Things to Do in Victoria - page 2
The Melbourne Zoo has been open since 1862, making it Australia's oldest zoo. Modeled after the London Zoo, the Melbourne Zoo houses more than 300 species from around the world, from elephants and lions to Aussie natives like kangaroos and koalas. The zoo is also a conservation center dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction.
Located in the heart of Melbourne, St. Paul’s Cathedral is the only neo-Gothic building among a sea of modern structures in Federation Square. Built between 1880 and 1931 to commemorate the location of Melbourne’s first Christian service back in 1836, St. Paul’s features the 2nd-tallest Anglican spire in the world.
Australia might be famous for its kangaroos and koalas, but the Werribee Open Range Zoo offers all the excitement of an African safari on Aussie shores. Lions, rhinoceros, giraffes, and gorillas all roam freely in the park’s 494-acre (200-hectare) grasslands, affording visitors some incredible wildlife-watching opportunities.
Phillip Island is famous for its penguins and its massive colony of fur seals, but for a look at 100 additional species of classically Australian wildlife, the Phillip Island Wildlife Park has them all gathered in one spot. Interact with dozens of Australian species on this park’s 60-acre compound, and touch, pet, and even feed your new friendly, cuddly friends. Feel how a wombat’s skin is tough when compared to the fur of a wallaby, and hand feed hungry ‘roos and baby Joeys as they bounce around the compound. You’ll find emus, cassowaries, cockatoos, and kookaburras, as well as koalas lounging in the treetops, and even frantic Tasmanian Devils as they run in circles and pace. The Phillip Island Wildlife Park is the only spot on Phillip Island to see all of these animals in the same spot, and is a convenient stop only 15 minutes from the Penguin Parade at sunset.
This world-class destination, 100 percent owned and operated by Australia’s Aboriginal people, is nestled into the scenic backdrop of the continent’s own unique indigenous flora and fauna. Visitors agree that the incredible architecture, pristine grounds and knowledgeable staff make Brambuk – the National Park & Cultural Centre one of Victoria’s top destinations.
Travelers can tour ancient rock art while they learn about the traditions of one of Australian’s oldest people. Interesting exhibits explore the chronological history of native cultures and the boomerang training ground, where families can test out their newly purchased toys, provides visitors with a truly memorable experience.
When winter snows begin falling in June in Victoria’s inland mountains, Melbourne residents grab their jackets and make the drive to Lake Mountain. As the closest alpine ski resort to the streets of downtown Melbourne, Lake Mountain Alpine Ski Resort is a convenient, scenic winter escape from the hustle of urban life. With its 23 miles of cross-country trails, the resort exclusively features cross-country skiing as opposed to downhill or snowboarding. Tobogganing is fun for younger visitors, and especially those who live near the beach and rarely encounter snow.
From the nearby town of Marysville, wind your way upwards into the mountains to over 4,000 feet, and immerse yourself in towering timbers where snow hangs off of the boughs. In summer, skiing is replaced by mountain biking, hiking, and riding the flying fox, and the resort is a great place to escape the heat of summer down near the coast. Sip a coffee in the bistro on site while gazing out over the mountains, and take a deep breath of mountain air overlooking the Yarra Valley. While Australia’s mountains might not be tall, they still offer alpine escapes, and Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is just the place to find it.
The Nobbies Centre offers a front row seat to nature’s powerful drama. Marooned out on the western end of Victoria’s Phillip Island, the Nobbies is a spot where the jagged rocks are met by the fury of the sea. The area is best known for the 16,000 fur seals that make their home on the rocks, and the spring season from October-January is when males fight to claim their territory and mothers feed their young. Above the rocks and crashing surf, hundreds of sea birds float and glide on gusty currents in the sky—almost to the point that their avian cloud can partially block out the sun.
A series of boardwalks and lookout points leads from the center to the coast, although the seals are rarely close enough to be seen with the naked eye. Instead, it’s the power of the wind, waves, and sea spray that offers immediate drama. When a storm rolls in off the Southern Ocean and encounters the slippery rocks, the walls of whitewater furiously exploding are reason enough to visit. If the wind is whipping up a chill, escape to the confines of the educational center and warm up with a coffee or tea, and keep your eyes peeled for Little Penguins that burrow under the boardwalk. While the Centre itself is a quick visit, it’s the sweeping views from the coastal boardwalk that make this a visitor favorite.
Set amid the natural wonders and wildlife reserves of Phillip Island, A Maze'N Things offers a fun alternative for a family day out. The small-scale theme park is packed with interactive exhibitions and activities, including mind-bending illusions, a gigantic maze, a minigolf course, and plenty of games, puzzles, and challenges to keep all ages entertained.
First opened in 1912, Luna Park Melbourne is a slice of theme park history. Enter through the mouth of Mr. Moon and ride historic attractions, including the Great Scenic Railway wooden roller coaster. Old-time favorites, such as a ghost train and hall of mirrors, offer thrills to kids, as do bumper cars, carousels, and modern rides.
Once forgotten but now an integral part of Melbourne’s cultural scene, Hosier Lane is home to some of the city’s best street art. The laneway, which cuts between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane, exhibits regularly changing graffiti alongside a series of light boxes that exhibit the work of up and coming contemporary artists.
More Things to Do in Victoria
Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne’s premier farmers market. It’s filled with fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers, regional meats and cheeses, gourmet items, handicrafts, and much more. Since 1878, the market has been a gathering place for locals and tourists to peruse the stalls and relish delicious treats from stallholders.
With more than 74 acres (30 hectares) of natural bushlands and hundreds of animal residents, Healesville Sanctuary is one of the best places in Victoria to spot native Australian animals. Kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, platypus, emus, and Tasmanian devils are just some of the many creatures that call the sanctuary home.
Home to around 400 different animal species, the family-run Ballarat Wildlife Park makes a popular day out from Melbourne and there’s plenty for animal lovers to get excited about. Since opening its doors in 1985, the 15-hectare park has become a refuge for hundreds of native Australian animals from kangaroos and koalas, to wombats, echidnas and crocodiles.
Visitors can hand-feed the free-roaming population of kangaroos and emus; learn about some of the world’s most venomous snakes in the Reptile House and see baby koalas, quokkas and giant tortoises. As well as interacting with the animals, there are daily ‘meet the keeper’ experiences and animal shows, including the chance to watch the crocodile and Tasmanian Devils feeding, see eagles in full flight and have your photo taken with a koala.
See thousands of marine animals without leaving the city at the SEA LIFE Melbourne aquarium. Boasting more than 10 themed zones, the aquarium features penguins, sharks, rays, crocodiles, starfish, and much more. The ocean’s diversity and marine conservation efforts are the focus at this popular family attraction.
Flinders Street Station is Melbourne’s most historic train station and a major transportation hub. Built in 1854, the station still features remnants of the past like the large clock on the facade, stained glass windows, and old-school flip displays for train departures. The station allows travelers to shuttle between the outer suburbs and the heart of Melbourne with ease.
Tumbling 122 meters from the steep cliffs of the Steavenson River valley, the Steavenson Falls make an impressive sight, with the river cascading over 5 tiers. Despite being among the areas damaged in Victoria’s 2009 bushfires, the area remains one of the region’s most scenic natural reserves, surrounded by the looming peaks of the Yarra Ranges, ancient woodlands and lush pockets of rainforest.
Most visitors to the falls follow the short trail to the viewing platform beneath the falls, but there are also ample options for hiking and bird watching in the surrounding countryside. The most atmospheric time to visit is in the evening hours before midnight, when the falls are dramatically floodlit.
Stark and solemn, the Shrine of Remembrance is Melbourne’s memorial for all Australians who fought in a war.
The Shrine was originally built to remember those who fought in World War One and is now open to the public for commemoration and education about all Australian victims of war. Permanent exhibitions show medals awarded to soldiers and records of service men and women. Temporary exhibitions and free daily tours at 11am and 2pm also allow visitors a chance to expand their understanding of Australia’s involvement in international conflicts.
The unique shrine is easily recognised by the two identical porticoes supported by eight Doric columns and topped with a pyramidal roof inspired by an ancient Mausoleum. The result of combining the Athenian and Turkish architectural designs in a bold white structure is nothing short of stunning.
See Melbourne from a different angle on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, the only attraction of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Towering 400 feet (120 meters) above the Docklands, the wheel offers passengers 360-degree views over Melbourne, and is one of the most popular activities in the city.
Grampians National Park offers more than 646 square miles (1,673 square kilometers) of rugged sandstone peaks, with wildflowers, waterfalls, fern gullies, and vineyards. The park is known for its stunning natural landscape and many ancient Aboriginal rock art sites.
Covering a significant portion of Melbourne’s Southbank, Crown Melbourne is an entertainment complex with three hotels, spas, a cinema, a casino, and a number of bars and restaurants that overlook the Yarra River. The fun never ends at the casino, which is open 24 hours and welcomes guests with a dazzling water jet and fire show.
While it definitely isn’t Australia’s most accessible beach, Refuge Cove is more than worth the effort it takes to get there. Ensconced inside the forested refuge of Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Refuge Cove gets its name from the protection it offers passing sailors. There aren’t any roads leading into this bay—which is accessible by boat or trail—and it’s a favorite of Australia’s yachting community in need of anchorage in storms. For all other visitors who are traveling on foot, Refuge Cove requires a 10-mile hike from the parking lot at Telegraph Saddle, with many opting to break the trip up by camping at Sealers Cove. There’s also a campsite in Refuge Cove at the southern end of the beach, where you can wake to the sound of waves striking sand and birds chirping in the trees. Watch the sunrise from golden sands that face the eastern horizon, and spend the day swimming in turquoise waters that seem clear enough to drink. If it weren’t for a rule that limits camping to a maximum of two nights in a row, it would be easy to spend the days swimming and suntanning—not wanting to head back home.
In the northern reaches of the Yarra Valley, Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm is Australia’s first commercial trout farm, dating back to 1958. Sustainable and ecofriendly, the farm not only sells its produce to local markets and restaurants but is a popular family attraction, offering visitors the chance to fish, walk, and barbecue by the lakes.
Arguably the most iconic of Melbourne’s sporting stadiums, AAMI Park is famous for its cutting-edge design and riverside location. With a capacity of more than 30,000 spectators, AAMI Park is Melbourne’s premier medium-sized soccer, rugby union, and rugby league venue, and was awarded the World’s Most Iconic and Culturally Significant Stadium award in 2012.
First opened in 1856, the Parliament House of Victoria is home to the state parliament of Victoria, and its grand colonnaded frontage makes it a Melbourne landmark. The Parliament House steps are a popular spot for wedding photos—and for protesters, although the lawmakers here operate at local level and sit relatively infrequently.
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