Victoria: Australia’s Garden State
Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state but it boasts an astonishing number of national parks, historic towns and stunning natural landscapes. Many of the state’s best sights are within a day’s drive of its capital city, Melbourne.
Victoria may be known as Australia’s garden state but there’s much more to the state than its leafy green suburban sprawls and public parks. There’s the arid bush around the Murray River; the world-class surf beaches along the Great Ocean Road; the mountains and ski fields of the High Country; and the lush rainforests of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. There are thirty-six national parks spanning more than 2.6 million hectares. So whether you’re after secluded snow spots, surfing sojourns or a stroll through plush suburban streets, this is a state that caters to all tastes.
The state of Victoria can be easily divided into two distinct geographical halves, east and west. Western Victoria is known for its unusual landforms, including the Grampians and the Twelves Apostles. It was also the site of Australia’s wealthiest gold rush during the 19th century, the legacy of which can be seen in the ornate buildings in the many surviving gold rush towns. Eastern Victoria’s cooler climate benefits the vineyards that produce world-class wines, while the Alps are Victoria’s winter playground. The rugged coastline is known for its lakes, forests and wildlife. Melbourne, the state’s capital, is the second most populous city in Australia.
Top Reasons to Visit Victoria Australia
THE AMAZING OUTDOORS
Victoria’s natural landscape can be seen along its rugged coastline as well as along the Great Dividing Range inland. Discover Victoria’s amazing outdoors on your next vacation.
Victoria is blessed with abundant natural landscape across its vast and rugged coastline and inland from the Great Dividing Range. To the west of Melbourne, a tract of cool-temperate rainforest unravels on its way to the vivid green Cape Otway. On the other side of Melbourne, the land falls away into a series of peninsulas, islands and isthmuses. These spectacular landscapes are protected in the thirty-six outstanding national parks that span more than 2.6 million hectares across the state. In addition to the plethora of wildlife found here, bushwalking, canoeing, fishing, rafting, and horse riding can also be enjoyed. If you’re pushed for time, there are organised day trip to Port Campbell and the outcrops of the Grampians National Park.
Must-see natural landscapes and attractions:
- Great Ocean Road
- The Grampians
- Wilsons Promontory
- Dandenong Ranges
Victoria’s Gold Rush history is preserved in the gold mining towns that dot the northern part of the state. Explore the Golden Country of Victoria and maybe you’ll even find some gold of your own.
Victoria was changed forever in the early 1850s by the discovery of gold in the centre of the state. The Gold Rush era is a popular time in Victoria’s history which brought great wealth and a huge population with it.
You can still pan for gold – and find it – in rivers about an hour northwest of Melbourne. But the gold rush era’s most attractive remnants are beautiful 19th century towns constructed from its riches. Many beautiful buildings were constructed from the spoils of gold, and these gracious old buildings and grand hotels survive today and make for a pleasurable visit for those who love classic architecture. Walking trails abound which outline the stories of luck strikes and miners’ fights for justice.
Don’t miss these gold-mining Victorian towns:
Victoria’s cool climate wines are among some of the best wines in the country. Take a winery tour and sample some of Victoria’s wonderful wines.
Victoria is blessed with 21 distinct wine regions (and a total of 650 cellar doors, where you can try and buy the product) particularly in Eastern Victoria where the cooler climate benefits the vineyards that produce world-class wines. You’ll find hundreds of wineries across Victoria, particularly in the Yarra Valley, Rutherglen, and on the Mornington Peninsula. The amber-hued Yarra Valley, 40 km (25 miles) east of Melbourne, is Victoria’s oldest wine region and a pleasant place to spend a day on an organised tour. Winery tours, departing from Melbourne, are a relaxing way to see four to five wineries in one day.
Don’t miss these Victorian wineries:
- Yarra Valley
- Mornington Peninsula
SIDE TRIPS FROM MELBOURNE
Without venturing too far from the Melbourne city limits you can indulge in all sorts of pastimes. Take a day trip or two from Melbourne to explore Victoria’s beautiful and diverse attractions.
In a country full of mind-numbing distances, nothing seems far away in Victoria. Victoria’s relatively compact size makes the state’s principal attractions appealingly easy to reach, and the state’s excellent road system makes driving the best option. There are a handful of enticing destinations within a 60- to 90-minute drive from Melbourne.
On day trips from the city you can explore the spectacular western coastline as far as the stunning Twelve Apostles; walk among the rocky outcrops, waterfalls, and fauna of the Grampians; visit historic inland gold-mining communities; toast the sunrise over the Yarra Valley vineyards from the basket of a hot-air balloon; or take in a Murray River sunset from the deck of a paddle steamer.
Most popular day trips from Melbourne:
- Phillip Island
- Great Ocean Road
- Sovereign Hill, Ballarat
- The Dandenongs
- Grampians National Park
- Daylesford & Hepburn Springs
- Yarra Valley
- Mount Buller
History of Victoria
Victoria was part of New South Wales until 1851 when an overflowing convict population prompted colonial authorities to create another settlement. Gold was discovered in Victoria at this time. Prospectors came from far and wide to dig for their fortune, travelling from Britain, Europe, America and China. Many failed to realise their dreams and perished in their pursuits. Those who got lucky excavated twenty million ounces of gold between them – nearly a third of the world’s output at that time. During the goldrush, Victoria’s population swelled sevenfold to 540,000. Today a quarter of Australia’s 23.5 million people call Victoria home, most of whom live in the capital city of Melbourne.
Victoria Australia Weather
Victoria is at its most beautiful in autumn (March through May), when the days are crisp, sunny, and clear and the foliage in the parks and gardens is glorious. Winter, with its wild seas and leaden skies, stretches from June through August in this region, providing a suitable backdrop for the dramatic coastal scenery. It’s dry and sunny in the northeast, however, thanks to the cloud-blocking bulk of the Great Dividing Range. Northeast summers (December through February) are extremely hot, so it’s best to travel here and through the Gold Country in spring (September through November) and autumn.
Victoria Australia Map
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