The Cultural Capital
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This is a very nice excursion by steam train through the Dandenong Ranges, the mountains on the outskirts of Melbourne. The route crosses the forests of Eucalyptus and is really suggestive.
It is a trip that I recommend to families with children.
The train leaves from Belgrave which is also a train stop from Flinders Street. It takes about an hour from the city. The train ends its journey in Gembrook, a charming country village, where you can also find cafes for lunch and then return to the city by train in the afternoon. If you want to have lunch on the train, you have to make a reservation on the website:
GREAT OCEAN ROAD AND 12 APOSTLES
It’s a nice excursion that can be done either in a day, leaving early in the morning, or even better by staying one night along the way.
The great Ocean Road is a spectacular road that skirts the ocean offering breathtaking scenery.
The beauty of the route starts from Torquey, famous for Bells Beach, a beach well known to surfers who compete in the waves every year during Easter. After Torquey we head to Anglesea, a small seaside village where you can see kangaroos swarming with fresh grass between the balls of players at the golf club. If you decide to go, I suggest that you do so when returning home, at sunset.
Then follow the scenic road to Lorne, a popular destination for the people of Melbourne who move to this beautiful place in summer to escape the chaos of Melbourne.
Lorne is a beautiful seaside resort with beautiful ocean beaches, behind which it dominates the greenery of Otway National Park. During the whale season (May to September) it’s a good spot to spot them.
The road, after Apollo Bay, crosses the Rain Forest of Great Otway National Park.
If you have time, take a walk in the forest to admire the majesty of the plants.
With a small detour to Cape Otway, where you’ll see a beautiful lighthouse, you’ll have plenty of chances to see the Koalas.
At this point you must have almost reached the famous “12 Apostles”, sadly no longer 12 but 8. These are impressive stacks of limestone close together. They are truly huge and magnificent seen from every angle but especially with the light of dawn or dusk.
Besides the major point of interest recognizable by the great Visitor Centre, also the London Bridge, not far from the Visitor Centre, or the Loch Ard Gorge and the imposing cliffs are very beautiful.
If you are on your own and have a car, I suggest you to stop at every sign recognizable by the brown signal, because you will be able to see the 12 Apostles from different perspectives. If open, absolutely go down the staircase called Gibson Steps. These stairs lead to the beach and from there the view of the stacks is amazing. Beware of tides, however, and absolutely do not swim because the power of the waves is really strong and swimming is very dangerous.
Once you have visited the 12 Apostles, you can head towards Port Campbell, a small village with restaurants and accommodation.
If you decide to continue your adventure towards Port Fairy, a very nice seaside village, you absolutely must stop to visit the Tower Hill Wildlife: it is an extinct volcano that is a nature reserve within which you will be overwhelmed by the amount of kangaroos, Koalas, emus, echidnas and other native birds.
Phillip Island is a beautiful island about an hour and a half from Melbourne. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The island is famous mainly for the racetrack of the motorcycle Grand Prix.
Also for nature and animals, especially the famous “Parade” or a “parade” that penguins make every day towards evening to return from the sea to their nests. The Penguins of Phillip Island are very small and funny specimens and it is very fascinating to see them parade at a very close distance.
On Phillip Island, however, you can also see other animals, especially koalas and kangaroos.
You can also visit Phillip Island for the famous “Chocolate Farm”,
A different experience could be to see the island from above by helicopter.
However, my personal experience is that of visiting the island on land, reaching the westernmost end (Point Grant) and walking along the catwalks that lead to admire the incredible scenery of the ocean and the many animals that live there.
The main village of the island, Cowes, is also nice, and there is a wide choice of restaurants and cafes.
Another great experience is to take a boat and go in search of sea lions or whales that emigrate, and then spot the penguins and admire the incredible coastline of the island.
YARRA VALLEY- HEALSVILLE SANCTUARY
The famous Yarra Valley is about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, as is the Mornington Peninsula. Both are known and visited for their hilly landscapes and variety of vineyards.
Along with this trip, you can go and visit the Heasville Sanctuary (zoo of native Australian animals).
The Healesville Sanctuary is a zoo where you can admire and interact with all of the country’s native animals. I recommend booking your ticket to avoid unnecessary queues.
The village of Helasville is also very nice, so if you have time, take a walk along the main street.
The Yarra Valley is home to 40 vineyards and wineries with gourmet restaurants and beautiful walks.
The Mornington Peninsula is a strip of land that extends to the entrance to the Bay of Melbourne. On one side, you will find the waters of the ocean and on the other, the calmer waters of the Bay. A trip here could combine the beauty of the vineyards with a visit to Cape Shanck (a lighthouse with beautiful coastal walks to the ocean), and Melbourne’s wealthy middle class vacation spots in Portsea and Sorrento. If you’re going to Portsea, you should definitely walk to Point Nepean National Park which will make you walk right at the entrance to Melbourne Bay and stop for a beer at the Portsea Pub because it has a great view of the sea.
If you have time, relax in the thermal waters of the Peninsula Hot Springs and enjoy this hot thermal water trail, steam bath and sauna. They are all outdoor pools and the route is very impressive.
For families with children there are many activities to do from visiting the many labyrinths of hedges: Ashcombe Maze & Lavender gardens, one of Australia’s oldest labyrinths, in a very beautiful park.
Or Boneo Maze other park with maze, minigolf, pond
Or still choose between an adventure in a park where there are many paths to do between bridges suspended among the trees,
Or just relax in the beautiful vineyards of Green Olive, Montalto, Phillip Estate or the incredible new Point Leo Estate with a walk in a sculpture garden overlooking the sea.
Also, in this area there is no lack of vineyards, so you can try a little bit of what you want. I have recommended only some that I visited and I liked but many others deserve a stop.
If you’re here, stop and see the lovely village of Flinders, with its magnificent golf club and pier promenade with a view of Phillip Island.
GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK
It is a National Park characterized by mountains that stand out on the surrounding plains. They are about three hours from Melbourne, but some tours allow you to visit them on the same day.
There is a lot of rock art because the Aboriginal tribes considered it a sacred place. You can walk and see the waterfalls (MacKenzie Falls), camp, admire the flora and fauna of the region.
There are many lookouts, panoramic points, where it is nice to stop: Boroka lookout, from which you can see the whole valley and Lake Belfield, or another lookout called “the Pinnacle”, or even the “reeds lookout” and “Balconies”.
The historic city of Ballarat and Sovereign Hil, the open-air gold museum, is about an hour and a half from Melbourne.
Ballarat is synonymous with “gold hunting”: in fact, around 1850, it became the main destination for gold diggers who had discovered it in abundance in this region. The city is quite large and walking downtown (Ldliard street) you can still admire luxurious buildings and numerous statues but also beautiful parks. The city’s Art Gallery is also famous, often offering very interesting exhibitions.
But it is in Sovereign Hill, a few kilometers away from Ballarat, where you can visit the Gold Museum and it is an interactive and open-air museum. An Australian city was reconstructed as it was during the Gold Rush, and walking along the main street, you can absolutely relive the atmosphere of the time as you are surrounded by people in period clothing who ride on horse-drawn carriages and you can walk through the shops or schools observing the furnishings of the time. You can also visit underground mines.
Musement helps travellers make the most out of their destinations offering a vast choice of tours and local attractions that can be booked. More than just “things to do”, the range of offers includes temporary activities, exclusive, hidden jewels and even free activities
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