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To get a real sense of the beauty and atmosphere of regional Victoria, you need to take some time exploring it. From the beautiful beaches along the Great Ocean Road to the majestic scenery of the Grampians and the history and culture of Ballarat, there is so much to discover in this diverse and fascinating Australian state.
Here we take a look at some of the real highlights Victoria has to offer, to inspire you if you want to know what to see on a visit to the region.
Take a Great Ocean Road trip
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous coastal routes in the world, perennially popular with interstate and overseas visitors of all ages. This 244km stretch of coastline, running from Torquay to Allansford, is the perfect setting for a road trip, offering plenty of highlights to visit along the way. Here’s what to see on the Great Ocean Road, to help you plan your itinerary.
1. The Surf Coast
The Surf Coast is the first destination you reach on the Great Ocean Road if you are travelling from Melbourne – it can be reached by road in about an hour from the city. This stretch of coastline offers plenty of beautiful beaches, stunning clifftop views and unforgettable sunsets.
As its name suggests, the Surf Coast is extremely popular with surfers, and if you want to try your hand at surfing yourself, Bells Beach in Torquay is an essential stop, as this is the venue for a number of major surfing competitions. If you’re new to surfing, you can get lessons here; or if you prefer, there are plenty of other options for things to do, including snorkelling, walking or simply soaking up the sun! While in Torquay you can also pay a visit to the National Surfing Museum.
The lighthouse at Aireys Inlet is probably one of the most famous landmarks along the Great Ocean Road, and a selfie here is essential to share with your friends and family back home! You can also find another great photo opportunity at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Archway, which is located just outside the town of Lorne. This landmark was constructed as a memorial to the soldiers who built the road.
2. Great Otway National Park
If you are a fan of nature and want some respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you will love the Great Otway National Park. With its rugged coastlines, stunning rainforests and spectacular waterfalls, the Otways are a haven for all kinds of flora and fauna, including giant ferns at Maits Rest, glow worms at Melba Gully and koalas among the trees at Cape Otway. You also need to be careful on the roads in this area, as you can regularly encounter kangaroos, particularly at dawn and dusk!
Many visitors come here for the beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Erskine Falls is one of the most popular spots, featuring a 30 metre cascade of water over fern-lined rocks into the river below. The Triplet Falls can be found in a truly beautiful setting in the heart of the ancient rainforest, while the Little Aire Falls give you the opportunity to view the falls from a viewing platform seven metres above the ground in the canopy of the trees, for a peaceful, relaxing and unforgettable experience.
3. The Shipwreck Coast
Known for its picturesque beauty, the Shipwreck Coast forms the last stretch of the Great Ocean Road, and it is filled with unique landmarks, many of which are famous throughout the world. One of these is the Twelve Apostles, a collection of naturally-occurring sandstone stacks located just off the coast of Port Campbell National Park. However, four of the Apostles have been eroded over time by the water, so today only eight are left standing.
A visit to the sheer cliffs at Loch Ard Gorge gives you a real sense of how the Shipwreck Coast got its name, as this area was named after a ship which was wrecked here in 1878. The two stone pillars located in the gorge are known as Eva and Tom, after the only two survivors of the wreck.
Finally, you can really soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful part of the world by stopping off at the Grotto. This highly atmospheric cave gives you the opportunity to get close to the waves and hear them crashing against the shore.
The Shipwreck Coast offers truly stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets, and provides a highly memorable ending to your Great Ocean Road trip.
Would you love to explore Great Ocean Road?
We have four Great Ocean private tours to choose from. Sign up for our 2-day tour of Great Ocean Road to see The Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, Kennett River wild koala and bird population, Bells Beach and Torquay (Australia’s surfing capital), Split Point Lighthouse, Seaside townships of Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, Mait’s Rest rainforest walk and the Otway National Park, Worn Gundidj Tour at Tower Hill and so much more. We will make multiple stops along the Great Ocean Road for photo opportunities,
Visit the Grampians
The Grampians National Park is listed on the Australian National Heritage List, thanks to its outstanding natural beauty. It offers some of Australia’s most breathtaking scenery, due to the dramatic combination of sandstone cliffs, spectacular waterfalls and large volcanic plains. The national park is an ideal place for wildlife-spotting and hiking, but it also offers plenty of opportunities for learning more about the history and culture of this richly diverse part of Victoria.
Grampians tours are extremely popular with all visitors to the state, as the Grampians National Park can be reached by road in less than three hours from Melbourne, and its stunning, peaceful landscapes offer an ideal contrast to the buzz of the city.
Here are some of our favourite things to enjoy when you visit the Grampians.
Things to do in the Grampians
1. Go hiking
The Grampians National Park is extremely popular with hikers, and there are numerous different trails to follow throughout the park.
Mount William is the highest peak in the national park, standing 1,167 metres tall at its summit. The views from the top are outstanding, enabling you to look out over the entire park in all directions.
Another excellent spot for panoramic views is The Balconies, which is a particularly popular hiking destination due to the spectacular vistas it offers. At sunrise and sunset, the entire area takes on a pink and golden appearance, which is a truly unforgettable sight.
However, probably the most popular destination within the park is MacKenzie Falls. Victoria’s largest waterfall, it has a drop of 35 metres over a rugged cliff face, and is famous for its rainbow-coloured spray. The hiking trail to the base of the waterfall is quite strenuous, but if you are not looking for so much of a challenge, you can view MacKenzie Falls from a dedicated viewing platform at The Bluff.
2. Watch out for wildlife
Some of Australia’s best-loved animals live in their natural environments within the national park. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot kangaroos, emus and koalas.
If you don’t manage to spot these national icons in the wild, you can pay a visit to Halls Gap Zoo while you are here. The zoo plays an important part in animal conservation, and houses over 160 different species, as well as offering up-close animal encounters.
3. Discover Aboriginal art and culture
The Grampians region contains one of the largest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art in the whole of Australia, with a total of 60 different sites located within the national park. Some of the highlights include the children’s handprints at Gulgurn Manja, and the white figures on the wall of the Ngamadjidj Art Shelter.
In addition, the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre at Halls Gap features a wide variety of Aboriginal art and artefacts, as well as offering workshops where you can learn more about the cultural history of the region.
The fascinating city of Ballarat
A visit to Ballarat offers a real insight into Victoria’s history, as it was one of the main areas enriched by the Gold Rush of the 1850s and 60s. Gold was first discovered here in 1851, and the sudden arrival of prospectors transformed the area from a sleepy sheep station into a thriving and rich town. Much of the architecture which still stands here today dates back to the Gold Rush, so you can easily gain a glimpse of what life must have been like when the city was in its infancy.
There are plenty of fascinating places to visit in Ballarat. Here are a few of our favourites.
Things to see in Ballarat
1. Sovereign Hill
This site probably offers more of an insight into the history of the city than any other. Sovereign Hill is a working recreation of the gold mining township of the 1850s and 60s. The original mine shaft still remains here, and much of the equipment also dates from the era. In addition, the entire main street of the town is a living museum, including residents in period costume performing chores as they would have done in the 19th century.
Daily demonstrations are held to offer more insights into historical life in Ballarat, and the kids can have great fun panning for gold.
2. Eureka Centre
The Eureka Centre stands on the site where the Eureka Rebellion took place in 1854. This was the only armed rebellion in Australian history, and led to the beginnings of suffrage and democracy in Australia. The Centre is a museum which explains more about the context of the uprising, and recreates the main events of the conflict through a series of multimedia displays.
3. Kryal Castle
Ideal for families, Kryal Castle is an adventure park with a medieval theme. You can meet the King and Queen, encounter wizards and dragons, and watch the knights jousting in the arena. There is also a maze to conquer and numerous other themed activities to enjoy.
Find out more about visiting regional Victoria
Melbourne Private Tours offers three- and four-day excursions enabling you to take in all these fascinating locations and more. You will be driven in a luxury vehicle, accompanied by a highly knowledgeable professional tour guide who can make the experience even more interesting and memorable for you.
This is the ideal opportunity for you and your party to visit some of Victoria’s highlights in comfort and style. If you would like to know more about our Victoria tours or discuss your specific requirements, please contact us, and we will be happy to help.