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Things to Do in Victoria - page 4

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Dandenong Ranges
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Victoria's Dandenong Ranges lie just east of Melbourne and overlook the Yarra Valley wine region, offering a mountain retreat on the city's doorstep. What the peaks lack in size—the highest are under 2,620 feet (800 meters) above sea level—they make up for in scenery, such as ash forests, valleys of tree ferns, and wild bushlands.

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Phillip Island Winery
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Between the surfing, the wildlife, the hiking, and driving, sometimes the best Phillip Island activity is simply doing nothing at all. That’s the plan at the Phillip Island Winery, where the family-run tasting room actively encourages visitors to kick back and relax. Located amidst the green pastures on the western end of the island, sit down with a Chardonnay or a signature Pinot Noir, and allow the owners to walk you through a flight of their colder climate wines. Indulge with platters of Gippsland cheeses, homemade dips and smoked trout, or watch a blustery storm roll in from the cozy cottage confines. This is the oldest winery on Phillip Island and definitely the most relaxed, and a place to simply relax and unwind and experience the island’s beauty.

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Cape Woolamai
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With its sandy beaches, windswept bluffs, and miles of rugged walking trails, Cape Woolamai is a place to unwind and simply get back to nature. Stretched across the southeastern corner of scenic Phillip Island, Cape Woolamai is a popular getaway for surfers, birdwatchers, and hikers. On the western stretch, Woolamai Beach has some of the best surfing in the entire state of Victoria, whereas the eastern stretch is covered in sand dunes just a short walk from town. Woolamai Beach is part of the Phillip Island Surfing Reserve and home to a popular lifesaving club, and granite cliffs provide a rugged backdrop to the wide, golden sands. Atop the bluff, a system of walking tracks leads to the highest point on all of Phillip Island, and while it’s only a moderate 370 feet, the viewpoint provides a panoramic vista looking back towards the Australian mainland. Avid hikers can enjoy the 5.3-mile loop that passes the best beaches and viewpoints, and between September and April, birdwatchers can scan the skies for shearwaters that migrate from Alaska. Of all of the cape’s rugged scenery, however, the most striking image is of waves crashing up against the Pinnacles—an iconic collection of eroded sea stacks towards the very end of the cape.

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Collins Street
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Melbourne’s grandest avenue, Collins Street is known for being a hub for prestigious boutiques and designer stores, theaters, global bank headquarters, high-end hotels and restaurants.

Running for a mile between Elizabeth and King Street, Collins Street is the traditional main street of the city. On a visit, start at the east end, or “Paris end,” so named for its lavish Victorian-era buildings, erected in the 1880s when Melbourne grew recklessly during the Victorian gold rush.

Collins Street has long been Melbourne’s center of financial activities. Some of the banks are housed in Victorian gothic builds nicknamed “Cathedrals of Commerce,” while others are in shining glass skyscrapers, some of which are Australia’s tallest, like 101 Collins Street. It’s worth seeing the late 19th century Old Stock Exchange, which looks straight out of Venice, and the ANZ Gothic Bank — all gold leaf ceilings and grand ceilings on the inside.

On Collins Street you’ll also find flagship branches for the likes of Prada, Armani, Tiffany & Co, and Longchamp. There are also a number of shopping malls along the street, including Collins Place, the Block Arcade, and Georges on Collins.

Collins Street is also home to the Athenaeum and Regent theatres, which put on international productions throughout the year, and it’s also known for its impressive 19th century churches: Collins Street Baptist Church, St Michael's Uniting Church, and Scot's Presbyterian Church.

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Caulfield Racecourse
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Racing glamour lives on at Melbourne’s historical horse racing site, Caulfield Racecourse. Since holding its first racing event back in 1859, Caulfield has earned itself a name as one of Australia’s premier racecourses.

Known locally as ‘The Heath’, Caulfield Racecourse is eight kilometres from Melbourne city, and offers stylish members facilities, such as the glass Rupert Clarke Stand, three restaurants for member dining, and trackside marquees.

The Caulfield outer circuit caters for 1,700 metre, 1800 metre and 2000 metre races, and hosts 20 race days in a season. Major Caulfield Racecourse events include the famous Caulfield Cup, as part of the three-day Caulfield Carnival in spring, and the Summer Classics Carnival.

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Australian Sports Museum
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Ever since Australia’s independence—and even well before it—sport has been integral in helping Australia define its identity and culture. At the Australian Sports Museum inside the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG), learn about Australia’s sporting heroes, and hear how sports have constantly inspired Australians to strive for their best. Read the stories of Australian Olympians, participate in interactive games, and brush up on history of Australian Rules Football, cricket, horse racing, and tennis. The Australian Sports Hall of Fame is housed inside the museum, as are the Australian Football Hall of Fame and Cricket Hall of Fame. A popular highlight is the life-size 3D holograms, where Australia’s legends are seemingly brought to life, and the wealth of exhibits and informative displays make the Australian Sports Museum a must-visit spot for sports fans when visiting Melbourne.

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Churchill Island
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Get a glimpse into the lives of early Australian settlers and pioneer farming practices at Churchill Island. Located just off the coast of Phillip Island, Churchill Island was the first European agricultural site in Victoria. Today, it’s home to a historic working farm, the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.

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Williamstown
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Williamstown is a historic port village at the mouth of Melbourne’s Yarra River. The town has rich colonial history and makes a charming Sunday excursion from the city.

Melbourne’s original sea port is characterised with heritage landmarks that have endured more than 150 years on the salty edge of Hobsons Bay and Port Phillip Bay. The Old Morgue is made of bluestone and was built by convicts in 1859. The Timeball Tower at Point Gellibrand was built in 1855 as a lighthouse and timeball, and continues to keep time today. The Mechanics Institute built in 1860 now houses the Williamstown Historic Society and is open to the public every Sunday between noon and 4pm.

Williamstown is also a scenic spot for a walk along the promenade, some fish and chips by the pier and a view of the Melbourne city skyline. Finer dining and boutique browsing amongst Williamstown’s beautiful old buildings is another appealing way to spend an afternoon.

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Station Pier Cruise Ship Terminal
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Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne is also its cultural capital, with a plethora of museums, galleries and theaters, as well as expansive parklands and attractive Victorian-era buildings. Home to the Australian Open tennis tournament and the Melbourne Cup horse race, the city is also a jumping off point to visit the Great Ocean Road or the penguin colonies on Phillip Island.

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Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
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Set amid the rolling vineyards of Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is a family-owned farm that also grows raspberries, cherries, and blueberries. The farmstead is also home to a cafe that serves decadent strawberry desserts and a gift shop where you can buy jam, ice cream, and freeze-dried fruit.

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More Things to Do in Victoria

Old Treasury Building

Old Treasury Building

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When visiting Melbourne’s Old Treasury building, travelers are left to decide for themselves which fact is more spectacular: That this striking example of Renaissance Revival architecture was designed by a prodigious 19 year old, or that the entire building was expressly built as a vault for housing gold. Constructed in 1858 in response to Australia’s Gold Rush, the Old Treasury building has vault walls that are over three feet thick, in addition to dozens of office buildings that even today are filled by members of Melbourne’s local government. In addition to the imposing building itself, which was built in the Italian “palazzo” style that was popular in the 19th century, visitors will find rotating exhibitions on the building and Melbourne’s past, from those depicting the flow of gold from the mines to the vault and wealthy elite, to a panorama of the cityscape from 1862.

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Melbourne Princess Theatre

Melbourne Princess Theatre

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Melbourne is a large, vibrant city with hundreds of things to do, but none of its attractions are quite as spectacular as historic Princess Theatre. Built in 1857 and remodeled in 1886, the theater has hosted many of the world’s top musicals, operas, and shows. The theater’s famously exquisite façade is on par with the best in Europe, and the 1,488 seat theater is adorned in chandeliers.

Perhaps more famous than the building itself—and even some of its shows—is the legend of Frederick Federici, the friendly ghost who’s inhabited the theater since his death in 1888. In a curious end to a theater performance, Federici died of a heart attack while descending through a stage door, and frequent sightings of the actor’s ghost continue up to this day. Aside from the legends and legendary shows, the Princess Theatre also hosts the Federici Bistro, where visitors can enjoy both dinner and a show for the best date night in town.

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Polly Woodside

Polly Woodside

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Launched in Belfast in 1885 at a time when sailing for commercial shipping was starting to come to an end, the three-mastedPolly Woodside would go on to sail nearly a million miles across all corners of the globe. She rounded Cape Horn 16 different times, and carried everything from nitrate to wheat across the seven seas. During World War II, she served in New Guinea as a supply ship before returning back to Australia, with her owners eventually choosing to scuttle the ship in the early 1960s. Thankfully, a group of local maritime enthusiasts saw the historic and educational value in preserving the crumbling ship, and worked out a deal where it was sold to the National Trust for only a single cent. When visiting thePolly Woodside today, which has been masterfully and expertly restored, visitors will walk the wooden decks and go below in the holds—experiencing life as it would have been while sailing out on the seas. Hear the rations allotted to sailors while harnessing wind between ports, and try your hand at maritime skills like sewing or cutting cloth. It’s amazing to think that early Australians arrived on ships just like these, and it’s a classic dose of Australian history in the heart of Melbourne’s downtown.

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Cleft Island (Skull Rock)

Cleft Island (Skull Rock)

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It looks like something from a movie script; a large, stone, skull shaped rock rising halfway up from a deeply blue sea off an isolated stretch of coast. This isn’t some villain’s lair, however, but a famous rock off Wilson’s Promontory on Victoria’s southern coast. This rugged peninsula is the southernmost point on the entire Australian mainland, and when surfing, hiking, or camping on “the Prom,” Cleft Island silently looms like a haunting skull offshore. To add to the rock’s mysterious allure, it’s believed that only a handful of people have ever set foot on the rock. The cliffs on all sides are dozens of feet high, and an enormous cave the size of a building consumes the center of the rock. For as foreboding as it appears on the surface, however, Skull Rock is a diver’s paradise on the granite walls below. As part of the Anser and Glennie Island groups, Cleft Island is in the middle of Wilson’s Promontory Marine National Park—where colorful sponge gardens, groupers, and seadragons all thrive in the chilly depths. Unless you’re a dedicated diver, however, chances are that Cleft Island will be something you view from afar—whether it’s lounging on sandy Norman Beach and playing in the crashing surf, or enjoying the backcountry bushwalking trails of Victoria’s southern coast.

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Cooks' Cottage

Cooks' Cottage

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In the heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens sits a historic building that is one of the most significant in Australia. Built in 1755 in England before being shipped to Australia in 1934, that building is Cooks’ Cottage – built by the parents of one Captain James Cook, the man who claimed Australia for the empire.

Today, after having being carefully dismantled, thoroughly labelled and shipped halfway around the world to be reconstructed, Cooks’ Cottage serves as a museum to the exploits of Captain Cook. Modern interpretations of his adventures are displayed alongside antiques in a very English cottage and garden.

As Captain Cook’s Childhood home, Cooks’ Cottage is a step back in time. The building has been carefully restored and great emphasis is put on the experience of visiting the cottage, including the 18th-century costumes worn by the staff. Entry to the cottage includes a self-guided tour and comprehensive fact sheet available in many languages, and school holiday programs run for children four times a year.

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National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria

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Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s largest and oldest art gallery. Since 1861, it has housed many impressive collections and works by homegrown talent as well as Asian, American, Oceanic, and European artists, including Rembrandt and Picasso. It features a large free permanent collection and rotating, ticketed exhibits.

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Creswick Woollen Mills

Creswick Woollen Mills

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There was once a time when wool-spinning mills were prevalent throughout Australia, and sheep were clustered in rural paddocks stretching far out into the hills. Today, however, the wool spinning industry is in rapid decline, which is all the more reason that Creswick Woollen Mills is an important Victoria highlight. The mill, in fact, is the lone remaining mill of its kind found anywhere in Australia, and alpacas provide the fiber for scarves, sweaters, socks, and shawls. When visiting the mill, tour the exhibit “A Very Fine Yarn,” which allows you to follow the wool making process from growth through harvest and production, and is one of the only places in Australia to watch manufacturing as it happens.

You can see the alpacas from the viewing deck and feel their luxurious wool, and even have the chance to feed the alpacas as they eat right out of your hand.

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City Circle Tram

City Circle Tram

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The City Circle Tram is a free tram service that runs in a circular route around Melbourne’s central business district and passes many of the city’s major attractions. Easily spotted thanks to its burgundy, green, and gold exterior, the tram is one of the few remaining heritage trams in operation in the city.

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Albert Park

Albert Park

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Best known as the home of Formula 1 Grand Prix in March each year, Melbourne’s Albert Park is also a leafy inner-city retreat with a swan-filled lake, sports venues, playgrounds and a skyline view.

Only three kilometers from the city center, Albert Park is crown land that stretches more than 188 hectares into the south of Melbourne, making it a popular place for runners, dog-walkers and those in need of some fresh, green space.

There are three main picnic areas to enjoy in Albert Park, all with picnic shelters, electric barbecues, shady trees, toilets and tables.From Aquatic Drive, you can take a stroll along the lakeside boardwalk, enjoy fine service and a steak at The Point restaurant, and watch sail boats tack across the lake.

Sports lovers can enjoy the public golf course within Albert Park, try their hand at sailing from the boat shed or take a dip at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. For those less energetic, perhaps try a coffee from the kiosk and relaxing to the sound of song birds in the parkland wilderness.

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Melbourne Town Hall

Melbourne Town Hall

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Concerts, theater, weddings, and more grace Melbourne Town Hall, which has welcomed everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to The Beatles. Completed in 1870, this grand neoclassical building is at the heart of Melbourne’s city and cultural life. Although a working town hall, it opens to the public for prebooked tours several days a week.

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Immigration Museum

Immigration Museum

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Take a tour through the rich cultural heritage of Melbourne and Victoria at the Immigration Museum in Flinders Street.

Fittingly located in the beautifully restored Old Customs House in the heart of Melbourne, the Immigration Museum offers unblinking stories about Victorian people, the places they have travelled from, and multicultural customs they have contributed to Australian life.

This is a museum that connects with the essence of Melbourne identity, not only offering a walk back through time, but also exploring how immigrants interact with modern society.

Learn about the lives of the first settlers in the early 1800s, how Australia built its population, the prominent wave of Greek immigration that now characterizes so much of Melbourne, and the journeys that mark the life of an immigrant. A mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions, such as the popular photographic display, ‘Leaving Dublin’, keeps the Immigration Museum fresh and relevant to current life.

Visitors can also learn about family history by searching the archive of immigrant details accessible at the Museum. This is a museum that engages Australians and international visitors.

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Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens

Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens

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Located amid the lush countryside of Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, Ashcombe Maze & Lavender Gardens are home to Australia’s oldest traditional hedge maze. As well as encompassing 25 acres (10 hectares) of gardens, the complex features a Lavender Labyrinth that flowers year-round and a Circular Rose maze made up of 1,200 roses.

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Puffing Billy Railway

Puffing Billy Railway

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Chugging its way through the rugged bushlands, fern gullies, and ancient woodlands of the Dandenong Ranges, the Puffing Billy Railway is one of Australia’s most scenic train journeys. The spectacular views of the Yarra Valley are just part of the experience—the historic steam engines, Victorian-style interiors, and open-air carriages that allow for dangling legs make it a fun and memorable activity for the whole family.

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Carlton Brewhouse

Carlton Brewhouse

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Few Australian beers are as world famous as Carlton and there’s no better place to sample the classic Aussie brew than Melbourne’s Carlton Brewhouse. The iconic brewhouse is only one of Australia’s largest breweries, producing more than 420 million liters of beer each year, including top beers like Carlton Draught, Fosters, Victoria Bitter, and Pure Blonde.

As well as being a working brewery, the Brewhouse also has a dedicated visitor facility, where visitors can go behind-the-scenes and see the production rooms and bottling plant. As well as discovering the brewery’s 100-year history, visitors can also shop for souvenirs at the Beer Gear shop, enjoy expert-led tastings or pair food and beer at the Brewhouse Café.

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