enjoy in the picnic area. This place truly is worth a visit and it’s an awesome way to forget about your troubles, even just for a day. So do yourself a solid and drop by if you ever find yourself in the area.

This is it for Victoria. Melbourne has so much to offer and to do that I will cover it in its own post. In the meantime, don’t forget to share this post with everyone that you know; it will show them that you care.

Safe travels as always.

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