Victoria Holiday Planning Guide
The smallest state on mainland Australia, Victoria nevertheless boasts a richly attractive interior and an exotic, bay-strewn coastline that compensates for its relatively diminutive size. With snow-capped alpine areas and coastal paradises running into dry, semi-arid plains in the west and northwest, Victoria has something of a split personality in relation to its geography. Around 70 percent of Victoria's population lives in the capital of the state, Melbourne.
Places to Visit in Victoria
Cities in VictoriaMelbourne
: Consistently voted among the world's most liveable cities, cosmopolitan Melbourne abounds with modern architecture and expansive parks, and also offers sports, arts, and nightlife scenes to rival any of the world's major metropolises. Ballarat
: One of the most popular places to visit in Victoria, the former gold-mining city of Ballarat offers a glimpse into what life was like during the 19th-century gold rush. Bendigo
: A highlight of Victoria tourism with its well-maintained historic center and blend of European and Asian influences, the city of Bendigo serves as one of the state's major agricultural hubs.Torquay
: Known as the gateway to one of the world's great drives, the coastal town of Torquay attracts surfers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts with its photogenic scenery and extensive tourist infrastructure.
Popular Victoria Tourist AttractionsThe Great Ocean Road
: In terms of scenery, few drives in the world compare to this 243 km (151 mi) route, which leads along the state's rocky, windswept southwestern coast and boasts some of the best natural attractions in Victoria.Phillip Island Nature Parks - Penguin Parade
: Bundle up and gather around this windy beach after sunset to witness a gem of Victoria sightseeing, as pint-sized fairy penguins waddle ashore to settle in for the evening.Sovereign Hill
: This historical themed village takes you back to the days of the 19th-century Victorian gold rush, when prospectors from around the world flocked to Ballarat to strike it rich.Royal Botanic Gardens
: On sunny days, these expansive and diverse gardens in the heart of the city serve as the perfect spot for a picnic, scenic stroll, or romantic date.Peninsula Hot Springs
: Soak your worries away at this natural thermal complex, which integrates seamlessly with the surrounding landscape for a pleasant addition to any Victoria itinerary.Healesville Sanctuary
: You'll find yourself up close and personal with an array of native Australian animals (think kangaroos, koalas, emus, and echidnas) at this educational wildlife park, known for its ultra-realistic habitats.Melbourne Zoo
: This expansive zoo--located surprisingly close to the city center--houses a wide range of Australian and non-native animals in spacious enclosures.Phillip Island Nature Parks - Koala Conservation Centre
: Stroll along the network of treetop boardwalks at this conservation park, and keep an eye out for the languid, cuddly koalas living in the eucalyptus branches.Eureka Skydeck 88
: Make sure you head to the top of the state's tallest skyscraper during your Victoria holiday; you'll be rewarded with some excellent panoramic views over Melbourne and its surrounds.
Planning a Victoria Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Victoria with Kids
A family trip to Victoria promises plenty of exciting adventures for the little ones, who can enjoy a mixture of urban excitement and natural wonders. Start in Melbourne
, where you can take the kids along with you to art galleries, museums, and world-class sporting venues, then enjoy some of the city's excellent multicultural dining options. Spend a few days down at Phillip Island
, where your children will get to see penguins and koalas, as well as explore one of the state's most famous mazes. No family holiday in Victoria would be complete without a trip down to the coast at Torquay
and then a drive along The Great Ocean Road
, where you can camp, stay in caravan parks, or opt for more luxurious accommodations.
Things to Do in Victoria with Kids
First and foremost on any family itinerary in Victoria is a visit to Healesville Sanctuary
, where young visitors can meet and learn about Australia's endemic species. Continue the wildlife theme by heading down to the Penguin Parade
, an opportunity for the kids to see these adorable birds in their natural habitat. Your family will also love visiting Sovereign Hill
, where you can descend underground in an old mine shaft, pan for gold, and buy sweets from an old-fashioned candy shop. If planning your trip to Victoria during winter, take the kids along to see a game of Australian football at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
, the city's oldest, largest, and best-loved sports stadium.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Victoria
With a safe atmosphere, excellent infrastructure, and plenty of family-friendly attractions, you're sure to have a comfortable and enjoyable family holiday in Victoria. However, despite the overall air of security, you should take note of some potential natural hazards during your trip. It's extremely important to swim only at patrolled beaches and keep a close eye on your kids when they're in the water, as the large waves and dangerous currents of the Victorian coastline can create dangerous conditions. You should also keep children away from areas of long grass, which can hide poisonous snakes. Remember to slather your kids with sunscreen, even on cloudy days, as the hole in the ozone layer above Australia leads to extra-strong UV radiation, which can cause sunburn and even skin cancer. Consider renting a car to help get the whole family from place to place easily; you'll be able to explore the Great Ocean Road at your own pace, with the option to stop and camp along the way.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Victoria
Cuisine of Victoria
Your tastebuds are in for a treat during your Victoria vacation, thanks largely to the state's strong agricultural industry and abundance of freshly grown produce. Head to agricultural centers like Bendigo
to buy farm-fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat, or look to coastal regions, such as Mornington Peninsula
, to taste some excellent seafood. Melbourne in particular has a reputation as a hub for excellent international cuisine, with the city's multicultural atmosphere reflected in its food. You can enjoy delicious Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek, and Ethiopian dishes--among many others--at the city's multitude of specialty restaurants.
Shopping in Victoria
A trip to Victoria presents you with plenty of unique shopping opportunities, from farmer's markets to cutting-edge local designers. Melbourne offers by far the widest selection of places to shop, with some of the largest malls in the southern hemisphere, as well as an abundance of independent and craft brands. Head to trendy inner suburbs, such as Fitzroy
and St Kilda
, to browse through independent shops selling fashion, homewares, and quirky souvenirs like stuffed platypus toys. Indigenous art makes an excellent gift or souvenir, as do hand-painted or handmade pieces related to the local culture or depicting the landscape, sold at galleries and markets. Antique and vintage hunters will love browsing for treasures, from clothing to records to books.
If your Victoria itinerary takes you into the countryside, be sure to stock up on local flavors, such as cheeses and organic wines. Just be sure to check in advance about what food items you're allowed to bring back through customs at home.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Victoria
Interesting Facts About Victoria
● Victoria's capital city, Melbourne, was founded by a man called John Batman, and was originally known as Batmania.
● The fast-paced, brutal sport of Australian football was created and popularized in Victoria, with most of the nation's top-flight teams still based in the state.
● Despite being Australia's smallest mainland state, Victoria still covers an area roughly the size of England, Wales, and Scotland combined.
● Roughly 36 percent of the state consists of forest, with large swathes of temperate rainforest.
Holidays & Festivals in Victoria
Most communities don't get a day off for sporting events, so it says something about the Victorian mindset that the state has two such holidays. At 3pm on the first Tuesday of every November, Victoria comes to a standstill for the Melbourne Cup, a horse race deemed so important that the entire state enjoys a public holiday because of it. Since 2015, the same occurs on the Friday before the AFL Grand Final, played every year at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
If you plan your Victoria holiday around Easter, check out the family-friendly festivities of the Moomba Festival, with plenty of live music, wacky costumes, and the famous "birdman" contest. Hang around for a few more weeks to catch the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, when comedians take over the city's live venues for nearly a month. Music lovers should make a trip to Victoria in December to catch the Meredith Music Festival near Ballarat
, then head down The Great Ocean Road
to celebrate the new year at The Falls Music and Arts Festival.
Useful Victoria Travel Tips
Climate of Victoria
Unlike the tropical regions of northern Australia, Victoria experiences four distinct seasons: summer (December to February), fall (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November). It rarely snows outside of the Victorian Alps, with most of the state experiencing relatively mild, albeit windy, winters. With pleasant temperatures and the visible changing of the foliage, fall and spring provide some of the best conditions for a Victoria holiday, although these tend to be the rainiest and least predictable months. Summers are mostly hot and dry, with temperatures regularly breaking 40 C (104 F) in Melbourne and getting even higher in the north. Keep an eye out for local weather forecasts when planning a Victoria itinerary during the height of summer: rural areas are prone to dangerous and devastating bushfires.
Transportation in Victoria
Despite the good infrastructure, getting around on public transport during your Victoria vacation might not be as efficient as you'd expect. Large distances and relatively low population density mean that most locals drive from place to place, rather than using intercity buses or trains. You'll have a much easier time completing your Victoria itinerary if you rent a car and make use of the state's comprehensive, well-maintained road network. Within Melbourne, take advantage of the city's wide-ranging--though slightly slow and expensive--network of trams, trains, and buses. Just make sure you purchase a rechargeable Myki card before using the city's public transit: you won't be able to buy one-off tickets.