Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Victoria
The Yarra River flows west for more than 240 km (148 miles) from its source in the Yarra Ranges, through rural and suburban Melbourne to the city center and Docklands, where it empties into Port Phillip Bay. Transport and pedestrian bridges cross the river, and you’ll find some of Melbourne’s most popular golf courses and parklands along its length.
Melbourne was established on the banks of the Yarra River in 1835, and it was a vital source of water and transport for the city's settlers. Today the Yarra River flows past the pedestrian Yarra Promenade and Flinders Street Station in the heart of Melbourne.
Rowers stroke past from the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens, and pleasure boats cruise up and down the river. Cycling and walking trails also mirror its path, and there are popular picnic grounds on the suburban fringe at Yarra Bend and Warrandyte.
Southgate is a large shopping, eating and entertainment complex on the banks of the Yarra River. Occupying a central position opposite Flinders Street Station and next to the Victorian Arts Centre and Hamer Hall, Southgate offers an opportunity for visitors to dine in a riverside restaurant or cafe with views of the CBD across the river.
Catering to all types of budgets and tastes, the complex has a large food hall on the ground floor and more refined dining on the upper levels. Shops include a variety of boutique fashion stores as well as gift shops, bookstores and speciality shops. Open from 7am until late and located adjacent to the city’s major arts precinct, Southgate is the ideal place to stop for a pre- or post-theatre dinner or drink.
Australia’s foremost outdoor museum, Sovereign Hill takes history to a whole new level. Houses, shops and places of work have all been carefully crafted on the 25 hectare site to reproduce an 1850s mining town.
The ‘township’ of over 60 historically recreated buildings revolves around Red Hill Mine. The Red Hill Mine is home to the second largest gold nugget in the world. The Welcome Nugget weighed 69kg, was almost 99% pure gold, and worth over $3million. A replica can be found at Sovereign Hill.
When at Sovereign Hill, don’t pass up the opportunity to pan for some gold of your own! The gold diggings are the centre of the entire complex. The two mines on Sovereign Hill have regular guided tours. The Red Hill Mine tour is self-guided, whilst the Sovereign Quartz Mine is a 40 minute tour showing several displays.
Main Street is the heart of the town, filled with shops and amenities that made life easier on the gold fields.
One of nature’s most humbling aspects is the indifference towards human existence. Whether us humans were here or not, waves would still crash, sunsets would still glow, and hundreds of clumsy Little Penguins would storm Phillip Island at sunset. Of all the Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Penguin Parade is inarguably the most popular due to this evening show. Each night at dusk, hundreds of these penguins waddle up the beach to rest and feed their young, and since 32,000 of the Little Penguins live on Phillip Island, it’s believed to be the largest colony of the world’s smallest penguin. Arrive early and have a drink at the coastal penguin café, or tour the informative visitor center to learn about the curious critters. As dusk approaches, make your way towards the multi-tiered seating and keep your eyes on the shoreline, and when the first penguin comes rolling ashore and shakes the water of its back, it will soon be followed by hundreds more as they shake, waddle, and roll.
Victoria's Great Ocean Road is great in every sense of the word. If you're driving, you'll discover one of the most famous and scenic coastal stretches of road in the world. If you're surfing, you'll find point break heaven. And if you're looking for breathtaking seaside vistas at every turn, you've found them.
This stretch of Victoria's coast - dubbed the Great Ocean Road - is known for its long empty beaches and crashing surf. It's holiday central for vacationing Melburnites in December and January, when thousands of visitors swell the local population, booking laidback holiday homes for the summer season. Local towns come alive in summer, with bustling cafes, boutiques and bars. Away from the coast, the surrounding mountains hide national parks filled with bushwalks, rainforest, waterfalls and wildlife.
Tucked into the serene and picturesque Yarra Valley of Victoria, the Dominique Portet Winery is renowned for its deep roots in French soil — Bordeaux to be exact. The art of winemaking has been passed down through the Portet lineage from 18th century France; a father and son duo (ninth and 10th generation) run this winery with experience that spans around the world. The modest space boasts an array of wines in a comfortable, Mediterranean-style setting. Get lost among the sprawling vines, or relax with a glass surrounded by oak barrels at Dominique Portet. Enjoy tastings from the cellar door, learn more about the Portet history and culture with a vintage tour, or stay for a leisurely lunch overlooking the valley.
More Things to Do in Victoria
Washed by crashing waves just off the craggy shoreline of western Victoria, the dramatic Twelve Apostles stand sentinel off the Great Ocean Road. Once joined to the surrounding mainland, the limestone outcrops are a Victorian icon and an enduring symbol of nature's mighty power and beauty.
Pounded by surf and tide for thousands of years, the limestone crags are gradually being whittled down in number – currently only eight of the Twelve Apostles remain – and the neighbouring rocky arch known as London Bridge has collapsed into the roaring sea.
The wild western Victorian coastline is a bewitching and beautiful part of Australia, the site of tragic shipwrecks in days gone by and the perfect place for exhilarating cliff-top walks, wreck diving and other untamed encounters with Mother Nature.
Lush greenery and rolling hills dotted with twisting vines create a picturesque backdrop for sipping some of Yarra Valley’s finest wines. Rochford Wines, located just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, offers first-class vino, a top-notch culinary experience and panoramic views of the iconic Great Dividing Ranges. Meander through the winery’s sprawling vistas to visit the on-site art gallery and retail shop. Try a tasting from Rochford’s cellar door or dine at the winery’s award-winning restaurant Isabella’s at Rochford. An oasis of natural beauty located in the heart of Victoria’s wine country, Rochford is known for hosting a range of events, concerts and functions. The winery boasts activities to suit all tastes— from hot air ballooning and segway tours to wine and cheese pairings.
If you didn't know that Melbourne is a sport-loving city, learn all about it at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). A Melbourne landmark, and one of the seven wonders of the sporting world, no visit to Melbourne is complete without witnessing a summertime cricket match or winter game of Australian Rules football at the MCG.
Backstage tours on non-event days take visitors onto the hallowed turf and into the changing rooms of Australia’s largest stadium. A visit to the National Sporting Museum here reveals the MCG’s history as an Olympic Games venue, and particular sports are highlighted in several exhibits, including the alarmingly realistic Shane Warne Hologram. Exhibition spaces display the MCG’s historic collection of sports memorabilia.
The cricket season launches at the MCG with the famous Boxing Day Test match. The most important fixture on the football calendar is held here on the last Saturday in September – the AFL Grand Final.
One of Victoria’s most significant landscapes, Point Nepean National Park spans more than 1,000 acres (560 hectares) on the pristine Mornington Peninsula. Visitors can immerse themselves in the coastal views and native grasslands while exploring the rich history of the park. What began as indigenous land became one of the earliest European settlements in Victoria during 1845, then a quarantine station before the site turned into a military center. In addition to its rich culture, the park is host to a world of marine life, including emerald-colored sea shrubs and invertebrates.
Discover Victorian landmarks, such as the park’s highest point, Cheviot Hill, overlooking the jetty where Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967. History buffs can visit Fort Nepean for panoramic views and explore military fortifications used in both World Wars. Numerous hiking trails and beach walks of varied length start in the park.
Federation Square is Melbourne's focal point and favorite meeting place. Outdoor cafes surround the square, which is dominated by a huge outdoor screen. People flock here to people-watch or catch don't-miss sport or activities on the screen, and it’s the location for Melbourne's most important public events and ceremonies.
Back from the cafes you'll find the Australian art section of the National Gallery of Victoria, known as the Ian Potter Centre – the perfect place to get a sense of Australia’s art history from colonial days to the present day. Other cultural icons at Federation Square include cinema history at ACMI, art galleries and creative outdoor play spaces for kids.
The Great Ocean Road is one Victoria’s most naturally stunning sights, and Loch Ard Gorge is a dramatic highlight of an already dramatic journey. It was at this spot in 1878 where a ship carrying settlers from England to Melbourne was tragically wrecked on the rocks. Of the 54 passengers aboard the ship only two of the passengers survived—a teenage boy who heroically rescued a fellow teenage girl. After spending the night in a coastal sea cave, the duo found help with local settlers after scaling the rugged cliffs. Today those cliffs have a set of stairs that lead to the golden sands, where a protected beach is tucked beneath the towering, time-sculpted bluffs. Though the weather can be spectacularly stormy in winter, summer days are an invitation for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing, and the striated cliffs form a natural amphitheater of coastal beauty around you.
The lovely landscaped grounds of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens spread for almost 100 acres south of the city center, providing Melbourne with the much-appreciated foliage of more than 50,000 plants.
The gardens were established in 1846, and over the years they've become recognised as one of the finest examples of Victorian-era landscaping in the world. The mix of native and introduced species provides inspiration for would-be gardeners, and the manicured lawns are a popular spot for picnics and parties.
You'll find tranquil ornamental lakes dotted with waterbirds, a herbarium and an observatory, plus conservatories and glasshouses filled with exotic blooms. Follow winding pathways past fern gullies and eucalyptus, or join Melbourne's joggers running rings around The Tan, the gardens' running track.
This world-class destination, 100 percent owned and operated by Australia’s Aboriginal people, is nestled into the scenic backdrop of the continent’s own unique indigenous flora and fauna. Visitors agree that the incredible architecture, pristine grounds and knowledgeable staff make Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Center one of Victoria’s top destinations.
Travelers can tour ancient rock art while they learn about the traditions of one of Australian’s oldest people. Interesting exhibits explore the chronological history of native cultures and the boomerang training ground, where families can test out their newly purchased toys, provides visitors with a truly memorable experience.
If early explorers could have had this view it would have made their jobs a lot easier. Situated high above Melbourne’s bustling streets, the Eureka Skydeck 88 is a 360-degree viewing platform towards the top of the Eureka Tower. From this elevated vantage point on the 88th floor, the Victorian countryside literally stretches from the mountains down towards the sea. Gaze east toward the 2,000-foot Mount Dandenong which can be coated with snow in winter, and south to the waters of Port Phillip and beachgoers lounging at St. Kilda. More than simply the view, however, it’s the Eureka Skydeck’s remarkable height that will leave you weak in the knees.
Even the elevators to reach the platform are an adventure unto themselves, and the 40 seconds to cover 88 stories make them the fastest in the Southern Hemisphere. Once you’ve taken a lap of the 88th floor, step outside onto the open-air terrace to feel the wind rushing through your hair from nearly 1,000 feet off the ground.
Melbourne Museum provides a great experience for adults and children alike. A series of permanent exhibitions relating to the culture, history and the environment of Melbourne and Victoria are housed in several galleries including a lush Forest Gallery, an Aboriginal gallery and a Children’s area.
Exhibitions include Science and Life, Melbourne Story, Evolution, Mind and Body, and many more. Get to see bones and displays of Australia’s mega fauna (giant animals), experience the Dinosaur Walk, Bugs Alive!, Amazing Animals and The Human Body. Temporary exhibitions run about twice a year and cover a variety of themes. Visiting from March to July 2013 are hidden treasures from Afghanistan temporarily donated by the National Museum in Kabul. The Museum also houses a good café, an IMAX center and – the museum’s most popular object – a taxidermy original of Australia’s most famous racehorse, Phar Lap.
- Things to do in Melbourne
- Things to do in Yarra Valley
- Things to do in Ballarat
- Things to do in Great Ocean Road
- Things to do in Tasmania
- Things to do in South Australia
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Burnie
- Things to do in Hobart
- Things to do in Adelaide
- Things to do in Port Arthur
- Things to do in Queensland
- Things to do in South Island
- Things to do in Northern Territory
- Things to do in North Island