Victoria Travel Guide

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Melbourne - Melbourne is dubbed marvelous for a reason. Healthy hedonism masquerades as high art, and locals are equally passionate about football and ballet, nuts for fashion, munchy for restaurants, ravenous for music and hot for theatre. Visitors come for its shopping, restaurants, nightlife and sporting calendar, and most agree that it is one of the world's most livable cities. In the last 10 years the city has undergone a renaissance. Innumerable hip boutiques, restaurants and bars crowd the alleys and Victorian-era arcades off the main streets. Its riverbanks and docklands have been transformed into spruced-up sites for swanky waterside socializing.

The Goldfields - Just one hour's drive on the Western Highway from Melbourne, the Goldfields are steeped in history and legends. Those who prospered from their discovery of the precious metal, or made fortunes providing the diggers with their everyday needs, built monuments to celebrate their wealth. Extravagant architecture and stately homes with showpiece gardens grace broad tree-lined avenues. The region caters for the adventurer, the historian, the gourmet food and wine enthusiast, and the lovers of art and culture. You can experience Soverign Hill at Ballarat, a living museum of an 1850's mining town, or explore Ballarat's newest attraction, The Great Southern Woolshed, where you can witness the rich heritage of the Australian wool industry. Take a drive to Maryborough, heart of the Central Goldfields with links to Ballarat, Bendigo and the Pyrenees, is the perfect blend of history and scenery. It extends a warm welcome to travelers and offers many opportunities if fishing, bushwalking, cycling or alluvial gold prospecting appeal to you.

Goulburn Murray Waters - This region is a very popular tourist destination. It is home to some of Victoria's most interesting towns, great expanses of untouched bush land and an unsurpassed range of activities. The magnificent Goulburn and Murray rivers, along with large lakes such as Lake Eildon, Lake Nagambie and Lake Mulwala, are a big attraction right throughout the year. In summer the area comes alive as visitors enjoy a wide range of water sports from skiing to canoeing. At any time visitors can sit on the banks and fish for giant trout and Murray Cod, or hire a houseboat and spend a few relaxing days exploring the waterways. The area is also rich in history, the affluence of the gold rush era has left it's mark in the form of the grand architecture you will see in the towns like Alexandra. Step back in time at the historic port of Echuca with Australia's largest collection of paddle steamers, or take home a piece from one of the many antique galleries in the region.

The Murray - The Murray is the longest of the Victoria rivers. In it's 2600 km course, from its rising in the Snowy country to it's final destination at Encounter Bay in South Australia, its waters are joined by the Darling, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn. One of the joys of visiting the Murray is to see the signs of the earliest people. Among the many activities available are fabulous golf courses, wineries, every kind of cafe and restaurant, or a few relaxed days on a houseboat.

Outdoors

Alpine National Park - Victoria's largest national park, at 646,000 hectares, connects the High Country areas of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The park's scenery is spectacular, encompassing most of the state's highest mountains, wild rivers, impressive escarpments, forests, and high plains. Much of the park was devastated by horrific bushfires in December 2002, but it recovered quickly. The flora is diverse, in all, some 1,100 plant species have been recorded within the park's boundaries, including 12 not found anywhere else. Walking here is particularly good in spring and summer, when the Bogong High Plains are covered in a carpet of wildflowers.

Other impressive walking trails include the 5.7km route through Bryce Gorge to The Bluff, a 200m high rocky escarpment with panoramic views. Of the numerous other walking trails in the park, the most well known is the Alpine Walking Track, which bisects the park for 400km from Walhalla to the township of Tom Groggin, on the New South Wales border. There are plenty of access roads into the park, though some close in winter.

The Lakes - The gippsland Lakes system is the most extensive in Australia, with its vast array of waterways to explore. Simply messing about in, on and around the waterways is a favourite pastime in East Gippsland. Above or below the waves, there is an activity that will appeal to everyone. Boating is a popular activity around the lakes, with boats for hire (motor or sail) and endless waterways to explore. Surfing, water-skiing, swimming and windsurfing can also be enjoyed on some of the best ocean beaches in the southern hemisphere. The Lakes and Wilderness area offers some of the best fishing spots in Australia with both fresh and salt water fishing in easy reach.

The Wilderness - No other Victorian Tourist region has more National and State Parks than the Lakes & Wilderness region. Over 1 million hectares of public owned land. In all there are eight lakes and wilderness parks to discover ranging from coastal salt water parks, like Croajingolong and Cape Conran, to the high mountain Cooprecambra National Park and the Errinundra cool temperate rainforests. Listen to the whistling kites in Nyerimilang Park, or the silence of the Buchan Caves. Hear the quiet hum of the rainforests and the roar of the Snowy River. A wealth of things to do and a multitude of things to see, big and small, some of which never move and some that are gone in the twinkling of an eye.

Moving around

Victoria's public transport system consists of major roads, railways and tramways that fan out from the central business district. Melbourne's tramway network supplements an extensive electrified suburban rail network and bus services. Because it is densely populated by Australian standards, the State has good roads reaching into all but the most remote regions. National highways connect Melbourne with Sydney to the north and Adelaide to the west.

Melbourne has the nation's busiest general cargo port and largest container port. Eight domestic airlines and 30 international airlines provide regular services into Melbourne's international airport, Tullamarine.

Taxis are numerous but expensive, and car-rental places range from the usual familiar names to the rent-a-bomb variety. Driving in Melbourne can be confusing, particularly with the unique hook turns necessary in the city centre, traffic turning right must often do so from the left lane to avoid blocking tram tracks. Melbourne's generally flat terrain makes cycling a popular option for getting around, but watch out for those tram tracks. Various ferries ply the Yarra River between the city centre and Williamstown and St Kilda.

National festival and holidays

Melbourne Jazz Festival - The Jazz festival in January each year, is one of the highlights of the music calendar. This is Australia's premier jazz festival, which takes place at venues all over the city during Australia Day weekend. It is so popular that visitors planning to visit during that time will have to book well ahead.

Melbourne Moomba Festival - Taking place in March each year, it is eleven days of partying, beginning and ending with fireworks and lots of fun in between.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Opening on April Fools' Day (1 April), comics from around the world gather for three weeks. This festival is a must for lovers of stand-up comedy, you are sure to be entertained.

Melbourne International Film Festival - The country's largest and most prestigious film festival takes place in June, and lasts two weeks. There is something on show for every age group, and the quality of the festival is surprisingly high.

Useful Victoria Links

Visiting Melbourne
places of interest and how to get around Melbourne, Victoria (VIC), Australia

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