Victoria is one of the smallest states in Australia, but doesn’t mean there isn’t much to see or do. Quite the opposite! For starters, its capital is Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, home to some top museums and lots of street art, where historic buildings stand proudly next to modern skyscrapers. We almost dare say this city has it all. Apart from this vibrant capital, there’s the Great Ocean Road with its stunning rock formations, a beautiful coastline, and national parks filled with wildlife and amazing views. Let us walk you through our road trip and some of our favourite things to do in Victoria.
Visit Victoria’s capital: artsy Melbourne
We had a great time in Melbourne, enjoyed every second of our time there. For a full blown explanation on everything we saw and did, we refer you to another one of our blogposts, but we’ll cover the highlights here briefly.
You should definitely visit Melbourne Museum when you get the chance ($14 entrance fee per adult). This huge modern building houses a great variety of exhibitions on different subjects like dinosaurs, Melbourne’s history, the human mind and body, and the First World War. All of them are interactive, so great for a self-guided tour, but you can join a free highlight tour as well.
After some culture, it’s time to sit back and relax with a comedy show at the The Comic's Lounge, or a movie at the Rooftop Cinema. We paid $17.50 each for a comedy show hosting ten professional comedians trying out new material and laughed our ass off. The Rooftop Cinema cost us $25.50 each and was definitely worth it!
Don’t forget to take a glimpse at the amazing street art in Hosier Lane for example, and join the crowds chilling at Federation Square. If you’re in Melbourne on a Wednesday in summer, don’t miss out on the Queen Victoria Night Market. You can shop some handmade souvenirs, drink sangria or wine, and indulge in the numerous stalls offering food from all over the world.
Go on a scenic road trip along the Great Ocean Road
We’ve dedicated a whole post to the must see lookouts and natural wonders along the Great Ocean Road, but here are our favourites in a nutshell. The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch is a traditional starting point for many travellers driving this 240 km scenic coastal road. Probably one of the most popular features of Australia known to the world are The Twelve Apostles, rock formations along the GOR. You can admire them from the beach down below, or from the viewpoint up high next to the road.
Visit one (or more) of Victoria’s National Parks
If you only have time for one national park, we highly recommend Wilsons Promontory National Park or “the Prom”. It’s situated on the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland, surrounded by sea on three sides, which makes for amazing views! There’s no entrance fee, but when entering the park you have to stop at a kiosk for an obligatory visitor guide including information about the park, its rules, and a small map.
From there it’s a 30 km scenic drive to the Tidal River. There’s the visitor parking and a park information point. We parked there and headed over to the Tidal River Footbridge on foot. You can pass it by and walk all the way to the beach, or cross the bridge for a short hike via the Tidal Overlook. The walking track forms a loop around a mountain, which took us about two hours to complete. This includes photo-stops at the various viewpoints and the search for a geocache.
On our way out of the Prom, we made a short stop at one of the beaches of the park: Squeaky Beach. The visitor guide claims that the sand squeaks under your feet, so we had to check that out for ourselves. We were prepared to be disappointed, but to our surprise it does squeak! Definitely worth a stop and apparently popular among surfers as well, judging by the amount of surfboards we saw passing by.
During our hike we spotted our first wallaby, basically a small kangaroo. Although it jumped away and hid in the bushes quite fast, we were really excited! Little did we know what awaited us down the road. After Squeaky Beach we made another stop at the point where the Prom Wildlife Walk starts and saw our first kangaroos up close! There were only five of them, but enough to make my day. Kangaroos tend to sleep during the day and come out when it begins to darken, it was about 18h by then. We regretted not doing the Prom Wildlife Walk, as in that case we probably would have seen a lot more.
Wilsons Promontory National Park protects numerous mountains, beautiful beaches, and lots and lots of green. We only did one hike and a short stop at a beach, but you can also go snorkelling, diving, and bird watching for example. Our visit was rather quick, on the way from Lakes Entrance to Phillip Island, but you can easily spend an afternoon, a whole day, or even longer there. (They have a campsite.) The views at the Prom were absolutely stunning, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful National Parks we’ve seen so far!
When driving from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road, you can make a short stop at Woodlands Historic Park, like we did. We spent about an hour and a half in the park, chasing kangaroos and hunting geocaches. We hiked one of the walking trails leading us up the Woodlands Hill to a viewpoint. It’s not much of a climb and the view wasn’t as stunning as we’re used to. Nevertheless we had a lot of fun watching the kangaroos hopping around. We didn’t manage to get a great picture, as they immediately jump away when you make a move in their direction. Great to see the roos in action though, there are a lot of them in the park! There’s no entrance or parking fee. A great stop for watching some wild kangaroos in action.
After the Great Ocean Road we made a stop at another national park, the Tower Hill Reserve. First we went to the Cairn Lookout to search for another geocache, and enjoy the view of the volcano. The visitor centre of the park is about a 5 minute drive from that lookout. It has a picnic area with barbies, a souvenir shop, and it’s the start of a couple of walking trails.
Upon arrival we were greeted by wild emus, having a look around the picnic area. We hadn’t seen one before and were fascinated by these huge birds and their way of drinking. After watching and photographing them doing their thing for a while, we did a short hike called the “Journey to the Last Volcano”. The volcano itself was not that impressive in my opinion, but we passed a nice viewpoint. When we got back to the picnic area, the emus were gone. I guess you have to be lucky to spot them or just be patient. We did find two koalas in the trees around the car park, which is near the picnic area.
Meet some more wildlife
We have to say we saw a lot of wildlife in Victoria. Not only did we see Australia’s most famous animals (kangaroos, koalas and emus), we even saw some penguins, the last animal I expected in a warm climate like this. I always thought penguins only lived in snowy landscapes. (It never occurred to me that they probably wouldn’t be able to survive in a zoo in Belgium if that was true.)
On Phillip Island we went to the Penguin Parade. At dusk 800 to 900 Little Penguins come out of the sea to spend the night in their little homes in the dunes. We went on a Saturday, the busiest day of the week. We bought our tickets ($24.50 per adult) earlier that day, when we went for a walk over the boardwalk at the Nobbies, but more on that later. A good thing we did, as the “show” was sold out, cars without tickets were sent back and many a tourist were disappointed. They recommend coming early to have a look around and secure a good seat, so we arrived on the parking at 19h40 and were on the stands by 20h00, while the penguins were expected at 20h55.
In the building there’s a large souvenir shop, and a small gallery with some information on different kinds of penguins and their habits. Beneath the information signs there are peepholes to see real penguins. You can have a quick dinner as well, or just buy popcorn and other snacks. We went through the information signs briefly and made our way to the stands on the beach via the boardwalk on the left hand side. You make a bit of a detour, but if you’re lucky you’ll see some swamp wallabies and different Australian birds. There’s quite a wind on the beach, so take a sweater (and jacket and shawl) to keep warm until the penguins emerge from the water.
Starting about half an hour before the Little Penguins are expected, photographs are prohibited for the health and safety of these cute little animals. Before that you’re allowed to take pictures of the scenery, a beautiful beach, some cliffs and a stunning sunset, so don’t leave your camera in the car. The Penguin Parade itself was not what I expected (800 penguins coming out of the ocean at once as soon as the sun set), but worth to see! The little animals come out of the ocean in groups of 10-20, debate briefly if it’s safe to cross the beach, and waddle to the dunes or back in water. Although we believe to have had a bad night, not a lot of penguins, it was fun! They’re so cute! In our opinion it’s not worth it to buy the expensive tickets, allegedly for a better view. Just make sure you’re early to secure a seat on the sand or the lower side seats in the stands for the best view.
Enjoy Victoria’s stunning views and beaches
During the Victoria part of our road trip, we spent a night at Lakes Entrance, where the Gippsland Lakes flow into the ocean. When crossing the Footbridge to Main Beach, we saw our first black swans. We only ever saw the white version of this majestic bird. Main Beach has beautiful white sand, but compared to the tropical Southeast Asian beaches, the water is freezing. In search for some geocaches, we found some beautiful viewpoints overlooking the Gippsland Lakes. You should be able to spot dolphins from there, but we didn’t. You might stand a better chance when you bring binoculars.
Back on Phillip Island we went to The Nobbies, like I mentioned earlier. We parked at the visitor center, and took a stroll over the boardwalk, which is free. There are lookouts and information signs at certain points along the 1.2 km walk. You can see Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest Australian fur seal colony. Unfortunately it’s too far away to see the seals, and the stupid binoculars on the viewpoint, costing $2, didn’t help either. Maybe if you bring your own you’ll be able to spot them, or you can opt for a paid boat ride along the rock island. From late May to early July it’s possible to spot whales as well.
When walking the boardwalk you’ll notice little wooden igloo like constructions. They’re the homes of the Little Penguins. Another lookout on the boardwalk gives a view over The Nobbies Blowhole. If the waves are big enough, you’ll hear a thundering sound from the cave. It’s a nice walk with beautiful views, definitely worth a visit if you’re on Phillip Island. On the way back from The Nobbies, we stopped at Shelley Beach. An information sign read “Little Penguins live here”, but we didn’t see any. They were probably still at sea.
When we were heading over to Portland after driving the Great Ocean Road, we passed through Warrnambool and had a picnic at Lake Pertobe. It was Valentine’s day, so we took a romantic walk over the beach, all the way to the Breakwater Rock Pier. After a failed search for a geocache, we took the Warrnambool Foreshore Promenade back to Lake Pertobe. Later that day, shortly before arriving in Portland, we passed by the Shoe Fence (along Princes Highway, across from Thompson Road, in Tyrendarra). It’s a fence with thousands of shoes attached to it, a weird sight. The owner started it when she tied four pairs of shoes to the fence a couple of years ago, apparently after seeing a similar fence on a vacation in New Zealand.
In Portland, a harbour-side city, we did a walk along the shore, passing by the lighthouse at Whalers Point, to Anderson Point. Before taking the Anderson Point Steps down to the beach, we peered through the free binoculars on the platform, in search for Blue Whales. Up until now we read everywhere that whales can be spotted in wintertime, which is correct for the Southern Right Whales (May to October). Blue Whales on the other hand, can, according to the information sign, be seen from November to May. Due to the Bonney Upwelling (nutrient-rich water wells up from the bottom of the ocean), the waters at the Portland coast become a feast for Blue Whales who visit for a feeding frenzy. We didn’t spot any though. A tad disappointed we descended the Anderson Point Steps and walked along the waterfront to Nuns Beach. We followed the beach all the way to the Portland Maritime Discovery and Information Center. When you go up to the park there, where the Portland Cable Tram passes by, you have a nice view over the industrial port.
On our way from Portland to Robe, geocaching lead us to the Enchanted Forest and the Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Unlike the Cape Otway Lightstation, there was no entrance fee to visit this lighthouse. Although we have to admit the photos and view are a little less nice, there were some cool cliffs!
There is so much to see and do in Victoria, it’s simply not possible to cover it all. Hopefully this blogpost will help you make a selection of the things you want to see and do when visiting Victoria. Have fun!
Liked this post?
Help us spread the word by sharing this post or pinning the following image.