Posted on: September 21st, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Things to Do on Phillip Island
Photo: 3B’s on Flickr
There’s a little slice of Australian paradise less than two hours away from Melbourne.
Think pristine beaches perfect for surfing, incredible wildlife in their natural habitat and untouched, breathtaking coasts.
One of the world’s largest colonies of fur seals and little penguins call this island home. The world-famous nightly Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks are premier attractions – you could almost say its the local wildlife that call the shots.
Combining the best features of Australia’s natural beauty with its own unique charms, Phillip Island is best explored at ease. Here’s our guide on things to do at Phillip Island.
Take in the Coastal Scenery
The sheer beauty of Phillip Island’s coasts will take you breath away – you’ll need something to grab on to.
Fortunately, the island features many coastal walks and trails, some complete with railed boardwalks.
Wander along Woolamai Surf Beach to the Cape Woolamai Trail for truly dramatic views of the Pinnacles. This two hour walk rewards you with sublime scenery – rolling green landscapes crumbling into jagged rocks known as the Pinnacles, jutting up from azure waters. You might spot some wildlife along the way, including echidnas, wallabies and dolphins. During whale watching season you might spot a migrating humpback!
Head to the westernmost point of the island past the Phillip Island Nature Parks toward Nobbies Centre. Stroll on the winding Nobbies Boardwalk stretching along the rugged southern coast. Turquoise waters crash against the green-clad rocks before you in a breathtaking display of coastal splendor.
From the boardwalk you can see Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony.
Cruise to Seal Rocks
Home to over 25,000 fur seals, Seal Rocks is a natural haven where seals sunbathe, frolic and play in the cool water.
Get a closer look at these friendly animals with a wilderness cruise out to Seal Rocks.
The boat drifts within yards to the seal colony. Younger seals will often swim up to the boat to get a closer look at you, peering up as you peer down.
Surrounded by hundreds of seals in the water, this close encounter with Australian wildlife is part of what makes Phillip Island so special.
Catch Some Salty Waves
Phillip Island’s dynamic coastline features spectacular beaches and rugged shores.
Calm, sheltered bays line the northern coast while wild surf breaks are found on the southern stretch of the island.
As you first cross into the island you’ll spot the curve of Cape Woolamai, a sweep of golden beach set against ancient pink granite cliffs. Woolamai Surf Beach is one of the state of Victoria’s most popular surfing beaches, with large curling waves attracting keen surfers. If you’re not one to pick up a surf board, the barreling waves are mesmerizing enough to simply gaze at from a soft spot of sand.
Get a dose of surfing and wildlife all in one at Summerland Beach. Home to the famous Phillip Island little penguins, this beach is also hugely popular with the surfing crowd for its consistent year-round waves. Wildlife and waves – it doesn’t get more Australian than that.
For swimming, you can’t go wrong with the seaside holiday vibe and shallow high tide of Cowes Beach. With changing rooms, showers and a picturesque jetty flanked by charming coastal eateries, Cowes Beach has everything set for the perfect beach day.
Stroll Through the Koala Conservation Centre
As a small haven of native Australian wildlife, no trip to Phillip Island is complete without visiting the Koala Conservation Centre.
This not-for-profit organization focuses on koala conservation and preserving their natural habitat. With knowledgeable rangers and educational information on display at the visitor center, the dedication and expertise of the Koala Conservation Centre will impress you.
Here you’ll come face to face with koalas in their natural habitat. Wander through Australian bushland on tree top boardwalks at branch-level with sinewy Eucalyptus trees. The koalas are blessed with over 14 acres of pristine wilderness to call home – not something you’ll see in most wildlife parks. You’ll spot them hanging high among the trees, munching on leaves or dozing the day away.
Take the Tree Top Koala Boardwalk for superb koala viewing. If they’re feeling active, they might climb down to lower branches only an arm’s length away from you. Many visitors report seeing up to 12 koalas in one visit!
Below the boardwalks you might also spot other native wildlife, including wallabies, echidnas, rainbow lorikeets and other exotic birds.
Explore Phillip Island Wildlife Park
Photo: Unbound Outbound
For more personal encounters with a larger array of Australia wildlife, head to the Phillip Island Wildlife Park. Here you can hand-feed free-roaming kangaroos, spot echidnas shuffling through grass and Tasmanian devils lazing about in the sun.
As home to some of Australia’s most unique wildlife, some of these animals you might’ve never known existed! With over 60 acres of diverse terrain, every creature has a perfect slice of land to call their own. Other animals you’ll find here include reptiles, wombats, dingoes, emus, cassowaries and quolls.
Pack a picnic lunch or enjoy some park snacks after meeting the furry locals. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to pick up a cute souvenir!
Visit Churchill Island
Churchill Island might just be the closest thing to traveling back in time.
Horse-drawn wagons roll past historic cottages set among tranquil gardens and orchards. Verdant green pastures are dotted with cows and sheep wandering from a restored 1850’s homestead.
Sleepy mornings on this sublime island give way to lively afternoons filled with hands-on farming demonstrations. Watch an authentic sheep shearing, learn how to crack a whip and how to milk a cow. Catch the working farm dogs herd the cheeky sheep back to the farm.
Grab a bite to eat at the Churchill Island Cafe, where country charm combined with local produce and breathtaking views of the sea create the loveliest dining experience.
Or browse over 40 stalls of fresh, local produce at the monthly Churchill Island Farmers Market. Pick up a treat to enjoy while you take in the panoramic views across the island.
Rustic splendor by the sea – Churchill Island is a quiet slice of paradise you never knew you needed.
See the Famous Penguin Parade
As the sun begins to set, the sands of Summerland Beach become a stretch of red carpet.
Crowds gather to catch a glimpse of the Phillip Island famous.
Out of the rolling curls of waves come forth hundreds of tiny tuxedoed penguins, waddling back home to their burrows in the beach.
The miniature size of these little penguins is cuteness overload. They grow to an average of 13 inches, though some may seem as small as the palm of your hand.
Phillip Island Nature Park oversees this nightly Penguin Parade, with the best seats in all the island on a custom-built viewing platform. You can get a closer look at the penguins in an underground viewing platform, where you’ll see them marching right past your eyes.
You won’t catch any paparazzi at this show. No photography is permitted to protect the penguins, as bright flashes might scare or blind them.
After all, the most remarkable wildlife interactions are best experienced as close to nature as possible.
Make the Trip to Phillip Island from Melbourne
Phillip Island makes for a perfect break a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne. Get back to nature with native wildlife and unforgettable scenery.
Plus, how many people do you know that have seen a Penguin Parade?
Between Halls Gap and Melbourne is a region rich in Australia’s gold rush history, including the goldfields of Ballarat.
From a spectacular local food and art scene rivaling Melbourne’s and a splendid heritage backdrop, Ballarat is the perfect stop to enjoy the finer things in life.
Here are 10 adventures in Ballarat and surrounds to end your Australia road trip with a bang.
Hang Around Halls Gap for Breakfast
After downing a few cups of Joe throughout your travels in Australia, you’ll know there’s something special about Aussie coffee.
Fuel up for the day at Harvest, where the coffee maintains the Aussie standard of excellence. Fresh ingredients create a stellar breakfast menu highlighting the amazing local produce of the Grampians.
Favorites include the Bubble & Squeak (poached eggs and ham off the bone on a bed of potato and vegetable hash) and zesty corn fritters.
Harvest is a warm and inviting spot. Almost as good as a Melbourne cafe with much lovelier staff. Good food and would recommend the aptly named Bubble n Squeak.Janelle Galea
I’m a serious coffee snob, long black, hot n strong no sugar. So to my shock the coffee at Harvest was simply superb. I highly recommend this beautiful quaint little cafe on the edge of Halls Gap… the staff are amazing and ready to share their knowledge of the area from walks to wineries and more. The food was great and I’ll miss this little cafe. It would be awesome if it were to become your local. Check it out soon.Tony Meehan
See the Gold Rush Opulence of Ballarat on a Heritage Walk
After driving about two hours on the Western Highway from Halls Gap you’ll cross paths with Ballarat.
The Australian gold boom of the 1850’s completely transformed this small sheep station to a major town, now the third largest inland city in Australia.
As you travel closer to the heart of the city, the legacy of Ballarat’s gold rush becomes evident in the magnificent Victorian and Edwardian buildings lining the streets.
Stretch your legs after your drive and take on the heritage walking trails winding through the central heritage precinct.
You’ll find some of Australia’s most beautifully preserved colonial architecture such as the impressive Town Hall and Craig’s Royal Hotel in in Lydiard Street and historic monuments and statues along Sturt Street.
It was my great experience to see inside the Ballarat town hall during a heritage week. Loved all the decorations and all furniture back in gold era. I hope the council will keep the Victorian vibe in the hall and won’t put too much urbanism into our old town hall.Jolt Media
Explore the Ballarat Botanical Gardens
Step into the serenity of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, where rows of red, yellow and pink begonias decorate verdant lawns dotted with classical statues.
Towering trees providing ample shade along paved trails lead to the Robert Clark Conservatory. Here you’ll find the setting out of something in a wedding planner magazine.
Hydrangeas, fuchsias and pelargoniums bloom into a spectacle of purple, pink and red hues in the summer, while autumn boasts a gorgeous begonia display.
Walk down Prime Ministers Avenue past bronze busts honoring Australia’s past prime ministers, adding a unique historical touch to the gardens.
Wander through the carefully landscaped lawns and find Victorian marble statues from Italy placed throughout the gardens.
A highlight is the Sensory Garden, an interactive space where you can touch and smell different plants.
Best place to hang out or enjoy a morning walk. Green house is warm for having a break after run or exercise. This historical garden will give you about Ballarat in the past and so many kinds of plants. Marble Statues are amazingly beautiful. Just come to see something green. On weekend you can enjoy a farmer market along the lake, too.Hugo Krystal
Taste Your Way Through Ballarat’s Growing Food Scene
From authentic Spanish tapas to cozy cafes with exciting menus, Ballarat’s food scene will delight any foodie.
There’s no end to the delicious eateries featuring local produce – an unspoken requirement you’ll find throughout its restaurants.
Grab a slice of some of the region’s best pizza at The Forge Pizzeria. This local favorite delights in crafting unique pizzas. Think slow roasted pork, gorgonzola dolce and green apple slaw on your pie, or woodfired roast pumpkin, goats cheese and pine nuts. Definitely a must for any adventurous eater.
Relish in the colorful Spanish atmosphere at Meigas, where the tapas pack incredible flavors in every bite.
Never have I expect to find food this good outside of Melbourne. Yes if you look at the menu, it look kinda expensive but the serving size is very generous and it is worth every cents. The octopus was tender and seasoned just right with the paprika. The Lamb skewers, the meat is tender, slightly pink in the inside, the sauce to dip with is wonderful. Oh that beef cheek, you don’t need a knife to cut it. It is soft. The sauce and the mash underneath complement it perfectly. Overall all the food are perfect. Beside the food, the atmosphere, the deco and the service are excellent. Even we were sitting by the window, the waiter and waitress came by pretty often, making sure we are okay. Oh lastly for the drink, they have this one with the gin, citrus and cinnamon, you have to try it if you like gin. It is that good!Jenny Kwong
Sip on Locally Brewed Craft Beers
Craft beer enthusiasts may want to hold off on lunch and explore Ballarat’s growing craft beer scene. In a city where food and drink are an experience-based culture, beer lovers are sure to find their slice of heaven in Ballarat.
Get up close to the brewing process at Athletic Club Brewery, boasting an eclectic range of beer styles sure to pique your interest. Settle into one of the couches facing the beer vats behind a glass wall and sip on a choice draft brewed on site.
Head over to Hop Temple, slated as the city’s craft beer mecca. Unique decor, live music and friendly staff are just the beginning of Hop Temple’s highlights. With more beers than you can count on tap and a delicious menu that stands out on its own, this gem has something for everyone.
What is there not to love about this place? The walk through the alley to get to the entrance was a thrill, and when I opened the door, my mouth dropped open at the space aesthetics. My husband and I shared some scrumptious hot sides and a beer paddle as our afternoon tea. It was so relaxing sitting there in the cozy corner near the stairs, enjoying our food and beverages. Wished we stayed for dinner, but had prearranged to go elsewhere… hopefully we will be back soon.Helen Man
Visit Sensational Art Galleries
Ballarat’s mix of major galleries and smaller studios are home to spectacular masterpieces to impress any art buff.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, considered one of the best regional galleries in all Australia, draws visitors even from Melbourne. Housed in the heritage precinct of Ballarat, you’ll find an incredible range of exhibits throughout the spacious gallery.
This is by far the best regional art gallery I have ever been too. Wonderfully set out, has a great selection of art and lots of different exhibits and themes. From classic to modern, sculptures to painting’s and photos plus some Comic art. Was blown away with how amazing it was and the staff were excellent too. The best thing of all was it’s free, I was so surprised that something so awesome could be free. Please make sure you make a donation though as this place deserves it. Definately recommended for all.Steve Pickwell
We were totally surprised at the quality of this art gallery. It is brilliant! The art collection is amazing. We certainly did not expect to see such a large variety of beautiful works of art by both well-known and less-known artists in a regional gallery. It was certainly worth spending time here!Anna Palmer
See Nuggets of Gold at the Gold Museum
Everything that glitters is indeed gold at the Gold Museum. This informative museum is the perfect introduction to Ballarat’s gold rush history, displaying an impressive collection of gold nuggets, gold artifacts and gold coins.
Discover the chronological history of the gold rush as it swept over this region of Australia, lending to the prosperity of Ballarat. Gaze over historic photos and carefully preserved articles of clothing from the era.
Very interesting and well set out, you get to see real pieces of history from mining to clothing and jewellery plus real nuggets! Something for everyone. I was told not to miss it and I’m glad I visited.Oxley Vic
A great place to learn about the history of the Ballarat gold fields and interesting details. The replica gold nuggets found are eye popping. If you have any interest in history this place is well worthwhile. Fascinating facts and information well presented and well worth a quick visit.C_and_J_Lewis
Pan for Gold at Sovereign Hill
So far we’ve only skimmed the surface of Ballarat’s heritage. It’s time to feel the rush of the gold mining excitement for yourself and travel back in time at Sovereign Hill.
This open air museum is a living, breathing replica of Ballarat in the 1850’s. Walk through Main Street, lined with shops and factories showcasing rare 19th century trades practiced by skilled artisan using original machinery of the times.
Learn to make your own candy, watch the processing and pouring of a spectacular gold ingot or buy a post card and send it off at the working post office.
Catch a show at the Victoria Theatre or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn coach. Try your hand at firing a musket or dress up in Victorian costumes and snap a photo as a unique souvenir. With staff always in character and even a large number of actors in costume roaming the streets, Sovereign Hill feels like the closest thing to a time machine.
But the one thing you absolutely must do is try your hand at panning for gold.
If you’re lucky, you might get to keep what you find!
Absolutely wonderful place to spend the day! There are delicious bakery’s, gold panning (I found quite a bit of it) candle making (you can colour your own candles!) you can have your name be on a ‘WANTED’ poster, you can make your own bath salt jar they sell amazing boiled sweets they take you on a self guided tour underground in the mines and they run a show were you get to watch someone pour gold (gold pouring) and that is only some of what you get to experience at Sovereign Hill I definitely recommend it I’d like to thank the guy at the gold panning for teaching us how to pan and even giving us a few specks of it! Thanks to all the staff for making our day wonderful!Bella Hales
Meet the Animals at Ballarat Wildlife Park
An Aussie road trip isn’t complete without at least a few wildlife encounters.
Situated on natural bush land, you’ll find a fantastic range of animals in the park, including some you may not have encountered in the wild just yet. Hand feed the kangaroos roaming around the grounds, spot exotic cassowaries, meet the cute spotted-tail quolls and get to know the resident wombats.
And of course – take a picture with a koala!
Hands down my favorite experience in Australia to date. The park is smallish, which gives it a cozy atmosphere and allows you plenty of time to explore each exhibit. The animals all appear happy and well taken care of – honestly if I could be one of the kangaroos in another life, I wouldn’t hesitate. Plus, the staff were all lovely (not something I necessarily expect from bigger zoos). We paid extra for the wombat encounter and it was definitely worth the money. Plus, feeding and cuddling with the kangaroos was such a great time. Can’t recommend highly enough!Brittany Lloyd
Soak in the Mineral Baths at Hepburn Springs
Unwind with an invigorating mineral soak in the baths of Hepburn Springs.
Just a slight detour northeast of Ballarat, Hepburn Springs is home to Australia’s largest concentration of mineral springs.
This lends to the many spas dotting the area, all fulfilling their promise to end your day on the highest note of relaxation.
Step into the healing warmth of mineral water with a night bath at The Mineral Spa. Intimate, adults-only and with breathtaking views into the countryside, this destination spa is one of the most acclaimed in all Australia.
My partner and I went on a Sunday. We did the early bird spa and the Radiance facial together. It was great as we were the only people in the spa so we were comfortably trying out all the different saunas and spas, and the facials were amazing. I can’t commend the massage therapists enough, they did an amazing job, so much so, that I fell asleep a couple of times. The refreshments throughout and at the end were a nice finishing touch. Would highly recommend and are definetely looking at planning another trip soon!Ms Blossom
End Your Australian Road Trip in Melbourne
Our epic Australian road trip has come to an end.
With countless things to see and do in regional Australia, this journey promises fantastic experiences and memories to last a lifetime.
Now one of Australia’s most iconic cities awaits. With its unique heritage and a growing food and art scene, Ballarat is the perfect precursor to the stylish city of Melbourne.
Want to Visit Ballarat, Australia?
Ballarat holds a fascinating history and treasures extending far beyond gold for the curious traveler.
Only a short distance away from Melbourne and an essential stop on an Aussie road trip, our Destination Specialists can make the visit happen!
Along this route you’ll find amazing ocean lookouts, food, wine culture, Australian wildlife, and the rugged outback. Adventure awaits on your road trip through the Grampians, Australia.
Get a great night’s sleep at your Port Campbell hotel and wake up early to drive to Halls Gap. Here are a few great adventures you can have along the way!
See the Sunrise at London Arch
Formally known as “London Bridge”, the London Arch hasn’t looked like its namesake since first arch collapsed in 1990. Arrive early to catch the sunrise as you watch the ocean crash against the shore. Take in the cliffs, clear water the the sense of power that slowly eroded these granite stacks into what they are today.
The bridge itself is gone, collapsed awhile ago. However the awesomeness of nature remains. Get there for first light, watch the sun come up. It will make you feel insignificant in the scale of time when you think how long it has taken to create this location. Weng C
Great view, like most other sights along the Great ocean road. But unlike the other sights, the bridge is more than just a rock in the water in my opinion. We came at dawn on the way to the Grampians after a night at portside motel in Port Campbell, so there wasn’t many people. This place would’ve been crowded during sunset I reckon. The sunrise was great even thought it came up from inland, and didn’t impede with photographing the bridge.Gordon L.
One of my favourites on the Great Ocean Road. Worth heading down to the beach to get a good idea of just how big these things areCavan Jordan
Explore The Grotto
The Grotto is a enchanting rock formation along the Great Ocean road. It is a naturally carved out cave standing about halfway up a cliff. You’ll find a paved path that leads to a staircase descending into a viewing area.
Beautiful spot with an easy walk to the viewing platform. Try getting there early or late in the day when there are less people and the sun is setting or rising, this will make for a more picturesque view and photo! The walk down is not suitable for disabled or prams as it is down a set of stairs.Oliver Bersani
Dont stop at the lookout, walk down the stops for the amazing photo through the grotto out into the ocean.Alex Voerman
Maybe my favourite stop on the Great Ocean Road – a small grotto where saltwater is left at high tide, it’s colourful, scenic, and much less crowded than Gibson Steps or the 12 Apostles (not that those aren’t great, either). Stop in, you won’t be disappointed.Aidan Leach
Spot Whales at Logan’s Beach
Find a spot at the viewing platform and be the first to catch a glimpse of a fluking southern right whale. Every year between June and October the whales return to their nursery along this coastline where they give birth and raise their calves. During peak season, June through September, they can often be seen just meters off the shore. Make sure you bring your binoculars!
Great views of the coastline from the wooden platform. Lots of room for visitors whale watching. A good sized carpark but it gets very busy during July-September & can be hard to get a park. A great spot for surfers & a nice beach for a walk along, the beach is un patrolled by Life guards. We were lucky to see quite a few whales frolicking around. A great spot for this between July-September. Bring your binoculars as well as a coat as it can be quite windy. sm05060
We have seen Southern Right Whales before but from a boat. But this was amazing to be lucky enough to see adults and calves so close in to the shore is incredible. We had traveled over 16,800 kilometres to see them and were not disappointed. This is a fantastic experience. Just remember that you will be outside and the weather will not necessarily be clement ! We experienced a cold, south westerly squall with rain and hail but that seemed fine to us to be privileged enough to see these beautiful creatures so close. The site has good car parking very close to the purpose built viewing platforms. Good information and interpretation boards. Also we found it to be a good social activity for the humans as we found people actually speaking to each other !!! We visited twice at different times on the same day and saw whales both times in mid September.John A.
Grab Breakfast in Warrnambool
After waking early to catch the sunrise and a little over an hour on the road, you are probably ready for a nice relaxing breakfast. Head The Pavilion in Warrnambool for great food with a view.
While in Warrnambool, you may want to stop at the Pronto Fine Food Merchants to pick up some gourmet food stuffs for a road-side picnic lunch and snacks.
Brilliant food, good quick service. Coffee is good. Not amazing. Best views in town though. Can get busy on weekends after 9 so worth calling ahead and booking a table.Julien Marr
My favourite chill out spot when I visit Warrnambool. If you’re lucky, you might see a seal and some stingraysKaren Luu Karen Luu
Meet Koalas, Emus and Kangaroos in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
Koalas, emus, kangaroos, and waterbirds roam freely here inside an extinct volcano. As Victoria’s first National Park, Tower Hill is the ideal pace to experience the Australian bush, enjoy magnificent scenery and landscapes while getting up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. You’ll also find amazing wildflowers in the spring time (late September to early December).
Loved this place. Take the time to look around when you first drive in – the rock formations are spectacular. Make sure to follow the posted speed limits- wildlife is all over the road. 😊 The walking trails are well signposted and give an indication of the length and difficulty involved with each walk. The peak walk is the ‘toughest’ but is worth it for the view. Keep your eyes open for different animals as you walk. We were lucky enough to visit on a misty afternoon and kangaroos, wallabies and parrots were in abundance.Dianne Hamilton
Interesting extinct volcano area. A variety of good walks, most rated as Easy. We did the Peak wall which is very steep on a properly formed concrete path /steps, great view from the top – however, not for those with breathing or heart problems! Also did the Lava walk and saw black wallabies and 2 koalas. Also enjoyed a very friendly Emu in the carpark, as well as others in the park. Visitor Centre is very informative.Denis Green
Step Back in Time in Port Fairy
If you have some time and enjoy learning the history of interesting places, continue on the Great Ocean Road to Port Fairy. If this is not of interest to you, head north towards Halls Gap to spend more time in the Grampians.
Port Fairy is a charming fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road and the last destination on Victoria’s famed Shipwreck Coast. There are over 7000 buildings of historical significance around Port Fairy. Two walking trails take you on historic adventures.
There is also an amazing array of fashion, art, craft, old books and all sorts of collectibles along Sackville Street in the center of Port Fairy.
Griffiths Island Lighthouse is also a popular stop.
Beautiful! One of the best places in Victoria to spend time with your family. It is a best place for people who love walking.Anil K.
Charming and idyllic tree lined streets, nestled in a location surrounded by the natural beauty of the great ocean rd and the grampians. Port Fairy has so much to offer people seeking peace, quiet and good choice of food and hospitalityDavid Y.
Enjoy the Finer Things in Hamilton
For those looking to get in a little culture on their Australian road trip, a detour to Hamilton is a must! Head to the Hamilton Gallery to immerse yourself in the vast range of international and Australian decorative art.
One of the best galleries I’ve ever been to. Fantastic mix of exhibits and artists. Absolutely lovely environment. Really high quality for the size of the town its attached to!Hayley Simons
Make a stop a Pierrepoint Vineyard, a family owned and operated vineyard, cellar door and B&B. The vineyard is managed with traditional care, and without the use of chemicals – you’ll see geese, ducks and chickens roaming free, controlling pests naturally.
Lovely small winery with great wine tasting and food platters on offer. Relaxing outdoor area with chickens and ducks to keep you companyEvan Groves
Hike Mt Sturgeon (Wurgarri)
Avid hikers might want to set aside a chunk of time to hike to the top of Mt. Sturgeon. After over an hour drive through the Victorian Outback, a 3 hour hike might be just what you need. The trail head can be found as you enter the Grampians National Park; about 5 minutes from Dunkeld. This hike is only suitable for fit and energetic walkers.
Depending on the conditions, it can involve water crossings, slippery surfaces and rock hopping. The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding ranges and volcanic plains.
Nice walk up to the top and the views are amazing.Tim Sproule
Southern most tip of the Grampians and just outside the township of Dunkeld. Great place to visit either as a starting point to the Grampians, or on your way to the next destination.Lucas Pardo
Take a Picture at The Piccaninny
The view from the summit of the Piccaninny walk provides great views of Mt Abrupt and Dunkeld with its unique landscape. This .7 mile hike takes some people a half hour and others an hour and a half. The gradually climbing trail makes its way through open forest that provides stunning wildflower displays in the spring. It’s an easy walk until you get to the last 400 yards, which is fairly steep.
Learn About the Grampains Aboriginal Culture, Flora and Fauna at Brambuk
Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre is a special place. Its multi award winning architecture interprets the traditional stories of the local Aboriginal people. Discover the culture of the Aboriginal communities of Western Victoria through multimedia shows, art exhibitions, artifact displays, cultural talks and lots of great activities such as didgeridoo music, traditional dance, basket weaving, boomerang throwing and painting.
You’ll often find kangaroos hanging around as well!
Great way to learn about the cultural history of Geriwald and the dreaming. Painting our own boomerangs and a lesson on how to throw them was a highlight. Enjoyed the tasting platter and wattleseed damper.Johanna de Kort
Very interesting information about the culture of the local aborigenee peoples, their lifestyle, their cultivating techniques and their moving history. Don’t forget to try the native flavoured ice-cream at the Cafe!Andreas Hurter
Wine in Great Western
Wine lovers will want to make the drive out to Great Western to visit two historic Victorian Wineries – Grampians Estate & Seppelt Cellar Door.
A James Halliday ‘Five Red Star’ winery, Grampians Estate has collected some 49 trophies with their elegant cool-climate shiraz and sparkling shiraz leading the way.
The cellar door offers wine tastings, wine tutorials, cheese platters, muffins and espresso coffee in a warm and friendly environment. Experienced staff will ensure your visit is a rewarding one.
Loved this place! We had a lovely wine tasting experience with Mich, who was funny, friendly, and knowledgeable. She shared the history of the area and the winery and walked us through each one of the wines. They had a wide range of sparkling, reds, whites, and dessert wines, so there’s likely everyone can find something they like. We liked most of their wines and we thought they were reasonable priced, plus they had a discount if you bought 6+ bottles. And they had a selection of very yummy snacks, in case you needed a quick bite. This is a great place and would highly recommend stopping by when heading up to the Grampians or on your way back to Melbourne.Alexandra Smith
Seppelt Cellar Door is famous for their heritage listed labyrinth of underground cellars known as “The Drives”. The Drives are the largest underground cellars in the Southern Hemisphere. Guided tours provide a fascinating glimpse into Victorian wine pioneering history. Tours take place every hour from 11am to 3pm. Night tours with dinner are also available.
The most amazing winery I’ve ever visited. The tour is mind blowing and the wines are some of Australia’s best ! It’s a must do ! Revisited recently and they have launched the 2018 Luxury collection – the 2016 Pinot Meunier is simply amazing and the 2018 Drumborg Riesling is going to wine awards!!! Kristy Daniel
Chase Waterfalls in Grampians National Park
You’ll find quite a few amazing waterfalls in Grampians National Park. Here are a few from which you can choose.
The serene Splitters Falls are just a short walk from Halls Gap in the Grampians. From the center of town, follow the path along Stony Creek to Venus Baths, a series of rock pools popular for toe-dipping on warm days. From here, take the stairs to the tranquil setting of Splitters Falls. Alternatively, take the short walk from Wonderland car park.
Beautiful waterfall, particularly after rain. Go in the spring and walk amongst the wildflowers!Rachael Warncke
A 1.2 mile hike along a steep trail ends in the spectacular view of water cascading over huge cliffs into a deep pool. Sit on a rock in the river and enjoy the view. These waterfalls flow all year round.
Alternatively, a viewing platform at the Bluff offers great views of MacKenzie Falls after a short, easy-access walk up a gentle grade.
Best waterfalls we have ever been to hands down. Spectacular!! Would love to come every year just to bath in the crystal clear cool waters. The Grampians is wonderful. Halls gap a lovely little town. Busy is peak seasons. The walk is all steps, bring water for the trip back up. You will need slight rests and moderately fit. Kids loved it!!!Linda Vaccaro
Just upstream from MacKenzie Falls, you’ll find Broken Falls. You don’t even have to leave the MacKezie Falls parking lot! Just follow the short path through open stringybark forest to the outlook on the edge of the gorge to catch sweeping views of the river tumbling over the wide dissipated waterfall.
The Broken Falls were not as impressive as the MacKenzie Falls. However the view was still quite nice as it has its own style of flowing water through a series of layers of rocks. Or I may say it is somewhat “softer” than the MacKenzie Falls. It is very close to the MacKenzie Falls, so it is worthwhile to have a look.Sin Yin LO
Hear Nothing in Silent Street, See Everything at the Pinnacle
Head to the Wonderland Car Park for a great 1.3 mile hike. Keep an eye out for native wildlife along the way, including koalas and kangaroos. Bring sturdy walking shoes as you may be doing some rock hopping along the way. You’ll ascend into the Grampians’ version of the Grand Canyon with its unique Australian rock formations.
My favorite part of the Wonderland Loop, the canyon type formation with the erosion and rock layers this was really interesting…And the path designed to allow hikers to climb through this area was just great. A must seeTony Meehan
Then you’ll continue through Silent Street.
Its a narrow 100m passage between 2 huge walls of rock. Pretty amazing. The moment you enter, it goes completely silent all around, not even the sound of wind! From here u are just 7-10 mins fr the Pinnacle. Might be a queue to get through bcos certain parts could be rather too narrow for 2 way traffic. You will only encounter this if u take the Wonderland trail.RS
Once you reach the Pinnacle lookout, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Halls Gap and the Grampians’ main peaks. For an easier route, walk from Sundial carpark via Devil’s Gap. You’ll miss the Grand Canyon and Silent Street, but you’ll still get the amazing view from the Pinnacle lookout.
Spectacular scenery during the walk is topped by the magical views from the peak. The grand canyon diversion is well worth the additional effort. The return trip from Wonderland Carpark took 1.5 hours (for a fit bloke walking at solid pace) which included 15 minutes rest at the top and brief photo stops along the way.Ben M
Overnight in Halls Gap
With so many things to do near Halls Gap, you may want to spend a few nights in this small township nestled between the soaring rocky mountain peaks of the Wonderland and Mount William Ranges. You’ll find a number of cafes and tourist shops facing the grassy areas by Stony Creek.
Your Australian Road Trip Continues!
In our next blog post, we’ll conclude with the journey from Halls Gap returning to the stylish city of Melbourne. You’ll travel through the Ballarat Goldfields to discover the fascinating history, opulence and excitement of the region.
Want to Visit the Grampians in Victoria, Australia?
If seeing the amazing Australian Outback and the Grampians is a bucket list item for you, let one of our Destination Specialist plan your perfect Australian road trip!
Posted on: July 19th, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Amazing Australia Road Trips Part 1
The Great Ocean Road: Melbourne to Port Campbell
There are so many amazing things to do on the Great Ocean Road. Road trips always include great tunes, laughing, singing and conversations. Long days on the road often make for the best stories and fondest memories. Just you, your loved ones, the open road and endless possibilities.
It’s a chance to be spontaneous, resourceful and find joy in the journey. The unexpected moments, surprise encounters and freedom makes for a very special experience. You really get the chance to appreciate the small things and understand what makes a place special.
Take a road trip in Australia along the Great Ocean Road and not only will you reap the benefits of a good old-fashion road trip, but you’ll be driving along one of the most majestic stretches of road in the world. In this article we’ll show you the most amazing things to do on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Port Campbell. Plus a few great places to eat too!
Looking for a unique surfing experience where you won’t get wet? Visit the Australian National Surfing Museum featuring the Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame, a theater that screens some of the world’s best surf films, informative themes exhibitions, dozens of stunning photographs and an unrivaled collection of surfboards. The Museum is recognized by the International Surfing Association as one of “the most significant centers of world surfing heritage”.
Don’t pass a chance up to go in here – we nearly did thinking it was “just another museum”. Not so. We wandered around the interior of the Tourist Info Centre in Torquay and bought some gifts and then as it started to rain, thought we would pay the few dollars to have a look around, not thinking it would take long.
The building is huge, there is so much information about surf festivals and competitions, surfers themselves, champions and early pioneers of the surf movement, the evolution of surf boards and many boards belong to past champions.
There is an awesome tv exhibition of the waves and how to ride them and that is on for a while so be prepared to sit and watch. There are interactive green screen surf spots where you can take your own picture on the waves and email it back to yourselves.
One of the highlights was a set of surfboards which had been written all over as if from a teenager to his parents, absolutely hilarious, I forget what it was called but well worth the read.
In all – a great visit and one I am really glad we did not miss. Annette Laurie
Visit Anglesea Beach
Credit: Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria
Just ten minutes from Torquay, you’ll find a quaint surf town with towering cliffs, sprawling white beaches and abundant wildlife. Take a walk on Anglesea’s main beach, a wide sandy expanse next to the Anglesea River. Relax, take a swim or ask your Destination Specialist about booking a 2 hour surf lesson. Anglesea is also a great stop for breakfast. One of our favorite places is Captain Moonlite, a cute restaurant with European fare and amazing ocean views.
Incredible creative and tasty. Fairly large portions. And an amazing view. An incredible place you have to visit.George Popescu
Amazing Lookouts at Split Point Lighthouse and Sunnymeade Beach
Credit: Visit Victoria
Drive or walk up to Split Point Lighthouse where you will enjoy ocean views over Eagle and Table rocks. Tours are available if you have the time. There is another lookout at the end of Boundary Road, off the Great Ocean Road by Sunnymeade Beach.
Highly recommend this scenic spot. Beautiful views along the coastlines. The light is quite beautiful, but the view is to die for.Jonathon Gillard
See the Memorial Arch
The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I. Built by returned servicemen, it winds around the rugged southern coast and was a huge engineering feat ending decades of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities.
During the early years, travelers paid a toll at the gates of the Memorial Arch at Eastern View. Now you can just take a quick stop at the official entrance to learn a little about the history of the road.
You’ll most probably stop by here if you’re out to look at every historical detail of the Great Ocean Road. You can find all the details as shown here online but it is still nice to see the things here with your own eyes. People don’t spend very long here. There is a pathway to the beach too. Minimal parking especially for long vehicles like buses, so do take note. It would be easy to wait around for one though.Wendy Ong
Credit: Visit Victoria
Teddy’s Lookout is one of the best along the Great Ocean Road. It provides stunning views from its platform high above the coast where St. George River empties into a small cove. Access off the Great Ocean Road at the end of George Street, then take a short walk through the bush.
Photos don’t do it justice! Not physically demanding but rocky and uneven on the track so footwear with good grip recommended. This is part of a loop walk.Alan King
Mount Defiance Lookout
credit: Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria
A short drive further south west from Cumberland River is the spectacular ocean lookout at Mount Defiance. The Great Ocean Road here hugs the cliffs and provides a magnificent balance for the sweep of the ocean. There are always people stopped here with cameras running hot.
Get a change in scenery by heading into the Great Otway National Park. Choose between a Tree Top Walk or Zip Line Tour. The tree top walk is about a 1/3 of a mile long. Explore the towers and suspended arms jutting into the forest. Allow about 1.5 hours to take the walk and check out the shop and bistro.
The Zip Line Tour is a series of flying foxes, moving from tower to tower. Visitors can zip through the leafy treetops of the magnificent Otway Ranges from one ‘Cloud Station’ to another, suspended up to 98 feet above the forest floor. Specialist guides will provide training and unique rainforest insights. This adventure will take about 2.5 hours.
Pre-book your rainforest adventure with your About Australia Specialist.
We had the best afternoon flying through the treetops. Our instructors were amazing- funny, knowledgeable & made our whole group feel comfortable & at ease. If you are considering doing this then don’t hesitate, you really will have an unforgettable experience.Leanne Coxall
Cape Otway Lightstation
credit: Visit Victoria
If you don’t want to go into the rainforest, stay on the Great Ocean Road and head to Cape Otway Lightstation. You might enjoy some lunch at Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant.
Cape Otway Lightstation is Australia’s most important lighthouse. The lighthouse established in 1848 is perched on towering sea cliffs 295 feet above where Bass Straight and Southern Ocean collide.
Experience the thrill of stepping out onto the Lighthouse Balcony for awesome views, and hear the amazing history of tragic shipwrecks on this isolated and rugged coastline from the passionate guides.
Explore the historic telegraph station built in 1859 and discover Australia’s extraordinary secret war history from World War II. Appreciate and understand local indigenous culture at the Aboriginal meeting hut, with storytelling and bush tucker sessions from local guides.
If you’re lucky, you may even spot whales at play in the ocean below or wild koalas in the the surrounding wooded areas.
This is a great spot to visit and the second most southerly point on the Australian mainland. Make sure to explore the building and save some time for a walk in the surrounding bush as there are some great spot to look out for Koalas. There is a cafe but would recommend packing a picnic lunch for a half day of exploration.Mike A
credit: Mark Watson, Visit Victoria
Be dwarfed by the 230-foot high vertical cliffs and marvel at Gog and Magog, the nicknames given to the giant limestone stacks rising up out of the sea. Weather permitting, make your way down to the beach via the 86 steps that were carved into the face of the cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson, who worked on the route originally used by the Kirrae Whurrong people.
If you have some time, park your car at the 12 Apostles and walk a little over half a mile to the Gibson Steps. The trail starts just behind the kiosk at the Visitor Facility. The path will cross under the Great Ocean Road near the Gibson steps view platform and beach access. Otherwise, you can access the Gibson Steps from its own car park.
Following a long descent down the steps etched into the cliff you arrive to a stunning view of giant rocks in the ocean with pounding surf – it’s nature in your face – it’s well worth the climb down and back up.David Rose
Twelve Apostles Lookout
credit:Robert Blackburn, Visit Victoria
Arguably the most iconic lookout on the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles is a must while on your Great Ocean Road vacation!
“Once upon a time – or up to 20 million years ago – they were connected to the cliffs of the mainland. The waves and wind carved them into caves, then arches, and eventually battered them down into columns that rise up to 45 meters high.” – Australia.com
As the years have come and gone the stacks have withered to the eight that remain strong and triumphant. This destination is one of those “can’t miss” moments because these limestone wonders are literally challenged daily to withstand the high winds and waters that relentlessly beat against them. The most recent stack that fell was in 2005. When visiting The Twelve Apostles, be sure to inquire about the shipwrecks and history that surround these natural wonders.
Ask your About Australia Destination Specialist about taking a Helicopter Tour for a real treat!
This is a spectacular place with stunning views and coastline. You can also look at these from a helicopter which would be even better (if that’s at all possible). I would definitely come back to see this againJane Rose
Loch Ard Gorge
credit: Roberto Seba, Visit Victoria
Located just three minutes west of the mighty Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge is a treasure trove of natural beauty, coastal wilderness and maritime history. Take some time to wander the trails, exploring the blowholes, offshore limestone stacks and towering cliffs. Visit at dusk to watch the short-tailed shearwaters (muttonbirds) fly home. Hear the story of the Loch Ard shipwreck and learn about the rich maritime history of the area at the nearby Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre.
Absolutely amazing place to visit! We walked down to the beach and were able to look down into a cave. The sea crashes through a small gap and looks spectacular as it rushes in. Up higher at the lookout you can see for miles and information boards tell you about parts of the coast including some of the shipwrecks that have occurred on that area and about any of the survivors. Really good place to visit, definitely recommend taking time to see and experience this area.Krystyna Rose
Port Campbell is a colorful and lively seaside village along the Great Ocean Road. It is home to restaurants and cafes with views of the beach, bakeries selling homemade goodies and plenty of vibrant shops and galleries to explore. We love Port Campbell as an overnight stay. Just minutes from Loch Ard Gorge, the faint lights of Port Campbell are a welcoming sight to travelers who have been on the road all day. Explore this lovely town by taking a walk down it’s main street and select a restaurant for dinner. Follow the main street to the jetty to enjoy an ocean view before you call it a night.
Try one of our favorite restaurants. The 12 Rocks Beach Cafe is a family owned, laid-back eatery with water views and outdoor tables. Their dinner menu includes lots of fresh seafood, a kangaroo burger, slow roasted Portuguese chicken and more! Another staff favorite is Sow & Piglets Brewery. Enjoy some great local beer and pizza after a long day on the Great Ocean Road.
More Adventure Awaits!
In our next blog post, well take you on the Great Ocean Road from Port Campbell through Warrnambool and on to the scenic drive through the Grampians to Halls Gap.
Want to Travel the Great Ocean Road?
If seeing the Great Ocean Road is a bucket list item for you, let one of our Destination Specialist plan your perfect Australian road trip!
Posted on: July 10th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
People tend to have two reactions when it comes to Australian animals.
Either their faces light up at the thought of cute kangaroos and koalas, or they actually recoil in horror.
Though several Australian animals are considered dangerous, you’re more likely to get injured from a horse than a snake in Australia.
Over 80% of mammals and reptiles in Australia are found nowhere else on Earth. This makes for some truly fascinating creatures, some famous and others not as well known, to discover in Australia.
Here are 11 unique Australian animals, including some you may not know exist!
No one can resist the cuddly allure of koalas. These iconic Australia animals are marsupials, a kind of mammal that is born undeveloped and is carried in a pouch. Like all marsupials, including kangaroos, wombats and Tasmanian devils, baby koalas are called joeys.
Newborn koalas are called pinkies, born blind and about the size of a jellybean. After birth the pinkie immediately crawls into its mother’s pouch, where it’ll stay for 6 to 7 months. At around 9 to 10 months the joey leaves the pouch for good, ready to munch on a variety of eucalypts. The leaves of these trees are highly toxic and low on nutrition, requiring lots of energy to digest.
This is why koalas spend so much time snoozing so as to preserve energy – often sleeping up to 18-20 hours a day!
What sets the koala apart from other marsupials is that it has no tail. Nonetheless, koalas live high among eucalypts with ease. They mostly hang about in tall eucalypt forests and woodlands of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Contrary to popular belief, the koala is not a bear – though it’s certainly as cute as a teddy bear. Their cuddly exterior makes them appear docicle, and though koalas usually keep to themselves, they can attack if they feel threatened. If spotted in the wild, it’s best to keep a distance.
Where to See Koalas
One of the best places to see koalas in the wild is Kangaroo Island, a natural island sanctuary home to many of Australia’s native animals.
In the state of Queensland, sanctuaries and zoos allow you to hold koalas, so if you’re after that once-in-a-lifetime snapshot with a koala, be sure to do it in Queensland! It’s illegal to hold koalas anywhere else.
Tell anyone you’re going to Australia and one of the first things they’ll ask is if you’re going to feed the kangaroos. And you’ll most likely answer “Yes!”
These native Australian animals are marsupials as well as macropods, meaning “big foot.” Red kangaroos, tall and strongly built, are the largest marsupials and the largest Australian mammal, sometimes standing at over 6 feet tall. Other types of kangaroos include the eastern gray and Kangaroo Island kangaroos, both smaller and tamer than red kangaroos. Gray kangaroos live in the forests of Australia and Tasmania while red kangaroos are found in the eucalyptus woodlands of the Northern Territory.
An old legend about the origin of the name “kangaroo” states that when James Cook asked Aboriginals what these creatures were called, they answered “kangaroo” meaning “I don’t understand your question.”
Though this tale has been proven false, who can resist a good origin story?
Recent linguistic studies uncovered the word “gangurru” from the Aboriginal language of Guugu Yimidhirr, referring to a species of kangaroo and is very likely the source of its name.
Male kangaroos can be very aggressive toward each other, fighting over mates, but kangaroos generally keep to themselves and hop away on sight of a human. With powerful hind legs and a strong tail used as a sort of third leg for balancing, these creatures pack incredible kicks. They’re easily nature’s most skilled kick boxers.
Where to See Kangaroos
You’ll find kangaroos in nearly all Australian wildlife sanctuaries and zoos, but seeing them in the wild is a real special treat. You’re very likely to see them roaming throughout forested national parks with beaches, as well as along the side of the road on the outskirts of major cities. The best time to spot kangaroos in the wild is at dusk.
We’ll admit it – it’s kind of hard to tell wallabies and kangaroos apart. But it gets pretty easy once you see them side by side.
Wallabies are almost an exact miniature of kangaroos. Though they can measure up to 6 feet in height from head to tail, wallabies tend to be much smaller than kangaroos, which can reach up to 8 feet in height from head to tail.
Another way to tell wallabies and kangaroos apart is from their hind legs. Wallabies have more compact legs for moving through dense forest areas while kangaroos have knees and feet set wide apart. Though smaller, their legs allow for tremendous kicks when threatened and are also great for hopping at high speeds. They also tend to be more colorful than their larger cousins, with the yellow-footed wallaby boasting yellow-orange features across its coat.
There are roughly 30 different species of wallabies, grouped by their habitat: shrub wallabies, brush wallabies, and rock wallabies. Larger wallabies tend to be social animals, traveling in groups called mobs. As herbivores, wallabies mainly feast on grasses and plants including flowers, ferns and moss.
Wallabies as a whole are not an endangered species, but there are some species of rock wallabies as well as the banded-hare wallaby that are endangered.
Where to See Wallabies
You’re very likely to see wallabies bounding along the roads in the outskirts of major Australia cities. Locals even report wallabies hanging around gardens and backyards. You’re even likely to see them lying between grapevines of vineyards throughout the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Wildlife parks and zoos are the best spots for seeing wallabies, as these nimble creatures usually dash away at the sight of humans.
When early European settlers posted in Hobart, Tasmania, they came across a strange creature with frightening growls, high-pitched screeches and unearthly screams. Coupled with red ears and disturbingly wide jaws lined with sharp teeth, the settlers decided to call these creatures “devils.” This is how the Tasmanian devil got it’s name, though it may just be the cutest devil ever to grace Australia.
These small creatures almost look like a cross between a small dog and a bear. Their coarse dark fur and round ears give them a baby bear-like appearance, complete with a pudgy build. With a pouch to carry their young, a mother devils can nurse up to four devils at a time.
As the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, they tend to eat carrion more than hunting live prey. Small native animals such as wallabies, wombats and possums are favorites, though they’ll also devour reptiles, birds and even sheep.
Though nocturnal, devils like to lay out and bask in the sun. They’re huge water lovers, wading and splashing about, even just sitting and laying in water to keep cool. Even devils can’t resist a lazy sunbathing day.
Once present in mainland Australia, Tasmanian devils are now only found on the island state of Tasmania. Loss of habitat and more recently Devil Facial Tumor Disease are the leading causes of declining numbers of devils, now listed as endangered. Though there are huge efforts to minimize the impact of this disease, it’s a difficult task, as this disease is highly contagious among devils. For these brash creatures that often fight over mates, a simple touch is all it takes for the disease to take hold.
Where to See Tasmanian Devils
Though it’s rare to see devils in the wild, you’re more likely to come across them in maintained wilderness refuges and wildlife parks. Some of our favorite places to see devils are the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo in northeastern Tasmania and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary just half an hour outside of Hobart.
These stout marsupials look like miniature bears with chunky cheeks. They grow up to 3 feet long and can weigh between 44 and 77 pounds. Their waddling walk and pudgy appearance make them seem slow and docile, but they can run up to 25 miles per hour. As highly territorial creatures, they attack when defending their territory. These nocturnal animals dwell in burrows dug with their long claws.
Like all marsupials, wombats possess a pouch where their young are nurtured for the first few months of life. Unlike most other marsupials, however, the wombat’s pouch faces backwards toward its rear. This is to prevent soil from getting into the pouch as the wombat burrows.
But this strange feature is nothing compared to its poo. Molded by the horizontal ridges of its large intestine, wombat poo is notorious for its cube shape. In this way, the wombat’s cube-shaped poo allows it to stay in place and mark its territory.
Where to see Wombats
You’re most likely to see wombats roaming Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, but it’s rare to see them out in the wild as they are nocturnal creatures. You’ll definitely find them in wildlife parks and zoos, with some offering the opportunity to pet and feed them.
As cute as a dog yet severely misunderstood, the dingo is one of Australia’s most controversial animals. The origin of these creatures is much debated, with recent studies suggesting that dingoes originally migrated from central Asia across land bridges over 18,000 years ago.
Intensely intuitive and intelligent, Houdini has nothing on dingoes. With incredible agility, flexible joints, rotating wrists and fantastic jumping, digging and climbing abilities, dingoes are the ultimate escape artists. They can even rotate their necks up to 180 degrees around. Imagine seeing your dog do that!
Though they share many characteristics with dogs, dingoes are decidedly not dogs at all. They are classed as a unique species called Canis dingo.
Highly individualistic and naturally cautious, dingoes are very curious but are more likely to avoid unfamiliar threats and confrontation. They tend to shy away from humans, rarely showing aggression or attacking.
Although rarely kept as pets, it is legal in the states of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia to keep a pet dingo with a license. But doing so is not a light task – dingoes require large amounts of space, lots of bonding, and extensive training.
Where to see Dingoes
Most zoos and wildlife parks house dingoes, but if your heart is set on seeing them in the wild, head to Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland.
With teddy bear ears and tiny doe eyes, look for the happiest animal on Earth at Rottnest Island in Western Australia. This small macropod is in the same family as kangaroos and wallabies, with a Mona Lisa smile to add even more cuteness.
These nocturnal creatures are about as large as a common house cat and look like a tiny, chubby kangaroo. They also have a pouch where the baby joey lives in for six months.
When quokkas aren’t eating grasses, shrubs and leaves, they roam around Rottnest Island with the liberty and confidence of a tourist. With no natural predators or traffic on the island, quokkas have grown accustomed to humans and often make attempts to sneak into restaurants and campsites in search of food.
Though it may be tempting to give a quokka a snack, feeding quokkas human food is greatly discouraged. Attacks are extremely rare, but bites have been reported – usually when people are trying to feed them.
It’s also illegal to touch a quokka – they are wild animals after all – but snapshots and selfies are allowed, even highly sought after. As naturally inquisitive creatures, they have little fear of humans and will often approach people on their own, sporting a huge picture-perfect smile.
Where to see Quokkas
Your best chance to see quokkas in the wild will be in Rottnest Island, a popular holiday destination off the coast of Western Australia. This island boasts lovely white sand beaches, stunning coasts and sparkling bays with clear waters perfect for snorkeling.
You’re also very likely to see quokkas in zoos and wildlife parks throughout Australia.
The tree kangaroo is very much like a shy toddler hiding behind his mother’s leg. Solitary and elusive, there is still so much to learn about this marsupial. There are 12 known species of tree kangaroo, all looking quite different from each other. Some look like a woolly cross between a bear and a kangaroo with golden and red coats. Others have black and dark brown coats with smooth faces. They typically grow up to 3 feet tall and weigh up to 30 lbs depending on the species.
They dwell among the trees in tropical rainforests of the mountains in Queensland, New Guinea and surrounding islands. Though “kangaroo” is in their name, these creatures do much better among the trees than on the ground below. They hop just like kangaroos but rather awkwardly, leaning far forward to balance their long, heavy tail. They are more bold and agile in trees, hopping across branches with the help of their powerful hind legs and tail.
Tree kangaroos eat mostly fruit, leaves, tree bark and other foliage found in their rainforest habitat. Its average lifespan is unknown, but in captivity they can live for more than 20 years.
Where to see Tree Kangaroos
The only places you’re sure to see tree kangaroos are in zoos and wildlife parks throughout the state of Queensland. But if you’re lucky you might see them in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns. You might also spot tree kangaroos on the Jungle Surfing tour in Daintree Rainforest!
Imagine being the first person to see a playtpus. Good luck trying to convince anyone that this creature is real! It doesn’t help that this elusive animal is hard to spot – its silvery brown fur blends within the glistening surfaces of the streams and rivers in its habitat.
The platypus is monotreme, a kind of mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young. There are only four other monotremes, the others being different species of echidnas, another animal endemic to Australia. It’s also one of the few species of venomous mammals in the world. Males have a spur on their hind legs capable of delivering a venom severely painful to humans, though nothing life-threatening.
These contrary features make it a wonder that the playtpus isn’t an extinct creature from long ago. In fact, when scientists first observed a preserved body of a platypus they thought it was fake, made of different animals parts sewn together.
Though the platypus is abundant in the wild, numbers are decreasing, bumping the platypus to a “near threatened” status.
Where to See a Platypus
The platypus is generally found in the riverbanks of Australia’s eastern coast as well as Tasmania. There are only a few wildlife sanctuaries in Australia that house platypus, including the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and Healesville Sanctuary near Melbourne.
A special tank called a platypusary is required for housing a platypus. For this reason there are no playtpus in captivity outside of Australia.
These special tanks allow you to see a platypus up close, where its twists and turns in the water will reveal its playful nature.
With a stocky body and a long tail, these spunky creatures are much like a cross between a Tasmanian Devil and a cat. Its white-spotted dark brown coat and dainty pink nose make it look like the star of a cartoon.
But these carnivorous marsupials mean business. Their sharp teeth delight in munching on birds, reptiles and small mammals such as bandicoots, possums and rabbits. Mainly nocturnal animals, quolls will sometimes bask in the sunshine, much like Tasmanian devils.
Females also grow a pouch where their young live for the first few months of life. Like wombats, their pouch opens toward the rear – only the spotted-tail quoll has a true pouch. Larger quolls live up to four to five years while smaller quolls have a lifespan of about two years.
There are four species of quoll native to Australia: the western quoll, eastern quoll, spotted-tail quoll and the northern quoll.
Listed as endangered, major conservation efforts are underway to help preserve quolls and reintroduce some species in the wild. Recently, conservation efforts have led to the successful birth of rare eastern quolls in the wild for the first time in half a century.
Where to See Quolls
Quolls are native to the eastern coast of Australia while eastern quolls are found only in Tasmania. You’re not very likely to see them in the wild outside of dedicated nature park refuges, so your best bet is to see them in wildlife parks and zoos.
It wouldn’t be surprising at all if lyrebirds are in fact robots in disguise. With incredible abilities to mimic chainsaws, camera shutters and toy guns, lyrebirds are easily one of Australia’s most impressive birds.
Some reports even swear to hearing lyrebirds mimic human speech.
Lyrebirds, found in the rainforests of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, pick up sounds from their surrounding environment. It’s able to recreate such fantastic sounds through the complex muscles of its syrinx. It takes up to one year for the lyrebird to hone its song, made up of calls from other birds. These vocalizations easily fool other birds, often responding to the lyrebird’s call.
And if such impressive tunes are not enough, male lyrebirds will display their gorgeous lyre-shaped plumes during courtship.
With such charming features, the lyrebird will surely win a mate.
There are two species of lyrebirds: the superb lyrebird and the Albert’s lyrebird, named after Prince Albert. As ground dwelling birds, they rarely take flight. Though the status of lyrebirds is “near threatened,” they are currently not an endangered species.
Where to See Lyrebirds
The lyrebirds at Healesville Sanctuary near Melbourne love to show-off their songs to visitors. Spot wild lyrebirds in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, both just an hour away from Melbourne.
Want to See Australia’s Unique Wildlife?
Known for its array of fascinating native wildlife, a trip to Australia isn’t complete without at least petting a koala or kangaroo.
But once you step inside a wildlife park, you’ll discover so many more breathtaking Australian animals you might’ve not known existed.
If seeing Australia’s wildlife is a huge bucket list item for you, we know the best places for unforgettable wildlife experiences.
Posted on: March 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
One of Australia’s many unique qualities is its dynamic coastline.
You’ve got warm tropical waters and the Great Barrier Reef in the north, Australia’s best collection of beaches along the central east coast and towering cliffs in the south.
One of the most popular and dream travel itineraries in Australia is traveling along its east coast.
You’ll find travelers from around the world making their way from Cairns in the tropical north all the way to Melbourne in the south.
But we’ll show you the best destinations you must visit while traveling along Australia’s east coast.
See the Great Barrier Reef
Whether you’re in Cairns or Port Douglas, you can’t pass up seeing the Great Barrier Reef.
This must-do in Australia is so insanely popular for good reason. It’s the largest living organism in the world yet looks entirely otherworldly.
Nothing beats those underwater views of this colorful reef wonderland, filled with tropical fish flitting in and out of sight.
The great thing about the reef is the numerous ways to see it. From glass bottom boats to semi-submersibles and underwater viewing observatories, you can see the reef without getting wet!
To see the ultimate splendor and beauty of the reef, you’ll need to take a trip to the outer reef. Check out our Great Barrier Reef guide for more details on seeing the reef in your own style.
Sail the Whitsunday Islands
Not many international travelers know about this hidden part of Australia. Situated between Cairns and the Sunshine Coast, this region sits on the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
Surrounded by 74 idyllic islands and protected by the reef, the calm waters make this a paradise for sailing and bareboating.
And the 74 Whitsunday Islands are your playground of pristine wilderness.
Mostly covered in uninhabited national parks and secluded beaches, the Whitsundays are just waiting to be explored by the adventurous.
Be the first to walk on untouched beaches each morning. Discover cascading waterfalls and dry rainforest walking trails hidden on the islands. Or even camp overnight at designated camping grounds.
The best part is no license is required for bareboating!
See the Tantalizing Swirls of Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet
Let’s face it – there ‘s no end to the list of gorgeous beaches in Australia. You’ll find fantastic beaches all along the coast.
But there’s only a few that rank among the best in the entire world, and Whitehaven Beach is always counted in that number.
With sparkling, white sand so fine it squeaks beneath your feet and waters so clear and blue like something out of Photoshop, this beach is a gem of the Whitsundays.
Located on Whitsunday Island, you’ll need to take a boat tour to get to Whitehaven Beach.
Once you arrive, you’ll want to take the short trek to Hill Inlet, where swirls of white sand and turquoise water blend in stunning shades.
The sight alone is worth a trip to the Whitsundays.
Spot Whales in Hervey Bay
If you’re in Australia with the hopes of spotting a whale, you should make a stop in Hervey Bay. This coastal city near Fraser Island is one of Australia’s best spots for whale watching.
Between July and October you’ll spot humpback whales swimming by Hervey Bay – sheltered by Fraser Island, the calm and clear waters are perfect for resting their young.
Setting out on a whale watching cruise sometimes entails an amazing perk – the whales often like to venture close to the boats, showing off with spectacular breaches!
Go for a Dip in Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island
As the world’s largest sand island and only site where rainforest grows on sand, Fraser Island is out to impress.
And with pristine freshwater lakes, creeks framed in greenery and long stretches of beaches prime for 4wd adventure, this island will become your next ‘happy place.’
Though the beaches at Fraser Island are not quite swimmer-friendly, Lake McKenzie more than makes up for it.
With soft white sand and unbelievably crystal blue water, Lake McKenzie is considered the crown jewel of Fraser Island. After one day on the lake here, no other lake will measure up.
Discover Hidden Gems in the Noosa National Park
For the perfect mix of coastal scenery, native wildlife and refreshing rainforest, spend a day at the Noosa National Park.
You’ll spot something new and breathtaking every way you turn. Koalas napping among eucalyptus trees, spectacular hidden bays and beaches, even wild dolphins and whales – this enviable national park has it all.
Boasting five walking tracks, the most popular is the Coastal Walk, winding through lush shady trees, rocky coasts and clifftops.
Stop for a refreshing dip at the beach in Tea Tree Bay and spot dolphins from Dolphin Point or Hell’s Gate.
Becoming increasingly popular with travelers, this hidden secret is a must on the Australian east coast.
Walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse at Cape Byron
Byron Bay sees the sunrise first in all of Australia. That alone sets the tone of this coastal town – the atmosphere is like a perpetual bohemian festival.
Everyone is super relaxed, smiles are found at every turn and the surrounding natural beauty and sunshine cures all ailments.
This easy-going town is a favorite with Aussies – you’ll find that most visitors are in fact from within Australia.
And locals agree that an absolute must-do is the coastal walk up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Follow the boardwalk on Lighthouse Road, winding around irresistible beaches and surf breaks.
You’ll then ascend up the headland for sea cliff views over Byron Bay and climb up the track to the lighthouse. Your reward is the unbelievable view over Cape Byron – pristine blue water set against green coastal bush, all from the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.
For breathtaking views along the coast in Sydney, you could do no better than the Bondi to Coogee Walk. This clifftop coastal walk stretches out almost four miles long, winding on the edge of some of Sydney’s most popular beaches.
This track is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, and is often broken up into sections: Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach and Bronte to Coogee Beach. With many rest stops, beaches and rock pools along the way, you’ll find yourself stopping throughout the track just basking in the beauty of it all.
Make a day of it and start with a morning swim and beachside breakfast at Bondi, rest at Bronte and spend the afternoon at Coogee.
Or do it all in one go and complete a jog along the track – with stunning ocean views at your side, you’ll enjoy this incredible coastal walk either way.
Road Trip Down the Great Ocean Road
The first thing you need to know about the Great Ocean Road is that it’s so named for its magnificent beauty – but also for its length.
Stretching 151 miles long along the southeastern coast, you’ll need to plan at least two days for the trip to truly enjoy the incredible sights along the road.
This makes the trip perfect for self-drivers in Australia.
The road itself begins in Torquay, a seaside town about one hour away from Melbourne and ends at Warrnambool.
Popular stops include Bells Beach for impressive swells from the ocean crashing against towering cliffs and Split Point Lighthouse on Aireys Inlet for gorgeous coastal views.
But an absolute must-see on the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles, gigantic limestone formations jutting out from the ocean.
Looking for More Things to Do on Australia’s East Coast?
Stretching over 1600 miles, a vacation along Australia’s east coast is no easy feat – but its one of the world’s most rewarding travel routes.
Need more ideas on planning your trip to Australia? Our Australia travel experts make it easy to plan the vacation of a lifetime. Let’s start planning your dream trip!
Posted on: February 26th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
As Australia’s second largest city and capital for all things food, music and fun, the list of things to do in Melbourne is endless.
From its vibrant local music and arts scene to diverse food and incredible coffee culture, ticking off the essential Melbourne experiences in just a few days may seem impossible.
That’s why we’ve made it easy for you.
Here are 19 free things to do in Melbourne.
See the Main Sights on the City Circle Tram
What better way to see the city sights than for free? How about surrounded in the charm of a vintage cable car? And the best part – you can hop off and explore on your own, whenever you like.
Running through the city’s central business district (CBD), the City Circle Tram is undoubtedly one of the best ways to see Melbourne’s main landmarks and attractions.
You’ll catch sight of the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, Melbourne Aquarium and much more. The accompanying commentary will give you a rundown of each landmark and its history.
Stroll the Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is worth exploring just for the sights alone. The range of fresh produce and handmade products include everything from fruits and vegetables to hand-made pasta and top grade Wagyu beef.
For something sweet you’ll find fluffy bubble waffle cones loaded with ice cream and Melbourne’s best American-style jam doughnuts. Forgot to pack enough clothes for your trip? Find a new favorite outfit within the racks of threads ranging from fine merino wool knits to neon yellow safety jackets.
You’ll also discover unique treasures such as 1970’s comic books and vintage records – there’s something for every taste!
Wander among impressionist masterpieces from Monet and antiquities from all parts of the world. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and thought-provoking pieces of its contemporary art collection. You could spend your whole day exploring the treasures within – and still feel like it’s not enough time!
Walk Through the Labyrinth of Street Art in Melbourne’s Laneways
Melbourne’s inner-city grid lends itself to many hidden laneways that are easy to miss. But exploring these eclectic laneways in the CBD is one of the best things to do in Melbourne. You’ll find cozy coffee shops, warm cafes and bars where the soup of the day is gin. But the true gems will be the vibrant street art decorating the walls of these lanes.
Take a walk down Hosier Lane to see some of the city’s best street art. You’ll see colorful graffiti masterpieces and artists working on new pieces. This iconic laneway is part of the heart and soul of Melbourne’s urban subculture – you’ll feel like one of the cool kids as you walk down the street.
With less foot traffic, AC/DC Lane and Duckboard Place are also popular spots full of highly skilled street art. You’ll find a rock ‘n roll theme throughout AC/DC Lane, with murals of AC/DC band members (how the lane got its name) and other popular rock bands. Duckboard Place has a more gritty, urban aura with some hidden gems worth a look – easier to do with the least amount of crowds compared to other lanes.
Have a Laugh at a Comedy Night
Melbourne loves its stand-up comedy nights. If you’re looking for something a little different on a night out, catch a stand-up comedy night for a round of laughs to go with your drinks.
Spleen Bar on Bourke Street is a local favorite for its free comedy nights on Monday.
Lido Cinemas offers free comedy nights on Tuesdays, featuring some of the best rising stars of Aussie comedy. Perhaps the free popcorn makes the audience a bit more sympathetic as well!
For great vibes, cheap pints and one of the best comedy nights within the CBD, wander into Crab Lab on a Wednesday night. Grab some free popcorn and settle in for a great evening.
George’s Bar – If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you’ll love this George Costanza-themed bar in the Fitzroy district. You’ll love their free Thursday comedy nights even more.
Learn About Australian Art at the Ian Potter Centre
For the culture vultures lacking a little in the Australian art department, this gallery is a must. Part of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Ian Potter Centre focuses exclusively on Australian and indigenous art.
You’ll see a representation of Australia’s history through artworks from aboriginal cultures as well as noted contemporary artists. Join a free guided tour to enjoy an expert’s insight into the exhibitions on display.
Their Screen Worlds exhibition is a fabulous collection of interactive displays, history of cinema, video games and more. Here you can create your very own flip book or try your hand at editing film. Unwind with one of many educational yet fun video games and favorites including Mario Kart or immerse yourself in a virtual reality experience.
The nostalgia and wonder will wash over you as your inner kid takes over.
Take in the Gorgeous City Vistas
The Eureka Skydeck is one of the best ways to see Melbourne from incredible heights, however you can catch some amazing views of the city from rooftop bars for free. Though you may be obligated to order a drink, what better way to see the city lights as the sun sets than sipping on your favorite cocktail?
Noted for its regal neoclassical architecture, the library contains six floors with a wonderful dome viewing balcony at the very top.
Levels 4 and 5 are dedicated gallery and exhibition spaces, housing significant collections of Victorian artwork, writings and artifacts. You’ll find rare treasures such as a 4000-year-old Sumerian cuneiform tax receipt and the bullet-dented armor of Ned Kelly, Australia’s own Jesse James.
Take a free tour to discover everything this iconic library has to offer. And enjoy the free WiFi, too – another great perk!
Taste Melbourne’s Famous Coffee
If there’s just one thing to take away from your visit to Melbourne, it’s the city’s incredible coffee scene. You won’t settle for regular drip coffee after a cup of joe from one of Melbourne’s sensational cafes.
The best way to get a taste of Melbourne’s greatest coffee is at Proud Mary, considered as one of the city’s finest coffee establishments. On Saturday mornings they have a free cupping event where all are welcome to meet their crew and taste new and favorite house blends.
Wander Through the Royal Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a tranquil afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The gardens sprawl across 94 acres of grassy hills, native and exotic plants, scenic walking trails and a creek, all surrounding a lake in the center.
Free guided tours can help you get started exploring the vast gardens, or simply pack a picnic and relax by the lake. You’re very likely to spot native wildlife roaming around, especially the curious purple swamphen!
Visit the Fitzroy Gardens
Besides the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne is blessed with many more beautiful gardens and parklands. At the top of the list is Fitzroy Gardens, a quiet retreat on the edge of the CBD. The lush trees, flowers and fountains give way to historic gems throughout the gardens.
In the center of the grounds you’ll see a tiny Tudor village, like something out of a fairytale. Right next to it is Fairies’ Tree, a centuries old tree stump embellished with carvings of fairies, pixies, kangaroos and emus.
Another gem is Cook’s Cottage, the historic home of Captain James Cook, the British explorer who first voyaged to Australia and the South Pacific. Though there is a fee to enter the cottage-turned-museum, seeing the cottage alone is undeniably cool.
See Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance
This historic landmark is a war memorial originally honoring the men and women of the state of Victoria who served in World War I. Now it honors all Australians who have served in war.
A walk up the steps of the Shrine of Remembrance is a moving experience in itself. The shrine is designed in a classical style, inspired by the architecture of Athens’ Parthenon.
What makes this memorial a special architectural gem is the planned, uninterrupted vista of the city from the top deck of the shrine. Its beautifully manicured grounds and outdoor memorials surround the shrine creating an aerial shape of a poppy – the symbolic flower commemorating the fallen of WWI.
Explore the galleries and exhibitions within the shrine, set in a cathedral-like underground chamber. You’ll see photographs, uniforms, artworks and memorabilia of Australia’s military history. Don’t miss the Eternal Flame, a permanent gas flame representing eternal life.
Learn About the Aboriginal Koorie People at the Koorie Heritage Trust
Escape the hustle and bustle of Federation Square and stop by Koorie Heritage Trust. Located in the Yarra Building in Federation Square, this non-profit center offers Melbourne’s deepest insight into the indigenous Koorie people through immersive galleries and exhibitions. Here you’ll find artifacts, artworks, photos and oral history and video recordings preserving the Koorie cultural heritage of Victoria.
See their temporary exhibits on the ground floor gallery or explore their permanent collections on the top floor. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of their fascinating and educational events, hosted throughout the year.
Watch the St. Kilda Penguins Waddle Back Home
Take a short half hour tram ride from the CBD to St. Kilda, a popular day trip destination for bay side fun.
Noted for its beach and Coney Island-like theme parks, stay until sunset to view the St. Kilda fairy penguins return to their homes on the shore.
The best way to view these tiny penguins is on the St. Kilda Pier, and don’t worry about what time of year to visit – you’ll see them year round.
Snap a Pic of the Brighton Beach Boxes
Further down the coast from St. Kilda is Brighton Beach, home of the iconic Brighton Beach Boxes. First built over a century ago, these historic bathing boxes remain unchanged. Their bright colors and uniform proportions create an undeniable sense of satisfaction – your eyes are just naturally drawn to them!
Though the ride to Brighton Beach is not free, buying a one-day unlimited explorer pass is more than worth it. You’ll get to spend a sunny afternoon out on the gorgeous beach with discounts to other top Melbourne attractions.
Experience Melbourne’s Countless Festivals
It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Melbourne – you’re bound to come across a festival! As Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne loves to celebrate its diversity with celebrations of music, food and culture. Step into Federation Square or the Queen Victoria Markets – where most of Melbourne’s festivals are held – and join in the fun.
See the night come to life in a spectacle of color and light during White Night in February, the most attended event of its kind in Australia. Moomba Festival in March is a flurry of color and spirit centered on the Yarra River with live music, parades, fireworks and carnivals.
Music lovers can plan on dozens of festivals throughout the year. Melbourne Festival is a bucket list item, featuring major international artists. St. Kilda Festival, Australia’s largest free music festival, is also a popular favorite, bringing in some of the country’s top musical talents.
Explore the City with These Free Things to Do in Melbourne
Ready to live it up in the city? Whether you’re looking for a quiet afternoon getting lost in a museum or seeking a fun night out, the best thing about Melbourne is there’s always a way to do it for free. Fill your free days with these fantastic things to do in Melbourne and make your stay an unforgettable one.
Want to add Melbourne to your Australia vacation? Let’s start planning your perfect vacation package – we’ll include time for you to truly get the most out of Melbourne.
Posted on: February 12th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
The Best Australia Food and Wine for the Gourmet Traveler
When it comes to Australia food and wine, perhaps what instantly comes to mind is Vegemite…and not much else.
Yet the culinary scene throughout the country features some of the world’s most innovative and trend-setting restaurants. And the wine? Some of the best Chardonnay and Shiraz in the world.
For the true food and wine lovers, these are 23 must-see stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and surrounding wine regions. No vacation to Australia is complete without a little indulgence.
Sydney’s reputation as Australia’s global city precedes itself. Right on the doorstep of the CBD you’ll find incredibly diverse eateries to satisfy any craving imaginable.
From high-end dining to cozy cafes offering anything from Aussie dishes to Malaysian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with any pick.
But if you’re finding your head swimming from trying to choose the best Sydney restaurants, we’ve made it easy for you. Here’s our list of can’t-miss restaurants in Sydney.
Graze MCA – Located in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this is one of those rare restaurants that has it all. Brilliant location with an unbeatable view of the Sydney Opera House, amazing food and fantastic service. Simple and fresh ingredients highlight the generous portions of dishes such as bouillabaisse, poached ocean trout and lamb rump. Their wine list is a carefully curated celebration of Aussie and Kiwi wine regions, perfect for sipping while enjoying the views of the harbor.
Hubert – Step back in time to 1930’s Paris as you enter Hubert, a must for French cuisine. Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you. Once inside, the unmistakably Parisian flair greets you with an ambience of dark elegance illuminated by dozens of candles. The menu boasts items inspired by cookbooks predating World War I. With live music adding to the splendid atmosphere, dining in Hubert is a divine slice of Paris right in the CBD.
Quay– Often lauded as the best restaurant in Sydney, this multiple award-winning restaurant never fails to live up to the hype. This is one of those essential Australian experiences: excellent views of iconic Sydney sights, dishes reflecting a unique blend of bush and local ingredients and a superb wine list detailing even the grape percentages of its champagnes.
Sake– If you’re inkling for a spot of Japanese, Sake is perhaps one of the best choices in all of Sydney. The simplicity of its sushi bar compliments the decadent main dishes, such as the sweet soy braised pork belly and pan seared barramundi. Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve had the famous dragon egg desert, a dark chocolate shell filled with toasted chocolate crumble, passionfruit curd, mango caramel and other vibrant delicacies.
Just about three hours away from Sydney you’ll find Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions.
Noted for its Shiraz and Semillon, there’s still a wide variety of wines to taste from one of many cellar doors dotting the region. A wine tasting tour is one of our favorite ways to get to know the region. What’s better than sampling a variety of wines without having to worry about the drive back?
If you’re a true wine lover, not much else.
Here are some of the top wineries in Hunter Valley you need to visit while Sydney.
Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard – If there’s one thing you’ll remember about your visit to Hunter Valley, it’ll be without a doubt the views from Audrey Wilkinson. This is where you’ll get that sweeping view of picturesque vineyards you see on the postcards. This historic winery dates back to 1866 and offers an excellent range of Semillons along with selections of sparkling, Chardonnay and Rose. Surround yourself in Audrey Wilkinson’s vintage charm with a picnic amongst the vines or a behind the scenes winery tour.
Piggs Peake – If you like big, fruit-driven red wines and small hidden gems, Piggs Peake is the place for you. Often recommended by other wineries, this small local winery has big personality. Here you’ll find a casual approach to wine (all wine names have a pig theme) with knowledge as professional and personal as any expert sommelier. Consistent favorites include their House of Sticks Shiraz and the House of Straw Merlot.
Mount View Estate – For a classic Hunter Valley experience with a boutique feel, Mt View Estate is a must-see. This estate has produced some of the most awarded wines in the Hunter Valley for 40 years. Mt View boasts a little bit of everything: a wide range of premium wines, gorgeous grounds and friendly and approachable owners.
Many locals fondly regard Melbourne as the Paris of the South – but then, many Melburnians are rather cheeky.
But there’s an unmistakably European feel about its lush Victorian architecture and grid-like city center, and it can’t be denied that Melbourne is considered as Australia’s undisputed cool kid.
The passion emanating from its world-renowned coffee and food scene is infectious, and your standards will rise to a level you’ll be hard pressed to experience anywhere else.
Attica – Foodies visiting Melbourne should have Attica at the top of their list. Rated as one of the world’s best 50 restaurants in 2017 and as the best restaurant in all Australasia, you’ll need to book at least a month in advance. But the month-long wait is well worth it. The menu consists of 17 courses blending Australian flavors in smaller portions so you can enjoy every plate. With dishes such as kangaroo, wattles and waxflower and camel milk ice, this is the perfect introduction to fine Australian cuisine.
Tipo 00 –Wander down Little Bourke Street to find one of Melbourne’s hottest eateries in one of its smallest venues. Tipo 00 is all about carbs, so leave your carb-counting at home. Don’t be fooled by its simple and small menu – the house-made pasta and risotto dishes crafted from bright and fresh ingredients will delight your taste buds with every bite. Their squid ink pasta is a favorite, and their rabbit tagliatelle is a consistent hit.
Brae – For a minimal yet chic experience, you can do no better than Brae. This restaurant has hopped up and up on the World’s Best Restaurants list, jumping from #65 to #44 in 2017. The experience speaks for itself; a visit to Brae is like visiting a friend’s home. Instead of single servings of one course at a time like regular degustation menus, you’ll be served multiple dishes at one time to graze at your own pace. The feel is reminiscent of an upscale holiday feast.
Less than an hour from Melbourne’s CBD is Yarra Valley, the Nappa Valley of Australia. Make a day trip to indulge in some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced from one of many wineries in the region. We also love day touring out to Yarra – winery hopping without the hassle of driving, yes please!
Here are some wineries you need to visit while in Yarra.
TarraWarra Estate – Stunning grounds and Australia’s first significant privately funded public museum make TarraWarra a cultural jewel of the Yarra Valley. Have a glass of their exceptional Pinot Noir or Chardonnay while overlooking the scenic surrounds on a crisp afternoon – paradise for any wine lover.
Yarra Yering – For the serious wine buff, Yarra Yering is a must-see. Reds are the focus here, and if you’re traveling solo you can taste ten wines for $10. An absolute steal considering the selection features their current vintages.
Oakridge Wines – Come for the food and wine, stay for a game of giant chess. What more do you need to draw you in for a visit? Perhaps complimentary wine tasting with no booking necessary? We’re so there. Not to mention the beautiful grounds – you’ll be day dreaming about hosting your wedding here.
A can’t-miss stop for any foodie MUST include a trip to Hobart. Seriously, with the cleanest air and waterways in the world, Tasmania produces some of the finest seafood and distillation around.
A stay in Hobart will be full of feasting on the freshest salmon, oysters, cheeses, whiskey and ciders. Here are our highlights of some of Hobart’s premier dining institutions.
The Source – The Museum of Old and New Art is a Hobart icon – a must for any art lover with the slightest predilection for the controversial. But one of the MONA’s brightest gems is The Source, its in-house restaurant focused on seasonal local produce. Try their own Moorilla wine or delight your taste buds with one of ten thousand bottles from around the world (no, really!).
Mures – Straight from the day’s catch from their own fishing vessel, you’ll be hard pressed to find any seafood fresher than at Mures. The restaurant is split into two decks: Mures Lower Deck provides a more casual dining experience while Upper Deck is more intimate and upscale. Situated on the waterfront, you’ll enjoy superb views of the harbor either way.
The Glass House – A small but insanely popular restaurant where tables are fought over even on Monday nights. But believe the hype: attentive service with smiles, exceptional food and gorgeous views of Derwent River cement The Glass House’s reputation as a Hobart must-do. Highlights are the carefully crafted cocktails and the salmon sashimi.
Willing Brothers – Here you’ll find great eats and an extensive wine list tucked in a cozy venue. Aussie and European labels are proudly displayed on the wall of the bar, and you can even buy a bottle to take home after tasting. Pair your sips with a small but delicious meal from locally-sourced ingredients.
Ettie’s – You won’t find a more rustic chic and stylish restaurant in Hobart than Ettie’s. Its contemporary menu offers a broad range of options from roasted duck ravioli to steak frites. For a lovely leisurely meal, opt for the seven course degustation meal and get your fill of oysters, sardines, mussels and cheese.
Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills
Adelaide in South Australia is noted for its refined elegance and culture. After getting acquainted with its stately art galleries and museums in North Terrace, take a day trip out to one of the surrounding wine regions. Some of our favorites are Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, where you’ll find 5-star wineries and some of Australia’s best cool-climate wines.
Two Hands –For an journey into what Australian Shiraz is capable of, Two Hands is a must. Their Gnarly Dudes Shiraz is a popular favorite. Here you’ll receive a unique sit-down tasting from the day’s selection and you’ll get to take your tasting glass home with you.
Torbreck – Named one of the world’s top 100 wine estates, Torbreck is a small winery excelling in Shiraz and consistency. Though big on rich reds, their whites, particularly the Roussanne Marsanne, plays rights along side their most popular contenders.
Ochota Barrels –This is truly one of Adelaide Hills hidden gems with a well-deserved cult following. All Ochota Barrels wine names are music references sure to delight any punk rock enthusiast. Grab a seat at Lost in a Forest, their cellar door housed in a 130 year-old stone church, and try their wood fired pizza while sipping on their wines. Set within an idyllic scene of bright, lush trees hanging over picnic blankets on the lawn, you’ll feel yourself delightfully lost in a forest.
Rockford – No frills and serious wine is found in Rockford. Though a smaller winery, you’re sure to receive warm and attentive service even throughout peak times. This is the place to go for a more traditional winery experience, housed in restored buildings reflecting the architecture of Barossa Valley’s early settlements. You’ll feel the warmth of their sparkling Shiraz in your very soul.
Penfolds Magill Estate – If you’re at all familiar with Australian wine, you’ll have definitely heard of Penfolds. When in Barossa, you can’t pass up the opportunity to miss this household name at their cellar door. With a wide range of affordable and high end wines, there’s something for every palate. And only 20 minutes away from Adelaide’s city center, there’s no reason for you not to go!
Want More Recommendations on the Best Australia Food and Wine?
Part 2 will highlight food and wine spots in Australia’s east coast, including Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Your Destination Specialist is also always on hand to give you the inside scoop on restaurants and cellar doors you must visit while on your trip. Give in to your desires and lets start planning the ultimate food and wine trail for your Australia vacation!
Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Very rarely does a city’s list of must-see attractions include “the alley behind Chinatown”.
Or “the dead-end street covered in graffiti”.
But Melbourne isn’t your usual city and you aren’t looking for the usual destinations.
If your idea of travel involves “doing as the locals do”, then head to Melbourne’s laneways and arcades and learn to love the city from the inside out.
What Are Laneways and Arcades?
Melbourne’s laneways (small, tucked away alleys) and arcades (covered shopping plazas) boast a diverse array of hidden, locally owned cafés, boutiques, shops, restaurants and bars. This cosmopolitan heart of the city is the true definition of a “hidden gem”.
In fact, much of the magic of the city is found in Melbourne laneways and arcades. We’ve pointed out some highlights, but while you’re in Melbourne there’s nothing like a walking tour with a local guide to show you around and chat you up in person.
See Amazing Street Art
One of the first things you’ll notice in Melbourne’s laneways is the large amount of street art lining the walls. Not even the dumpsters and trash cans are immune to being beautified by local artists. Here are some of the best places to see colorful works in person.
You may not even notice the entrance to Hosier Lane tucked between a handful of non-descript offices and apartment buildings on the south-east end. But once you enter the innocuous alley, you’re confronted by walls of bright, colorful artwork.
Photo: Roberto Seba
Hardly a single square inch of brick or stone is left unpainted. Much of the art on Hosier Lane has been commissioned and permitted, but the rest exists in a legal grey-area. You may even see an artist at work adorning the wall with a new piece. Regardless, we think you’ll find it a beautiful place to begin your laneways and arcades tour.
Photo: Roberto Seba
AC/DC Lane / Duckboard Place
These two laneways circle around a cluster of restaurants and the infamous Cherry bar. The walls on Duckboard Place are covered in great art, but the standouts are the larger than life pieces that adorn the western and eastern corners.
Photo: Robert Blackburn
Once you turn on to AC/DC lane, you can’t miss the mural of Angus Young from the Australian rock and roll band for which the lane was named.
This barely-there laneway is almost narrow enough to touch both sides with your arms outstretched. The wall to wall covering of paint makes this laneway one of the most covered in the city. At any time of day, you’re likely to encounter artists making their own mark.
Parts of the wall are covered in so much paint that you can press down with your fingertip without ever touching the brick behind it!
Shop Local Boutiques
Melbourne is a chic Aussie city. As such, they take their fashion and shopping very seriously. You’ll find some chain fashion brands, but Melbourne is best known for its boutiques and one-off shops.
Impressive arcades and tucked away lanes house some of Melbourne’s best boutiques to find unique clothing and other gifts. Check out local clothiers and artisan fashion shops to get decked out like a fashionable local.
Photo: Rob Blackburn
This shopping plaza is aptly named for its architecture that looks like it was pulled straight from Victorian royalty. The building itself is a true Victorian antiquity. It was constructed in 1870 and stands to this day as the oldest shopping arcade in Melbourne. Shopping at the Royal Arcade feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
Natural daylight fills the inviting space from overhead skylights supported by intricate arch-work. At the Royal Arcade you’ll find everything from bespoke clothing and tailors, jewelers, game shops and more.
In the past, this thoroughfare laneway served as Melbourne’s textiles manufacturing center for more than 100 years. These days, Flinders Lane continues its fashion tradition as the home of some of Melbourne’s best fashion boutiques.
Nearly 20 one-off shops are clustered on Flinders between Russell St and Elizabeth St alone. You’re sure to pick up a fantastic find from a local clothier.
Take a quick turn on to this laneway for high fashion finds. Somerset Place is home to high-end menswear staple Comme des Garcons. Just a few doors down, Belmore Australia is a local bootmaker that specializes in timeless design and craftsmanship. It’s rare to find a local shoemaker, but Belmore’s entire manufacturing process is done right in Melbourne.
While you’re trawling the laneways for local art and goods, grab a pick me up from one of the local, independent coffee shops that line the streets. There are so many cafes in Melbourne that you’re never far from a great cup of coffee. After all, this is the city that lays claim to inventing the flat-white! The latte like beverage recently rose to international fame when Starbucks began offering it at it’s locations worldwide.
Cafe culture in Melbourne is world-renowned and each space offers a unique and distinct local experience.
These hidden laneway cafés are easily missed and they like it that way. When you happen upon a good one, you’ll feel like a true “in-the-know” local. Skip the Starbucks this time and try a local brew from one of these cafes:
Good 2 Go: Blink and you might miss this endearing hole-in-the-wall, surrounded by and covered in Hosier Lane’s swath of spray paint.
Krimper: Look up “rustic charm” in the dictionary and you’ll find Krimper. A café where the clientele is as hip as the decor
Manchester Press: A small door opens in to an airy space in this tucked-away café. Manchester Press focuses on coffee at its purest, with featured single origin blends and no frills.
Have a Drink and a Bite
Melbourne holds the distinction of having the highest concentration of restuarants and cafés per capita than anywhere in the world. The large, multi-cultural population is represented by more than 140 nations. This means that Melbourne’s food scene is eclectic, diverse and never dull. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it in Melbourne.
MoVida: A hip, Spanish-tapas bar just off Hosier Lane with a street-art covered façade – pure Melbourne.
Rice Paper Scissors: Other than the fact that we love the name of this Southeast Asian-fusion spot, the street-food inspired tasting menu is perfect for both a quick lunch or a date night.
ShanDong MaMa Mini: Located on the infamous Centre Place (one of the most photographed spots in Melbourne!), this dumpling bar is a Melbourne staple.
Lustre Bar: Right across from ShanDong MaMa mini on Centre Place, this chic cocktail bar is perfect for after-dinner drinks. The crimson, plush interior is like if David Lynch opened a cocktail bar. Upstairs location provides prime people watching to the street below.
Laneway Greens: A health-foodie’s paradise featuring salads, juices, smoothies, acai and grain bowls and more.
See Melbourne Laneways and Arcades
Want to learn more about Melbourne’s hidden gems? Let one of our Destination Specialists give you the low-down on more unique Melbourne finds. We’ll make you feel like a local and ensure you don’t miss out on any off-the-beaten-path sights.
Posted on: June 1st, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Photo: Rob Blackburn
There is perhaps nothing more divisive to Melbournians than Federation Square. When the site was opened in 2002, some Aussies derided it as an architectural nightmare. They said that it was one of “the ugliest eyesores I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing”. That “everything about this abomination speaks volumes of the ineptitude and inabilities of the architectural team that put this world class laughing stock failure onto our streets”.
But sometimes things just need a chance to grow on you. These days, Federation Square is visited by more than 10 million people per year. And it’s tied with Queen Victoria Market for the top tourist destination in the city.
Not bad for a building that was once named one of the ten ugliest in the world!
While some Aussies look through rose-tinted glasses about a pre-Federation Square Melbourne, others have learned to embrace and even love the public gathering space.
We’ll show you how this once ugly-duckling has flourished in to the must-see beautiful swan it is today as we show you the best things to do in Federation Square.
Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Old-fashioned museums a bit too stuffy for you? Sick of seeing yet another exhibit of 17th century Victorian silverware? (It used to be made of real silver!) Then head on over to ACMI, an interactive museum of digital culture where video games are revered as high art.
Photo: Rob Blackburn
ACMI is the only national museum of its kind in Australia. Here, you can attend screenings of contemporary and experimental art films in one of several screening rooms. Stop by the production studios for hands-on workshops for film and digital video. Multiple screen galleries exhibit video art, sound installations, interactive film and more in a unique, underground space.
See rotating exhibitions dedicated to video games, the history of the moving image and more. Most exhibitions are free.
Alfresco Dining at Its Finest
Photo: Rob Blackburn
More than 20 bars and restaurants pack in to Federation Square. The large, open outdoor space is perfect for grabbing a bite to go and posting up right in the square. You can eat great food and watch the bustle of the city center.
The large outdoor patio of Time Out Café + Bar is perfect for enjoying Melbourne’s beautiful sunny weather as you dine. For a drink with a view, head to Transit Rooftop Bar where you’ll be treated to crafted cocktails and craft beer with picture-perfect panoramas of downtown Melbourne.
Ian Potter Centre
Photo: Rob Blackburn
All Australian art. All the time. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) opened the Ian Potter Center to highlight Australia’s best artists and works. From Aboriginal Australian dot paintings to contemporary, experimental sculpture, the gallery covers a huge swath of Australian art. More than 25,000 paintings, textiles, sculpture, photographs and more pack the Ian Potter Centre.
You’ll also find the building itself to be a work of art in its own right. The metal, glass and concrete patchwork is an amazing site inside and out.
Cruise the Yarra River
Photo: Josie Withers
Federation Square was built to be a prime access point to the Yarra River. So what better way to utilize this entryway than by taking a river cruise. Walk straight over from federation square and jump on one of the riverboats. You’ll float the river seeing Melbourne’s beautiful cityscapes and gardens. Learn about this amazing city from the comfort of a river cruise liner.
Melbourne has a beautiful, urban skyline. As the most populous city in Australia, Melbourne has a cosmopolitan feel while retaining that distinct Aussie charm. From the city to the Outback, Melbourne perfectly illustrates the multi-faceted character of Australia.
Free Public Events
True to its purpose, if there is a convention or event worth attending, chances are it is held in Federation Square. Here’s the short list of happenings throughout the year so you can find something to do no matter when you make it to Melbourne.
Multicultural Festivals – Nearly 25 diverse cultures are represented in festivals throughout the year – from the Asian Food Festival to a Diwali celebration and more.
VIC100 Festival of Wine – The top 100 wines produced in Victoria make their way to Federation Square for public tastings and more.
Outdoor Cinema – Screening current films and seasonal favorites (check out the Christmas movie marathon in December!)
Federation Square has flourished in to the destination it was always meant to be. It’s become a popular meeting spot for locals and perhaps the number one visited site in Melbourne – despite some early derision from skeptical locals! Plan a stop at Federation Square and see for yourself why the “little square that could” might top your list of great memories in Melbourne.