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Victoria is Australia's second most popular state. Victoria has matured for it's wealth- the richness of its natural landscape. To the west of Melbourne, beyond Geelong, a tract of cool-temperate rainforest unravels on its way to the vivid, green Cape Otway, where a lighthouse stands on the cliff-top. The Great Ocean Road winds past here, en route to the state's iconic limestone stacks. the Twelve Apostles.
On the other side of Melbourne the land falls away into a series of peninsulas, islands and isthmuses. One leads to Wilson's Promontory, an untouched landscape of forested hills, tea-brown rivers and beaches strewn with enormous rust-red boulders.
Perhaps Victoria's most cherished place is the Grampians, an offshoot of the Great Dividing Range that rises up from the wheat fields and paddocks of the Western District.
Melbourne's city centre is a thick mesh of straight lines: within lies a world brimming with energy, ideas and diversity. Gothic banks and cathedrals give way to pockets of the most modern architecture you've seen. Department stores and shopping centres coexist with a vibrant string of lane ways given over to cafe culture and boutique shopping. This city is renowned as Australia's seat of art and music, yet Melbourne wouldn't be Melbourne without sport.
Climate in Melbourne
"Four Seasons in one day" is a familiar phrase to all Melburnians. It might reach 38 degrees in the morning then drop to 20 degrees in the afternoon, and the weather the next day is anyone's guess. Generally though, winter is cold-daytime temperatures of 11-12 degrees are not unusual-and spring is wet. January and February are hot, with temperatures anywhere between the mid 20s and high 30s The favourite season of many locals is autumn, when the weather is usually dry and stable.
Getting around Melbourne
Melbourne's trams are an icon, but also a very good way of getting around the city. The City Circle tram is free and now extends to Docklands. Trams depart every ten minutes between 10.00am and 6.00pm and run in both directions. Trains are generally a faster option if there is a service that goes to your destination. Many services go right to the outer suburbs.
There are five stations in the city, three of them underground. Buses tend to cover the areas that trains and trams don't service. All modes of public transport are covered by one ticket, a Metcard. The price of the ticket depends on which zone you need to travel to and different kinds of Metcards are available, such as two-hour and one-day tickets.
For drivers. the much talked about feature of Melbourne's roads is the hook turn, a process of moving to the left of the road in order to turn right, and therefore getting out of the way of trams.
The major cinemas can be found in the city centre, with Village and Hoyts both on Bourke Street east of the mall, and Greater Union nearby on Russel Street. Melbourne is renowned for its live music scene. Fitzroy is one of the major centres of original music, with venues like the Rob Roy, Bar Open, the Laundry and the Evelyn hosting bands most nights. On the south side of town is the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, one of Melbourne's best original rock venues.
Things to see and do in Melbourne
Parliament of Victoria
The Parliament of Victoria is perched atop a grand run of steps. Built in stages between 1856 ad 1929, the building remains incomplete-an ornate dome in the centre was originally supposed to double its height. Free tours of the building run on days when parliament is not sitting.
Flinders Lane Galleries
This lane way boasts the highest concentration of commercial galleries in Australia, mainly in the section between Spring and Swanston Streets. There is a strong focus on indigenous and contemporary art, with standout galleries including the Anna Schwartz Gallery with international works, and the Gallery Gabrielle Pissi with Aboriginal art from many of Australia's lesser known regions.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Melbourne Gaol was the setting for the execution of some of early Victoria's most notorious criminals. Closed now for over 80 years, visitors can wander through the cells and corridors of this dark and tortured place. If you are brave enough, join a candle-lit tour at night.
Beside the Yarra River, Partly underground, is the Melbourne Aquarium. While the aquariums of Northern Australia are devoted to the brightly coloured fish and corals of the tropics, here the creatures of the Southern Ocean, and Victoria's inland waterways get a chance to grab the limelight. Take a journey into the depths of the ocean, past rock pool and mangrove habitats and a surreal display of jellyfish, into a tunnel and the fishbowl, for a close-up encounter with sharks, stingrays and multitudes of fish. For kids there is the interactive "Fishworks", and for those still yearning for the colours of the tropics, an impressive floor to ceiling coral atoll. Take a glass-bottomed boat tour, or if you are keen, a dive with the sharks.
There are many sights to see in Melbourne. If you like the history of a city, this is the place to visit.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's most popular attractions. Known the world over are the Twelve Apostles, sitting in the Southern Ocean beyond 70 metre high limestone cliffs. The stormy water adds to the rugged beauty of the landmarks, and a comprehensive visitor centre tells of the history of the area and how the Apostles were formed.
The Great Ocean Road also boasts excellent surf beaches, including the world class Bells Beach, Bancoora and Jan Juc. Calmer beaches for safe swimming can be found at the holiday towns of Apollo Bay, Lorne and Torquay. Immediately inland are the rainforests, ferny gullies and waterfalls of various national and state parks, offering everything from treetop walks to close encounters with glow worms.
But perhaps more than anything, visit the Great Ocean Road for the simple and unbeatable experience of the drive itself, particularly exhilarating between Anglesea and Apollo Bay. Here it hugs the coast, winding around headlands, and squeezed up against sheer cliffs-nothing lies between you and the ocean but fresh sea air.
The Great Ocean Road, also known as the Shipwreck Coast, is rich in culture and history. Together with the volcanic Hinterland, this area offers many attractions and natural wonders. These include Port Campbell National Park, Lake Corangamite (Australia's largest salt lake) and the Twelve Apostles. The coastal towns of Port Fairy, Warrnambool, Port Campbell and the historic Camperdown create the perfect choice for family holidays and unforgettable experiences.
Grampians National Park
Aboriginal occupation of the area known as the Grampians dates back over 5000 years. To local Koorie communities, this magnificent landscape of rock encrusted mountain ranges perched high above the agricultural plains of the Western District of Victoria is known as the Gariwerd.
You will find within the 167000 hectare park a startling array of vegetation and wildlife, including 200 bird species and a quarter of Victoria's native flora species.
The National Parks Visitor Centre, a short walk or drive South of Halls Gapm is an excellent first stop in the park. It features interactive displays and written information about the park's attractions, and rangers are available to advise on camping and activities.
Natural highlights of the Grampians include MacKenzie Falls, the largest of the park's many picturesque waterfalls; Zumsteains picnic ground, a beautiful spot with
The Grampians are one of Victoria's premier destinations for bushwalking, with over 90 walks available, all varying in length and degree of difficulty.
Phillip Island is one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations, attracting over 3.5 million visitors each year. The fantastic wildlife attractions will delight you, as will the coastal scenery and fabulous surf beaches. The first settlement was on Churchill Island, connected to the main island by a bridge.
The Island is a must to visit. This is an area as diverse as it is beautiful. Along the coast, wild beaches and calm inlets give way to historic fishing, mining and farming towns, and spectacular stretches of bushland. Wildlife thrives, most famously in the penguin colony of Phillip Island. Inland, the forested ridges of the Strzelecki Ranges meet the central Gippsland plain, where Australis's largest deposits of brown coal are mined. Well watered fields and rolling hills support one of Australia's biggest dairy industries, as well as burgeoning wine and gourmet food production.
The Penguin Parade on Summerland Beach, Phillip Island, is a major international tourist attraction. Just after sunset, little penguins- the world's smallest at 33
The visitors centre also offers a simulated underwater tour showing the penguins foraging for food and avoiding predators. On the island's western tip you can walk along a cliff top boardwalk for views across to Seal Rocks, two kilometres offshore, where thousands of Australian fur seals live. For an up close view of the frolicking animals, take a cruise from Coves. Another popular resident on the island is the Koala.
Visit the Koala Conservation Centre near Cowes,where you can stroll along a network of raised walkways and see the delightful marsupials snoozing in the treetops. Although best known for its little penguins, Phillip Island has other impressive attractions. The main town, Cowes, has sheltered beaches that are safe for swimming
The Goldfields region of central Victoria is one of the historic jewels of rural Australia and a must to visit while you are in Victoria. You will find an intense concentration of Victorian architecture in both the grand public buildings, parks and gardens of Ballarat and Bendigo and the charming street scapes of smaller towns like Castlemaine, Creswick, Clunes, Maldon and St Arnaud. The region's many galleries, museums, preserved mines and interpretive centres recall the drama and detail of the goldfields, while stylish B&Bs, hotels, restaurants and cafes supply visitors with modern comforts.
Where to stay in Victoria
My favourite Hotel in Victoria is The Hotel Lindrum situated in Melbourne.
Perched on the edge of the CBD, overlooking extensive riverside parklands, Hotel Lindrum is only a five minute walk from Melbourne Cricket Ground. Also enjoying close proximity to theatres, excellent restaurants the Flinders Lane shopping district and Federation Square, the Lindrum makes an ideal base from which to explore the city, with it's enticing lane ways, myriad cafe's and wine bars and eclectic shops. If you want to head further afield, just jump on one of the trams that trundle virtually past the door.
The rates at the Lindrum hotel are reasonable and also cater for the different family budgets. The best season is all year round.
Last Winter we decided to try a mountain holiday in Victoria. We found the Frueauf Village at Falls Creek, Victoria fantastic.
We found Falls Creek prides itself on being a very inclusive resort. There are classes for beginners and those wanting to brush up on their skiing skills,as well as outstanding facilities for kids and the disabled, in fact, Falls Creek Disabled Skier Program is considered one of the best in the world.
Rates are reasonable at Falls Creek, and Family orientated holidays are welcomed. Rates range from $150 per night to $470 per apartment per night, the best season is June to September for skiing with the rest of the year for bushwalking, horse riding, trail biking and other outdoor pursuits.
These are just a couple of the accommodations that I recommend, but of course Victoria is full of fantastic accommodations for all types of budgets, whether it be by the Beach, in the mountains or in the city. http://www.travelvictoria.com.au/ is a good site to find all types of accommodations and things to see and do in Victoria.